McPhee’s unforgettable Orgreave images

McPhee’s unforgettable Orgreave images

Today is the 34thanniversary of the Battle of Orgreave, the confrontation between police and pickets at the Orgreave coking plant in South Yorkshire and a pivotal event in the miners’ strike of 1984-85.

Great art in the classroom

Great art in the classroom

More than 70,000 schoolchildren from 125 schools are to get world class works of art in their classrooms as part of the largest ever sculpture project undertaken in Britain.

TaitMail       Bilbao’s King Gugg

TaitMail Bilbao’s King Gugg

It’s almost 21 years since the Guggenheim Bilbao opened, controversially and changing museum aspiration for ever. It was paid for by the Basque government, looked like nothing anyone had ever seen before, and after it opened every city wanted one.

Summer Flight

Summer Flight

Peckham artist Remi Rough has created a new public art installation to welcome visitors to the transformed Wembley Park this summer www.wembleypark.com.

Producer Winter switches West End for Tunbridge Wells

Producer Winter switches West End for Tunbridge Wells

Carole Winter, the West End and Broadway producer with more than 30 shows to her name, is to be the permanent producer at Tunbridge Wells’s Assembly Hall Theatre.

Opera festival’s moving Hope for Grenfell gala

Opera festival’s moving Hope for Grenfell gala

Gareth Malone led a choir of almost 200 children and local residents and celebrities last night in a moving memorial concert at Investec Opera Holland Park to mark the first anniversary of the Grenfell disaster.

Ed Vaizey and Tom Watson to be Achates judges

The third Achates Philanthropy Prize, awarded for first-time cultural giving in the UYK,is to have former culture minister Ed Vaizey and shadow culture secretary Tom Watson as judges.

Guide for museums to diversify visitors

Arts Council England and the Museums Association have launched a new ‘how-to’ guide to help museums increase visitor diversity

Ireland launches international culture strategy

Ireland launches international culture strategy

Seven year programme promises to double arts spend

Murdoch arts charity launches regional artists scheme

Murdoch arts charity launches regional artists scheme

Freelands Foundation will invest £1.5 million

Belfast backs arts funding campaign

Belfast backs arts funding campaign

Councillors support increase in government cash

Top Scottish arts organisation in shock closure

Top Scottish arts organisation in shock closure

NVA blames loss of funding and strains of ambitious restoration plan

Sadiq’s £1.1b cultural vision for Olympic Park

Sadiq’s £1.1b cultural vision for Olympic Park

The Mayor of London has set out plans for East Bank, the new cultural sector in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in the East End, with the BBC being added to the mix.

Museums dependent on blockbusters

Worldwide figures show Louvre back on top

Lost Donizetti opera gets world premiere

Lost Donizetti opera gets world premiere

On July 18, Opera Rara and the Royal Opera House will present the first ever performance of an opera by the great Italian composer, 179 years after it was written. Simon Tait reports

Eureka! plans second site in Liverpool

Eureka! plans second site in Liverpool

Childrens’ museum also to expand original Halifax venue

ACE backs fundraisers scheme

Arts Council England and the Institute of Fundraising have joined forces to develop more arts fundraisers in the sector.

Ludus dance promotes Briggs

Ludus dance promotes Briggs

Artistic director takes on ceo role

FESTIVALS Getting to the heart of Hull

Patrick Kelly looks at the impact of Hull’s City of Culture year on local communities

It’s just possible that you will know that Hull is this year’s UK City of Culture. The maritime city, perched on the edge of Britain’s east coast, has received a generous amount of publicity for its emerging renaissance. But what is less well known is that this same city has been host to a major inter- national arts festival for the past ten years.

Hull Freedom Festival was born out of the major celebrations greeting the anniversary of the abolition of slave trade in which local man William Wilberforce played a significant role. Organisers of those commemorations felt that Hull de- served an annual event highlighting the city’s proud association with that movement. Since then the Freedom Festival has grown to become a major highlight of the city’s arts calendar. It won NPO status from Arts Council England and helped convince the judges that Hull would be a worthy winner of the UK City of Culture title.

Paradoxically, there
were some fears that the
Freedom Festival would be overshadowed by the main
City of Culture programme and that the Festival, which Hull people have taken to their hearts, would al- most feel like an afterthought.

“There were definitely some fear our brand would suffer,” admits Mikey Martin, who has been artistic director of the festival since 2015 “especially as the City of Culture included a Freedom season. But in the end it’s been a great boost. In fact, it has allowed me to take more risks with the programme.”

Those risks have included a post- modernist promenade performance, a strand devoted to panel discussions on freedom and slavery and a slew of street performers and outdoor artists from Catalonia.

“They are just very good at out- door arts,” says Mikey of groups like Los Monekos, and the Lali Aygaurde company, “but also there is a very raw, very simple quality about their work.” He cites the hugely popular La Dinamo, whose “music on bicy- cles” attracted a strong following – in all senses of the word.

The international flavour of the Freedom Festival is no accident. It’s now part of an 18 city European net- work of festivals, exchanging acts and ideas across borders. “People are now looking at Hull as partners, particularly since that theme of freedom is so important now” says Mikey.

The Freedom part of the Festival is as important as the fun part, he adds. “It’s about exploring what freedom means in 2017 and how we can be brave, responsible and connected enough to make change happen”.

That’s why the visit of Ko Annan, former director general of the United Nations, to Hull during the festival, has been so important as it allowed him to build a series of discussions around the theme of modern slavery.

“Audiences have been terrific. There is an appetite in Hull for this sort of very political work,” says Mikey. “Hull has a strong working class independent streak. The audiences are there. It’s about giving them the opportunity.

All this and three days of performances, exhibitions, concerts, circuses, dancing in car parks, and
opera in the shopping centre, is managed on a
budget of just under
a million pounds.

Though ACE and city council support is vital, “all this would be impossible without our partners and volunteers,” he says.

There are over 300 of them backing the Freedom Festival and the impact of the city of culture designation has been transformative. “It’s inspired local artists and created a huge amount of pride in the city” says Mikey. “If you stop in the street and look at your phone for a minute, someone comes up and says ‘Can I help you? That didn’t happen before!”

 

Land of Green Ginger

Hull’s City of Culture team has taken one of the most exotically named streets in the UK and spun from it an anthology of tall tales, a melange of myths and urban legends which has enthused some of the city’s most deprived neighbourhoods.

The programme of events called the Land of Green Ginger (after the city centre street) was developed over the last 18 months between artists and community groups, often using local stories as the bedrock, explains producer Katy Fuller. By organizing pilot projects in each ofthe communities last year, this allowed artists to make long-lasting connections with local people to build trust and ensure that the artistic and community collaboration was a genuine one. “The idea was that each event would almost inhabit the local space so fully that people can’t really avoid what you are doing.”

The result has been seven acts of “wanton wonder” which will take place throughout the 2017 year of culture. Three have already happened and include a major performance based on local tales of a mysterious alleyway which only appeared at certain times of the year, a “golden nose of green ginger”, allegedly discovered in a packing case in an underground vault.Local resident Christina Reading, whose childhood memory of the mysterious alley, told to her by grandparents sparked one of the original concepts, says the 18 months of preparations helped local people feel involved and to get over initial preconceptions that “this sort of thing wasn’t for us”. Invitations to take part were distributed by horse and carriage, creating a magical swirl of rumours and social media exchanges, which piqued people’s interest. When the actual performance took place in May, more than 11,000 people packed into a local park over four tremendous nights. They watched seven professional actors and 25 volunteers put on a show, based on their own ideas and memories.

“From little tearaways to old boys who sit in the pub, they all loved it” says Christina. “People are still talking about it and I can’t stop smiling when I think about it.”

She added: “This year has managed to connect people in ways that all the regeneration schemes never managed to do.”

She and Katy agree that the success of the programme so far shows that thereis a need for some sort of permanent outdoor arts space in Hull.

 

 

 

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