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Quick Takes: Museum of Latin American Art undergoes cuts

November 09, 2012

Signaling serious financial trouble, the Museum of Latin American Art said it has recently laid off its chief curator and slashed its operating budget by nearly 15%.

The museum, which is based in Long Beach, said that the culprit was a downturn in financial support from individual donors in recent years.

Stuart Ashman, the museum's president and chief executive, said in an interview that the museum laid off its chief curator, Cecilia Fajardo-Hill, on Monday. The museum now has two full-time curators.

Ashman said the cuts were necessary following the death in 2009 of the museum's founder, Dr. Robert Gumbiner, who donated significantly to the museum.

"He would write a check at the end of the year to cover whatever shortfall there was," said Ashman. "He's no longer here. But the culture of the museum was operating like he was."

Ashman said the museum isn't in danger of ceasing operations. The foundation established by the Gumbiner family has provided for an annual gift, he said.

—David Ng

Painting auction reaps millions

A water-lily painting by Claude Monet sold for $43.7 million while a key painting by Wassily Kandinsky brought in $23 million at a Christie's auction in New York.

Monet's "Nympheas," which dates from 1905, was sold by the Hackley School in Tarrytown, N.Y., which received the work from Ethel Strong Allen, the wife of the late financier Herb Allen. Kandinsky's "Studie für Improvisation 8," completed in 1909, was sold by the Volkart Foundation, a charitable division of the Swiss trading firm Volkart Brothers, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

—David Ngb

World Book Night is coming to the United States in 2013 with the imprimatur of James Patterson and Ann Patchett. The bestselling authors are serving as honorary chairs for the single-day book giveaway in which half a million books will be distributed free.

That day is planned for April 23, organizers announced Thursday.

The program, launched in Britain in 2010, calls for volunteers to sign up to give away copies of 30 selected works. Organizers have chosen a diverse list of titles, hoping that each volunteer will be able to walk up to a stranger and say, "I loved this book, I hope you will too."

—Carolyn Kellogg

Warren hits are Broadway-bound

The big hooks and soaring melodies of Grammy-winning songwriter Diane Warren are heading to Broadway.

Tony Award-winning producer Dede Harris said Thursday that she has optioned Warren's entire 2,000-song music catalog with an eye to getting her hits into a musical. The creative team and a timeline for the project will be announced later.

"We're starting with a blank canvas and the beauty of the development of this process is that we can let our imaginations run wild," Harris said.

Warren's writing credits include Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing," Celine Dion's "Because You Loved Me," Toni Braxton's "Un-Break My Heart," LeAnn Rimes' "How Do I Live" and "I Was Here" for Beyoncé.

—Associated Press

From 'House' to the stage

With his eight-season residency at Fox's "House M.D." now complete, Robert Sean Leonard is heading back to the theater in a new production of George Bernard Shaw's "Pygmalion" at the Old Globe in San Diego.

The Old Globe's revival of "Pygmalion" will mark the 100th anniversary of the play, which had its premiere in 1913 in Vienna. It is scheduled to run Jan. 17-Feb. 17.

No other casting has been announced.

—David Ng


Ill health: "Dancing With the Stars" co-host Brooke Burke says she has thyroid cancer and will undergo surgery. She didn't say when.

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