From Reviews, Words
posted on May 24th, 2011

Here’s a list of cultural things I loved this year. Please feel free to stick yours in the comments (or a link to wherever you’ve published yours).

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From Words
posted on May 24th, 2011

The World Book Night project is getting some hefty plugging from the BBC and the broadsheets, after an initial push on the Culture Show at the end of last year. It was conceived in 2009 by James Byng of Canongate at a talking shop to find new ideas for publishers. It is supported by the BBC along with a range of leading lights in publishing and run (intriguingly) as a ‘charitable company’.

The project asks people to apply to become ‘book givers’, picking a book that they wish to give out to lots of people. Recruits will each get 48 free copies of their chosen book and on one night – Sat 5th March 2011 – amid a co-ordinated wave of excitement and media interest, distribute them to the masses. On the same night, the organisation itself will give away books to places where they’re hard to get (they mention prisons and hospitals). Sounds ace.

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posted on April 10th, 2011
Creative licence in a new show about the disabled appears to be less than original 

What is music media figure Charles Hazlewood and Jo Brand’s production company What Larks doing apparently ripping off creative work from a small charity for disabled musicians?

In the past Hazlewood has been involved with some genuinely interesting projects, combining a career as a moderately successful conductor with roles in events management and the media.

He’s part of the Somerset crowd, conducted the first symphony at Glastonbury Festival and does good work popularising orchestral music.

But this week I found Hazlewood involved with a bit of media chicanery that appears deeply underhand and leaves me questioning his motives.

For the past five years, small but highly respected disabled musicians’ charity Drake Music has been developing an ambitious large-scale project called Concerto, to launch and support a working orchestra for musicians with disabilities and provide them with bespoke new music to perform.

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posted on February 21st, 2011
Despite what the suits might have you think, the album still has a great deal more to offer 

We’re only six weeks into 2011 and it’s already shaping up to be the finest vintage year for album releases in half a decade, probably longer.

Time after time in the past month, bands and artists I love have produced the goods, headed towards their peak form or returned with true passion and creativity after a gap.

In fact, I have heard almost enough albums in January alone to equal my 10 favourites from the whole of last year.

For me the clear masterpiece so far is PJ Harvey’s Let England Shake, which repositions her as a world-class outward-looking war artist.

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posted on February 1st, 2011
Inflammatory rhetoric will always return to haunt us 

I might not be the person you’d expect to call for more measured rhetoric from “our side” in the current escalating cuts conflict but I’m going to.

Last year, when Camilla Parker Bowles’s terrified face was splashed across the tabloids to much hilarity after she was “poked with a stick” by protesters who attacked the royal car, an unexpected reaction I felt was sympathy for the old lady.

Of course the Establishment press ran with the story, a convenient rug under which to brush far worse abuses of peaceful demonstrators by police officers, as well as the wider and quite appalling hurt caused by the kettling tactic.

Even this week, after a weekend in which non-violent protesters were assaulted with CS gas on Oxford Street, the mainstream media will under-report and equivocate.

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I think Twitter is very important; the most important web-based communication tool yet developed. I don’t need to tell you (whether you use it or not) that it has had a profound effect around the world, created an accessible, robust new route for contact and real-time search. We’re only beginning to learn the benefits it could bring.

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