Sunday, 11 October 2009

A Week In December

A Week in December A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks

Faulks is plowing a lonely furrow. This is the first serious attempt by a male writer for quite a long time to write a contemporary novel that is not genre fiction. His models are Dickens and Trollope. It is short by Victorian standards but promises a resurgence of serious contemporary fiction.

View all my reviews >>

Friday, 17 July 2009

Heroes and Hero-worship

The BBC Proms began on Friday 17 July and the concerts run throughout the summer until 12 September. The Daily Telegraph recently said that "If 'accessibility' means anything ... then this is the most accessible music festival in the world". It is difficult to disagree with this unless, that is, you take the view that anything requiring effort, no matter how slight, and everything capable of intellectual analysis even by a few is by definition "exclusive" and consequently inaccessible. Most readers of this blog are unlikely agree with the suggestion that effort and accessibility are incompatible - why else are you reading this? The Proms began in 1895 and thankfully show no sign of losing vitality. The cost has been kept low for those willing to actually promenade and, as Simon Heffer points out, it's absolutely free of charge to anyone with a radio set.

Radio listeners are accustomed to the content being free at the point of delivery even if in the case of commercial stations they have to tolerate some advertising. One of the benefits of living in a city that has two universities in the city and another nearby is that there are many cultural and educational opportunities available that cost nothing and which can be experienced live. One of these I discovered last year is the De Montfort University programme called the Distinguished Lecture Series. A number of universities and other institutions have these programmes under which invited speakers deliver a public lecture and, according to The Guardian at least, their popularity is growing. What's the point of these? Speaking personally there are three main reasons why lectures such as these seem to me worthwhile. The first is to listen to someone well informed share their knowledge and possibly wisdom. I can quite easily read their latest book or research them online, but seeing people in the flesh is quite different. It takes conviction to stand up and make your point when faced by a lecture theatre of adults who don't have to be there. I like conviction. Secondly, and echoing the point made by Aditya Chakraborty in his article, I am one of those who has passed the point of being amused by alcohol, loud music, tribalistic dancing, watching sports and weak humour. There are very few places where you can gather with others, sit in relative quiet and have one person inform others. Thirdly it reasserts the idea of "community" which was long ago hijacked by the politicos and given a meaning that shares many attributes with "front" and "action". It restores it's original meaning which in this context broadly corresponds to the Latin universitas - university.

It seems to me that we may be rediscovering the form of the public lecture. Thomas Carlyle in giving such a public lecture in 1838 said that, "
One comfort is, that Great Men, taken up in any way, are profitable company. We cannot look, however imperfectly, upon a great man, without gaining something by him". Perhaps that is the real reason we are finding these once more informative.

Bookmark and Share

Monday, 13 July 2009

Dark Materials, Taken Lightly

The latest production at the Curve is His Dark Materials based on the bestselling books of Philip Pullman. Regional Theatre is traditionally difficult to justify - it rarely makes money and it has a reputation for amateurism. Leicester decided some time ago to take a leap into the future with the Curve which, as The Independent said, "does not so much demonstrate the modernist form-equals-function mantra, as act it out". The Curve has been well received in many circles and an intrepid group from the CFT team at Harvey Ingram will be sampling its delights on Wednesday 15th July. Harvey Ingram are a founding sponsor of the Curve and, as lawyers, always keen on the dramatic flourish!

Three final year DMU students, Lauren Sulley, Clive Keene and Kiel O’Shea, will be joining over 80 members of the Leicestershire community, who are working as performers, puppeteers, designers and theatre technicians, alongside a professional creative team on the production at Curve. Hey, it looks like an interesting evening is ahead. But it raises some interesting questions about regional arts. Some of these questions will be explored in later posts.


Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 12 July 2009

New Media, New Culture, New City

The cities that do best not only take advantage of their natural resources but also seek out the trends that they can capture and turn to their advantage. Chicago is a city that discovered life after deindustrialisation and can be a guide to others. The Economist wrote about Chicago that it offered a clue to how other "cities may be able to reinvent themselves: create new industries based on fun and games—call them culture, if you prefer—and certainly exploit whatever is already in place". This is something from which we could learn here in the UK Midlands, here in Leicester.

With three universities and a student population of 30,000 from a total population of 300,000 the city is not short of youth and creativity. De Montfort University has a strong design ethic and has, for example, the Contour Design Course specialising in lingerie and swimwear. An example the work of the students is shown here.

It also has a new theatre the recently opened Curve with an ultra modern design, initiatives such as Amplified Leicester, an ethnic mix that helped make it the curry capital of England , a digital media centre opening this year and one of the most successful rugby teams in the world - Leicester Tigers.

Will all of these make it a success? How will these and other new initiatives lead to growth and prosperity in the city? I will be exploring these and other issues affecting the city and the region in this blog and hope you are interested and entertained.

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

This is the initial posting by Culturazzi-at-law a blog intended to capture and discuss some of the legal aspects of culture in the widest sense.