Creative Scotland’s Archer resigns

Creative Scotland’s Archer resigns

Creative Scotland chief executive Janet Archer, is leaving after five years in the role.

Kampfner stands down from Fed

Kampfner stands down from Fed

John Kampfner has stood down as chief executive of the Creative Industries’ Federation, which he founded four years ago with Sir John Sorrell.

Audience agency in Scotland closes

Audience agency in Scotland closes

Axe falls after Creative Scotland grant cut

Site making its Steel City mark

Site making its Steel City mark

Sheffield’s Site Gallery is to reopen with three times the space, and a new mission with a new artistic director, it was announced today.

Ground rules set for Brexit culture deal

Ground rules set for Brexit culture deal

The government’s Brexit white paper has set out a basis to ensure artists’ mobility between the UK and Europe after Brexit.

Battersea Arts Centre heralds reopening with Trump protest

Battersea Arts Centre heralds reopening with Trump protest

Three years since Battersea Arts Centre’s great hall burnt down, it is pre-empting it autumn opening today with a defiant message for Donald Trump https://www.bac.org.uk.

TAITMAIL   What, me worry, when Mr Wright has come along?

TAITMAIL What, me worry, when Mr Wright has come along?

Who is Jeremy Wright, the headlines on Tuesday were asking.  For me, he bears an unnerving likeness to Mad Magazine’sAlfred E Neuman (a kind of 1960s Forrest Gump who only ever said “What, me worry?”), but he was the Attorney General and is now the seventh Secretary State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport since 2010.

Dulwich to get a Colour Palace

Dulwich to get a Colour Palace

Dulwich Picture Gallery in South London is to get a “Colour Palace” for its gardens next summer.

Shakespeare Schools wins Japanese arts prize

Shakespeare Schools wins Japanese arts prize

The Shakespeare Schools Foundation has won £33,000 in the Japan Art Association’s Praemium Imperiale 2018 awards.

Matthew Bourne’s tours to go green

Matthew Bourne’s tours to go green

Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures dance company is to collaborate with environmental sustainability agency Julie’s Bicycle to creative a creative green certificate for touring.

Arts centre plan for Reading Gaol

Arts centre plan for Reading Gaol

Councillors in Reading are backing a plan to turn the town’s famous jail into an arts centre.

New culture secretary appointed

New culture secretary appointed

Kenilworth MP and former Attorney General Jeremy Wright MP is the latest Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport .

New 'Netflix for the arts' to launch

A company has announced plans to to set up a vesrion of Netflix for the arts.

Creative Europe impact on UK bigger than €74m spend

Creative Europe impact on UK bigger than €74m spend

Two reports out today show that since 2014 the European art development fund, Creative Europe, has spent €74m on 334 UK-based organisations and companies and helped distribute 145 British films in other European countries, but the impact has been worth far more.

Historic London swings

Historic London swings

London’s landmarks have been put to music in the latest phase of the Musicity project, devised to bring a new dimension to familiar architecture.

Boom in book adaptation earnings

Boom in book adaptation earnings

The value to the economy of film, television and theatre adaptations of books is soaring, according to a new report from the Publishers Association – thanks to our copyright laws.

National gets rare Gentileschi self-portrait

National gets rare Gentileschi self-portrait

A self-portrait by Artemisia Gentileschi, who broke the glass ceiling for female artists in 17thcentury Florence, has been acquired by the National Gallery for £3.6m.

Horniman Museum goes greener

Horniman Museum goes greener

The Horniman Museum in South London has ditched its café’s plastic utensils for plant-based coffee cups to sandwich wrappers in an effort to go greener https://www.horniman.ac.uk.

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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