London’s culture zones named

London’s culture zones named

London mayor Sadiq Khan has announced the capital’s first Creative Enterprise Zones, funded to support artists, small creative enterprises and local people.

 Africa Centre’s £1.6m boost

Africa Centre’s £1.6m boost

The Africa Centre’s transplant from Covent Garden to Southwark has received a major boost with a £1.6m grant from the Mayor of London’s Good Growth Fund, while the Black Cultural Archive has been saved from possible closure by a government grant of £200,000.

TAITMAIL     Singing to the stars

TAITMAIL Singing to the stars

It was like a Sunday afternoon at a Southern Gospel Chapel. Massed choirs on the stage jigging around and waving their arms about, the audience responding by standing and clapping their hands above their heads as they hooted their approval, impassioned young conductors urging both choir and audience on to still more frenzy. 

TALK OF THE TOWN HALL   But they persisted….

TALK OF THE TOWN HALL But they persisted….

Patrick Kelly on the arts champions on local authorities who have made cultural revolutions happen

Julie Finch to run Compton Verney

Julie Finch to run Compton Verney

The new director of Compton Verney Art Gallery in Warwickshire is to be Julie Finch, currently the Cheltenham Trust’s CEO.

Thanet council plans museum handover

Thanet council plans museum handover

Campaigners are calling on Thanet District Council to halt its plans to sell Margate Museum, with more than 100 people have signed a petition to keep the heritage building, once a police station, in public hands.

DEA BIRKETT   Paris – where the show never closed

DEA BIRKETT Paris – where the show never closed

In the first of a series marking the 250th anniversary of the circus, Dea Birkett– the official Ringmaster of Circus250 – goes to Paris where circus is defying the gilets jaunes

Outdated systems blocking creativity growth - CIF

Outdated systems blocking creativity growth - CIF

Growth in the creative industries is being stymied by government and policy bodies working by out-dated definitions, according to a report published today by the Cultural Industries Federation (CIF).

Pitzhanger to re-open after £12m restoration

Pitzhanger to re-open after £12m restoration

Pitzhanger Manor, the dream country home created for himself and his family by Sir John Soane, in his time England’s most celebrated architect, is to reopen in March after major restoration.  

‘Purity’ of boys’ voices – it’s Garrett v Bach Choir

‘Purity’ of boys’ voices – it’s Garrett v Bach Choir

Opera soprano Lesley Garrett’s call for an end to male-only choirs has been rebuffed by the head of one of the leading ensembles in the world, the Bach Choir.

New CEO for FACT

New CEO for FACT

FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) chooses Arts Catalyst's Nicola Triscott and new CEO

DEA BIRKETT Fifteen years ago, a museum visit changed my life

DEA BIRKETT Fifteen years ago, a museum visit changed my life

Last week we reported on the reopening of the V&A’s Cast Courts. Here, Dea Birkett recounts her own especial memory of them

Friends buy Burnley Empire for £1

Friends buy Burnley Empire for £1

The Victorian Burnley Empire has been saved by a friends group, days before it was due to go for auction.

Fitzwilliam’s gift of the Great Belzoni

Fitzwilliam’s gift of the Great Belzoni

The larger than life archaeologist, explorer and circus strong man known as the Great Belzoni is to adorn Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam Museum.

The smartphone Turner Prize

The smartphone Turner Prize

Charlotte Prodger has won this year’s Turner Prize for visual art with a 32-minute film shot on her smartphone.

Rogers to leave Birmingham REP

Rogers to leave Birmingham REP

Executive director steps down after 17 years

To all Dome-loving humans…

To all Dome-loving humans…

David Shrigley has created this limited edition print with proceeds from sales going towards the Build Brighton Dome community appeal.

How WWI enriched contemporary art

How WWI enriched contemporary art

More than 35m people, half the population, have engaged with the 14-18 NOW commemorations of the First World War, which has now ended after five years.

Ally Pally theatre reopens after 80 years

Ally Pally theatre reopens after 80 years

Alexandra Palace’s theatre and East Court reopened at the weekend after a £27m, three-year restoration project.

What's up in… Bristol

What's up in… Bristol

AI looks at what's coming up around the country – this week, the arts in Bristol. 

Bid to save Turner’s Thames view

Bid to save Turner’s Thames view

The government has mounted a campaign to save J M W Turner’s painting Walton Bridgesfor the nation by placing an export stop on it.

Victorian art world – recast by the V&A

Victorian art world – recast by the V&A

The Cast Courts at the V&A, two of the museum’s original 1850s galleries, have reopened after a seven year programme, restored and refurbished as they were 160 years ago.

Brexit: May's deal and the arts

Brexit: May's deal and the arts

The Prime Minister’s withdrawal agreement still leaves the arts and cultural industries in doubt about the future.

Rhian Harris takes over in Lakes

Rhian Harris takes over in Lakes

Rhian Harris, director of the V&A Museum of Childhood since 2008, is to be the new chief executive of Lakeland Arts.

FESTIVALS Lincoln gets digital

Patrick Kelly visits Frequency, a digital culture festival that is helping to transform the medieval city of Lincoln

Inside an ancient church, three men and two women are wandering around in VR goggles, examining an array of strange objects with a strange intensity, while in the street outside an electronics shop, a gaggle of onlookers view a 52in plasma TV screen (price tag £1200) showing not a Disney cartoon or the latest edition of Loose Women, but readings from old schoolbooks.

[Image credit, Electric Egg]

Meanwhile, in the bowels of a famous cathedral, visitors watch woodcutters using ancient tools to create wooden beams as part of Turner Prize winning architecture collective Assemble’s latest  project, Log Book, and in Lincoln market shoppers are watching a hilarious video satirising racism, produced by artist Hain Patel, working with a local youth group.

This is Frequency, a ten day extravaganza of extraordinary art, performances and events fusing virtual and augmented realities with the medieval streets of Lincoln.

The fourth edition of the festival, which ran last month, also included a moving VR film of Empire Soldiers telling the stories of Caribbean soldiers in World War I; Duet, an ambitious collaboration connecting the text messages of people in the UK and India through a light wall; and a plethora of art exhibitions, music and dance performances. 

The festival is also linking with the 800th anniversary of the Charter of the Forest, a sister document to Magna Carta, that established the rights of access to the royal forest for common men. Lincoln is home to one of two surviving copies of the Charter of the Forest, and the historic document is currently on display alongside the Lincoln copy of the Magna Carta at Lincoln Castle. This is the only place on earth where they can be viewed together, and as part of the Festival these documents will be joined by a new Tree Charter, led by the Woodland Trust.

Frequency is the brainchild of Midlands-based media arts producer Threshold Studios, which ran the first edition as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad. “We were keen on the idea of introducing digital art into heritage spaces as a way of reaching new audiences” says Barry Hale, Threshold’s co-director. “Lincoln was really up for it. Indeed, I have never seen a city more welcoming to the idea of the future”.

It’s clearly working. Frequency’s first three editions have successfully attracted 45,000 visitors, and over 109,000 attendances across the programme.

The total budget for Frequency is in the region of £350-400k, with the bulk of the funding coming from a £250,000 Arts Council England grant through Grants for the Arts. The rest comes from a local partnership between the University of Lincoln, and Lincoln BIG Cultural Destinations grant. Threshold have a modular approach to the festival, allowing them flexibility to add on or take away events, depending on the funding levels. Now it’s in Threshold’s NPO agreement with ACE to organise the Frequency festival, giving it extra security for the future.

Peter Knott, area director, Arts Council England, said, “Frequency plays an important part in creating opportunities for local artists, graduates and students to develop their talent

and skills” says Peter Knott, ACE’s area director.“Threshold’s work in this area has created a deep and ongoing relationship with stakeholders in the city and we want to encourage that.”

John Hogan, community engagement officer at Lincoln Castle needs no convincing about the attractions of fusing contemporary digital art with heritage. “It’s a different starting point” he says “but one that really excites audiences”,

Vice Chancellor Professor Mary Stuart says the university has a strong presence in digital arts practice and education. “As a founding partner and co-designer of the first ever Frequency Festival, we’re very proud of how the festival has taken root and grown to become such a fixture of the cultural calendar in the region” she says.

 

The University of Lincoln is very much the model of a modern cultural institution. It set up the Lincoln Cultural and Arts Partnership (LCAP) with the city and county council, Lincoln Business Improvement Group, Visit Lincoln, arts venues and arts organisations, and Prof Mary Stuart chairs the body. Alongside Frequency the partnership has secured a successful Ambitions for Excellence programme from the Arts Council until 2020 and the university has recently established a Centre for Culture and Creativity.

 

“These activities all provide great opportunities for our arts and performance school provision, giving our students work placement opportunities, possibilities to show their work, and for the graduate companies that have set up in the city more opportunities to develop work locally” says Stuart.

 

She added that the university’s role “as an anchor institution in this region is about stimulating growth, including economic growth, but by no means just that. The arts are not a luxury, they are an essential part of our society which can improve people’s quality of life and bind together communities. Universities are in a fortunate position to be able to apply their expertise, facilities and networks to bear in ways that enable the arts not just to survive but also to flourish. This can only be a good thing for our students, whether they are studying arts-based courses (we have a thriving arts school) or other programmes. It is vital to attracting great staff and helps develop the communities we serve.

“One of the key qualities of Frequency is how it encourages artists and audiences to reflect on important themes” she says. “This year’s theme of Displacement, inspired by the 800 year anniversary of the Charter of the Forest, sets a context to consider many of the complex issues we are facing in the world today. That is what art – and higher education institutions – can and should do.”

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