Arts & Culture

Arts & culture

The largest and most influential arts advocacy and service organization in the country has responded to sharp criticism over its lack of diversity and commitment to help arts groups lead by and for people of color. Americans For The Arts (which is also one of NPR's financial supporters) conceded that the steps they've taken towards "racial and cultural equity" "have not been enough."

AFTA serves the arts sector in a variety of ways including lobbying Congress, conducting surveys of the sector, training, panels and the like.

It's such a peaceful image. A woman handing out fruit to a group of young people. But the print is the product of conflict and pain. The bloody, brutal Mexican Revolution (1910-1920) is the theme of an exhibition of prints at the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas.

Many Americans are concerned about their health care coverage right now, given the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainties of the economy. Among them are actors, from high-wattage stars to workaday performers, who fear that they will lose their health care benefits on New Year's Day. The cuts particularly affect elderly members who aren't raking in big fees.

Gitanjali Rao, a Colorado teenager who invented a mobile device to test for lead in drinking water, is Time's Kid of the Year for 2020. The magazine announced the award Thursday, citing Rao's ability to apply scientific ideas to real-world problems — and her desire to motivate other kids to take up their own causes.

Michael Eric Dyson's Long Time Coming is a timely, heartfelt book that uses history to slice our nation open and show how racism is a sickness that has shaped our culture and society in a variety of insidious ways.

We've reached the time of year where the days are getting shorter and colder, but that's no reason to retreat from the world. The English writer Katherine May actually sees this as a transformative time. She has visited Stonehenge during the winter solstice. She's traveled to the Arctic to see the northern lights, and she has soaked in the Blue Lagoon. She writes about all this in her latest book, Wintering.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Jazz Standard, a perennial favorite New York City venue for musicians and fans alike, has shut its doors. It is the first major jazz club in the city to close permanently due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The basement club first opened in 1997, but was re-opened in 2002 along with a sister barbecue restaurant upstairs, Blue Smoke Flatiron, as the city staggered back to its feet in the aftermath of Sept. 11. Both the club and the restaurant are owned by restaurateur Danny Meyer and his Union Square Hospitality Group.

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

It's such a joy when an author whose work you've been reading for decades surprises you with something unexpected. The title character of Jane Smiley's new novel, Perestroika in Paris — her first since she completed her massive The Last Hundred Years trilogy in 2015 — is a talking horse! Of course, horses have trotted through the pages of plenty of Smiley's books, including Horse Heaven and most of her Young Adult novels.

Everything I needed to know for Junior High School I learned from cartoons.

Twice a day, before and after school, my local TV station delivered three Warner Brothers Looney Tunes shorts. There, Bugs Bunny gave me master classes in the Brooklyn-accented snark and wise-cracking I aspired to. While my teachers might not have appreciated what I was learning, those dazzling 10-minute comedy masterpieces were also my introduction to what happens at the intersection of animation and excellence.

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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

On Nov. 4th, 2020, Drakeo The Ruler was released from prison after a four-year saga beset by institutional corruption and by what Drakeo viewed as a personal vendetta from Los Angeles' District Attorney, Jackie Lacey.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

After spending much of his career playing the male lead in romantic comedies, actor Hugh Grant is shifting into darker roles.

"It's alarming how many pretty unpleasant narcissists I've played or been offered in the last six or seven years," Grant says. "It's certainly been a blessed relief after having to be Mr. Nice Guy for so many years — which is a thankless task for any actor."

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