The recent Arts Council England (ACE) cuts to several London theatres and arts organisations have set theatre director Stephen Unwin thinking about some underlying issues
Work has just started on a £45m plan to redevelop a theatre to make it a community cultural hub, with half the money coming from the government, a quarter from a local authority. It is an uplifting and counter-intuitive act of political faith in an arts project. Haven’t heard of it?
Was a time when the museum object was god, worshipped by curators who would long for the day in the week when the museum was closed and they could get intimate with the collection without the public getting in the way. Disposing of any of it, however acquired, was unthinkable.
North Pole, 3rd August 2017, by Mark Chilvers
Alan Sparrow on the photographer Mark Chilvers and his polar adventure
One of the most eagerly anticipated openings of the new year happens in February when the Manchester Museum presents its £15m transformation (funded by Arts Council England, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, The University of Manchester). It will also present a new social role for museums of the future as well as news displays with what might be a controversial stance on empire and colonialism, and a Belonging Gallery that draws on the collections to reflect on the sense of place from a Syrian refugee’s life jacket to stories from the first climate migration to Britain during the last Ice Age. It has been guided by Esme Ward, director since 2018.
It’s not so long ago that “community” meant social services, and “community arts” was gathering day centre armchairs in a semi-circle on a Thursday afternoon for a spirited, if not lusty, rendition of “Knees up, Mother Brown!”
Theatrum Mundi was founded in 2012 by Richard Sennett, professor of sociology at the London School of Economics and the founding director of the New York Institute for the Humanities, with Adam Kaasa who teaches contemporary art practice at the Royal College of Art. Its vision was to create a dialogue between artists and urbanists in the development of cities. It now has projects spanning the UK, Europe and the Mediterranean, and is marking its first decade by launching a new study programme for which it is recruiting applicants, and the director of Theatrum Mundi is Cecily Chua (pictured).
Heysel Stadium, 29 May 1985, by Eamonn McCabe
Alan Sparrow on Eamonn McCabe
Gainsborough’s House, the childhood home in Sudbury, Suffolk, of one of our most important artists and now a museum devoted to him, has been transformed in a £10.6m refit and will reopen on November 21, having been closed since 2019. Mark Bills, formerly the paintings curator at the Museum of London and then director of the Watts Gallery in Surrey, has been Gainsborough House’s director since 2013.
The Amish, January 1989, by Roger Bamber
Alan Sparrow’s personal tribute to his former workmate, Roger Bamber
Tiger Moths over Biggleswade by Andy Paradise for the Independent, 1st October 2000
Alan Sparrow takes to the skies with an award-winning image
By Patrick Kelly
The Edinburgh Fringe is the world’s largest arts festival, and that’s its problem.