Antony Sher dies

Antony Sher dies

Sir Antony Sher, perhaps the finest actor of his generation, has died aged 72, the Royal Shakespeare Company announced today.

TAITMAIL   Behind the battlements

TAITMAIL Behind the battlements

Nottingham Castle Museum was doing well, for a museum without much real history left to talk about, and it was getting a healthy 150,000 visitors a year - about half what Stonehenge gets - before it closed for its £30m refurb which it was hoped would double the numbers. 

Shebeen culture wins Turner Prize

Shebeen culture wins Turner Prize

Array Collective, the Belfast co-operative of 11 artists whose nominated work, The Druithaib’s Ball, is an installation centred on an illicit Irish drinking den described as “a place to gather outside the sectarian divides”, has won the 2021 Turner Prize.

ACE’s £38.3m for local culture

ACE’s £38.3m for local culture

Arts Council England has today announced grants worth £38.3m for the programme that makes partners of cultural organisations and communities.

Bird to quit SOLT and UK Theatre

Bird to quit SOLT and UK Theatre

Julian Bird is to stand down as CEO of the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre after more than 11 years. 

THE ART OF PHOTOJOURNALISM Image of the month

THE ART OF PHOTOJOURNALISM Image of the month

London’s East End, June, 1957, by Frank Pocklington

Alan Sparrow talks to Frank Pocklington about his favourite Picture Post photograph

Sacha Craddock stands down at New Contemporaries

Sacha Craddock stands down at New Contemporaries

Sacha Craddock is stepping down as chair of New Contemporaries, the organisation set up more than 70 years ago to support emerging visual artists with touring exhibitions of their work.

Eilish McGuinness takes over at NHLF

Eilish McGuinness takes over at NHLF

Eilish McGuinness is to take over from Ros Kerslake as CEO of the National Heritage Lottery Fund at the end of the year.

Lewisham’s year of diverse culture

Lewisham’s year of diverse culture

Lewisham is to be London’s next Borough of Culture for 2022, focusing on diversity, activism and the climate emergency in a programme that was announced at the Rivoli Ballroom today.

Emmie Kell is ACE's new museums chief

Emmie Kell is ACE's new museums chief

Emmie Kell, CEO of the Cornwall Museums Partnership, is to be Arts Council England’s new director of museums and cultural property.

Merger creates Creative UK

Merger creates Creative UK

The Creative Industries Federation and Creative England have merged today to become Creative UK, bringing together the advocacy work of one body and the investment expertise and practical support of the other.

Kathryn Jacob to chair HOME

Kathryn Jacob to chair HOME

Kathryn Jacob, CEO of the cinema advertising agency Pearl & Dean, is to be the new chair of the Manchester arts centre HOME.

33% of musicians still earning nothing from music

33% of musicians still earning nothing from music

A third of our professional musicians are earning nothing from music and 87% are earning less than £1,000 a month, according to new figures today from the charity Help Musicians.

£1m hunt for young museumgoers as ‘perfect storm’ looms

£1m hunt for young museumgoers as ‘perfect storm’ looms

The Art Fund has launched a £1m fundraising campaign to help museums attract under 24-year-olds.

Another £107m for arts recovery

Another £107m for arts recovery

Almost 1,000 arts organisations are to benefit from a new round of £107m worth of grants from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund.

£5m for community jubilee parties

£5m for community jubilee parties

A new Arts Council fund is offering £5m to help voluntary and community organisations celebrate the Queen’s platinum jubilee next year.

Curators share £300k development funding

Curators share £300k development funding

The Art Fund has named the 11 museum professionals that will share the Headley Fellowship’s grants this year worth £302,500 to extend their collections knowledge.

THE WORD   Under-estimating the power of the tweet

THE WORD Under-estimating the power of the tweet

Social media have become essential to arts organisations, says a new report, and often rely on underpaid and under-resourced operators. Alice Kent of the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre asks what can professional networks, industry, funders and policy-makers do to ensure that digital workers are better supported

Birthday royal sculptures for Albert Hall

Birthday royal sculptures for Albert Hall

The Royal Albert Hall has commissioned sculptures of the Queen, Prince Philip, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert from four young artists to mark its 150th anniversary.

Ten Manchester music creatives offered £1k development packages

Ten Manchester music creatives offered £1k development packages

Manchester International Festival is offering £1,000 each to ten local musicians to help them create new work as part of its MIF Sounds initiative, launched last year at the height of the pandemic.

Florence Nightingale joins Lord Mayor’s parade

Florence Nightingale joins Lord Mayor’s parade

Marking the completion of her 200th birthday celebrations., Florence Nightingale joined the Lord Mayor of London’s Show at the weekend.

Giant print plant plays host to classical experiment

Giant print plant plays host to classical experiment

A printing plant that once one of the largest in Europe has been the venue for a pioneering immersive concert.

Mariam Zulfiqar to lead Artangel

Mariam Zulfiqar to lead Artangel

Mariam Zulfiqar, Forestry England’s contemporary art programme manager since March this year, is to be the new director or of the public art producer Artangel.

Barbican takes action after damning discrimination report

Barbican takes action after damning discrimination report

The Barbican has vowed to take decisive action “to build a culture where staff feel confident, valued and respected” following a damning report by an independent investigation team.

Populism or kitsch – does it matter?

I don’t know why anyone should be surprised that when the nation was asked what its favourite work of art was the nation overlooked Turner, Constable, Gainsborough and even David Hockney and pointed to Banksy.

The national poll was conducted by Samsung among 2,000 people who were offered a long list compiled by a panel of art critics. The exercise, as you might have guessed, is a not very sophisticated marketing exercise to go with the company's new television set, The Frame, which has 100 images of works of art pre-loaded for users to pick from as their screen-saver, rather than have a blank screen when the thing is switched off.
 
We’re not told who the critics were or what was on the longlist, but the top 20 that Banksy’s most familiar daubing, Balloon Girl, tops are images no-one doesn’t know. The second choice is Constable’s The Haywain and he would have rejoiced to know that he had not only beaten his garrulous old rival Turner but that Jack Vettriano’s The Singing Butler pushed The Fighting Temeraire into fourth.
 
So the art critics had decided to go for populism in their long list, and included album covers (Peter Blake’s Sgt Pepper was eighth, and 20th is the Sex Pistols’ Never Mind the Bollocks cover by Jamie Reid). There is no Tracey Emin or Damien Hirst, but Anish Kapoor’s odd Olympic helter-skelter ArcelorMittal Orbit makes it at 16.
 
The question is almost “What birthday card images did you get this year”: it’s within an ace of kitsch, many art critics who were not on the panel would say, and maybe some who were.
 
Forget the fact that postcards, posters and prints of Balloon Girl have sold in their many thousands all over the world, and one version painted on the back of a picture frameboard was sold at auction for £73,000, this is street art. The image first appeared as a piece of guerrilla art on Waterloo Bridge in 2002, and the new democratisation of art had begun.
 
There’s nothing wrong with populism, Rembrandt, Hogarth and Durer would have starved to death if they hadn’t printed versions of their masterpieces for mass consumption, and where I live every street seems to be brightened by a very well executed mural, an initiative of the local art gallery. One of the most controversial and ultimately most successful actions of Blair’s first government was to make all national galleries and museums free to enter, with the problem now being how the institutions cope with the sudden upsurge in visitor numbers.
 
It turns out that people genuinely love art, it doesn’t matter how they come upon it, and the trend is spreading from the visual to the active, with free street performances of dance, theatre and especially circus being offered officially wherever money can be raised to pay for it.
 
You may not like Maggi Hambling’s Scallop on Aldeburgh beach or Antony Gormley’s Angel of North guarding the AI at Gateshead, but a lot of people who know what they like do.
 

 

 

 

 

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