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Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912), Britain’s Foremost Black Classical Composer: The Centenary Legacy

Just a few days after this year’s Slavery Remembrance Day, on 23 August, we mark also the centenary legacy of the black British music composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, who died one hundred years ago, on 1 September 1912.

What follows is a version of the article which, as Executive Chair of the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Foundation, I posted on the Huffington Post UK website to acknowledge this significant milestone.

To read more about Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s legacy, or to comment, please visit Hilary’s professional website here, or the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Foundation website, here.

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So Is Salford’s Media City A ‘Wonderful Town’?

We went to see Leonard Bernstein’s Wonderful Town performed by the Halle Orchestra at The Lowry in Salford last night.  And by coincidence, it transpired, yesterday was also the day when the BBC began transmitting the popular Breakfast show from its brand new operation in Salford Quay’s Media City.  Apparently, despite the anticipated longer term advantages of being in Salford rather than London, there are still BBC people who think it not done to be going Up North regularly to broadcast to the nation.

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Call The Midwife… Then, Now And In The Future

Summary: We might think that a book about midwifery in London in the 1950s is of little practical relevance today; but how wrong could we be?  The true tales which Jennifer Worth (1935- 2011) relates in her Call the Midwife trilogy, now being televised by the BBC, are not as some suppose stories removed from the realities of the present time.  They connect very directly with our current lives for at least two critically important reasons.

To read more of this article and to comment, please visit Hilary’s professional website here; or visit the article above on this website to continue comment and discussion of Call The Midwife: A BBC1 Triumph For Real People.

Winter Solstice In London

Even in a great modern city like London, the Winter Solstice is not totally ignored.
Here, just behind the Angel Islington, preparations have been made to celebrate this Solstice in the local community Culpeper Garden, a small but beautifully stocked oasis amidst the bustle of urban life. There are still those who perhaps see mystery, if not magic, in the ancient calendar of the seasons. What though should we make of the massive snowman not a few hundred yards further along City Road? On the evening of the Solstice he almost seems to be awaiting his taxi as the snow continues to fall…

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The National Theatre Museum Has Closed

HOTFOOT(small) orange 2005 027.jpgThe National Museum of the Performing Arts closed ‘for good’ yesterday. This is a disaster for London (where it has had its home, in Covent Garden) and for the whole of the U.K. If the Trustees of the Victoria and Albert Museum – in whose ‘care’ the Theatre Museum resides – cannot maintain the collection as an entity, perhaps the Theatre Museum should pass to those who can do better? The Chair of the V & A has close Merseyside connections; why not re-open the Theatre Museum in Liverpool?

No-one believed it could happen, but the announcement has been made – the National Museum of the Performing Arts in Covent Garden, London, closed yesterday (Sunday 7 January 2007) because the Trustees decided they couldn’t commit further resources to the venue. This is despite the description of the Museum by its own Trustees, the Victoria and Albert Museum Board, as a ‘world-class collection’.
The protests of people as diverse as Alan Ackbourne, Judi Dench (Guardians of the Theatre Museum) and Ken Livingstone have, it seems, had no effect. Somehow,
the performing arts are not compelling to the Museum Trustees. Apparently there is to be a website and some collections are to be shown at the V & A in Kensington in 2009, but basically that’s it. Just at the time when London is preparing to host the 2012 Olympics, and when Covent Garden can never have been a more popular visitor attraction, the doors have closed. Firmly.
Nonetheless, after the experience we as CAMPAM had in the late 1980s / 1990s of ‘resurrecting’ the Liverpool Everyman – which actually went dark – and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (which just about clung on) I don’t think anyone should give up all hope yet.
So come to Liverpool
I have already suggested that, if Londoners really don’t want their Theatre Museum, it should come to Liverpool. Here, up
North, we’re preparing for an event even more imminent than the Olympics. 2007 is Liverpool’s 800th Anniversary, and 2008, as everyone knows, will be our year as European Capital of Culture. The arguments for Liverpool taking this venture on have already been rehearsed; and I have been assured (though I await the evidence) that the City Council is considering things, as, one gathers from recent Minutes of the V & A Board, are the NWDA and Blackpool Council.
In the meantime, though, there is one other interesting aspect of this strange situation: The Chair of the V & A is Paula Ridley, a person with strong connections on Merseyside. It would be fascinating to know her view of the proposition that the Theatre Museum come to Liverpool.

Read more articles on the National Theatre Museum.

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Will The National Theatre Museum Come To Liverpool?

Theatre Museum (small) CIMG0748.JPG Sometimes things move quickly. The proposal to bring the national Theatre Museum to Liverpool when it closes in London seems to be one of these times. Just ten days after being mooted on this website, a proposal to take action will be debated tonight by City Councillors in Liverpool Town Hall.
The idea of the national Theatre Museum (the National Museum of the Performing Arts) coming to Liverpool took a step forward this morning, when the proposal first posted here ten days ago appeared as an article in today’s Daily Post.
TownHallCIMG0770.JPG Liverpool City Councillors Joe Anderson, Paul Brant and Steve Munby (Labour) will this evening put a motion entitled NATIONAL THEATRE MUSEUM to full Council, proposing that:
Council notes that the national collection of performing arts memorabilia, at the Theatre Museum in London, part of the Victoria and Albert Museum, is to be dispersed when the Theatre is closed in January 2007.
Council calls on the Leader to explore the possibility of bringing it to Liverpool to develop as a special national element of our celebrations in 2007 and 2008? Liverpool has a great tradition of theatre, opera and the performing arts in this city, and the V&A could open the revived exhibition as a ‘V&A in the North’, as the Tate has done with Tate Liverpool.
To the national exhibition we could explore adding the archives of our own theatres, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Society’s archive and the history of Hope Street, Liverpool’s performing arts quarter.

Progress indeed
I am very hopeful that the motion will be carried with cross-party agreement, since Cllr Mike Storey (Liberal Democrat), Liverpool’s executive member for special initiatives, has told the Daily Post that he would support examining such a move for the Theatre Museum collection, and Cllr Steve Radford (Liberal Party) has also indicated his general support to me.
This is how we in Liverpool should all be working when it comes to the arts and culture. HOPES has produced, and the politicians have made progress with, a potentially good idea which would enhance parts of our civic ‘cultural offer’ in a very positive way. Just as with the development of the Hope Street Public Realm works, I hope we can deliver here something which involves both public and community voices in a virtuous circle, and so secures added value locally, regionally and even nationally.
We await the outcome of this evening’s Council Meeting with interest….
Read more articles on the National Theatre Museum.

London’s Theatre Museum Is Closing – So Why Not Bring It To Liverpool?

Theatre Museum London banners (small).jpg The national collection of performing arts memorabilia, at the Theatre Museum in London, is to be dispersed when the Museum is closed in January 2007. So why not send it instead to Liverpool, as a ‘V&A Liverpool’, and let us up here have it as a very special part of our 2008 European Capital of Culture celebrations?
The sad news this week is that London’s Theatre Museum is to close. Its home in Covent Garden near the Royal Opera House is to be no more, and its exhibits will be dispersed by its parent body, the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum.
A loss for the arts world, and everyone else
Theatre Museum London Unleashing Britain (Beatles) poster.jpg I’m sure there will be knowledgable people who will conclude that the merits or otherwise of the Theatre’s exhibits justify this decision, but to me it seems shocking. I visited it quite recently for the ‘Unleashing Britain – Ten years that shaped the nation: 1955-1964′ exhibition and, as I reported on this weblog, I found the whole place fascinating.
Perhaps the Theatre could be said to have been its own worst enemy, insofar as it always look closed even when it’s actually open – the doors seem blank and much of the exhibiiton is ‘below stairs’, in a wonderful but not-visible-from-the street warren of tunnels and small rooms; but the external visibility problems could easily have been resolved.
A bright idea?
Theatre Museum London 06.10.12.jpg However, if people in London don’t want the Theatre Museum collection as an identity, I have an idea…. Why not bring it to Liverpool for us to enjoy, and to develop as a very special national element of our celebrations in 2007 and 2008? We have a great tradition of theatre (and opera) in this city, and the V&A could open the revived exhibition as a ‘V&A in the North’, as the Tate has done with Tate Liverpool.
And to the national exhibition we could of course add the archives of our own theatres, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic’s archive and the history of Hope Street, Liverpool’s performing arts quarter.
There’s just about time to get the ball rolling, if we all started to work on this now. It would be a superb asset for Liverpool, and would keep the national exhibition in the public eye, when all our vitiors arrive for Liverpool’s 2008 European Capital of Culture Year. We have plenty of large buildings which could be put to good use in this way, and surely the maintenance costs could be found from somewhere, just as they will have to be if the artifacts stay in London anyway?
Benefits all round
If London really doesn’t want to keep the Theatre Museum as an identity, here’s an opportunity for them to do something really good as partners to help us ‘up North’ to gain even more value from our special years in 2007 and 2008, and beyond.
Read more articles on the National Theatre Museum.

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