Royal College of Art opens new £135m campus

23 May 2022

A major new campus for the Royal College of Art (RCA), featuring a space for public exhibitions, has opened.

The £135m development accommodates four storeys of studios and workshops for sculpture, contemporary art, video and film, and design.

Meanwhile, a double-height 350sq m space space known as The Hanger has large doors at either end to enable the installation of heavy, large or complex works of art, and will be used for public exhibitions. 

A similar but smaller room provides research, testing and assembly space for sculpture and robotics projects.

To coincide with the launch, the RCA has announced a new five-year strategy for 2022–27 which includes plans to double the percentage of Black British and People of Colour students and researchers from underrepresented backgrounds.

Libraries as digital inspirers

VR libraries promotional image
11 May 2022

By making the most of digital technologies and creative media, libraries can be part of new ways for people to connect and share. Zillah Watson explains how virtual reality (VR) can expand horizons.

Project seeks artists of colour ‘to tackle racial injustices’

04 May 2022

Initiative inspired by Black Lives Matter movement will commission artists of African and Asian heritage to help tackle “shockingly low” representation in British public arts institutions. 

Scotland to tie arts funding to net zero progress

27 Apr 2022

Creative Scotland says it will expect all funding recipients to demonstrate how their work contributes to making the sector carbon neutral by 2045.

Court rejects Holocaust memorial

11 Apr 2022

The High Court has rejected long-disputed plans for a Holocaust memorial in Westminster.

The Department for Levelling Up, Houses and Communities said the London Historic Parks and Gardens Trust's case against the development should be dismissed, but a judge sided with the group, which argued the proposed site must legally remain a public garden.

The project had been approved last year after the government overturned Westminster Council's refusal to grant planning permission.

Olivia Marks-Waldman, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, said: “We are surprised by the high court decision and hope that this does not preclude or overshadow the burning need for the national memorial.”

Arts Quarter proposed for London's West End

10 Mar 2022

Major institutions would act as gateways to a "gallery without walls" under a £1bn plan to support the area's economic recovery.

UNBOXED launches first event

02 Mar 2022

UNBOXED, the 2022 festival of creativity and innovation, has launched its first event in Scotland.

About Us, a multimedia projection and performance artwork celebrating "our place in the universe and the connections between us", is the first of 10 creative projects commissioned for the festival.

Lead creative partner 59 Productions is presenting About Us in Paisley before moving on to Derry, Caenarfon, Luton and Hull. Alongside the nighttime shows, daytime installations and workshops will extend the project's reach to children and young people.

Nine more commissions will be experienced across 80 sites and through digital and broadcast media throughout 2022.

Train station mini-operas celebrate female musicians

22 Feb 2022

Seven mini-operas were performed at St. Pancras International on Tuesday (February 8) to mark International Women's Day.

The works were created by female composers and musicians following an open call by the Royal Opera House's Jette Parker Young Artists Programme.

Titled Lost and Found, the project aims to improve the visibility of female creatives, as well as offering travellers "a moment of reflection in an unlikely space", the opera house says.

ROH is offering a free livestream of documentary Interrogating the Ballerina and plans to launch its new HerStory tour at Covent Garden later this week.

Arrests over attack on controversial sculpture

17 Jan 2022

Two men have been arrested for attacking a controversial sculpture by paedophile artist Eric Gill.

One spent hours bashing the artwork outside BBC Broadcasting House in central London with a hammer while the other filmed him. No charges have yet been brought, Metropolitan Police say.

Campaigners have called for the statue, which features a naked child, to be removed but the BBC reportedly plans to keep it.

The incident follows a not guilty verdict for the Colston Four, who argued toppling the infamous statue in Bristol was justified because its continued presence constituted a hate crime or act of abuse.

Ash Sarkar, a contributing editor for Novara Media, wrote on Twitter that Gill's statue "has less in common with Colston than it does the ongoing veneration of abusers in the art world".

Colston statue topplers cleared in court

06 Jan 2022

Four Black Lives Matter protesters who toppled the Edward Colston statue in Bristol have been cleared of all charges.

Jake Skuse 33, Rhian Graham, 30, Milo Ponsford, 26, and Sage Willoughby, 22, admitted to pulling down the statue, but denied causing criminal damage, arguing the statue itself was so offensive it could be considered a hate crime.

A jury found the Colston Four not guilty, 11 to one.

While the prosecution argued the nature of the statue was irrelevant, the defence said otherwise.

"Colston’s deeds may be historical but the continued veneration of him... in a vibrant multicultural city was an act of abuse," defence lawyer Liam Walker said.

Knowsley becomes Liverpool's Borough of Culture

30 Nov 2021

Knowsley has become Liverpool City Region Borough of Culture.

Following on from Halton's year with the title, Knowsley will be the next in a rotation of the city's six regions to present a year-long cultural programme.

Planned events include a borough-wide sculpture trail, light installations, a six-metre-wide replica of the earth and the opening of the Shakespeare North Playhouse in Prescot next summer.

"I have no doubt that Knowsley will set a new benchmark for the next rotational round beginning in 2023... and I look forward to seeing what Halton will do again in 2026," Cultural Partnership Co-Chair Phil Redmond said.

Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram, who introduced the initiative in the region in 2018, said Halton had "risen to the challenge of delivering Borough of Culture during some exceptionally difficult circumstances".

"Looking forward to 2022, I’ve been really excited by the enthusiasm and imagination shown by Knowsley in putting together their calendar of events."

A final programme for 2022 will be announced soon.

Council and cultural sector collaboration

image of Goldsmith's Battle of Lewisham mural
25 Nov 2021

How do local authorities and arts organisations work together to bid for a year-long festival? Liz Dart and Gavin Barlow share their experience.

UNBOXED 2022 offers innovation - and employment

21 Oct 2021

Once derided as the Festival of Brexit, the eight-month mega event will "prove the naysayers wrong".

Khan invests £1m to diversify London’s public spaces

21 Oct 2021

A new fund to improve the diversity of London’s public spaces has been announced by London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

Untold Stories will offer community-led organisations between £1,000 and £25,000 to develop new murals, street art, street names and programmes.

Recent research into London’s sculptures found huge gaps in representation. More than a fifth of London's statues are dedicated to named men, whilst only 4% are dedicated to named women. Just three of almost 1500 public monuments depict named women of colour.

Khan said London’s statues, street names and buildings have shown a limited perspective of the city’s history for “far too long”.

“I’m determined to do everything I can to ensure our public realm presents a more complete picture of everyone who has made London the incredible city it is today.”

Untold Stories opened its first application round Thursday (October 21), with a deadline of January 12.

Design chosen for National Windrush Monument

19 Oct 2021

The Windrush Commemoration Committee has selected Basil Watson’s design to stand as the National Windrush Monument.

Watson’s entry, chosen from a shortlist of four, depicts a man, woman and child climbing a mountain of suitcases hand-in-hand to demonstrate "the inseparable bond of the Windrush pioneers".

The committee said it received the most positive feedback from online survey and focus groups.

"I look forward to bringing my design to life, because I know how much this means to the Windrush community," said Watson, whose parents were part of the Windrush generation.

The monument, which will stand at London Waterloo station, is expected to be unveiled on Windrush Day 2022 (June 22).

'Break glass' campaign highlights inequalities in the arts

14 Oct 2021

A giant box bearing the slogan "break in case of arts emergency" has appeared in London as part of a campaign highlighting inequalities in the arts.

The boxes showcase artworks by young people involved with charity Arts Emergency as well as statistics on the arts workforce. 'Break the glass' is a euphemism for joining the mentoring network.

Only 4.8% of people working in music or the visual or performing arts are from a Black, Asian or ethnic minority background and only 12% are working class, Arts Emergency reports.

The box has debuted at the Museum of London and will tour several local venues before arriving at Liverpool's World Museum in time for its 2022 launch event.

The campaign is supported by organisations including the BFI, Whitworth Gallery, Strawberries and Creem Festival and professional website Linkedin.

 

‘Re-veiling’ commemorates the truth of statues

A procession of people
06 Oct 2021

We often don’t notice statues of people, but they are part of our cultural history. Who are they? Why are they there? And where are the women? These are questions that fascinate Wanda Zyborska.

Arts centres to host conference on censored exhibition

05 Oct 2021

Two arts companies whose commission was censored by their council are hosting a public talk on the decision.

Gabriella Hirst's artwork An English Garden was deemed "a left wing attack" by local politicians for its interrogation of Britain's nuclear history. 

Arts company Metal said councillors' "fundamental misreading" threatened to distort the actual meaning of the work and agreed to remove it.

An online conference on October 23 presented by Metal and The Old Waterworks will "continue the discussions that were silenced through the censorship".

A workshop in September taught participants to graft the offending Atom Bomb roses, which are now on display outside Southend's Focal Point Gallery.

UK's first public artwork honouring Windrush generation unveiled

04 Oct 2021

Three marble and bronze scupltures of Caribbean produce have become the first public artwork in the UK celebrating the Windrush generation.

Veronica Ryan's work references narratives of migration and movement, drawing on her childhood memories of east London's Ridley Road Market, near where the statues are sited.

"Cultural visibility and representation evident in public spaces is crucial," Ryan said.

"I like the fact that the community in Hackney will see some familiar fruit and vegetables represented in the sculptures, and always enjoy these connections."

The sculptures are part of Hackney Council's 'Black History in the Making', funded by the Freelands Foundation, which will continue throughout autumn

A new website has also been established.

Councillors chastised for coercing company into censorship

20 Jul 2021

An artist, her commissioners and the council say the pressure to remove a nuclear-themed artwork was misguided. So why hasn't it been reinstalled?

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