London’s other rivers

London’s other rivers

The capital has been shaped by its natural waterways, as a new exhibition at the Museum of London Docklands reveals

TAITMAIL    You couldn’t sing an aria about it

TAITMAIL You couldn’t sing an aria about it

Someone HAS to write an opera about opera. Better, a soap opera. Sex, death, plot lurches, vast personalities and gorgeous costumes, it's all there.

Into the woods for Grange Park Opera

Into the woods for Grange Park Opera

There are two Grange opera festivals this summer, based at two different country houses in Hampshire and Surrey, both created by the conductor Wasfi Kani. Simon Tait visited the newest

MY STORY    Helping artists to value themselves

MY STORY Helping artists to value themselves

Jerwood Arts’ new director, Lilli Geissendorfer, has introduced three new funds to the charity’s operations, and for one is announcing bursary beneficiaries whose careers could be shaped by them

Heritage high streets get £62m boost

Heritage high streets get £62m boost

High street buildings are to be turned into creative spaces thanks to a new £62m government fund, the Department of Digital Culture Media and Sport has announced.

Hogarth, the noisy painter

Hogarth, the noisy painter

A new exhibition at the Foundling Museum takes a single painting of 18th century life as its subject

First affordable CEZ artists’ studios open

First affordable CEZ artists’ studios open

Eighty-five affordable artists’ studios have opened in Deptford, South London, as part of the Mayor of London’s Creative Enterprise Zone scheme.

GOOD PRACTICE GUIDE  Dancing into the big top

GOOD PRACTICE GUIDE Dancing into the big top

Clare Limb, head of dance development & learning for Déda, the Derby-based dance and outdoor performance development agency, on bringing dance and contemporary circus together in learning and participation

Plymouth to reopen Elizabethan House museum

Plymouth to reopen Elizabethan House museum

£2m restoration will finish in 2020

Lottery support for Northern arts organisations

Lottery support for Northern arts organisations

The National Lottery Heritage Fund is backing a new scheme, to be run by Creative United, help cultural organisations in the North with business advice.

Fears over Brexit fuel art exports to EU

Fears over Brexit fuel art exports to EU

The value of art, collectors' pieces and antiques exported from the UK rose to a three year high of £5.4bn in 2018, up from £5.1bn in 2017.

AI PROFILE   Cynthia Corbett and living with art

AI PROFILE Cynthia Corbett and living with art

The Cynthia Corbett Gallery is in a former 1860s convent in a leafy corner of Wimbledon, not the kind of venue you would expect to be a nurturing place for artistic talent.

Peter Hall’s theatre facing closure

Peter Hall’s theatre facing closure

Kingston Council’s withdrawal of funding may see the closure of the Rose Theatre, created by Sir Peter Hall and opened in 2008.

 The Rose 30 years on: how it was saved

The Rose 30 years on: how it was saved

It was on a barmy early summer Sunday afternoon in 1989, exactly 30 years ago, when the Rose Theatre was saved. Simon Tait was there

Export block on judge’s Chatterley copy

Export block on judge’s Chatterley copy

The government has put a temporary block on the copy of D H Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover used by the judge at the novel’s obscenity trial in 1960 – perhaps the most famous Old Bailey trial of the 20th century - complete with his wife’s annotations.

Cabaret’s automata delight returns to London

Cabaret’s automata delight returns to London

The automota show Cabaret Mechanical Theatre, for 15 years a feature of Covent Garden, has a new show in London with the artist Paul Spooner – thanks to the inspiration it gave a teenage visitor

Armitage the new Poet Laureate

Armitage the new Poet Laureate

Simon Armitage has been appointed the new Poet Laureate, following an unexpectedly troubled search for Dame Carol Ann Duffy’s successor.

THE WORD Where are non-western artists in contemporary galleries?

THE WORD Where are non-western artists in contemporary galleries?

Faiza Butt is a Pakistani artist whose work is held in private and public collections including the British Museum and the Kiran Nadar Museum, Delhi

Wales consider arts for core subject

Wales consider arts for core subject

Arts subjects could become a core class for Welsh school children if a proposed new curriculum is put in place.

Bristol's Bricks aim to reclaim police station for the arts

Bristol's Bricks aim to reclaim police station for the arts

Bristol's arts charity Bricks are hoping to create a new arts hub in one of the city's old police station.

Arts Council Northern Ireland pays executive £12k in discrimination case

Arts Council Northern Ireland pays executive £12k in discrimination case

Arts Council Northern Ireland has paid £12,000 to its chief executive Roisin McDonough after settling an age discrimination case.

The David Parr House: Cambridge's Arts & Crafts home opens to the public

The David Parr House: Cambridge's Arts & Crafts home opens to the public

The David Parr House, the Cambridge home of William Morris' Arts & Crafts collaborator, is to open to the public.

Saatchi Gallery covers artworks after complaints from Muslim visitors

Saatchi Gallery covers artworks after complaints from Muslim visitors

The Saatchi Gallery in West London has taken the decision to cover up works by artists SKU that feature an Islamic declaration of faith, following complaints from Muslim visitors that they are blasphemous.

Anthony Caro: Seven Decades @ Annely Juda Fine Art - REVIEW

Anthony Caro: Seven Decades @ Annely Juda Fine Art - REVIEW

In our new review feature Adam Anderson considers the unending story of Britain's game-changing sculptor, Anthony Caro. 

THE WORD Beyond conflict - the spirit of EdFest, 70 years on

Graham Sheffield, director of arts at the British Council, on the bequest to the world
of the Edinburgh International Festival
as it celebrates its 70th birthday with the ‘Spirit of ’47’, a collaboration across this year’s programme between the festival and the council

The cultural maelstrom that envelops Edinburgh throughout August makes it easy to forget the post-war origins of this international festival. The story has often been told of what led to the selection of Edinburgh as the location (not the first choice of city - Oxford apparently was initially preferred); of the local politics which permeated the early discussions; and of the prescient choice of Rudolf Bing, an Austrian impresario from Germany, who fled the Nazi regime to unlikely success in the UK: first as the Director of Glyndebourne Festival Opera and thence to Edinburgh, to co-found - with native Scot and Director of the British Council in Scotland, Henry Harvey Wood - and direct the first Edinburgh Inter- national Festival.

This spirit of post-war international collaboration set the festival on a course which has characterised the city in August for the past 70 years, and which infuses not just the Edinburgh International Festival but all of the other myriad festivals which have blossomed from its well-established roots: the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the Edinburgh International Book Festival, the Edinburgh International Film Festival, the Edinburgh International Jazz and Blues Festival etc. All contribute to the global standing of this beautiful and ancient city, to its reputation as a platform for innovative, off-kilter arts and culture and its international, welcoming outlook.

An anniversary presents a time for comparisons, and the world of 1947 and 2017 throws up interesting contrasts and parallels. We are more aware of the positive influence that the influx of new, international minds can have on culture and society; and up to speed on the positive impact of the free movement of people and ideas across borders, not just in Europe but globally. We can look back with confidence on the origins of EIF, knowing that the impact that the nascent idea of Rudolf Bing and Henry Harvey Wood would have not just on the first festival, but on all subsequent ones.

At the same time, however, the early 21st century has brought uncertainty on a global scale – often drawing parallels with the 1930s, so far re- moved from that post-war spirit.

We have the fallout of the economic crash and old orders displaced; a tectonic shift in how, why and who communicates and who understands; economic migration and refugees. And dominating UK politics is the decision to leave the EU, raising question marks over the future freedom of movement and ideas, through students, artists and communities. The spirit of collaboration – the spirit of 1947 – which has characterised the festivals in Edinburgh for 70 years, could be in question.

This formed the backdrop for the discussions Fergus Linehan, director of Edinburgh International Festival, and I had around the British Council’s contribution to EIF’s 70th Anniversary programme. We wanted to reflect and reiterate the mission of 1947 within today’s world and with- in today’s arts landscape. “Spirit of ‘47” is the result: ten days of performances, films and discussions, with artists from Scotland, England, USA, Ukraine, Lebanon, Cuba, China, Jamaica, Palestine, Chile, Argentina, Syria, Portugal, Germany, Iran, Pakistan and India gathering in Edinburgh in August, along with the thousands of other visitors from all over the world who travel there.

In 1947 the emphasis was on reconnecting Europe, reconciling former adversaries (and allies) in a new spirit of cooperation and collaboration. The programme for the first EIF was weighted towards classical music and theatre. In 2017, however, both EIF’s and our own horizons are broader.

Spirit of ’47 will see veterans from both sides of the Falklands War talking about their experiences on stage together, in the critically acclaimed stage play by Argentinian director Lola Arias, Minefield. It will provide a platform for the Iranian director Azade Shahmiri to explore a not-too- distant dystopian future, where freedom of expression has finally been stifled, in the play Voicelessness. It will bring a group of displaced Syrian artists and lm-makers together to offer a fresh perspective on how war affects the lives of artists – and it will mark the creation of the “New European Songbook”: unique collaborations between musicians from across the continent, performed and recorded live, for a future, European-wide broadcast.

Edinburgh in August provides a gateway into the arts scene of the UK, and a representative picture of the attitudes of inclusivity, curiosity and optimism that can and must continue to characterise our arts and culture. In 1947 the festival’s founders looked at their shattered world and saw the building blocks of something better. In 2017, amid the turbulence of economics and politics, we should think of those pioneers and keep our eyes and minds open for the building blocks of today.

The Edinburgh International Festival is on until August 28 www.eif.co.uk

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