[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.
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.
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.
Black History Month (BHM) returns to Leicester, celebrating the heritage, history and achievements of African and African Caribbean communities with a full programme of events, from arts to education.
BHM runs throughout October, and this year’s theme acknowledges jazz icon Billie Holiday in what is the centenary year of her birth. In fitting homage, the festival launches on Friday 25 September with Strange Fruit: A Tribute to Billie Holiday, showcasing a selection of talented locally based singers and musicians.
Included in the line-up is Carol Leeming, renowned as a hugely versatile artist with a very powerful and distinct vocal style; innately skilled, innovative performer of song, spoken word, jazz vocalese and scat, Mellow Baku; established jazz vocalist Dee Joseph; and emerging talents Lydia Unsudimi and Ili Sanchea, alongside musical accompaniment from saxophonist Marcus Joseph, double bass player Mark Trounson and drummer Paul Whistler, under the musical direction of Neil Hunter. Those attending the event are encouraged to embrace the 40s and 50s jazz club scene by dressing up in their best cocktail dresses and dinner suits, in what will be a unique event at Leicester’s City Hall.
Black History Month is organised by local diversity-led arts charity, Serendipity, on behalf of Leicester City Council, which provides funding.
Numerous events will be taking place across the city during October, including workshops, lectures and book talks, music events, comedy and theatre. Upstairs at the Western pub, in Western Road, host Michelle Inniss will present her thought-provoking new play She Called Me Mother, which stars esteemed actor Cathy Tyson, and the witty Doc Brown makes an appearance at The Y with The Weird Way Round. Doc has gained fame on Russell Howard’s Good News and YouTube.
In partnership with Serendipity, the Phoenix will be screening a series of films from biopics and documentaries to ground-breaking Hollywood classics Jazz on a Summer’s Day and Stormy Weather.
Visitors to Leicester Libraries will be able to hear some Somali Lullabies, while the city’s museums service will be presenting a talk highlighting the contribution of The West Indian Regiment in the Great War.
This year also sees the introduction of a new initiative by 2Funky Arts. BHM Radio 2Funky will empower local young people to present and produce radio shows, providing further information about the BHM programme alongside music, news and documentary features.
Pawlet Brookes, artistic director at Serendipity said: “This year’s Black History Month programme is a fantastic opportunity for people in Leicester to come together, with a range of events celebrating the cultural contributions of the African and African Caribbean community historically, and also providing platforms for emerging talent to showcase their work.
“It is a privilege to oversee Black History Month in Leicester. There is something for everyone, and we hope that people across the city will make the most of the opportunity to attend some of the exciting events BHM 2015 has to offer.”
Cllr Piara Singh Clair, assistant city mayor responsible for culture, leisure, heritage and sport, said: “Black History Month is once again offering a fantastic range of events that showcase the talent, history and rich culture of the black community.
“Black History Month is a chance for everyone in Leicester to celebrate the important contribution the black community has made to our city and beyond. I hope that lots of people will take this opportunity to get involved.”
A cantata by Benjamin Vaughan and Philip Goss – The King In The Car Park – was performed today by the massed choirs of schools from the city and the county.
The choirs were accompanied by an instrumental ensemble including a piano, double bass, clarinet, flute, the organ and a variety of medieval instruments from the time of the Plantagenets.
The hour-long cantata was in nine movements and employed a variety of musical styles such as jazz, musical theatre and folk. It told the story of the life and death of Richard III to his death at the Battle of Bosworth and his ‘home coming’ when his remains were reinterred in the Cathedral.
Despite the score posing many technical challenges, the children of the choirs delivered a magnificent performance.
The hottest day of the year, thus far, did not deter a large number of people from filing the cathedral. he work was performed again the follow day in Loughborough.
A look at our sizable in-tray of press releases and announcements.
22nd January 2016
Moon Song at Curve
Leicester’s Curve theatre have partnered with Remploy to fund three performances of Bamboozle Theatre Company’s Moon Song, to be performed in its Studio at no cost to the audience on Mon 1 Feb. The intention behind these free performances is to offer assistance to young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) who are making the often difficult transition from childhood to adulthood.
Moon Song is an enchanting, space themed Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC) production telling the story of Megan, who falls asleep and dreams of travelling to the moon. This production is carefully designed to accommodate the wide range of abilities within the autistic spectrum, through Bamboozle’s trademark interactive style.
The performances are part of a series of activities hosted at Curve and leading up to the Local Offer Live event which takes place at Curve on Wed 3 Feb.
Curve’s Chief Executive, Chris Stafford, said:
“Following the success of our recent Relaxed and Dementia Friendly performances of Oliver! our commitment to making theatre accessible to all is stronger than ever. We are thrilled to be working with Remploy to stage these performances of Bamboozle’s Moon Song for young people with SEND. It’s really important to us that Curve is renowned as a theatre where everyone can engage with the arts, and we look forward to welcoming special needs schools and SEND practitioners from across Leicester to these performances.
Organisers of the annual Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival are launching their search for the best Silver Stand Up Comedians. The Silver Stand Up Competition, organised in partnership with Silver Comedy and supported by Jasper Carrot, Arthur Smith and Sir Bruce Forsyth, will take place on Thursday 18th February as part of the annual Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival. Comedians aged over 55 are encouraged to enter for the chance to win the 2016 title. The deadline for the competition is Friday 8th January 2016 and further details are available by contacting email@example.com
Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival set up the competition in 2012 to provide a showcase for older comedians. The first competition was won by Shelley Bridgman who continues to gig regularly across the UK and has helped launch the BBC search for the best script that promotes a positive portrayal of transgender characters. The 2013 winner was Marc Lucero, who regularly gigs across London and has appeared on BBC Breakfast News. On winning the competition, Marc said “I want to change the perceptions people have of the elderly and by winning this award I have proved that humour transcends age. Now we need to convince audiences that silver comedy is just as edgy and exciting as seeing the young bucks. Winning the Silver Silver Stand Up Award also proves it is never too late to start a new career.” The 2014 competition was won by comedian Peter Callaghan, who recently returned from performing as part of Old Folks Telling Jokes at the Edinburgh Fringe, and in 2015 the competition was won by Ed de Cantor. Ed had given up performing stand up aged 40, thinking he was “too old”. On winning the competition in 2015, he said “I am completely over the moon. Winning this competition is a dream come true.”
17th September 2015
Proposals set to transform Leicester’s Market
LEICESTER’s outdoor market could be set for a stunning transformation if new proposals are given the go-ahead.
City Mayor Peter Soulsby is considering major investment in the 800 year-old market, to ensure it is fit for the future and to complement the ongoing redevelopment work in the area.
The improvements would follow the construction of a new public square on the site of the old indoor market, and the repaving of the roads surrounding it, but would take priority over an extension to the Corn Exchange building.
Initial proposals for the outdoor market are to give it a fresh new look, with improved stalls, better lighting and new signage.
The revamp could include changes to the roof to make it more transparent, and the installation of LED lighting, which would save energy and reduce costs.
Shoppers and traders will be consulted on the proposals as part of the detailed design process, and it’s expected that final designs will go to the City Mayor for approval early next year.
City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “It’s clear that the work we’ve already done at the market has made a huge difference, with the new food hall providing customers with the attractive shopping environment they want.
“The creation of a new public square and improvements to the roads and pavements around the market will really transform the area, but they will also highlight the poor quality of the outdoor market.
“I am therefore proposing that improvements to the market should take precedence over the Corn Exchange extension, which is something we could look at again in the future when we have seen how the new public square is being used.
“The market has been a significant feature of the city for hundreds of years, and we need to ensure it retains that position for many more years to come.”
Consultation on the proposals for the outdoor market will begin in the next few weeks.
Project manager Mike Dalzell said: “We have a lot of preparation work to do to move utilities and carry out necessary changes to the highways, but our aim is for construction of the new square to begin in the new year and finish by autumn 2016.”
The first phase of the market redevelopment was completed in May 2014, with the opening of the bright and airy new food hall.
The food hall has already won several awards, including Best Food Market from the National Markets Association (NABMA) and Best New Building from the Leicester Civic Society.
[Source: Leicester City Council]
28th August 2015
Everybody’s Reading- September 26th – October 4th
This annual festival is packed with over 140 events in 60 venues over nine days. Libraries around Leicester will be taking part, hosting numerous events – these include: local author Bali Rai will be at New Parks Library to talk about his passion for football and books; listen to scary stories and get creative with book illustration workshops at Fosse Library; at Beaumont Leys Library we have Toddler Tales with stories for younger library visitors all about Autumn Animals, and at Evington Library we have Under The Sea where fishy tales will come to life. Watching the Detectives and John Martin (Leicester’s ‘Mr Crime’) are two of the events at Central and Hamilton Libraries for crime readers out there.
Booster Cushion Theatre for Children will also be at Fosse, Westcotes, Pork Pie and Brite Centre libraries with their show for young children and parents – Big Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
This year also sees the welcome return of BLAM!, our promotion of all things comic-related. The event at Central Library on Wednesday 30th September is a slight change to the one advertised in the brochure in that we are excited to be hosting a talk by comic-writer, Jamie Delano.
Jamie has written for 2000AD and DC Comics, as well as titles such as Dr Who, Captain Britain and Hellblazer. If you have an interest in comics, either as a reader or a writer then this event is for you.
Leicester’s writer and director Kenton Hall is behind a new film. As the website asks:
Are you 12 years old? Have you ever been 12 years old? Are you planning to be 12 years old at some point in the future? If so, then this is the film for you. “A Dozen Summers” is a comedy about what it’s really like to grow up in the 21st century. Get ready to enter the world of Maisie and Daisy McCormack, twin sisters who have just hijacked a children’s film in order to tell their own story. Or possibly one about a ghost girl who eats teachers. They haven’t decided yet.
PLANS for a major programme of work to improve access to Leicester’s riverside have been announced.
Leicester City Council has teamed up with the Environment Agency and the Canal & River Trust to help enhance the river corridor through the city, as part of a wider programme of work to reduce flood risk.
The programme of improvements has been awarded up to £1.5million from the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP) Local Growth Fund, with £850,000 of this earmarked for a first phase of projects along the River Soar and Grand Union Canal due to begin over the next year.
The improvements are being match-funded by the Environment Agency, which has been awarded £33milllion of Government funding for a five-year programme of flood risk management in the city.
The Canal & River Trust has also allocated £500,000 towards the project, which will fund important maintenance, including ongoing dredging works, to help ensure the waterways are accessible, attractive and welcoming.
A new cycle link along the river between Loughborough Road and Thurcaston Road will be created, and plans are being drawn up to improve and extend the cycleway between the river and the Great Central Railway.
The Environment Agency will also undertake a five-year, £6million programme of flood relief in the Abbey Meadows area from next year. This will include culverts under Thurcaston Road and Loughborough Road, new cycle links, creation of new wetland and woodland areas, and other environmental improvements.
The Canal and River Trust will improve the existing towpath along the Grand Union Canal from the city centre to Watermead Park.
The programme also includes creating better access to the riverside at Sock Island, environmental improvements around Willow Brook, restoration of the old, redundant mill race at Frog Island, and new boat mooring alongside Friars Mill.
Jewry Wall Museum will be hosting a series of special events as part of the city’s two-week Festival of Archaeology.
The museum will be helping to celebrate the city’s rich archaeological heritage with guided walks, talks, displays and family-friendly activities.
The 2015 Festival of Archaeology runs from 11-26 July, but kicks off with a preview event at the University of Leicester on Saturday (4 July). Staff from the city council’s museums service and volunteers from the Friends of Jewry Wall Museum will be on hand at the event, offering activities including coin striking and marching drills with a Roman soldier.
On Sunday 12 July, visitors to Jewry Wall Museum can join in with a free ‘Romans and Barbarians’ day. It will include the chance to watch a Roman army on parade, see demonstrations of Roman arms and armour and strike your very own Roman coin.
There will also be craft activities, family games and an exciting finale to the event when a Barbarian warrior queen arrives on her war chariot to defy the might of Rome.
Daily from 12-26 July, the museum will run tours of Leicester’s Roman bath house, with replica objects to handle. Tours take place from 12-12.50pm each day.
On 18 July, at 2pm, there will be an illustrated talk and book-signing from Gareth Williams, curator at the British Museum, on the topic of Viking warfare in the light of new discoveries. Tickets are £5 and can be booked on 0116 225 4971.
And as a finale to the festival, the museum will host a Viking warfare day on Sunday 26 July. A full Viking encampment will be set up amidst the Roman ruins of Leicester, just as it might have looked in the 9th century, when these lands fell under Viking rule. Admission is £2 for adults, £1 for children.
Cllr Piara Singh Clair, assistant city mayor responsible for culture, heritage, leisure and sport, said: “I’m really pleased that our staff are able to work so closely with the dedicated volunteers from the Friends of Jewry Wall Museum to put on so many great events for the Festival of Archaeology.
“These family-friendly events mean everyone can get involved in celebrating Leicester’s rich archaeological heritage.”
improve pedestrian and cycling routes around Leicester’s St Nicholas Circle will enter its final phase next week.
The ambitious £1.7milllion scheme has already seen improvements completed on the south side of the busy junction. Wider pavements and a new cycleway have been constructed from Peacock Lane to St Augustine Road, where a lane of traffic has been removed.
A new cycle lane has also been created on the Southgates northbound slip road, and work to create a new entrance into the award-winning Castle Gardens is almost complete.
The project will now move on to the Jewry Wall side of St Nicholas Circle from Monday (6 July).
Existing footpaths will be widened and re-laid with high-quality block paving to create a joint-use footpath and cycleway. The number of traffic lanes will be unchanged on this side of the roundabout.
This stage of the project will also see the Harvey Walk footbridge, which spans the roundabout passing between the NCP car park and Holiday Inn, taken down. Work to create a new surface-level footpath in its place will take place next year.
The scheme is part of the Connecting Leicester programme and will create more attractive routes from the city centre to attractions like Castle Gardens, the Roman Jewry Wall and St Mary de Castro Church, which all lie outside the 1960s ring road.
Reading for everyone
The programme for Everybody’s Reading festival is very, very close to being finalised. With a multitude of events taking place all over the city, there is definitely going to be something for everyone to enjoy. There are plenty of free events taking place in libraries, cafes, community centres and many more.
Highlights of this year’s festival include an exclusive schools only performance from Countryfile and Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton at one lucky school in Leicester, as well as children’s book-themed days at Gorse Hill City Farm, smelly perfume poetry workshop from the people who brought Lush to the High Street, crime writers, story tellers, poets and so many more workshops, exhibitions and readings. There will be loads of opportunity to get involved with something to do with reading!
Everybody’s Reading 2015 runs from Saturday 26th September until Sunday 4th October 2015. Everybody’s Reading is a nine day festival taking place in over 80 venues across Leicester City including community centres, schools, cafes, bars, arts venues, libraries and museums.
The festival, now in its fifth year, is organised by the School Development Support Agency (SDSA) and is an off-shoot of the ‘Whatever it Takes’ initiative (see separate bullet point for more information on this initiative). The aim of the festival is to get Leicester reading by encouraging people to hear and attend spoken word, poets, authors and community writers.
A CENTURIES-old local tradition as kept alive when the Lord Mayor of Leicester attended the Damask Rose ceremony on 24th June.
The Lord Mayor, Cllr Ted Cassidy, marked the annual custom when he received the symbolic peppercorn rent of a Damask Rose and four old pennies from the landlord of O’Neill’s, a pub in in Loseby Lane.
The Lord Mayor said: “This is a local custom that dates back hundreds of years and I am delighted that we are continuing and protecting the tradition.”
Steve Thorn, landlord of O’Neill’s Leicester, said: “We here at O’Neill’s are happy to keep up this long-standing tradition and hope we can build on it in the future.”
Dating back to the 1600s, the Damask Rose ceremony survived until 2001 when the O’Neill’s chain took over the pub. The former Lord Mayor, Colin Hall, was instrumental in re-instating the ceremony in 2010.
In keeping with tradition, the Damask Rose ceremony takes place to coincide with the Feast of St John the Baptist and representatives from the Gild of Freemen of the City of Leicester will also be present.
Magna Carter celebrated
THE 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta was marked in Leicester with a packed programme of events. From Saturday, 13th June, people were able to find out how the medieval charter helped lay the foundations for the democracy we know today – and could learn how a baron with links to Leicester helped ensure the Magna Carta was sealed in 1215.
A an exhibition at the Guildhall – featuring a reproduction of the British Library’s copy of the Magna Carta – revealed the origins and impact of the charter, while an event at Leicester Market, on Saturday 13 June, included medieval butter-making, traditional sweet-making and an appearance by the medieval rat-catcher.
The medieval Guildhall – Leicester’s first town hall – hosted a Magna Carta day on Sunday, 14th June, when the Lord Mayor of Leicester talked to visitors about his role and local democracy, after musical performances from comedian Anthony King.
On Monday 15th June there was an opportunity to meet Baron Saer de Quincy – the rebel Leicester baron who helped ensure that King John accepted the terms of the Magna Carta. Baron de Quincy was joined by musicians from the Medieval Music Wagon at the special event at Leicester Market on Monday – the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta.
The event also celebrated the standardisation of weights and measures – enshrined in the Magna Carta – with a selection of old Leicester weights, measures and scales on display in the window of the market’s customer service centre.
“The Magna Carta enshrines many of the things we take for granted today, particularly the rule of law and the principle that nobody can act above the law,” said City Mayor Peter Soulsby.
Our special news report about the 2015 general election in Leicester and Leicestershire
This year’s election see the second vote for the position of Mayor, the post having been created in 2011 as one of a number of cities being given elected Mayors by the government.
Thursday 30th April
Mayoral debate takes to the airwaves
All seven candidates who are running for the office of Mayor of Leicester gathered at the Embrace Arts centre tonight to answer questions from members of the public.
Hosted by Radio Leicester presenter, Ben Jackson, the seven candidates gave their answers to the questions during the sixty minute programme.
The candidates were: Barbie Potter, Adrian Barnes, Paul Bremner, Tim Grayson, Avtar Singh, Peter Soulsby and Dutch Velduizen.
No question dealt directly with the arts or music; the last question included culture and several questions were about topics that would affect the arts, including issues to do with transport. Economic issues cropped up quite a lot but many candidates failed to recognise the important of the arts or even of the creative industries in the future of the city’s development.
The first question to be put to the panel was about the space created by the demolition of the New Walk centre (previously the offices of the City Council.) Replies given by the candidates to this question highlighted either their lack of vision or their inability to sense public opinion in the round. One candidate suggested that the space should be used to build an ice rink and another thought it should be used as a basketball venue. When one candidate put forward the view that it should be used as a public open space, Ben Jackson challenged him to explain how this could be funded and hot it would recoup the cost of development.
During the debate around the final question, put by Geoff Rowe (the organiser of the comedy festival) most of the candidates acknowledged that Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival was a very important tourist attraction for the city, bringing millions of pounds of economic benefits into the city each year. No mention was made by any of the candidates of the loss of the Summer Sundae festival and that Leicester now has no major music festival of national importance.
Mention was made of the importance of the Attenborough Arts centre (in which tonight’s debate was recorded) and one candidate suggested that there should be a pageant to celebrate Richard III.
Commenting on the seven candidates, editor of this magazine, Trevor Locke, said (after the debate): “On the whole all the candidates were weak in ideas and vision. This would have been an ideal opportunity to say what they would do for the arts and music but it turned out to be a missed opportunity.”
The one candidate who stood out on the panel was the incumbent Mayor who had seen over 40 years as a politician – more than all of the others’ experience put together. It is sad that the Mayoral elections have not attracted a more prestigious selection and that none of them have really made strong points about the arts and music.
The debate will be available from Radio Leicester on iPlayer at some stage.
Some of the candidates standing for election in some of the city and county gathered at Leicester Cathedral tonight to answer questions from the public.
The panel consisted of
John Ashworth, parliamentary candidate for the Labour party (Leicester South)
Michael Barker, The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition party (Leicester East)
Paul Bremner, standing for Mayor (Conservative)
Tim Grayson, standing for Mayor (Green party)
Zuffar Haq, parliamentary candidate for the Liberal Democrat party (Harborough)
David Sprason, parliamentary candidate for the UKIP party (Bosworth)
and was chaired by The Bishop of Leicester The Right Reverend Tim Stevens.
Given the rubric ‘Quiz the Parties’ the evening allowed members of the public to hear what this selection of candidates had to say. Each of the men (there were no women on the panel) was given a set time in which to make an opening and closing statement of their views. Members of the audience asked questions, each candidate being given a set amount of time in which to answer.
None of them said anything about the arts. Clearly not a subject on their agenda of priorities. The main issues were talked about, covering a wide range of topics including the economy, the NHS, housing, immigration and Trident. The first question hit an unusual note when an audience question asked the candidates to say what can government do to put morality at the heart of national, economic policy-making. Several speakers did see moral issues as being part of the electoral debate: justice, equality, humanity, fairness, respect and so on.
It was a genteel occasion, as befitted the environment in which it was held. None of the candidates really stood out. Sitting MP John Ashworth had the most experience, having represented the Leicester South consistency since his election to the seat in the 2011 by-election when the sitting MP Sir Peter Soulsby stood down. Some of the other candidates have served as councillors in the city or the country and one or two had no previous experience of elected office.
They were there to represent the views of their party. Sir Peter Soulsby, who is seeking a second term of office as Mayor, was not there, The Labour Party being represented by John Ashworth.
The event lasted for an hour and a half and with a panel of six speakers time for speaking was in short supply. Gone are the days when politicians would make speeches lasting for two to three hours, as they used to in Leicester long ago. In this age of the Internet, there are plenty of opportunities to hear what politicians have to say in the media, on Twitter and what ever social media each one chooses to use.
Politics is less personal these days; more digital as each politician tries to reach the largest number of people, TV and the Internet giving them much more reach into the electorate than face-to-face encounters.
After the meeting I spoke to a couple of the candidates and asked them if they would be prepared to share their views about the arts, via this magazine. We shall see what they come up with.
13th April 2015
Greens launch manifesto
The Green Party launched their manifesto for Leicester’s elections at the Town Hall Square today.
Whilst not all their candidates were present, the Greens gathered a group for a photo opportunity.
Standing for election for Mayor of Leicester was artist and poet Tim Grayson (whose work featured in this magazine in previous years.)
The Green’s manifesto devoted a whole section to Arts & Leisure. Among the points they made they wanted to encourage public art, such as busking and pop-theatre in designated areas of the city centre. They also said they would organise regular public meetings to gauge public reactions to arts and leisure initiatives. Their policies emphasised arts at the local, community level.
THE latest in a series of new heritage information panels are bringing to life the fascinating history of Leicester’s historic Lanes.
The panels tell visitors the stories of two landmark sites within The Lanes, including The Globe pub and Silver Street.
They are being installed this week as the latest in a city-wide series of heritage panels shedding light on the history of the city from Roman times to the modern era.
Serving beer since about 1720, The Globe is one of the oldest pubs in Leicester. Its ales were originally brewed with spring water from a well beneath the pub, and it was a popular inn with local knitwear workers in the 1800s.
Businessman Nathaniel Corah, founder of the hugely-successful Corah hosiery firm, started his business buying stocking-makers goods from the pub and selling them at a profit in Birmingham.
The pub’s name is reputed to come from the glass globes filled with water which framework knitters often hung in the windows to spread the amount of natural light. The new information panel will be placed outside the historic pub.
Neighbouring Silver Street, on whose corner The Globe stands, is one of the city’s oldest streets, and follows the route of the original Roman road from the town’s west gate.
Its name comes from the silver goods which were once made and repaired there, but its former uses were also reflected in the street’s earlier names, which included Sheep Street after its sheep market, and Hot Street after its bakery.
Silver Street was also once home to the Royal Opera House theatre, which was replaced in the 1960s by Malcolm Arcade, and the Il Rondo Ballroom, a dance hall at the site of a present day restaurant.
The panel is being placed outside Malcolm Arcade.
During the summer, a panel was also installed telling the story of the elegant and imposing former Natwest Bank building in Greyfriars, which was originally established as Pares’s Bank in 1900.
It was built on part of the garden of Greyfriars House, which itself was within the grounds of the former Greyfriars Friary, in which King Richard III was buried.
The bank changed hands and became a branch of Natwest until its closure in the 1990s.
[Source: Leicester City Council]
22nd September 2015
Golden Mile Gets Artworks
NEW banners designed by a local artist are being installed on lamp-posts along the Golden Mile.
The banners will help mark out the Belgrave Road area to both residents and visitors as a distinctive shopping and leisure destination.
The city council commissioned the banner designs – which were created by local artist Ashok Mistry – in consultation with the Belgrave Business Association and the local community.
There are five designs, all inspired by goods and services available along the Golden Mile, on the themes of men’s and women’s clothing, food, sweets and gold jewellery.
Ashok said: “Having grown up in Belgrave, this project was extremely enjoyable. Friends who aren’t familiar with Leicester have always commented on the energy of Belgrave. Visitors feel like they are in a whirlwind of activity, and it is this energy that I attempted to capture though the compositions.”
The banners will be installed in 50 locations along the Golden Mile.
18th August 2015
More history panels
MORE of the city’s popular heritage interpretation panels are being installed this month.
The panels, which celebrate Leicester’s 2,000 years of history, feature information on key buildings and well-known individuals associated with Leicester.
The latest installations include a series of panels called ‘Modern Leicester’, which focus on buildings of interest in the city since 1918. These include the former Palais de Dance and Lewis’s Tower, both in Humberstone Gate, and the former Leicester City Bus Depot, in the Cultural Quarter.
The Palais de Dance was built in 1927, and quickly became established as an upmarket dance venue complete with fountain, ornate plasterwork and crystal chandeliers. For the best part of 85 years, this building was the home of dance in Leicester.
It saw many name changes in more recent years – including The Studio, Zoots and Sosho – but to many local people, it will remain the place where they met their future husband or wife.
Lewis’s Tower has remained a popular landmark in the city, even after the demise of the department store below that gave it its name. The art deco tower – sometimes likened to the bridge of an ocean liner – conjures up fond memories of the store, which was well known for its Christmas grotto and decorations.
11th June 2015
Are you aged 14-25 and interested in a career in radio, journalism, arts or history?
Help us research and / or present the history of Black music, arts, culture and society in Leicester from the last 67 years.
Expenses paid! Boost your skills, knowledge and CV!
Training for volunteers will take place August–October 2015, Granby Street, Leicester.
This will include interview, research, presenting, media and broadcasting techniques, as well as working towards an Arts Award accreditation.
We are also looking for young people to help us manage the project.
Radio shows will be aired as part of Black History Month, October 2015.
Friday (June 5) is BBC Music Day. Each presenter at BBC Radio Leicester is championing a local band or artist, and there will be live performances throughout the day.
Down by the river side
BBC Radio Leicester will be at the Riverside Festival, where their gardening expert Ady Dayman will have “grown your own” sessions, helping people plant sunflowers and veg. Music in Leicester magazine will be covering the event.
The two-day festival takes place on the Mile Straight of the River Soar and on neighbouring Bede Park, Western Boulevard and Castle Gardens on Saturday, June 6, and Sunday, June 7.
The event is the city’s biggest free festival, combining live entertainment, activities for all ages and a dazzling array of arts and crafts and community stalls, demonstrations and attractions.
As part of the musical programme, the very best of local bands and musicians will perform on the main stage, including the winners of the city’s annual Original Bands Showcase event. The winners of the grand final held at The Musician Pub in May were Leicester band Dig Lazarus and runners up Not My Good Arm.
Both band will be playing on Saturday, June 6, at the festival, along with headliners The Brandy Thieves and The Strangler Figs. There will also be a beer tent with an acoustic stage on both days featuring local performers.
The festival finale on Sunday will be pop and soul band Sugabeat.
Tribute to great bands
A full report has been published on the Glastonbudget Music Festival on our sister magazine. The festival was held in Wymeswold 22nd – 24th May.
Find out more about popular music in Leicester from our sister magazine.
Bid to honour Attenborough
CITY Mayor Peter Soulsby has joined those who are calling for one of Britain’s greatest cultural icons – and one of Leicester’s most famous adopted sons – to be chosen to appear on the back of the new £20 note.
Actor and director Lord Attenborough is already one of the bookmakers’ favourites for the spot, after the Bank of England invited members of the public to help them find a new face to replace the Scottish economist Adam Smith on the back of the note.
People are being asked to nominate Britons of historic significance who best represent the visual arts, with architects, photographers, filmmakers, sculptors, actors, artists and fashion designers all expected to feature on the long-list.
But the City Mayor thinks that the man whose work brought pleasure to so many, and whose generous support of the arts continues in Leicester to this day, deserves to be considered.
“Richard Attenborough was a brilliant director and a brilliant actor, and he passionately believed in making the arts accessible to everyone – particularly people with disabilities,” he said.
LEICESTER’S new Lord Mayor has taken on the chains of office at a ceremony in the city’s Town Hall. Cllr Ted Cassidy MBE, who has been a city councillor for 15 years, has been handed the role from outgoing Lord Mayor Councillor John Thomas, at a ceremony on Thursday, May 21. The new Lord Mayor (not to be confused with the Mayor of Leicester) has long been a supporter of music and the arts in the city.
Meanwhile the City Mayor (Peter Soulsby) has announced that Cllr Piara Singh Clair continues in his role, as Assistant Mayor, covering culture, heritage, sport and leisure.
Hall of Food
IT’S been twelve months since the new food hall at Leicester Market opened its doors to the public – and the bright and airy new building is proving to be a hit with both traders and shoppers.
Since it opened in May last year, market staff estimate that more than 500,000 people have popped in to buy meat, fish, cheese and other fresh produce.
See our article on the opening of the Food Hall.
TV Comedian heading for Leicester
Comedian Reginald D Hunter will be appearing at the De Montfort Hall on 17th June as part of his UK tour. Television views have seen him on shows such as Have I Got News for You, Mock the Week and Live at The Apollo. Arts in Leicester magazine will be publishing an interview with Reginald soon.
Richard lll Appeal meets its £2.5 m Target
Leicester Cathedral is delighted to announce today that the appeal to cover its share of the costs of the reinterment of King Richard III is now officially closed, having met its target in full.
The appeal, for a total of £2.54m, was launched in May last year, immediately following the successful outcome of the judicial review, confirming that the plans for reinterment in the cathedral could go ahead. The funds have been raised from a variety of places, including grant-giving bodies and trusts, including the Richard III Society; individual donors, local businesses, and a community appeal to the people of Leicester and Leicestershire. The names of all donors, whatever the size of their gift, have already been published on the Cathedral’s Appeal website, and are soon to be inscribed in a Book of Recognition that will be on display in the cathedral and St Martins House.
Some two-thirds of the money raised – £1.6m – has been spent on the tomb and the alterations to the cathedral to create the new space towards the east end where it sits, between the central sanctuary and the newly created Chapel of Christ the King. Other expenditure is on the interpretation boards and displays, along with the creation of new part-time posts of education officer and volunteer manager for the cathedral as we move into the immediate new future, with greatly increased visitor numbers. A grant from the diocese of Leicester of £500,000 got the appeal off to a flying start and this has more than covered the administrative costs of the project, such as core staff salaries and fundraising costs.
Call to Artists
As part of City Festival 2015, 21st – 31st August 2015.
A project put together by Silver Vine Arts
All ARTISTS OPEN CALL All ARTISTS OPEN CALL
Silver Vine Arts invites artwork to be submitted to the second yearly Summer Art Trail 2015.
This exhibition gives practicing artists the opportunity to exhibit in LCB Depot and KN Arts in Leicester’s Cultural Quarter as part of City Festival.
Also part of Summer Art Trail are Attenborough Arts (formally Embrace Arts) , Graff HQ, Soft Touch Arts, Leicester Print Workshop, Cank Street Gallery, Unit 1 at The Great Central Gallery, Leicester LO-Fi Photography, The Queen of Bradgate, My Workshop, The Western and The Cube Gallery at Phoenix Cinema
We welcome submissions of all artistic mediums such as painting, drawing, collage, sculpture, film, sound, projection, live art and design of the highest quality.
2Funky Arts is running a FREE training course for people aged 16+ who are interested in a career in the arts, events and/ or festivals. The 7 week course will run on Thursdays, 6-8pm, from 30 April to 25 June 2015, at SEED Creativity Hub (Humberstone Gate, Leicester). It will include sessions, run by experts and guest speakers, on topics such as marketing, programming, photography, front of house and stewarding, as well as CV development.
It will also include work experience at UK’s Best Dance Crew at De Montfort Hall on Saturday 27 June. The event will feature some of the most talented urban dance crews from across the UK and promises to be an evening of jaw-dropping routines.
Volunteers will gain valuable skills and experience that will give them an advantage in this competitive field of work. This programme, will be led by professional arts managers. Director of Seed Creativity, Dan Lamoon is a media production specialist and editor of From Dusk 2 Dawn online magazine. Vijay Mistry is Director of 2Funky Arts and a successful promoter of comedy, music and dance shows for established venues. He has managed a variety of high profile shows, including The Real McCoy at De Montfort Hall and Leicester’s Best Dance Crew at Curve Theatre.
A PRAYER book owned by King Richard III has gone on display at New Walk Museum.
Made of parchment and beautifully decorated, the Book of Hours was created in London in 1420, with handwritten prayers added for King Richard III around the time of his reign, from 1483-85.
It was loaned to the city for use in King Richard III’s reinterment ceremony at Leicester Cathedral last week, and is now on show at New Walk Museum. Read our article on the King’s reinterment.
The book is a collection of prayers to guide devotion throughout the day. It includes several additional hand-written prayers for Richard’s personal use, with his name attached. The date of the king’s birthday also appears, which is believed to have been written in by Richard himself.
One prayer reads, “Lord Jesus Christ, deign to free me, your servant King Richard, from every tribulation, sorrow and trouble in which I am placed…” As Richard’s personal prayer book, it is thought it may have been in his tent at the Battle of Bosworth.
It is known to have later belonged to Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII, before eventually being passed into the library of the Archbishop of Canterbury during the early 1600s.
King Richard’s Book of Hours has been loaned to Leicester by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev and Rt Hon Justin Welby and the Trustees of Lambeth Palace Library.
Liz Blyth, director of culture and neighbourhood services at Leicester City Council, said: “We’re very grateful to Lambeth Palace Library for loaning this fascinating book to us, to coincide with our commemorations of King Richard III. This will give visitors to Leicester a fantastic opportunity to view this unique object, in the impressive surroundings of New Walk Museum.”
Giles Mandelbrote, librarian of Lambeth Palace Library, said: “Richard III’s Book of Hours is one of the medieval treasures preserved in the collections of Lambeth Palace Library. We are delighted to lend it for this historic occasion and for the enjoyment of visitors to the New Walk Museum.”
The Very Revd David Monteith, Dean of Leicester said: “King Richard was clearly a devout Christian. The annotations show that this book was in regular use and it offers us an insight into King Richard as a man of prayer.”
The book will be on display at New Walk Museum until Sunday 28 June.
Other articles about the reinterment of King Richard III.
King Richard III’s Tomb open for public viewing
Leicester Cathedral has announced the times when the public can come and view King Richard III’s tomb this week
“King Richard III’s tomb is now a permanent feature in Leicester Cathedral. However, there are still a considerable number of visitors from all over the world in Leicester who we expect will want to take a last opportunity to see it before returning home,” said Liz Hudson, the Cathedral’s Director of Communications. “We anticipate a great deal of interest and suggest that people who live locally may find it easier to plan a visit to see the tomb at a slightly later date.”
Key points detailed on the funeral procession route.
Music for reinterment service composed
An anthem by York composer Dr Philip Moore will be sung at the service of Reinterment of King Richard III in Leicester Cathedral next Thursday, 26 March. Philip was Organist and Master of the Music at York Minster from 1983-2008 and is now Organist Emeritus of the Minster. His setting of Psalm 150 ‘O praise God in his holiness’ is an adaptation of a much longer work written in 2007 for the Exultate Singers of Bristol.
He has reworked the piece for the Reinterment service by incorporating the medieval antiphon ‘Omnis spiritus’ (which would have accompanied the psalm in medieval liturgies) and adding parts for the same instruments as Master of the Queen’s Music Judith Weir has used in her arrangement of the National Anthem, which will be premiered at the same service.
Cathedral Director of Music Dr Christopher Ouvry-Johns said: “Finding the right setting of psalm 150 was one of the most difficult parts of planning the music for the Reinterment and I’m much indebted to Philip for the considerable work he’s put into revising the piece. This is possibly the most joyful and exuberant of all the psalms and while Christian belief in life after death means that there is rightly an element of hope in the service, it was important that this shouldn’t eclipse the solemn and dignified nature of the occasion.
While the lively rhythms of the main body of the piece conjure up images of celebration, even dancing, the inclusion of the antiphon ‘Omnis spiritus’ from the Bangor Pontifical (a 14th-century manuscript) at the start and the end of the piece put that celebratory atmosphere in an appropriate context. Indeed, what could be more appropriate for the 21st-century burial of a medieval monarch than a 21st-century composition incorporating medieval music?”
Philip Moore said “It is a great honour and privilege to have been asked to contribute to this unique and historic service, most especially because of my intimate association with York. I was delighted when Dr Ouvry-Johns asked if he could see my setting of Psalm 150.
Although the adaptations I have made are considerable, I enjoyed revisiting the anthem and the chance to add parts for four horns was a refreshing challenge. I am sad not to able to attend the service in person, but on my recent visit to a choir practice at Leicester Cathedral I was thrilled to see how well the choir was singing the work”.
[Source: Leicester Cathedral]
New medieval galleries open at Guildhall
LEICESTER’S medieval history has been brought to life in the fitting location of the city’s 600-year-old Guildhall.
Two new galleries have been created at the museum to house the city’s fine collection of medieval artefacts, thanks to a £69,000 grant from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Wolfson Foundation charity, and a £43,000 contribution from the city council. The permanent displays – which open to the public on Thursday – use digital technology and fascinating items from the collection to allow visitors to explore the streets of medieval Leicester.
The first of the new galleries looks at Leicester as a medieval market town and centre of trade, while the second gallery explores Leicester’s status as a religious centre. An animated film provides an introduction to medieval Leicester, with a series of characters – based on real people from Leicester’s past – leading visitors on a journey through city life in the middle ages.
The new medieval galleries open to the public for the first time at 11am tomorrow (Thursday 19 March).
Solar eclipse echoes the fantastic astronomical events which took place during the time of Richard III
Historical astronomical data of the time of Richard III and the Battle of Bosworth examined by University of Leicester.
Richard III’s corpse could have been publicly displayed beneath a blood moon following his defeat at the Battle of Bosworth
A solar eclipse would have darkened the sky 529-years-ago today (MARCH 16) as Richard III’s wife Anne Neville died
Star charts showing the night sky on the eve of the Battle of Bosworth have been studied by University of Leicester photographer Colin Brooks.
This Friday’s solar eclipse has much relevance to Ricardians as it does for countless astronomers and stargazers across the globe.
On Sunday 15th March, 2015 the coffining of the mortal remains of King Richard III took place in preparation for reinterment at Leicester Cathedral on 26th March.
The private occasion took place in the Council Room – formerly a Chapel – of the University of Leicester. It was witnessed by a small number of representatives from the University and other key organisations, including the Cathedral, the City Council, the County Council, the Richard III Society, members of the University chaplaincy, an independent witness and relatives of King Richard III who donated their DNA as part of the identification process.
Following the completion of the University’s extensive programme of scientific analysis, the reinterment of all the mortal remains of Richard III, including samples, is considered to be a final act and there are no plans to reopen the tomb in the future.
In order to pack the bones into the lead-lined coffin, natural materials sourced from the British Isles which would have existed in the medieval period were used. A combination of washed natural woollen fleece, wadding and unbleached linen were used for the layers of packing. Linen bags, made by the pupils of the Richard III infant’s school in Leicester, were used for wrapping small bones and scientific samples. The bones were laid out as if articulated in the lead inner casket. A rosary was placed in the coffin and the final layer was a piece of Irish linen embroidered by Mrs Elizabeth Nokes of the Richard III Society. Once the lead inner casket was sealed, Michael Ibsen, a descendant of Richard III’s elder sister, Anne of York, fixed the lid of the outer coffin in position, which he made, of English oak, in his workshop.
A LEICESTER performance venue is to be renamed in honour of the author Sue Townsend.
Upper Brown Street – formerly the Phoenix Arts Centre – is to be known as the Sue Townsend Theatre from tomorrow (Tuesday) as a tribute to the Leicester-born creator of Adrian Mole.
Sue Townsend – who died in April 2014 – began her literary career as the writer-in-residence at the old Phoenix and wrote her first play, Womberang, while she was there. The venue is now leased to Leicester College and used as a teaching venue for those studying the performing arts and music & sound technology.
City Mayor Peter Soulsby, who announced the city’s tribute to the author at her funeral service last year, will unveil a memorial plaque at the official opening tomorrow (Tuesday 17 March), when the new sign will be lit up for the first time.
See our review of Adrian Mole – the musical.
Archaeologists to be honoured
TWO archaeologists involved in uncovering some of Leicester’s most important historical finds are to be honoured jointly by the city’s Lord Mayor.
Dr Richard Buckley OBE and Dr Patrick Clay are both directors of the University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS) – the organisation responsible for the stunning discovery of King Richard III’s remains in 2012.
In addition to finding the Last Plantagenet king, they’ve carried out painstaking archaeological work throughout the city over the last 30 years, including discovering the lost St Peter’s Church at the site of the Highcross shopping centre.
Dr Buckley was the lead archaeologist on the dig in summer 2012 which discovered not only the grave of the last English king to die in battle, but also revealed for the first time the long-lost Grey Friars Church.
While he was heavily involved in the now world-famous dig, his co-director of ULAS Dr Clay ensured the archaeological services’ other projects kept running smoothly.
Both men are due to be given a joint Honoured Citizens Award by Leicester Lord Mayor, Cllr John Thomas, at the Town Hall on Wednesday, September 24, at 3.30pm.
The work of ULAS is brought together in the book Visions of Ancient Leicester, which tells the story of the city’s archaeological discoveries from Roman times to the Middle Ages.
Lord Mayor Cllr Thomas said: “This is a unique partnership and a contribution which should be jointly acknowledged. They have put Leicester on the map and continue to encourage and engage public fascination in the city’s rich past.
“While Richard Buckley recently received his OBE, it would be truly wonderful for them both to be acknowledged for their contributions to the city by presenting them with this Honoured Citizens Award.”
Dr Clay said: “We are honoured to receive this award particularly from Leicester – a city to which much of our work has been devoted.
“The discovery of King Richard III is the most exciting of our achievements and is a testament to the breadth of expertise in our team. The experience and skills developed over 30 years laid the groundwork for the discovery of the king.
“Through our excavations of Roman and medieval Leicester, the Hallaton Hoards, prehistoric sites – in addition to nationally important ancient monuments – the discoveries we have made, interrogated and interpreted and led to a complete change in the way the archaeological landscape of the East Midlands is viewed.”
Dr Buckley, who led on the dig at Grey Friars, added: “We are delighted that the work we have done over the past 30 years is being recognised in this way.
“The work of our unit helped the university to win the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education – the highest honour in the university system.
“We are very proud of the increased knowledge of the archaeology and history of the city that has come about through our excavations, and to have helped people to appreciate its rich heritage.
“To be recognised by the citizens of Leicester in this way is truly an honour.”
[Source: Leicester City Council, 18th September 2014]