Music: What is it good for? In the 1970s, at a time when we were less anxious about many things than we are today, there was a vogue for adventure playgrounds in which young people could scramble about, get dirty, build dens and invent games with only minimal adult supervision. It was a good idea, … Continue reading Music as an adventure playground
One lovely evening this summer, I stood waiting in the lobby of the Market Theatre in the Herefordshire town of Ledbury. The sunshine spilling through the windows was starting to get uncomfortably warm, but no one seemed to mind. The space was crowded and there was a babble of anticipation as people waited for the … Continue reading Whose line is it, anyway?
Forgotten empire The almost complete absence of imperialism and particularly of colonialism from British public discourse has always struck me as problematic in itself and a sign of immaturity. Even a keen follower of British politics, media and the arts would only rarely be reminded of this country’s global power between 1550 and 1950, and … Continue reading Remembering not to forget
This is an anxious time for the 700-odd organisations who get regular funding from Arts Council England, and for those who don’t yet, but hope to. They had to submit applications in March and will learn in July whether they will be part of what ACE calls its National Portfolio for 2015-18. It’s a tough process … Continue reading Status anxiety
Recreating Gainsbourg at Abbey Road My son has just completed his first independent film commission, for Coup Perdu records. Looking for Melody is a 50 minute documentary about the recording of Sine Qua Non, an album of Serge Gainsbourg songs recast in a jazz idiom. Filmed mainly at Abbey Road Studio 2 – where so much rock history was made – it captures the evolution of … Continue reading ‘Looking for Melody’
Gravitas, the heavy tread of moral earnestness, becomes a bore if it is not accompanied by the light step of intelligence. (Kenneth Clark, Civilisation, Ch. 4) In 1969, the same year that a NASA programme named after a Classical Greek god put man on the moon, the BBC broadcast a series of programmes under the … Continue reading In search of gravitas
There's has been a great increase in cultural policy data, research and commentary in recent years, reflecting culture's greater importance in the postmodern world, and facilitated by the ease of modern communications. Twenty years ago, fact checking (to say nothing of library research) was slow and laborious. Now, you can break off in the middle of a sentence … Continue reading The Budapest Observatory