Thursday’s Art Notes

BY Tom LeGro  December 10, 2009 at 10:00 AM EST
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—People dressed as space and time travelers arrive at London’s Heathrow Airport on Thursday. The travelers are touring the world to promote Polish artist Pawel Althamer’s exhibition, “Common Task,” which will be on show at the Modern Art Oxford gallery Dec. 12 through March 7, 2010. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images.)

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Attendance at movies, concerts, plays and other performances in the United States is down sharply, according to a survey by the National Endowment for the Arts. Reasons cited were less leisure time, fewer arts classes and (gulp) the Internet.

Meanwhile, the Art Newspaper reported Wednesday that among 20 museums they talked to, two-thirds have seen increased attendance since the beginning of the recession. (On Monday the NewsHour talked to Metropolitan Opera general manager Peter Gelb, singer Renee Fleming and director Bart Sher about the Met’s efforts to engage more fans.)

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Speaking of opera attendance, last night was the high-profile opening of “Carmen” at La Scala in Milan. Conspicuously absent was Italy’s prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, who enjoyed a night at the cinema watching the apocalypse blockbuster “2012” instead.

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Two major publishers have decided to put a hold on releasing e-book versions of recently-published hardcovers. Simon & Schuster and Hachette Book Group both say they want to give the hardcovers a chance to sell before the much-lower priced $9.99 e-books are offered to consumers.

Later on Art Beat today, we kick off a new series of conversations about the future of reading in the digital age. Check back later for more.