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.

DEA BIRKETT Where art cuts no ice

Dea Birkett sees a performance at Blackpool Pleasure Beach that would never get an Arts Council grant, but which moves the audience as much as any drama. So why isn’t it art?

I ’ve seen the most moving, skillful, radical show. The movement was astonishing, emotion- ally wrought, febrile. There was much playing with gender stereo- types; the women were very muscly, the men wearing tights and uttering feathers. The lead was black. Once, a performer tripped and the collective intake of breath was the loudest whisper I’ve ever heard. We all felt for him. This show is what performing art should be like, where we feel utterly involved. The audience clearly thought so. At the finale, they roared.

Hot Ice, the annual summer ice skating extravaganza at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, would never get a grant. Yet it’s an extraordinarily beautiful, lyrical art form and has more diverse audiences than any subsided show I’ve been to. It’s also staged in one of the most deprived areas of the country.

So why doesn’t Hot Ice count as art? Perhaps because of all those things – what it is, where it is and who goes to watch it. The very things we should be celebrating actually condemns Hot Ice to mere entertainment. It isn’t. It has everything a theatrical, physical performance should have and more. It’s spectacle with emotional depth. In the all-male piece about heartache and loss, I cried. This is art for audiences, not for the artist or for those who are in a position to judge what counts as art and what doesn’t.

This is also fundamentally about access - a much abused word in the arts. Being accessible doesn’t just mean putting on a relaxed performance once during the run or having a BSL-interpreted performance on the rst Wednesday of each month. Emotion is also an access issue. If the response required by a performance is so cerebral most of us cannot feel it, then that show becomes inaccessible in the most profound sense. It also becomes meaningless. The young woman sitting next to me at Hot Ice had paid £25 for her seat. She considered it a bargain. “I paid £20 to go to the theatre last week – hadn’t been before” she said. “It was rubbish. This is awesome”. Why doesn’t her voice count?

Going to a show shouldn’t be like sitting an exam, yet too often it feels as if it is. Some of us will have been to the theatre and dreaded the interval, as that’s when we’ll be required to join in a conversation about a production in which we have absolutely no idea what’s happening. I’ve been known to go home then, just to avoid this dis- comfort. If performance is so obscure it doesn’t speak directly to us, I don’t really see the point.

It’s not only ice skating that’s dis- missed as mere entertainment. My favourite show at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe was Circus Abyssinia. Honest, open, emotional, accessible with entrancing dancing, tumbling and music – yet it didn’t win any of the awards. I fear the circus’s accessibility, like Hot Ice, is equated with a lack of artistry. Circus Abyssinia should have swept the board.

Hectoring from on high about art goes beyond performance. I once interviewed the director of a leading publishing house who had taken it over as a faltering business and turned it around. “How did you do that?” I asked. Her answer: “I stopped publishing books that we thought people ought to read and started publishing books they actually wanted to”. It was a highbrow publisher and remains so. It’s just a more successful one now.

This is what we need in the per- forming arts – to let audiences tell us rather than us tell them. We need to listen to that loud whisper that tells us we feel for the performers. Access means just that – being accessible, not unfathomable. Let’s make and celebrate art with that in mind.

Dea Birkett is ringmaster at Circus250 www.circus250.comand creative director at Kids in Museums www.kidsinmuseums.org.uk www.blackpoolpleasurebeach.com www.bibiandbichu.com

 

 

Print Email

AINews