Penguin Moderns – Books for the Millennial Generation?

Raise your hands if you like books. Now raise your hand if you like books that are small, aesthetic and affordable. Well you’re in luck – Penguin have recently released the new Penguin Modern collection, and it’s rather beautiful!

Released in February 2018, the Penguin Modern collection features a series of 50 titles each offering ‘a concentrated hit of its author’s work’. Waterstones call it a gateway to ground-breaking thought, with a selection of twentieth-century authors that includes Franz Kafka, John Steinbeck and George Orwell. Titles cover fiction, poetry and even blues lyrics! Interested yet?

It gets better… Each book is practically pocket sized, a gorgeous shade of duck-egg blue and they only cost £1 each! Yes, really!

 

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photographs my own

I first stumbled across these lovely bits of literature in Blackwell’s bookstore in Cardiff University’s SU and knew I just had to get one (at least to start…). After my purchase – Franz Kafka’s Investigations of a Dog, which has modelled for my photos – I couldn’t stop picking it up and admiring it. Which got me thinking…

What is it about these little books that makes them so instantly attractive? What made me buy this book rather than any other, without any hesitation? I started to realise that Penguin may have aimed to target their new collection at people like me – the 20 something student that doesn’t always have the time and money to commit to larger books.

If, like me, you’re a millennial you may be familiar with the following thoughts:

  • I won’t spend longer on this than I have to
  • money?? Where does it come from?? Where does it go??
  • That’s pretty and I want it

We get a lot of hate, sure. But we’re also straight to the point, tech-savvy and importantly, creative. And we THRIVE on stuff that sets off our ‘creative radar’. So when something comes along that ticks all the boxes – quick, cheap and pretty – it gets us in the creative mood. And companies know this, which is why the Penguin Moderns are such a hit with the younger generation:

Exactly how does a book make us feel more creative? For starters, the aesthetic appeal of the books screams Instagram – just a quick search of the hashtag #penguinmodern returns some gorgeous pastel results. The minimalist design even got me in the mood to get out my sketchbook:

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photograph my own

Designed by Joseph Botcherby, the sleek and minimalist look is certainly in right now and Generation X can’t get enough. If in doubt, just take a peek in any high-street shop from Urban Outfitters to Primark and soak up the minimalist goodness! Botcherby talks about his design and being approached by Penguin:

“I wanted the graphic approach to be clean and simple, playing with colours and font treatments not too far away from their classic mainline branding – colour update: duck egg blue instead of turquoise, using a slightly more contemporary font”

It’s the contemporary creative economy in a nutshell, and it’s brilliant. It engages young people with the beauty of classic and contemporary authors without breaking the bank or taking up too much of our precious time. Speaking to a lovely and enthusiastic staff member in Cardiff University’s Blackwell’s, I discovered the collection has been hugely popular since its arrival. She mentioned:

“they’re pretty and all the same colour, so they look really nice on a bookshelf. Students definitely buy them for pleasure rather than studying.”

So if you haven’t already, go and pick up your very own Penguin Modern and inspire your inner creative!

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CALL ME BY YOUR NAME. Straight movie or ”out of the closet”?

Whatever media does to the world, it seems to be a perfect fit between the two. If media shows patterns of life, it’s because media replicates such patterns. Media are our window to the world.”— (Bauman,2002pg161)

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Call Me By Your Name movie cover

I couldn’t agree more with Bauman’s statement that media is a mirror of our world. I believe Media not only represent patterns of life and behaviours but also mirror our reality.  It could also serve as a potential source for transmitting powerful values and messages to our society. The changes in new technologies and globalisation is making this even more possible!

LGBT movies are more and more common in the movie industry. LGBT society is a vulnerable group of people in need of social recognition and appreciation. There’re many countries which still urge for consideration and social support. Lack of same sex marriage policies, punishments or even sentences to death. Isn’t this awful? Only because you love another person, just like I love colour blue!

Anyways, Call me by your name is a revolutionary movie based from a novel by André Aciman which shows the love story of two men living in the North of Italy in the Summer of 1983.  The main character is Elio, a 17 year-old American Italian who lives in a villa with his family. Oliver, who will fall in love with Elio, goes into this house to do research on Greco-Roman culture. Even though Oliver is much older than Elio, they both profoundly fall in love and live this amazing experience as a secret, (Being gay at that time wasn’t a cool thing to show)

The end of the movie is quite sad because Oliver doesn’t only have to go back to America as the Summer is over, but he marries a woman short after that! When Elio finds out in tears the film ends. It’s a very drastic finish but I really think that despite being oriented in 1983, it still reflects our society with the fact that many gay guys are still ashamed of their sexuality or the prejudice that comes with being gay.

This is a very good movie which despite being considered as low art, can potentially transfer a lot of morals to our society! In fact, it’s been awarded as the Best Film of the Year, rated with 95% of positive reviews on rotten tomatoes. Isn’t this amazing? The age gap between these two could give us an idea that love can be found no matter the age, as long as it is healthy, of course!

There have been concerns in the industry related to the actors not being gay in real life or the movie not providing sexual content to normalise same-sex sexual relations. In fact, there’ve been claims that the movie fails to represent and normalise gay people, as it’s been heteronormalized through the censure of sex. Also the sex wasn’t omitted in the book…Why would they do it for the movie? Come on, all the content in media is sexualised! I don’t get it… However, Garret Schlitchte  a freelance writer interested in the intersection of the LGBT community in popular culture said that when it comes to visualisation of same-sex love, not only emotional but sexual content is also necessary, which is not shown on the movie.

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Garret Schlitchte critics on Call Me By Your Name

In terms of choosing a gay or straight actor, Luca Guadagnino, the director of this movie, said that he didn’t have a previous idea or judgements to choose the actors. He thinks it’s better not to investigate on the sexualities of people. Moreover, when he got asked why there was no sexual-related content he said “The tone would’ve been very different from what I was looking for”.

What do you guys think? Has this movie been heteronormalized or could it actually show a clear view of the gay society? Would you guys think sexual content was not on the movie so that it could reach more audiences? If yes, does it mean we are still not prepared for the visualisation of gay love? Let me know!

DEPRESSED musicians or DEPRESSING jobs? Demi Lovato on mental health.

Demi Lovato
Demi Lovato speaks up about mental health

We all know how important it is to speak up and reach out for help when things go wrong. When it comes to mental health, musicians are in the number one list for having mental breakdowns… You guys like me may ask… Are all of them crazy? The answer is no.

Irregular cash flows, no contracts, unpredictable payments, and lack of sustainable policies are just some of the main issues musicians have to deal with. The stress that comes with the fame is also a lot of trouble. I bet! Not all is bad news though! I believe creative industries and specially famous people have the power to make a change and raise awareness. It isn’t only the fame that gives them the chance to speak to a wide range of people, but also the globalisation we have experienced in the last years and the emergence of new technologies such as social media and Internet.

The #sorrynotsorry girl is killing it! Demi Lovato has long spoken up about mental health issues. She shares her own struggles with bipolar disorder, substance abuse, eating disorders and body image.  Her new documentary SimplyComplicated shows the pressure she’s been dealing with while working for the music industry since a very young age. She also partners with charities and other companies to raise money for people that can’t afford treatments. In fact, she is offering free treatments in her own concerts, funded by an organisation called Cast. Isn’t this amazing? She is also collecting money through selling T-shirts and donations from her Demi Lovato Scholarship Treatment Program where everything goes to this Cast organisation.

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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius presented chart-dominating singer, songwriter, and actress Demi Lovato, Honorary Chairperson of National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day 2013, with an award for her advocacy work on behalf of young adults with mental health and substance use challenges during the Awareness Day 2013 press briefing held at the Theater of the Performing Arts at the University of the District of Columbia Community College on May 7

I’m fascinated by the fact that the music industry and popular culture can actually raise awareness about issues that concern us. Just like they can encourage negative attitudes towards children they can also encourage them to have a healthy life. It is not just about making money or sexualising content! Creative and cultural industries have these complex relationships where they work with different sectors in order to save costs and diminish risks. Fundraising and crowdfunding is a good choice when it comes to that! Also if the quality offered for the audience is good, educative and inspiring, then that’s awesome!

I think the best way to battle our own demons is to open up with your loved ones and share your feelings, seek for help. Wellbeing is not like a broken ankle which gets fixed in some days… It takes time to heal! For this reason, I think that if you want to work for the music industry you must be mentally prepared for the pressure and you obviously must love what you do. If not, what’s the point?! (I don’t want to be depressing, sorry) Despite this, I think that it is very beautiful that people can make meaning through bad experiences and become more powerful by sharing their own stories to help others.

Demi Lovato is the perfect example of a person who can live well with mental illness. You can do it too! (even if you are a musician). She also serves as a role model for young people and educate society through meaningful messages. Creative industries must regulate the content they share with the public and make sure it promotes positive attitudes. What do you guys think? Would you be able to go through a lot of pressure despite of doing something you truly love? Is the new creative economy providing optimistic values to our society? Leave a comment below!

 ”No matter what you are going through there is always light at the end of the tunnel”-Demi Lovato

 

Women in Focus: Can Further Representation of Women Help Cardiff Become a Creative City?

 

Calling all interested in insightful photography!

Women in Focus – Behind the Lens is part one of a two-part exhibition held at The National Museum Cardiff from May 5th to November 11th, 2018. This exhibition celebrates women’s contributions towards the history of photography; as producers, and subjects of images – Displayed from a unique female perspective.

Coinciding with the 100th anniversary of The Representation of the People Act 1918; allowing some women to vote for the first time – it’s vital to continue to develop a women’s visual perspective in society.
 

The Exhibition

Upon entering the museum you will find a photographic timeline spanning over 150 years, showing the dramatic changes experienced in photography – from gender empowerment to production techniques.

These images range from works by ‘Wales’s first female photographer’ – Mary Dillwyn, focusing on Welsh nature and landscapes in the nineteenth century; to contemporary pieces documenting personal lives of the marginalised and vulnerable in society.

 

 ‘There are things nobody would see if I didn’t photograph them’ – Diane Arbus

 

Eve Arnold’s work particularly caught my eye, the first women to join the prestigious Magnum photography agency – known for working with The Queen, Marilyn Monroe and Malcolm X.

Yet, Arnold also excels at photographing the poor and vulnerable in society. It takes great skill for a photographer to represent both sides of the social world – the rich and the poor, so it was a pleasure to experience her work’s diversity.

 

Can representing women make Cardiff a creative city?

Gender inequality continues to be at the forefront of public debate in the creative industries – from the lack of women headlining music festivals, to the under-representation of women in higher positions of the industry.

The photography sector is not excluded from debate.

The industry continues to be male-dominated, where only 32% of employees in the photo-imaging industry are women, undermining the principles of artistic work, where debate is encouraged and differing views are expressed loudly and without timidity

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‘Becoming Forest’ – Helen Sear

 

How can this make Cardiff a creative city?

Embarrassingly, I will admit that I know few female photographers – yet I was delighted to be able to experience women’s success in photography, especially Welsh photographers!

This exhibition provides a platform to empower women, gaining insights into a range of different perspectives not apparent when examined in a male angle.

This is essential when developing a creative city, as a range of different perceptions are required to make sure the creative works are accessible for all to debate, As Richard Florida highlights –  ‘tolerance’ is essential to become a creative city; requiring openness, inclusiveness and diversity to all walks of life

As urban planning remains largely in the hands of middle-aged men, female perspectives may find areas where traditional planning neglects; such as social interaction spaces, accessibility, play areas, among many others.

Women also have access to different groups in society men lack – the LGBT community, domestic violence groups, and other under-represented groups for example. So, greater control would bring a whole range of perspectives to the table!

Providing women with a place for their voices and knowledge is the first step to ensuring women’s values will be placed at the forefront of urban planning, creating a creative space for all to appreciate.

I believe this exhibition is a stepping-stone towards women taking greater control of the cultural industries to represent not only women, but also welsh history and allow Cardiff to lead the way to new directions of storytelling and engagement.

Cardiff is not yet listed as a creative city by UNESCO, but hopefully recognising women’s creative talent will be a positive move forwards towards the creative status Cardiff deserves.

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‘Untitled’ – Helen Muspratt

This exhibition is free and suitable for all ages, I would highly recommend attending!

For more information on Women in Focus, including the following exhibition – click here.

 

All images used are my own.

 

Talented, Experienced and Underpaid – Using Co working spaces to your advantage

Image Credit: By Sharomka Royalty-free stock photo ID: 691935526

Choose life, choose Uni, choose Cardiff, choose a degree, choose Taly, choose your mates, choose a team, choose banking, choose science, choose law, choose Cathays, choose an intern, choose the SU on a Wednesday, choose ASSL, Aberconway and Bute, choose to be rich, choose your future, choose life … but why would I want to do a thing like that? I choose not to do that; I chose the creative industries

I chose advertising, architecture, art, crafts, design, fashion, film, music, performing arts, publishing, R&D, software, toys and games, TV and radio, and video games. I chose to work super hard for free.

Getting your Foot in the door …

It is widely known and accepted that if you want to work within the creative industries you will be expected to complete a number of unpaid work placements. Although technically illegal the industry continues to open up the floor to wide eyed undergrads who are looking for that breakthrough work experience. I am sure you can relate, you arrive early on that first morning, (you know you need to impress). They greet you and show you to your seat where you sit eagerly awaiting your first task…. Here it comes, you are ready for it.

‘Excuse me… could you shred all 1000 of these files please’?

Great.

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Credit: 
Royalty-free stock photo ID: 573634510

Okay so not all internships are like this, some are great! But I have had my fair share of placements where I feel undervalued and there just to be part of the furniture. But, and it’s a big but, we have to go through them in this industry to be even remotely considered for an ACTUAL job.

The creative industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in the UK- So why are we all working for free? Most creative workers are underemployed and underpaid. So maybe we should appreciate that although we are working for nothing at least we are working.  Although frustrating, lets think about the positives that we can gain from these placements.

We are building a portfolio! No matter what way we look at it, building a repertoire of work is defiantly a good thing. It showcases our talent and in future interviews it could be the reason for securing a killer opportunity.

NETWORKING, I am assuming if you are reading this you know how important this is. We all know the saying ‘Its not what you know its who you know’ I can’t tell you how true this is! Use the morning coffee round to your advantage, get to know people, build a phonebook of contacts and get your name out there!

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Credit: 
Royalty-free stock photo ID: 323310032

In the mean time…

Until you get your big break there are some ways to be economical while working in the industry. You have probably heard of co working spaces? I know what you are thinking, Shoreditch, bean bags and hipsters. well yes. There are also some really great ones out there too. Think of it as a community, a perfect way to build relationships, a space to to share knowledge and collaborate with like minded individuals. Don’t know where to find one? Not a problem, by the end of 2016 there was almost 10,000 co working spaces world wide…even better news for when you want to take your work with you!

Still not convinced? Maybe a little success story will give you some faith?

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Credit: 
Royalty-free stock photo ID: 420838831

You know that app where everyone uploads selfies, brunches, dogs, workouts, their whole entire lives… what’s it called? Oh Yes INSTAGRAM. What started out as a little project in San Francisco, quickly developed in the realms of a co working space and has become a powerhouse social media platform with well over 800 million monthly users.

SOLD!

So yes, choose to work for free, choose a community and choose the creative industries!

If you want to read more and help combat free labour in the arts look no further than #NOFREEWORK

 

 

 

 

 

“Theresa May, where’s the money for Grenfell?” – Looking for value in more ways than one

Credit, Stormzy performing at the Brit awards on 21 February. Photograph: James Gourley/Rex/Shutterstock

Each year the UK sees a ceremony dedicated to celebrating all things to do with British music, better known as the Brits. For me, the night is usually dominated by a particular performance or artist. Obviously 2015 saw the infamous stage dive from Madonna. 2017 brought Bowie back from the dead and 2018 was well and truly dominated by Stormzy. His album Gang signs & prayer won album of the year, he bagged himself best male solo artist AND his raw performance was pretty inspiring too.

The 24-year-old grime star took to the stage at the O2 to close the awards. Like many other artists before him he spoke of wider social issues through his music, directing his lyrics to the Tory government namely Theresa May and the Daily Mail. After a soulful performance of ‘Blinded by your Grace’ Stormzy used his platform to dramatically freestyle about the Grenfell Tower fire that happened in the summer of 2017.

Take a look for yourself…

So what…..

Okay so he called out two of the largest establishments in the UK, so what? People have been doing that for years. His music made waves and he got a reaction, it also changed the way people think of grime within pop culture – that’s why it is so significant. You always hear people talking about how classical music is up there with the High art along with some painting done by Da Vinci or a book written by Dickens, but why is it that other genres are never mentioned? What even is High art? Apparently, High art is appreciated by those with the most cultivated taste perhaps those who love a Cheval Blank 1974 St-Emillion, while Low art is for the masses, accessible and easily comprehended, more of an Echo Falls kind of vibe.

I think this definition needs a bit of a revamp, surely it should be measured by what people gain from the art or what the art gives back out to society?

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from left. Da Vinci, Stormzy, Darwin. Credit: Everett Historical Royalty Free stock illustration ID 252138244 & 242291527. flickr Bugzy Taylor, Public Domain

So what would you consider Stormzy’s performance…High or Low? I am going to put it out there that it should be up there with the greats. Within thirty seconds he was able to challenge the status quo and rightly so, a tragic issue that was very quickly forgotten was brought back into the public agenda. Instantly many flocked to Twitter commending him on his performance, the hashtag #Grenfell soon started trending again gaining support from politicians as well as the general public. Even Downing Street, itself hit back in defence.

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Taken from Twitter

Let’s think about the value of art for a minute, usually we would think big bucks right? But let’s dig a little deeper, and no I don’t mean into your pockets. I am talking about the importance of the art, the real social importance that lies beneath the surface. That’s how we should judge art. Not by price but by meaning.

Stormzy used his stage to speak to the world and invite support from his spectators. After his performance he took to Twitter thanking his fans while urging them to sign the petition for the PM to take action to build public trust in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry. Although initially a 30 second rap, his perfectly executed act has engaged so many individuals, to hit back, make a change and participate in wider social issues. On May 14th 2018, the petition will be reviewed, without Stormzy’s performance I bet half the signatures would not have been received. Soon we will be able to see the true value of his art.

It just goes to show, artists who are often not given the platform to speak have the power to influence the masses in such a drastic way, unexpectedly through grime.

 

To Regulate, or not to Regulate

It’s the 21st Century and if you’re not using the internet you’d better have a good reason! Everything we do, including shopping, socialising, and entertainment, can be done online. In fact by reading this blog post you are using the internet, its bloody everywhere.

Yep

                                Image from Makeameme.org (Under Fair Use Copyright)

The Internet is a fantastic thing that has helped in many respects to enhance our lives. In terms of the creative economy the internet has helped big and small creative businesses reach out and touch people from all over the world, making it easier for information to be produced and received. We can now watch theatre on our mobile phones and edit photography that has just been taken on the other side of the world. However, it’s not all flowers and daisies and should we be regulating the internet?

Not all Flowers

Ian Hargreaves presents an argument for the regulation of the internet. In his Manifesto for the Creative Economy he argues that by regulating the internet very carefully it will make it easier for consumers to know the difference between what is legal and what is not. This brought me back to when I was a younger and was surfing the internet. People used LimeWire and different torrent sites without realising the full extent of what they were doing. Getting your head around the issues of copyright without the internet can be difficult at times, but the internet presents a whole new issue. I only consume on YouTube but YouTube is a minefield of copyright strikes and demonetization at the moment. Let’s face it, YouTube is just a minefield.

Its also important for the internet to allow smaller creative businesses to thrive without being dominated by the big businesses. There’s nothing quite like creating a website and then typing a few keywords from the URL into google and finding out your website is on the 200th page of google search, whilst potentially this is a poor example, there needs to be some regulation on the power that certain businesses can hold.

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Not all Daises

Back in the day I used to surf the internet as naively as the next kid and luckily for me I never really came into anything that was too harmful. (Except for a website that said I can upgrade my graphics card with a download that actually caused my current graphics card to die… but let’s not talk about that). The internet has changed and arguably enhanced learning capabilities for kids and is extremely important in their future due to its ubiquity.

YT         Photo from Pexels.com, licensed for use under Creative Commons Zero License (CC0)

YouTube is a hugely important part of world culture and is becoming increasingly important for all types of world issues and debates. We can see the importance of YouTube due to the fact that it is making google losses but they’re still funding it. YouTube is a great space for sharing creativity, education, and making art forms that are innovative and exciting. However, its also a dangerous space where people can be exposed to things and trolled without any warning. The YouTube comment section is bad enough, but there is a new phenomenon of children’s cartoons that include extremely graphic content that children should not be exposed too. This sort of content is also very easy to stumble upon especially if the child isn’t under supervision.

giphy                                   Image from giphy.com (Under Fair Use Copyright)

This begs the question as to whether or not the internet should be regulated and also to what extent? The internet is such a large space with people of all ages being active online, beyond ideas of copyright we have to think about protecting the people who are not able to protect themselves. Should the internet be regulated? Maybe. Will it ever happen? Who knows.

P.S     Stay safe and download an Anti-Virus

All the world’s a stage (if you’re rich, white and posh?)

 

Repertory theatres… closed.

Tuition fees… rocketed.

Arts funding… cut.

What does all this mean? It means becoming an actor costs a small fortune, which, let’s face it, most of us simply do. not. have.

Now, I 100% agree with Florida when he says that every human being is creative! But if the “great challenge of our age is to tap and harness all of that creativity” – how’s this possible if only a tiny percentage of people have access to training?

I didn’t go to private school, and my household income meant that throughout my education, I’ve been eligible for nearly every bursary going… But I’ve still been among the majority of people having to turn away opportunities because of what’s in (or not in) my bank account.

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Credit: shrinkin’violet

Money made my mind up for me – I took the part-time (full bursary) year of training at Royal Welsh because there was no way I could afford to move to London and enrol onto the full-time course I’d been offered at (my favourite school) Guildhall.

Auditioning is brutal. The further through the stages you get, the harder the blow when you’re rejected. So to actually have to turn down an offer is devastating. But there was no way I was spending £4850 on a course when there was absolutely no guarantee I’d get onto the BA afterwards. So, like many others in my position, off I went to Uni! Now I’m SO glad I did, but what about those who aren’t? What about those who are still struggling to afford actor training?

In 2011 – just before the likes of Judi Dench brought this issue to UK headlines – I joined the National Youth Theatre and spent the summer training with them in London. NYT is amazing! Every year their intake is diverse, they support their company with £100,000 of bursaries, dedicate tonnes of resources to their social inclusion course ‘Playing Up‘, and have a REP company that’s completely FREE!

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Credit: Libbi Prestidge

So, what’s my problem? Well… NYT REP recruit 16 young actors annually.

That’s sixteen. Okay – that’s great – but what about the other hundreds of thousands trying to get into acting every year?

And with students blaming schools, schools blaming the government, and the government blaming the economy… what’s actually being done?

Well… it’d be wrong not to credit some schools for trying. And with application fee waivers and intakes made up of 80% state educated students, okay, it might not seem like this is relevant anymore. But with the likes of The Poor School – a lower-cost alternative to drama school – closing this year, where are the gateways for low-income students now?

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And it’s not just income that’s a barrier, there’s still legitimate cause for concern over the (lack of) diversity in students.

Last year East 15 headed the drama school diversity league table (gutted to see my own school, Royal Welsh, came last)! The school’s head spoke about practicing positive discrimination during auditioning, saying “if the audition panel is split between two applicants, we might decide to favour a black or Asian student”. This is likely to put some noses out of place, but hey, at least East 15 isn’t shying away from the issue! At least they’re actually doing something!

And with schools like Identity School of Acting forming to “cater for actors coming from a multi-cultural society”, and boasting some incredible talents like John Boyega (Star Wars) and Adelayo Adedaye (Some Girls) – clearly the wider industry is not doing enough!

Hello?! Theatre isn’t only for the ‘English rose’, ‘high culture’, upper-middle classes anymore! And it’s all very well incentivising theatres companies to champion diversity, but how can this be done if huge percentages of society can’t access training?

If we want diversity on our stages and screens, surely we need diversity in our schools? I mean – that’s just common sense… isn’t it?

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Credit: Libbi Prestidge

 

 

 

Toys R Us? More like Toys R Bust!

As many of you must have heard in recent weeks, one of our most beloved childhood stores, Toys R Us, has gone in to administration. Years ago, I had no idea what administration even was, whereas now I know the bleak battle which faces the company which many of our generation hold so dear. Although the closing down of childhood favourites is nothing new (Woolworths suffered a similar fate), the end of Toys R Us raises bigger questions – is this the end for toys as we know them? If it is, it brings to an end one of the most important catalysts of imagination within the creative economy.

The creative industry has always been about more than just making money from ideas, it has been the epicentre of art and creative projects, allowing imagination to thrive. Today, different ‘sectors’ of the creative economy have been chopped and changed by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), allowing new industries to take president. Although I’d argue Toys have been at the very heart of society for years.  For as long as there have been children eager to express their imagination and create something new – there have been Toys! When kids are young they learn to be creative through toys, allowing their imaginations to run wild with products such as Lego, Meccano or Playmobil to name just a few. The use of toys such as these at an early age is just the embryonic stage of a human’s creative journey and certainly must contribute to the innovative successes that we see today. For one to learn to be creative one needs something to be creative with. And this is the reason why the end of Toys R Us is the end of an era for creativity.

 

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All Toys R Us stores lights will soon be off for good (Photo Credit: Geograph)

Yes, I understand that there will still be toy shops, and yes, you may argue kids will still buy toys from online super powers such as Amazon. Or will they? I’m sure as a child you remember going in to a local Toys R Us yourself or with a child of your own and seeing their eyes light up as if they’d just won the lottery. Although it wasn’t that, it was just a mix of creativity and excitement catalysing in their brains. All the possibilities combined with their creative energy created a need inside of them to get their favoured prize. Does a child still get the same need for a toy by looking at it through their parents iPad? I don’t think so.

And this is the reason why it is an end of an era for the creative industry because it is the end of an era for Toys. As the ‘digital revolution’ takes over and kids become less obsessed with the new action man figure or Barbie doll and more obsessed with the new Angry Birds game or social media app, toys as we know them will slowly die out, opening a new avenue for digitized creation.

John Howkins (author and speaker on Creative Industries) once argued that Toys should be added to the list of ‘Creative Sectors’ that the DCMS officially recognize and although I tend to agree with him, I think it’s a bit too late. With the end of Toys R Us comes a possible end to imagination through Toys as we once knew. A thought which truly does sadden me and one which I’m sure will sadden you too.

 

Headline image credit: 29Palms

 

 

 

‘Parting is such sweet sorrow’ – Why did the Globe sack Emma Rice?

 

If you’ve never had the pleasure of watching a Globe performance, let me set the scene for you with just a few short phrases; under nature’s roof, stood among the crowds, laughter, sadness and a true sense of being. As an art-form for radicalist’s and a traditional counter-culture to the fine art bourgeois that controlled the cultural agenda of London, throughout its lifespan the Globe has continued to invite audiences from every social background to participate in modern theatre. According to their Annual Report over 923,000 people visited the Globe in 2017, and this figure is expected to grow and grow.

As the arguments for the value of high and low art continues to split opinion among the masses, it is more crucial than ever that cultural pillars such as The Globe continue to inspire audiences. However, their role in representing the bridge between high and low is left in shambles after recent events, is the tension between high and low art-forms back on the rise?

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Credit: The Globe

‘For the people’

The Globe has its historical roots represented by a ‘for the people’ mantra. Theatre for all, exclusion for none, theatre can be enjoyed by the masses; especially the underdogs. I know I’m not the first to say that high-end theatre box office prices are extortionate, and are continuing to sky rocket. The average ticket for The Book of Mormon prices at £152.25, who on earth can afford that? Certainly not me!  The Globe has done its piece to enable accessibility to the arts for all in this regard, with current box office prices charging a mere £5 for a standing ticket and £22 for a seat. I think we can all agree that the theatre board is truly heightening cultural participation through low prices, and while it may be that culture and commerce have always fallen hand-in-hand, this should not mean absurd charges for ‘high art’.

Being acknowledged as a beacon of theatre culture doesn’t only mean offering cheap tickets though. The Globe also plays its part in benefitting the education system. Through the use of workshops, sign language performances and more, they make widespread effort to upkeep accessibility for all. A recent post on the theatre’s blog describes these efforts;

A radical theatrical experiment that excites learning to make Shakespeare accessible for all”

Too good to be true?

Surely then, it seems the theatre can do no wrong in bridging the boundary between high and low culture? I may have spoken too soon on this remark. The board have recently announced their decision to let go of recently appointed artistic director Emma Rice. CEO of the Globe Group, Neil Constable, complimented their new acclaimed director;

“Emma’s mould-breaking work has brought our theatre new and diverse audiences, won huge creative and critical acclaim, and achieved exceptionally strong box office returns”

But, it appears Emma’s appointment is too good to be true. Her work has not been well-received by Globe traditionalists, especially her decision to bring in lighting rigs and other technological theatre equipment which goes against the roots of the theatre. As a consequence, its productions have suffered scrutiny. Surely a progressive and forward-thinking theatre which contrasts the norm should be what the cultural industries are striving for? Especially in The Globe. If it were up to me I’d tell the traditionalists to canter off on their high horses.

4 Source- Medium
Credit: Medium

The Annual Review indicates that Emma’s season achieved an overall audience capacity of 92%, so why are the Globe letting her go?

Firing Emma Rice shows a step back in the direction of high art and the stereotype of snobbery. If the traditionalists are influencing the decision to fire Emma, are we being transported back to an era whereby the elites tell us what cultural artefacts to consume? Does this go against all the work the Globe has achieved to establish a bridge between high and low art? The Globe’s next steps will in my opinion dictate how their reputation for the collaboration of high and low art is conceived. To be or not to be? That is the question.