TAITMAIL  How Wonder Boy and Captain Chatter are breaking the funding mould

TAITMAIL How Wonder Boy and Captain Chatter are breaking the funding mould

There’s a mystical charm about how Ross Willis’s play Wonder Boy is being got on national tour that is counterintuitively uplifting in this worst of times for the arts economy. A play, whose subject matter you would think would make it out of the question for any hard-pressed presenting house, is going to get a 12-week 11 theatre tour, with a message its supporters are saying should get it into the national curriculum.

ACE backs off from 'activism' threat

ACE backs off from 'activism' threat

Arts Council England has backed off from threats to cut funding to organisations they find are “engaging in activism”, admitting that its update “was open to misinterpretation”.

Canadian Saltzman to be Barbican arts director

Canadian Saltzman to be Barbican arts director

Devyani Saltzman, the director of public programming at the Art Gallery of Ontario, is to be the Barbican’s director for arts and participation, completing the arts centre’s management reconstruction under CEO Claire Spencer.

Birmingham cuts arts budget by 100%

Birmingham cuts arts budget by 100%

The city of Birmingham, once the flagship for local authority support for culture, is cutting all its arts funding from the next financial year.

TAITMAIL    The Albany, Lewisham’s cultural anchor

TAITMAIL The Albany, Lewisham’s cultural anchor

The craze for “Year of Culture” designation seemed to have got out of hand after Brexit when we lost qualification for the European City of Culture, so famously and successfully celebrated for the UK by Glasgow and then Liverpool.

‘Scary’ ACE threat over 'political statements'

‘Scary’ ACE threat over 'political statements'

Culture organisations have been warned that they may lose their Arts Council England funding if they are found to be “engaging in activism”.

Albany and Hamlyn embed culture in the community

Albany and Hamlyn embed culture in the community

A south London arts centre is taking lessons learned from Lewisham’s year as Borough of Culture to expand its community culture programme.

THE WORD  Where are the missing 6m art lovers who aren’t buying?

THE WORD Where are the missing 6m art lovers who aren’t buying?

Gallerist Ann Petherick on the crisis facing commercial art galleries

Sam McShane moves to Kings Place

Sam McShane moves to Kings Place

Manchester Camerata’s creative director, Sam McShane, is to be King’s Place’s new artistic director.

Kwei-Armah quits Young Vic with arts funding side-swipe

Kwei-Armah quits Young Vic with arts funding side-swipe

Kwasi Kwei-Amah is to leave his job as artistic director of the Young Vic, with an attack on the standstill in arts subsidy and calling for government intervention.

Leveson moves to RSC

Leveson moves to RSC

Andrew Leveson, director of finance and administration at the Bridge Theatre in London, is to be the next executive director of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

TAITMAIL   Who is Surrey, what is she?

TAITMAIL Who is Surrey, what is she?

How can your neighbourhood’s ambitions for a cultural presence be realised, with the conventional sources of help - local authorities facing bankruptcy and central government turning a blind eye - unavailable?

THE ART OF PHOTOJOURNALISM   Image of the Month

THE ART OF PHOTOJOURNALISM Image of the Month

Baby Feet by Roger Bamber, 18th February 1993, The Guardian.

ENO strike postponed

ENO strike postponed

The Musicians Union and Equity have suspended the strike by musicians and chorus of English National Opera, due to start tomorrow with the opening of the company’s new production of The Handmaid’s Tale, which will now go ahead.

£15m levelling up arts boost

£15m levelling up arts boost

Another £15.2m is being available by the government to boost levelling up for access to cultural venues, DCMS has announced.

Surrey leads the way with county culture strategy

Surrey leads the way with county culture strategy

Surrey has published a ten-year culture strategy for the county as “a rallying cry to all those who believe in the power and the impact of the arts in changing lives in our society”.

TAITMAIL   Don’t stop your culture!

TAITMAIL Don’t stop your culture!

DSYF! is the text message issuing from the postings of Idris Elba and his supporters, short for “Don’t Stop Your Future!” Their message is, of course, against knife crime which has reached epidemic proportions, particularly in London, Elba’s home.

King Charles banknotes go on show

King Charles banknotes go on show

New banknotes with the head of Charles III are to go on public display for the first time next month, before they go into circulation.

ACE extends Portfolio by a year

ACE extends Portfolio by a year

Arts organisations subsidised through Arts Council England’s National Portfolio are to have an extra year’s funding “in response to the external challenges our sector is facing”, it was announced today.

ENO strike goes ahead

ENO strike goes ahead

English National Opera’s musicians, chorus and music staff are to strike from February 1.

Dimbleby to chair Bristol Beacon

Dimbleby to chair Bristol Beacon

Journalist and broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby is to chair the Bristol Beacon, formerly Colston Hall, as its CEO since 2011 Louise Mitchell steps down.

Jay Hunt to chair BFI

Jay Hunt to chair BFI

The TV creative director Jay Hunt has been appointed chair of the British Film Institute, culture secretary Lucy Frazer announced today. She will take on the four-year unpaid role on February 16.

Suffolk to cut all its arts budget

Suffolk to cut all its arts budget

East Anglian arts organisations have warned of the devastating damage that would be done if Suffolk County Council follows through with its pledge to cut 100% from its arts budget.

THE ART OF PHOTOJOURNALISM Image of the Month

THE ART OF PHOTOJOURNALISM Image of the Month

Salvador Dali by George Elam, 5th May 1959, The Daily Mail

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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