The case for cultural sanctions

Poster for Kyiv culture forum
03 Mar 2022

James Doeser and Anna Marazuela Kim visited Kyiv last autumn to talk to cultural leaders about thriving cultural cities. Here they address what our sector can do in support of colleagues under siege in Ukraine.

Keeping the torch of international cultural co-operation burning 

07 Dec 2021

Jonathan Goodacre considers how we can preserve the global ideas exchange that the arts and culture community benefits from so richly.

Time to challenge the hierarchies

Rampak Genteng
10 Sep 2020

With the creativity of communities finally becoming a policy priority, arts organisations could be handing more control over to their communities. Adam Pushkin explains why – and how – that could work.

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. 

Global Screen Fund extended with £21m pledge

17 May 2022

DCMS is extending its UK Global Screen Fund for three years with an additional £21m of funding.

Designed to boost international development and distribution opportunities post-Brexit, the fund supported more than 65 productions in its £7m pilot year.

According to DCMS, the continued investment will increase exports of UK film, TV and video games in new territories, help productions promote work at film festivals and support companies to hire staff with specialist skills.

It is split into three strands with the first, a channel aimed at supporting the sale and distribution of UK feature films overseas, reopening today (17 May).

Two subsequent strands, aimed at international business development and international co-production, will relaunch in the coming months.

Ben Roberts, CEO of BFI, administers of the fund, said international collaboration is fundamental to making new films and dramas that audiences around the world want to see.

“We are proud of the incredible craft and talent within our screen industries, and look forward to how we can help grow opportunities for the UK globally over the next three years of this essential fund."

Ukrainian art galleries partially reopen

10 May 2022

The Lviv National Art gallery has reopened some of its 18 branches in western Ukraine.

Gallery director Taras Voznyak says the decision is an act of resistance: “Putin now has the goal of turning Ukrainians into nobody, into nothing. In order to show that we are alive, we have opened several branches.”

The gallery boasts a 65,000-piece collection in total, displayed in palaces, castles and cathedrals across Lviv province.

The gallery’s most valuable artworks will remain in storage, but Vozynak has not ruled out opening the main gallery in the future. He is also planning online exhibitions, and exhibitions built underground, if funding is in place.

“Life does not stop,” Voznyak added.

Ukrainian curator missing after museum looted

04 May 2022

A curator from the Southern Ukrainian city of Melitopol is missing after being abducted from her home at gunpoint by Russian forces.

Director of the Melitopol Museum of Local History, Leila Ibrahimova, told the New York Times Galina Andriivna Kucher was kidnapped on 30 April.

Kucher’s disappearance follows the loss of 198 priceless artefacts reportedly looted from the museum.

Russian forces removed the artefacts, consisting of gold pieces, old weapons, silver coins and medals, which are more than 2,300-years-old, after museum workers attempted to hide the items.

Kucher reportedly refused to disclose the location of the artefacts. She was released from the raid but subsequently kidnapped the following night.

Melitopol has been occupied by Russian forces since early March.

A South Asian counter narrative

portrait of Roohia Syed-Ahmed
04 May 2022

New research on South Asian arts and ageing offers insights and inspiration to a new generation, write Elizabeth Lynch and Arti Prashar.

Covid-19 and the global cultural and creative sector – part 2

Theater in Quarantine - Mask Study 1, created by Jon Levin, Katie Rose McLaughlin and Joshua William Gelb; April 1, 2020 Pictured: Joshua William Gelb The story of Theater in Quarantine.
27 Apr 2022

After two years of constant learning, Anthony Sargent thinks we now have the foundations for a new world.

Boyce wins top award at Venice Biennale

25 Apr 2022

Sonia Boyce has won the Golden Lion award for Best National Participation at the Venice Biennale, becoming the first Black British woman to do so.

Her winning exhibition Feeling Her Way, focuses on the vocal experimentation of five Black female musicians embodying feelings of power, freedom and vulnerability. The jury said that “in working collaboratively with other black women, [Boyce] unpacks a plenitude of silenced stories.”

Boyce said: “This is momentous, and utterly overwhelming. I want to say thank you to everyone for their support. Their generosity has been beyond my expectations."

Emma Dexter, Director of Visual Arts for the British Council, which commissioned the work for the British Pavilion at the Biennale, said: “Sonia made a work for the Biennale that speaks of hope, experiment, joy and freedom, and the importance of remembering and celebrating women’s achievements and creativity. 

“It is also highly significant that an artist who was part of the Black British Art movement of the 1980s has been honoured in this way – thereby bringing this crucial part of British art history into an international spotlight.”

Past British winners include Richard Hamilton (1993), Anish Kapoor (1990), Frank Auerbach (1986), Bridget Riley (1968) and Henry Moore (1948).

Russia’s world heritage meet on ice

25 Apr 2022

A UNESCO world heritage meeting due to take place in Russia has been postponed indefinitely.

The decision follows pressure from global cultural organisations to pull the meeting in Kazan following the invasion of Ukraine.

The 21 member states of UNESCO’s heritage committee take turns to host the annual meeting, chairing the edition they host. There are currently no plans to relocate the 45th edition.

UNESCO estimated 53 cultural buildings in Ukraine had been destroyed by Russian attacks by the end of March. The number is now thought to be closer to 100.

Fostering creative talent

12 Apr 2022

In October 2020, then Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden distanced himself from an advert encouraging people in the arts to retrain in cybersecurity. Patrick McCrae reflects on how much has since changed.

Opportunities for emerging artists in market slump

12 Apr 2022

Brexit has edged the UK's art trade out of the global top tier. It could mean more exposure for artists domestically.

Ireland launches Basic Income for the Arts

06 Apr 2022

Up to 2,000 artists will be supported for three years, reflecting a sea change in how arts workers are valued.

53 Ukrainian cultural sites damaged

05 Apr 2022

At least 53 cutltural sites in Ukraine have been damaged since the Russian invasion began.

UNESCO says it has confirmed damage to 29 religious sites, 16 historic buildings, four monuments, and four museums, including one sheltering civilians in Mariupol.

"Our experts continue to verify each report and it is feared that other sites will be added to this list," a spokesperson said.

The agency is liaising with culture professionals in Ukraine to help protect artifacts and urging Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to adhere to its Hague Convention duty to protect cultural property during the conflict.

Cultural sites are marked with a blue shield are protected by the convention. If attacks are committed against these sites, UNESCO says the perpetrators will have committed acts that constitute war crimes.

UK’s global art market share falls

30 Mar 2022

The UK’s share of the global art market fell to a historic low in 2021, according to the Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report.

The UK’s $11.3bn share equated to 17% of the global market, 3% less than the year before.

The US recorded the largest market ($28bn), while the Chinese market replaced the UK as second largest in the world ($13.4bn).

The report attributes the decline in part to Brexit and the continued imposition of VAT on art imports. 

“Some domestic EU art trade has been transferred outside of the UK, boosting markets such as France and Germany,” it reads.

Chairman of the British Art Market Federation (BAMF) Anthony Browne says the report “did not make for easy reading from the UK's perspective”.

“[The UK’s] failure to take advantage of the opportunities offered by Brexit and remove the barrier of import VAT [has] put us at a disadvantage on every level”.

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.

Ukrainian museum destroyed in airstrike

29 Mar 2022

Russian airstrikes on the Ukrainian coastal city of Mariupol have destroyed the Kuindzhi Art Museum.

Open since 2010, the museum was devoted to the life and work of local realist painter Arkhip Kuindzhi.

Writing on Facebook, Chairman of Ukraine’s artist union Konstantin Chernyavsky vowed the museum will one day be rebuilt.

The attack follows the bombing of a Mariupol theatre the week before, which is believed to have killed 300 people, making it the deadliest single attack since the war began.

Search on for potential UNESCO World Heritage sites

28 Mar 2022

DCMS is asking places to put themselves forward for UNESCO World Heritage status.

Bids are reviewed every 10 years by a panel of heritage experts and "only locations with the potential to be inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List will be put forward to formal nomination," the department says.

A tentative list of sites that currently includes Scottish Flow Country and Gracehill in Northern Ireland will be updated later this year and given to the World Heritage Committee in 2024. 

There are currently 33 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the UK, including Stonehenge, The Tower of London, Hadrian's Wall and, more recently, the slate landscape of north west Wales. Liverpool lost its status last year due to development on its waterfront.

Heritage Minister Nigel Huddleston encouraged applications: "As well as international acclaim, UNESCO status boosts tourism and creates employment and economic growth opportunities."

British Council restructure threatens sector, strikers say

24 Mar 2022

Plans to cut arts jobs will irreversibly damage the organisation, workers say, as their union calls the consultation “severely problematic”.

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