First disabled arts champ named

First disabled arts champ named

The arts producer and strategist Andrew Miller has been appointed the first champion for the disabled in arts and culture.

New reports show how Brexit will hit the arts

New reports show how Brexit will hit the arts

English cultural organisations stand to lose £40m a year with Brexit, with 64% oif them currently working inside the European Union. The report from EUCLID, commissioned by Arts Council England, shows that between 2007 and 2016 the EU contributed £345m to England’s arts, museums and creative industries, or £40m a year.

Boost for Banbury Museum expansion

Councillors have agreed plans to double the size of Banbury’s museum in a £5m expansion scheme.

Creative Scotland apology over funding row

Creative Scotland apology over funding row

Archer promises review of funding process

Books by the Ocean

Books by the Ocean

A ‘crazy’ notion to bring a literary festival to Sri Lanka has proved an astounding success. Patrick Kelly reports

Cultural kids' programme reaching out

Cultural kids' programme reaching out

An Arts Council programme devised to help young children from deprived areas through involvement in the arts is working, according to an evaluation report published today.

Call for arts support in Northern Ireland

Call for arts support in Northern Ireland

Arts sector representatives and tourist companies in Northern Ireland have called on politicians to recognise the important role the arts plays in the economy of the region.

Music venues survey shows third ‘under threat’

Music venues survey shows third ‘under threat’

But Scotland embraces ‘Agent of Change’ principle.

Hockney is critics' choice

Hockney is critics' choice

David Hockney is to receive the Critics’ Circle Award for 2017, only the second time a visual artist has been selected for the prestigious prize in the Circle’s 105-year history.

Photojournalism's art gallery

Photojournalism's art gallery

A new website at last gives Fleet Street’s photographers a showcase for their work as art. Simon Tait spoke to its founders, Fleet Street veterans Alan Sparrow and Bret Painter-Spanyol

Museums' collecting frozen by funding cuts

Museums' collecting frozen by funding cuts

Britain’s museums are being increasingly excluded from the art market by cuts in funding, stifling the acquisitions that are the life force for public collections.

Creative industries on track to create 1m local jobs - Nesta

The creative industries are driving the UK’s economic growth, expanding twice as fast as any other sector, according to new research by Nesta.

BAFTA/BFI set harassment zero-tolerance rules

BAFTA/BFI set harassment zero-tolerance rules

Film and television organisations led by BAFT and the BFI have set a series of principles and guidelines to deal with bullying and sexual harassment in the industry.

Tax deal takes early Freuds back to Lakes

Tax deal takes early Freuds back to Lakes

Two really portraits by Lucian Freud have been left to the nation in lieu of tax and allocated to the Abbott Hall Gallery in Kendal.

Mary Beard to front Front Row

Mary Beard to front Front Row

The classics professor Mary Beard is to anchor the revamped television version of the arts review magazine Front Row when it returns in the spring.

17c mystery painting still baffling experts

17c mystery painting still baffling experts

This large picture of 1665 by an anonymous artist is one of the great mysteries of the art world, and is the centerpiece of a forthcoming major Norwich Castle Museum exhibition.

London goes Underground

London goes Underground

Photographs of some faces and places associated with the capital go on display at five London Tube stations this week.

British Art Fair goes to the Saatchi

British Art Fair goes to the Saatchi

Celebrating its 30th birthday this year, the 20/21 British Art Fair has changed ownership and will move to the Saatchi Gallery.

PASSING BY… The arts of Auntie

Antony Thorncroft recalls the publicly funded organisation that gave him some of his most memorable cultural experiences

It could be argued – so I will – that the BBC is more important to the cultural life of the nation than the Arts Council. If the Arts Council disappeared its big four clients, (RHO, ENO. RSC and NT) who consume and inordinate amount four clients (RHO, ENO, RSC, and NT) who consume an inordinate share of its cash, would continue and by being forced to embrace both popularism and innovation might well thrive. The Council’s other clients would discover how much they were cherished by local and national audiences.

But the BBC, through TV and radio, delivers the arts into every home in the country on a daily
basis. It is perhaps biased towards classical music but delivers enough news, features, competitions and performances to serve every taste.
Its most obvious contribution is the Proms, which, adopting Lampedusa’s truism that “for things to stay as they are, things will have to change”, has in recent years introduced late night Proms, lunch time Proms, children’s Proms, comedy Proms, grime and Asian Proms, Proms in the park and more.

This year it has given us a Prom from Hull neatly manifesting a growing BBC involvement in the arts – sponsoring events. Hull’s surprise selection as the UK’s cultural city of the year now seems quite obvious given the BBC’s promotion of its activities.

The same cross fertilisation can be seen in the BBC’s commitment
to the Cardiff Singer of the Year competition. There is a growing tendency to inject some X Factor crassness into the broadcasts, with too much back-story and judges that overindulge the competitors, but this has become an important and watchable musical occasion.

And then there is the BBC’s embrace of Glastonbury. Again
the presenters give the impression that they have died and gone to heaven, but now that Glastonbury
is as much a part of The Season as Wimbledon or Ascot it is admirable that the television audience can enjoy in comfort what looks like a very stressful experience, even if this year, apart from Ed Sheeran, the line up hardly justifies the hoopla.

Which brings me on to my digression. I went to the first Glastonbury, no I went to proto Glastonbury. In 1970 I think an event was held on a hill at Pilton near Glastonbury. The headliners, The Kinks and Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders failed to appear but Tyrannosaurus Rex turned up, putting down a marker for what Glastonbury was meant to be, a celebration of peace and love to the Hippies’ song book.

I was there as a pop critic for the FT which was one of the first national newspapers to field such a creature. It happened because Lord Drogheda, chairman of the FT, was also chairman of the Royal Opera House. He insisted on a daily arts page so that he could read Covent Garden reviews over his breakfast and indeed often gave Andrew Porter, the music critic, an early morning call of disapproval which Andrew resolutely ignored.

The arts page editor of The Financial Times was John Higgins, a friend, and in those musically fluid days classical music morphed into folk and folk into pop and I got the gig, which lasted for over 30 years.
If I was surprised when record companies bombarded me with LPs and concert tickets the answer came when a PR informed me that the FT’s coverage was much prized because
it was the only paper read by the company chairman and they loved to see their bands mentioned - shades of Lord Drogheda.

But I remember nothing of that proto Glastonbury event. Many critics seem to recall every performance they have attended, but not me. Of the thousands of pop concerts I reviewed, I have just a handful of memories. Pop culture was rich in every sense in the late 20th century and it is the excesses that I recall. The managers who thought that they could get wide coverage for their new band, Brinsley Schwartz, by arranging that it made its debut in New York, without taking into account travel delays. We arrived half way through the performance. The trip to Moscow to see Big Country, who could not get their Soviet royalties out of Russia so spent them on a British press freebie. Then there was Jimi Hendrix playing guitar
with his teeth at the Royal Festival Hall; watching the flamboyant Led Zepplin at the Royal Albert Hall from a box reeking with the smell of pot (I let the side down by being a non-smoker); David Bowie, then still David Jones, opening for Pink Floyd at, memory suggests, the tiny Purcell Room, dancing around the stage in owing robes as an exotic dancer; being spat at by The Clash at some club in Camden Town.

Of course, there were down
sides. Those interminable waits before the star bothered to take the stage, the endless drum solos during the pomp rock era, stuck in the Wembley car park for hours after
a Bruce Springsteen concert. But really it was a wonderful dimension to the day job and best of all were those evenings when you went along for the UK debut of a little known American newcomer – a Joni Mitchell, Randy Newman, Emmylou Harris – and discover a new all time favourite. And there was that perfect evening in Hyde Park at the rst Proms in the Park concert where the atmosphere was buzzing, the music eclectic and the audience at one in its good nature. Thank you BBC.

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