TAITMAIL     The Fed and the parlours of power

TAITMAIL The Fed and the parlours of power

The Creative Industries Federation is in a spin, how vertiginous a spin remains to be seen.

On the other musical hand

On the other musical hand

All standard musical instruments require ten active fingers to be able to play them and up to 30,000 children in UK schools are deprived access to music-making as a result. But OHMI is opening up musical expression to them, Simon Tait reports

First woman MP’s portrait presented to Commons

First woman MP’s portrait presented to Commons

This portrait of Constance Countess Markievicz, the first woman to be elected to the House of Commons in 1918, was last night presented to the House on behalf of the Irish parliament.

V&A fulfills £100k regional pledge

V&A fulfills £100k regional pledge

The Victoria & Albert Museum is fulfilling the promise its then director made when it won the 2016 Art Fund Museum of the Year award, to revive its touring design exhibitions.

Pictures at an Exhibition

Pictures at an Exhibition

The Great Exhibition of the North is underway. But will it fulfil the hopes of its creators? Patrick Kelly has a look.

Huge fall in numbers of arts teachers

Huge fall in numbers of arts teachers

Arts teacher numbers in England are in dramatic decline, according to official figures.

Creative Scotland’s Archer resigns

Creative Scotland’s Archer resigns

Creative Scotland chief executive Janet Archer, is leaving after five years in the role.

Kampfner stands down from Fed

Kampfner stands down from Fed

John Kampfner has stood down as chief executive of the Creative Industries’ Federation, which he founded four years ago with Sir John Sorrell.

Audience agency in Scotland closes

Audience agency in Scotland closes

Axe falls after Creative Scotland grant cut

Site making its Steel City mark

Site making its Steel City mark

Sheffield’s Site Gallery is to reopen with three times the space, and a new mission with a new artistic director, it was announced today.

Ground rules set for Brexit culture deal

Ground rules set for Brexit culture deal

The government’s Brexit white paper has set out a basis to ensure artists’ mobility between the UK and Europe after Brexit.

Battersea Arts Centre heralds reopening with Trump protest

Battersea Arts Centre heralds reopening with Trump protest

Three years since Battersea Arts Centre’s great hall burnt down, it is pre-empting it autumn opening today with a defiant message for Donald Trump https://www.bac.org.uk.

TAITMAIL   What, me worry, when Mr Wright has come along?

TAITMAIL What, me worry, when Mr Wright has come along?

Who is Jeremy Wright, the headlines on Tuesday were asking.  For me, he bears an unnerving likeness to Mad Magazine’sAlfred E Neuman (a kind of 1960s Forrest Gump who only ever said “What, me worry?”), but he was the Attorney General and is now the seventh Secretary State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport since 2010.

Dulwich to get a Colour Palace

Dulwich to get a Colour Palace

Dulwich Picture Gallery in South London is to get a “Colour Palace” for its gardens next summer.

Shakespeare Schools wins Japanese arts prize

Shakespeare Schools wins Japanese arts prize

The Shakespeare Schools Foundation has won £33,000 in the Japan Art Association’s Praemium Imperiale 2018 awards.

Matthew Bourne’s tours to go green

Matthew Bourne’s tours to go green

Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures dance company is to collaborate with environmental sustainability agency Julie’s Bicycle to creative a creative green certificate for touring.

Arts centre plan for Reading Gaol

Arts centre plan for Reading Gaol

Councillors in Reading are backing a plan to turn the town’s famous jail into an arts centre.

New culture secretary appointed

New culture secretary appointed

Kenilworth MP and former Attorney General Jeremy Wright MP is the latest Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport .

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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