Milton Keynes - international festival city

Milton Keynes - international festival city

AI PROFILE: Monica Ferguson, chief executive and artistic director of The Stables, Milton Keynes

West Yorks revamp to cost £2 million more

West Yorks revamp to cost £2 million more

Council asked to meet most of extra contractor costs

Blavatnik gets Haymarket

Blavatnik gets Haymarket

The Russian-born billionaire and philanthropist Sir Leonard Blavatnik has acquired the Theatre Royal Haymarket Access Entertainment, for an undisclosed sum.

Opening the outdoor

Opening the outdoor

Outdoor arts have become the sector for bringing together professional performance and community participation, and it’s growing, according to Xtrax and its Platform 4: UK project.

THE WORD     Are selfies art?

THE WORD Are selfies art?

Yes? Hell no! … depends, says Kat Tiidenberg

McPhee’s unforgettable Orgreave images

McPhee’s unforgettable Orgreave images

Today (June 18) is the 34thanniversary of the Battle of Orgreave, the confrontation between police and pickets at the Orgreave coking plant in South Yorkshire and a pivotal event in the miners’ strike of 1984-85.

Great art in the classroom

Great art in the classroom

More than 70,000 schoolchildren from 125 schools are to get world class works of art in their classrooms as part of the largest ever sculpture project undertaken in Britain.

Summer Flight

Summer Flight

Peckham artist Remi Rough has created a new public art installation to welcome visitors to the transformed Wembley Park this summer www.wembleypark.com.

Producer Winter switches West End for Tunbridge Wells

Producer Winter switches West End for Tunbridge Wells

Carole Winter, the West End and Broadway producer with more than 30 shows to her name, is to be the permanent producer at Tunbridge Wells’s Assembly Hall Theatre.

Opera festival’s moving Hope for Grenfell gala

Opera festival’s moving Hope for Grenfell gala

Gareth Malone led a choir of almost 200 children and local residents and celebrities last night in a moving memorial concert at Investec Opera Holland Park to mark the first anniversary of the Grenfell disaster.

Ed Vaizey and Tom Watson to be Achates judges

The third Achates Philanthropy Prize, awarded for first-time cultural giving in the UYK,is to have former culture minister Ed Vaizey and shadow culture secretary Tom Watson as judges.

Guide for museums to diversify visitors

Arts Council England and the Museums Association have launched a new ‘how-to’ guide to help museums increase visitor diversity

Ireland launches international culture strategy

Ireland launches international culture strategy

Seven year programme promises to double arts spend

Murdoch arts charity launches regional artists scheme

Murdoch arts charity launches regional artists scheme

Freelands Foundation will invest £1.5 million

Belfast backs arts funding campaign

Belfast backs arts funding campaign

Councillors support increase in government cash

Top Scottish arts organisation in shock closure

Top Scottish arts organisation in shock closure

NVA blames loss of funding and strains of ambitious restoration plan

Sadiq’s £1.1b cultural vision for Olympic Park

Sadiq’s £1.1b cultural vision for Olympic Park

The Mayor of London has set out plans for East Bank, the new cultural sector in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in the East End, with the BBC being added to the mix.

Museums dependent on blockbusters

Worldwide figures show Louvre back on top

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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