The real Big Bang

Poet Scarlett Ward leads a poetry workshop in conjunction with About Us and UNBOXED
22 Feb 2022

About Us* is a dazzling free show combining projection mapping, animation, music and poetry. At its heart, says Maggie Aderin-Pocock, is a simple message: we are all connected. 

Welcome to UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK

people looking at an art installation
21 Oct 2021

What happens when creative minds from different sectors and disciplines come together to imagine and design bold, large-scale events to reach millions of people worldwide? Martin Green reveals what’s in store for 2022.

Little moments of joy

Projection on cargo truck
09 Jun 2021

While audiences are most comfortable returning to outdoor events, organising a festival that can flex around ever-changing restrictions is still no mean feat. Penny Mills and Jonathan Goodacre have been looking at what’s working.

Coventry 2021: City of Culture is open for business

Coventry city of culture shop
19 May 2021

Despite all the difficulties of the past year, Jake Bartle and Emily Coleman are confident that this year’s festival will be a celebration of artistic achievement.

Edinburgh Fringe producers get £1.3m resilience funding

26 May 2022

Edinburgh Festival Fringe producers have received financial support to help them recover and remain resilient following the Covid-19 pandemic. 

A total of 13 Edinburgh Festival Fringe producers have been awarded a share of £1.275m from the Fringe 2022 Resilience Fund, financed by the Scottish Government and distributed by Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society.

Venues in receipt of the money are Assembly, BlundaBus, Gilded Balloon, Greenside, Just The Tonic, Laughing Horse, Monkey Barrell Comedy, Pleasance, Scottish Comedy Festival, Summerhall, theSpaceUK, Underbelly and ZOO.

A further £305k has been allocated to support the ongoing resilience of the Fringe Society, which includes £55k to support the delivery of street events during August.

Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive of Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, said: “It’s fair to say that the last few years have been the most challenging in our festival’s history. 

"Now, as we prepare to enter our 75th anniversary year, creatives across the Fringe landscape are working hard to ensure that this incredible festival not only survives, but continues to work hard to be the best version of itself.

“This support from Scottish Government is absolutely vital in helping us to achieve that goal: allowing producers and creatives across the landscape to not only recover from the devastating effects of the pandemic, but to offer enhanced support to artists, workers and volunteers; to continue to programme creative and innovative work; to improve accessibility; to tackle affordability and to ensure that this festival remains true to its founding principles of openness and inclusivity.”

Commonwealth Games cultural programme 'ignores diverse communities'

Future Birmingham - SUKI 10C, Digbeth.  The painted former public house at the corner of Bordesley Street and Meriden Street has been repainted.
25 May 2022

Report claims organisers have missed opportunities to include Birmingham's diverse communities in planned events, and are not on target to meet requirements measuring race equality, community engagement and accountability.

Only 13% of UK festival headliners are female

24 May 2022

Only around one in 10 headline acts at the leading UK music festivals taking place this summer will be women, a study has found.

A BBC study focusing on 50 of the biggest UK festivals found that out of 200 headline acts only 26 (13%) were an all-female band or solo artist whereas 149 (74.5%) were either an all-male band or solo artist.

Meanwhile 24 acts (12%) had a mixed line-up of male and female performers, and one (0.05%) artist identified as non-binary.

This is despite many events previously promising to achieve a 50/50 gender balance across their line-ups by 2022.

Maggie Rogers, a singer/songwriter who will be performing at Latitude Festival this summer, said: "What I come to music for - as a fan and artist - is community and to feel part of something, and I think community functions at its best when it feels inclusive.

"When that doesn't happen - when the line-ups reiterate imbalances that exist in gender and race and class - it's not surprising, but it's certainly not ideal."



Evaluating cities and capitals of culture

art installation of dominoes in a town square
17 May 2022

With the winner of the UK City of Culture 2025 to be announced imminently, four academics outline their recommendations for the future of evaluation studies of Cities and Capitals of Culture. 

Art Fund helps regional curators visit London Gallery Weekend

10 May 2022

Eighteen galleries across the UK have received support from the Art Fund to help curators visit London Gallery Weekend 2022.

The grants will go towards travel and accommodation costs for the event, which takes place this weekend (13-15 May).

The charity said it hopes the scheme will help create new and stronger connections between museums across the UK, London galleries and the artists they support.

Director Jenny Waldman said: “It felt like it was a really good moment to bring people back together.”

“The damage that has been done by the pandemic means that people have not been travelling to see work, travelling to meet each other.”

Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery partially reopens

03 May 2022

Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery is temporarily reopening ahead of this summer’s Commonwealth Games.

Five of the museum’s 40 displays are open to visitors with three displays, We Are Birmingham, SaVĀge K’lub and Wonderland: Birmingham’s Cinema Stories, presented as part of Birmingham 2022 Festival.

The museum shut in October 2020 for major rewiring work and will close again in December ahead of a full reopening scheduled for 2024.

Birmingham Museums Trust Co-CEOs Sara Wajid and Zak Mensah said the reopening marks “a new phase of cultural confidence for Birmingham”.

“The new displays honour the contribution of activists, reformers and creative pioneers. This is a chance to welcome old friends and new visitors from all over the world.”

Festival commissions homeless for operas 

27 Apr 2022

A new year-long festival will encourage artists and audiences to view their cities through the eyes of their homeless residents.

Streetwise Opera will commission nine composers, three choreographers, three designers and a filmmaker to work with more than 200 people who have been homeless for the festival, titled Re:sound. 

Working in London, Nottingham and Manchester, they aim to co-create nine micro-operas to be performed in March 2023.

The charity is partnering with organisations that address homelessness to expand its reach and create connections between artists and participants. Six of the operas will be written and composed in hostels and day centres.

“Staying creative is very important when you are recovering from homelessness, because it lightens your heart and inspires you to achieve more,” said Denise Alison, a participant in weekly workshops run by Streetwise Opera at the Southbank Centre. 

Streetwise’s Artistic Director Martin Constantine said the participating artists have “the ambition to reimagine the boundaries of opera and co-create work that aims to invite audiences, especially those who may think that opera is not for them, to rediscover their cities through a different lens”.

Full-scale BBC Proms programme returns

27 Apr 2022

BBC Proms will be restored to its full eight-week calendar this summer.

The 2022 programme features more performances than ever across the UK and the return of international orchestras for the first time since 2019.

The Proms is welcoming a newly-formed Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra which includes Ukrainian refugee musicians. A special exemption to allow military-age male members of the orchestra to participate has been granted by Ukraine’s Ministry of Culture.

Starting 15 July, all concerts will be available to listen to on BBC Radio 3 and BBC Radio Sounds, with 22 scheduled to be streamed on TV and BBC iPlayer.

Controller Alan Davey called BBC Proms “one of the most inclusive musical experiences anywhere”.

“This year we want audiences everywhere to know that the joy and communion of live music-making is back.”

Cardiff Council leader pledges music festival

21 Apr 2022

Cardiff Council Leader Huw Thomas says he will bring a new music festival to the city if he is reelected in May.

The Labour councillor says Cardiff's music strategy includes developing a music event to “do through music for Cardiff what drama has done for Edinburgh”.

Cardiff's live music scene has experienced mixed fortunes over the course of the pandemic. Several music venues close down, including Gwdihw, Buffalo and Dempseys, while Cardiff Castle was used as a live venue for the first time last summer. The city also recently hosted BBC’s Six Music Festival for the first time.

Thomas said: “It’s still in part under wraps for now but I think those gigs in the Castle and the Six Music Festival are exactly the foretaste of what [the festival] could be like."

LGB Alliance grant suspended after outcry

protestors hold up a pride flag and trans flag
13 Apr 2022

The gender critical organisation received one of 704 grants in Arts Council England’s £4.58m Let’s Create Jubilee Fund.

Future of culture in Edinburgh

Seminar room Edinburgh University
12 Apr 2022

Recent research urged Edinburgh’s cultural sector to adopt a values-led approach to addressing inequities and precarities. Vikki Jones assesses the implications of the findings for the city.

Event organisers optimistic about future

05 Apr 2022

Worries about ticket sales, rising costs and staff shortages remain front of mind but organisers have "a much thicker skin" than before Covid.

Commonwealth Games’ diversity commitments questioned

Birmingham 2022 mural outside Birmingham New Street Station by Gent 48
01 Apr 2022

Organisers reject claims that the Games’ cultural programme is not representative of the city’s diverse communities.

Spain offers 18-year-olds cultural vouchers

29 Mar 2022

18-year-olds in Spain will receive €400 (£335) in culture vouchers to spend on the arts this year.

Approved by the Spanish government last week, The Youth Cultural Bonus can be spent on festivals, live events, books, vinyl and digital music.

Vouchers must be split across cultural mediums, with a €200 (£170) spending cap on live events and festivals, a €100 (£85) limit for physical products and a €100 limit for digital products.

The project aims to generate new habits of cultural consumption, create new audiences and reduce the negative impact caused by the pandemic on the country's cultural sector, according to a statement from the Spanish government website.

The initiative follows similar examples in France and Italy, where 18-year-olds receive €300 (£250) and €500 (£450) respectively to put towards cultural spending.

York opens grants scheme for events

24 Mar 2022

Organisations in York that were negatively affected by Covid-19 are being encouraged to apply to a new grants scheme.

Awards of up to £10,000 are available to events and festivals to deliver activity planned for 2020 or 2021 this year. Applicants must demonstrate how their event supports economic recovery and the York Culture Strategy.

Funding has been provided by York City Council to Make it York from the authority's Additional Restrictions Grant allocation.

"Make It York have designed a quick turnaround grant-giving process, which opens from today (March 24), and we're looking forward to receiving applications," Managing Director Sarah Loftus said.

Applications close April 7, with successful organisations to be notified by the end of the month.

UNBOXED 2022 working on 'a recipe for failure'

17 Mar 2022

A scathing report from MPs says the festival is "an irresponsible use of public money" set to prove its sceptics right. How fair is the criticism?


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