[Announcement that I will close Arts in Leicester magazine]
5th September 2016
Arts in Leicestershire to close
After eleven years, Arts in Leicester is to close. The website will cease at the end of this year (2016). The main reason for this is that I want to concentrate my efforts on Music in Leicester magazine. I have enjoyed running the Arts magazine very much but it clashes with other things I want to do – such as writing books. Recruiting writers and people to help run the Arts magazine has not been successful. The music magazine has attracted more interest from volunteers. Now that Leicester has an alternative out let – in the shape of Great Central – the new magazine about culture and the arts – there is less need for what we do.
I will continue to publish Arts in Leicester up to December but I will pull then the plug and our website will be no more. Some of the articles current on the site will be transferred to other outlets and the whole thing will be archived off and stored away.
Leicester has always been a great city for the arts and culture and over the years I have been writing about it, the city has never failed to produce an endless supply of events, shows, festivals and new things of interest.
Cosmopolitan Arts presents – Leicester’s Cosmopolitan Carnival
on Saturday 27th August 2016 – from 2.00 pm to 9.30 pm
Leicester City Centre: Jubilee Square, High Street, Clock Tower, Humberstone Gate and BBC Radio Leicester.
The Cosmopolitan Carnival arts festival is taking over the city centre hosting an impressive line up of live music, dance and art.
BBC Radio Leicester’s Kevin Ncube and Toni Finney, will compere the main stage in Jubilee Square. Artists include Leicester’s very own The Brandy Thieves, national awarding winning rapper Curtis Clacey, The Orator, UG and the world’s best DJ Jon 1st DMC will be performing an exciting collaboration, rhythmic Afrobeats by Afro-Kubanza, rising soulful star Dominique Brody will be singing, Jesse Wright will wow the crowd with her amazing voice, “Britain’s Got Reggae” stars from across the country will be performing.
London-based band Code Ninety will inject to pop music element to the stage, soothing gospel music from Kaine Mass Choir and the fabulous Illusive Quartet will perform stylish jazz.
A range of free arts workshops will be available including Chinese calligraphy, origami and dragon making and lantern making plus much more.
There will also be a grand finale performance “Cosmocular” in Jubilee Square 8.30pm – 9.30pm, conceived, project managed and artistically directed by Amanda Leandro of Cosmopolitan Arts. This dazzling performance will involve a fantastic large-scale film projection piece by Amanda Leandro, French and English pyrotechnic performances by Pyrox and Select Dance, beautiful lanterns and giant puppets from Same Sky, an amazing live music performance created by Lead Composer & Music Director Richard Everitt and Co-composed by John Berkavitch, Carol Leeming and Miranda Booth.
Astounding spoken word from Leicester’s best wordsmith John Berkavitch and spectacular vocals from Carol Leeming, of which both have specially written new pieces of work for this performance.
The ensemble includes the best musicians from Leicester: Will Todd from By The Rivers will be playing bass, the highly acclaimed pianist Mike Sole, skillful drummer Malcolm D’Sa, well known jazz saxophonist Marcus Joseph, heavenly harp by Miranda Booth, exceptional tabla by Hari Trivedi and awesome trumpet by Julie Maxwell.
This dazzling and spectacular performance is a unique one off experience, showcasing Leicester’s most talented artists along side national and international artists, this is one not to be missed!
There will be a stage at the Clock Tower compered by well known comedienne Kirsty Munro, hosting a vast array of cultural music, comedy and spoken word, including: Euphoria a seven piece Chinese folk group, Hari Trivedi will perform amazing Tabla and Sitar music, Ian Hall and Lindsay Warnes-Carroll will bring side splitting comedy to the event, The Orator Rhetoric Literary Society Poetry will be present wonderful spoken word, from London AOA will perform a unique blend of hip-hop enthused songs, Billy and Jody’s acoustic experience will inject some fun to the event, Calvin Jeffrey and Deven Stuart will both sing songs that will lift people’s spirits and Mr Shay livens up the crowd with some MC’ing.
On the High Street there will be an exciting blend of activities and performances, including an amazing dance performance area hosting every imaginable genre of dance. There will be a humorous street theatre performance, African drumming workshop and activities from Talent Match.
On Humberstone Gate there will be a funky open top bus stage with live reggae and acoustic music and a range of free arts activities, hosted by “The Drinks Bus” and “Britain’s Got Reggae”. There will an art gallery in BBC Radio Leicester and lots of free arts workshops including a DJ master class with Jon 1st, DMC World Champion 2013.
This exciting FREE event has something for everyone and is one not to be missed.
Good Friday and Christians gathered in Humberstone, in Leicester city centre, for a celebration of Easter, the Christian festival that marks the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
It was a bright sunny morning at Humberstone Gate began to fill with people. A large stage had been assembled at the Charles Street end of the wide pedestrian concourse.
On stage was a full live band and enormous puppets took part in the enactment of various parts of the easter story.
In a dramatic scene, an actor, playing the part of Jesus, was raised on the stage to portray the crucifixion.
The crowd was invited to join in with singing led by local musician David Lewis who had written a song especially for this event. David also sings with the local band Once Vagrant Souls.
A lively and inspriational performance was given by local artist Jonezy, the hip-hop singer from Loughborough who is well known in Leicester.
The act of worship was opened with prayers from the acting bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd John Holbrook.
A welcome address was given by the Archdeacon of Leicester, Revd Dr Tim Stratford.
Scenes from the Easter story were enacted by giant puppets, making it easy for people to see what was happened from a long distance away.
A dramatic moment in the event was when an actor, playing Jesus, was hoisted up on stage, on a large wooden cross.
Public performances of the Easter story have been taking place in Leicester since the middle ages.
The whole of Humberstone Gate was filled with people, on this bright Friday morning and the local radio station was there to provide a live report.
Sheets were handed giving the words of the songs enabling people to join in with the singing, led by local musician David Lewis and backed by a substantial live band.
One of the highlights of the event was a performance by local hip-hop artist Jonezy, who performed several of his own songs, with plenty of zeal and energy. This proved to be a hit with the crowd, for people of all ages but especially for the youngsters who were there.
On stage, actors and puppeteers portrayed scenes from the easter story including palm Sunday and the Crucifixion.
The event was organised on an inter-demoninational basis, drawing in members of the Anglican and Methodist faith traditions.
Jonezy performed his song I’m Alive, a positive vibe affirmation of the way he feels and a testimony to his Christian faith.
This is the home page for books, writers, authors, literature and written word in 2016
News just in
World Book Night success
World Book Night 2016 took place last month on 23 April, when 187,500 copies of 15 specially printed World Book Night titles were given by a network of 8000 volunteer reading enthusiasts and institutions, including prisons, homeless shelters, colleges, schools and libraries around the UK, giving books into the hands of the 36% of the UK population who don’t read for pleasure.
Here in Leicester, Arts in Leicester editor Trevor Locke gave out copies of ‘The Rotters’ Club’ by Jonathan Coe.
Ten years of Quick Reads
This year sees the launch of the 2016 Quick Reads, which set out to show that books and reading can be for everyone. Each year they commission big name authors to write short books that are specifically designed to be easy to read. They are the same as mainstream books in every respect but are simply shorter and easier to tackle for the 1 in 6 adults of working age in the UK who find reading difficult and may never normally pick up a book. Quick Reads is run by The Reading Agency.
Leicester’s medieval Guildhall featured in the news today on the BBC’s East Midlands Today programme.
The piece described the Guildhall as one of the few surviving Jacobean ‘Theatres’.
The news item was prompted by work undertaken by the team working on The Shakespeare On Tour project who found that the various companies that performed the Bard’s plays visited many parts of the country, including Leicester.
A discovery in some ancient archives suggests that Shakespeare himself might have been present when the company visited Leicester’s Guildhall.
An entry in the city chamberlain’s accounts shows a payment of 40 shillings to a visiting theatre troupe.
If the troupe did in fact come to the Guidlhall in 1606 there is a chance, at least, that Shakespeare might have been with them.
The company, called The King’s Men, came to the city on several occasions after the death of The Bard.
LEICESTER is marking the start of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History Month by flying rainbow-coloured flags from the Town Hall and City Hall.
Assistant city mayor for community involvement and equalities, Cllr Manjula Sood, was joined by guests including Mark Beasley, chair of the Leicester Lesbian, Gay Bisexual and Transgender Centre, to raise the flags at the Town Hall on Monday (1 February).
Councillor Sood said: “We recognise the important contribution that our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities make to life in the city and beyond. We’re committed to supporting these communities.
“LGBT history month is about promoting equality and diversity for the benefit of everyone, and Leicester has a long history of championing diversity.
“Raising the rainbow flag is a way for us to show our support, in the hope that we can all work together to create a fairer society.”
Councillor Pam Posnett, Leicestershire County Council cabinet member with responsibility for equalities, said: “The county and city are united in their respect for all communities. I’m delighted that we will once again be raising the rainbow flag, as it demonstrates our unity of purpose in supporting LGBT communities.”
Mark Beasley said: “The Pride flag allows us to show our respect and pride to those who have been instrumental in bringing equality to the forefront of everyone’s agenda. It demonstrates how as a society, the UK has taken big steps towards full inclusion of LGBT people.
“It also portrays our commitment as we strive to make Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland a place where everyone can feel proud and safe to be themselves.”
Representatives from Leicestershire Police, Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service, Leicester City Clinical Commissioning Group, Leicestershire County Council, local charity Trade and Leicester’s LGBT Centre joined the flag-raising ceremony at the Town Hall.
29th January 2016
Attenborough opens gallery
The naturalist and long-running television personality Sir David Attenborough returned to the place of his Leicester childhood today (Friday 29 January) to open a new fully-inclusive gallery championed by his brother Lord Attenborough.
Sir David officially opened the new £1.5million gallery extension at Attenborough Arts Centre, the University of Leicester’s inclusive, multi-use arts venue on Lancaster Road.
Source: University of Leicester
19th January 2016
Black Women and Dance
Jessica Walker of Serendipity-UK told us ; Black Women In Dance: Stepping Out of the Barriers conference is happening May 10th 2016 at Leicester City Hall. The founder of the legendary American performance ensemble Urban Bush Women, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, will be keynote speaker and discuss the achievements of black women in the dance industry.
This is a fantastic opportunity for dancers and enthusiasts to network with industry professionals. Booking has opened for a much needed one-day conference, celebrating the impact Black Women have had on the international dance ecology from the early trailblazers to the contemporary ground breakers. Taking place on Tuesday 10 May 2016, as part of Lets Dance International Frontiers 2016, Black Women in Dance: Stepping Out of the Barriers, will reflect upon the challenges that have faced Black Women in the world of dance, but also celebrate the tenacity, strength and creativity of these women.
The conference, will explore the aesthetics that have shaped Black dance internationally. Examining the struggle for a sustainable Black voice in the UK dance scene, giving appreciation to companies such as Phoenix Dance and Ballet Black, and dance agencies such as ADAD and State of Emergency, who have long strived to ensure that the cultural landscape of British Dance reflects the Black British presence. To examining dance practice in America; from the classical repertories of Alvin Ailey and Dance Theatre of Harlem, through to Urban Bush Women.
The key-note speaker is award-winning founder and visionary partner of Urban Bush Women; Jawole Willa Jo Zollar. The company will also be in Leicester for LDIF16, presenting a UK debut at Curve, nearly 30 years after their last performance in Leicester.
Speakers include Adesola Akinleye, DancingStrong; Deborah Baddoo, State of Emergency; Hilary S. Carty, Co-Creatives Consulting; Catherine Dénécy; Pam Johnson, Arts Council England; Mercy Nabirye, ADAD; Maureen Salmon, Freshwaters Consultancy; Louise Sutton, Arts Council England; Jessica Walker, De Montfort University; Sharon Watson, Phoenix Dance Theatre. The event will be hosted by Pawlet Brookes, Serendipity. The conference will focus on the creativity of Black Women in dance and also examine the role of infrastructure to support artists, and agencies as proponents of Black dance.
Pawlet Brookes, artistic director, Serendipity said “A central aim of LDIF and our annual conference is to give a voice to untold and under-told stories in dance; the personal histories that have shaped the dance ecology but may go unheard or under acknowledged. Black Women in Dance will place those stories centre stage. I also hope the conference will lead to discussion and debate from across the sector to pave the way for future generations”.
Jessica Walker, young emerging artist, said “Even now, Black women are undergoing a continuous contention with their representations in the media and are in need of empowerment across all platforms. This concern is not only prevalent in the UK but exists on both sides of the Atlantic. The conference Black Women in Dance: Stepping Out of the Barriers will see a community come together to discuss and celebrate Black women in the dance sector.”
Imperatively, the conference will give a voice to women in dance, to tell their own stories, share their own perspectives, highlight key issues and work towards making a bright future for Black Women in Dance.
Serendipity is a diversity-led organisation with the specific aim of working in partnership with mainstream organisations to showcase high quality, culturally diverse work that reflects the demographic profile of the UK.
The exhibition runs from 18th November to 17th January 2016
A series of galleries exhibiting the art reflecting disability politics. Disability activism has seen a revival in recent years, caught up in controvertial issues such as the Bedroom Tax, Work Capability Assessments and the measures flowing from the Government’s insistence on austerity as an economic measure. All these have hit hard people struggling to cope with disadvantage. These policies came after the Disability Discrimination Act of 1995 which was meant to give people equal treatment and access on a par with the rest of society.
Today’s launch brought together acclaimed artists whose work reflects and is inspired by the politics of disability; through sculpture, performance, film, drawing and photography. The day featured a visit by Sir Peter Bazalgette, Chair of the Arts Council of England and Michael Attenborough CBE, son of the late Richard Attenborough whose name is given to the centre.
Sir Peter Bazalgette has been in Leicester before; he visited Leicester on 8th November 2013 to see some of the exciting projects of the city’s arts and culture scene. He told Arts in Leicester during his previous visit “I have had a really inspiring morning and early afternoon. I have been to Curve, Phoenix, a presentation from The Mighty Creatives, I am now here at Soft Touch, and what I have seen is a city gearing up for its City of Culture bid – for which I wish it the very best of luck. The results will be available very soon. It’s all about ambition and it’s all about what arts and culture can do for a city – in terms of its pride, it’s sense of place, it’s tourist offer, it’s institutions and it’s education.”
The exhibition brings together the work of many artists who have contributed to the politics of disability. There are many names but a few of them include Tony Heaton, Noëmi Lakmaier, Bobby Baker, Simon Raven, Aaron Williamson, Adam Reynolds, Liz Crow, Ann Whitehurst, David Heney and others.
The Attenborough Arts centre is looking forward to the official opening of its new £1.5 million gallery in January 2016. The new gallery has been constructed next door to the existing building.
Opened in 1997 by the Late Princess Diana as The Richard Attenborough Centre for Disability and the Arts, the centre bears the name of its patron. Tony Heaton, artist, curator and Chief Executive of Shape Arts, said “Art, Life and Activism raises questions about the relationship between art and politics and invites us to consider the complex, social, economic and cultural forces characterising disability and its representation in mainstream culture.” Shape Arts is a disability-led arts organisation, established, 40 years ago, on the principle that all disabled people should have the opportunity to participate fully in arts and culture and work with the vision of creating an inspiring and inclusive arts sector.
In this page we present some of the news archives from the old Arts in Leicester website, included here where they have relevance to current articles published in this magazine.
8th January 2013
Nilima Devi is Awarded MBE
Nilima Devi Menski, the founder and Artistic Director of the Centre for Indian Classical Dance (CICD), in Leicester, has been announced as a recipient of an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) in the Queen’s New Year Honours List 2013 for her services to dance.
The award has been granted in recognition of Nilima Devi’s sustained commitment to promoting Indian dance for British arts, multicultural education and community cohesion for over 30 years.
Leicester’s councillor and former Mayor, Manjula Sood said “I am very thrilled to hear that Nilima’s work within the cultural community has been noticed and rewarded.”
Chris Maughan, Associate Research Fellow Lecturer, Arts and Festival Management, De Montfort University commented, “it is richly deserved. Let’s hope it provides a foundation for invigorating ideas and energy in arts development more broadly.”
Under Nilima Devi’s leadership, CICD has made significant educational and artistic contributions through numerous workshops, conferences, classes and public performances on local, regional and national scales. In addition to nurturing more than 20,000 students in Indian dance through teaching in schools, Nilima Devi has pioneered projects such as Sinjini (2009), a DVD on Indian music and dance produced using UK-based artists, and Karman, (2012), a book documenting the living history of arts in the South Asian diaspora, which have become invaluable resources for educational establishments.
Nilima Devi has also produced many major performance works such as the Ugly Duckling (1989), Triangle (1991), Rainbow (1993) (choreographed by Kumudini Lakhia), Melory (1995), Dances of the Spheres (1999) (choreographed by Roshan Date), Flaming Feet (2000), Kathak Tells a Story (2001), Images (2004) and Urjah (2007), which have contributed to transcending cultural and artistic boundaries whilst retaining the spirit of Indian dance.
In addition, Nilima Devi has trained several accomplished British-born dance artists, such as Aakash Odedra, who has been touring Rising with the British Council in India and internationally, a solo production choreographed by Russell Maliphant, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Akram Khan.
The MBE is to be presented by the Queen at a special ceremony to be held at Buckingham Palace in London in 2013.
[From Arts in Leicestershire, news section, 2013]
Karman: groundbreaking heritage project tells the story of Indian Classical Dance
By Asian Arts Editor [the late] Harjinder Ohbi
It was 30 years ago when Nilima Devi, an Indian classical Kathak dancer threw open her doors to a handful of young girls wanting to learn this intricate but colourful dance form.
This gave birth to CICD (Centre for Indian Classical Dance.) Parents eager to revisit their own Indian roots encouraged their children to join the classes. Later, as years passed by, these students went onto become mothers and teachers, having made the gruelling grades, passing on their knowledge to third and fourth generations.
CICD led the way for visiting professional dancers from Bharatnatyam and Odissa holding masterclasses whilst Nilima also introduced folk, street and bollywood dances, as demanded by youngsters.
Numerous groundbreaking shows at various local and National venues gave way to young male dancers who went onto become International artists. Akram Khan and Akaash Odedra brought forth a new dimension to Kathak with their innovative styles and fluidity within their choreography, earning rave reviews where ever they performed.
It is no surprise then that the year long 30th anniversary celebrations of CICD last year was to lead to Karman the book. Karman literally means a collection of past work .You will find interviews with young performers and how they have managed to incorporate their traditional dance forms during their daily lives and what it means to them.It is an historic account documenting not only achievements based on over 70 hours of oral history interviews by a host of voluntary historians aided by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The books theme also explores the social changes related to these developments thus presenting a unique piece of history that has never been exhibited in Leicester before. Karman is a project very special for me as it explores the living history of Indian classical dance in the UK. It exhibits the roots of Indian classical dance and music through contributions by early pioneers, professional dancers, musicians, members of the community and art lovers.
There were several aspects to the formation of CICD from spirituality, keeping fit and bringing one’s culture, mind, body and soul together. The opening of the Centre, in 1981, came as a blessing for the young women eager to learn Indian classical dance.
They later introduced Indian Folk styles. It was not always easy to make CICD sustainable at times but they made it happen through performances and sheer passion shown by the youngsters. Whilst the support of Local Authorities and the Arts Council England made it possible to work within local schools and communities, that helped them to create a greater interest, reaching a wider public.
Many of the students have gone onto become teachers whilst the likes of Akram Khan and Aakash Odedra have won International acclaim. I feel theirs is an extension of the form of Kathakand, a modern way of interpreting it. “Traditional art is not static, it moves with the times”, concluded Nilima Devi, Artistic Director of CICD.
The official book launch and exhibition [was] staged at the LCB Depot on 14 June 2012
The touring exhibition opened at the Embrace Centre (11th-27th May 2012) and [was] staged at the following venues:
Peepul Centre, 28th May – 8th June
LCB Depot, 11th – 22nd June
Hamilton Library, 03 July – 17th July
St.Barnabas Library, 17th – 30th July
South Fields Library, 31 July – 15 August
BBC Radio Leicester 01 – 17 October
CurveTheatre, 8 – 19 November
Highfiields Library, 19 – 30 November
Here is a selection of the works of Michael Barker (reproduced with his kind permission)
Michael Barker was born in Leicester and studied art at Leicester College of Art where he obtained the National Diploma in Design.
He has been classed as one of the country’s top showman’s artists, being fully experienced in lettering, calligraphy and design.
It has been said that Michael Barker involves himself in too many artistic styles and that he should put all his energies into one way of painting. Through the years, Michael has always been very much against this idea and believes that he should use, to the fullest extent, all his large array of talents as an artist.
His abilities range from design work and ceramics to fine, modern and traditional styles. We do not know of another artist who has ever been able to put his own personal mark on such a variety of subjects.
This makes his work able to please most tastes. Far from being a bad thing, we firmly believe that it is just the opposite, showing just what being an artist is all about.
His works are art – full of human feeling – they are living pieces. Not, as so much art is doing these days, being slick and doing no more than what a good photographer would do.
Michael Barker’s paintings grow on you as you enjoy them more and more. Decoration, graphics, calligraphy, furniture painting, ceramics, drawings and paintings – all these subjects having unmistakably his own personality stamped on them.
We believe that Michael Barker’s work will become highly prized in years to come.
An important part of Michael Barker’s art is his pictures of Fairground scenes. Fairs were, and indeed still are, an exciting and colourful aspect of English life. There are have been a few painters working on this subject matter. Michael has made this his specialty, bringing out the movement and atmosphere associated with fairgrounds. He brings to life the work of the showman and the fun of the fair.
Michael Barker’s modern pictures are an evolution of his work in the early 1960s. His ideas started with an effect of light and shadows and the play of reflections on various surfaces. Sometimes these turned into complete abstractions; into which he introduces a dream like effect; an extraordinary combination of traditionalism and modernism to create pleasing and interesting pictures. The viewer is transported from the worries of everyday life and is able to reflect on them to develop a feeling of discovery and relaxation.
Michael’s large artistic output includes Ceramics, whether he is making models, decorated vases or plates, his pieces display originality and creativity.
“A more interesting way”
Michael Barker told us: “I don’t want to be someone who changes art. My interests are to produce pictures that are painted in a more interesting way than those that we usually see.
“I am able to produce art works without models. I use my memory and my imagination to show subjects in a different way.
“As an artist, I enjoy paintings that are me … of me. I believe that, throughout all my subjects, whether modern or traditional, my work will satisfy and be appreciated by people of all tastes. In my work there is something for everyone to enjoy.
“I just look and leave the rest to my imagination.”
Michael is keen to find someone to promote his work, both his original works, his prints, greetings cards and other productions.
He is particularly interested in helping charities to raise money through reproducing his pictures in a variety of formats.
Enquiries about this can be made to the editor of this magazine.