Flowers 1

Flowers for Kazuo Ohno (and Leonard Cohen)

Is artistic excellence really incompatible with social purpose? It’s an argument I’ve heard throughout my working life but it has never seemed coherent—unless art is defined in such malnourished terms as to be all but lifeless. That artificial debate came to mind when Álvaro Restrepo sent me a short film of extracts from the latest…

Schwimmhalle 1

A perfect delight

A delight in useless beauty is part of what makes us human. Walking down a street in Mannheim yesterday, I noticed this inscription above the entrance to a swimming pool. Could any script better evoke the ripple of water or the fluid motion of the crawl? It makes you want to go inside just to…

Steps 1

A pause on the landing

The Regular Marvels idea started in 2011, with the project about West Bromwich Operatic Society that became Where We Dream. Actually, that’s not strictly accurate: I had the title before I met the brilliant people at WBOS. I wanted to do something about the undervalued parts of our cultural life and the amateur world was…

Tilery school health lanterns, Stockton 2011

Chalkie’s Demon Diary

I have written about Mike White before. He belongs to the quiet army of artists and creative people who’ve nurtured socially engaged arts practice at the heart of community life today. A hugely valuable career at Womad, Welfare State International, Gateshead Council and Durham University came to early retirement last autumn as he continues treatment for…

Fred Brookes live 2

Singing in the ambulance

Everything is Connected At the end of his hour long set in the Federation Hall last night, the singer introduced the musicians who’d accompanied him, before booming out: ‘I’m Fred Brookes and I’ve just had the most wonderful time of my life!’. That’s something to say at your 72nd birthday party, when you’ve just sung…

A Wider Horizon (Rosie Redzia)

January skies, wide horizons

The Light Ships voyage is completed and, with the turn of the year, A Wider Horizon comes into view. It’s the slowest Regular Marvel yet, and it has given me some difficulty. Partly, it’s been about managing my time over several years. It’s also that the idea started as a request, so it has to meet other…

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Oh yes it is!

Jeanie Finlay’s Pantomime The atmosphere at the Première of Jeanie Finlay’s lastest documentary, Pantomime, lived up to the film’s title. The main auditorium at Nottingham’s Broadway Cinema was packed with excited members of The People’s Theatre company, taking a precious night off from rehearsing this year’s panto to see how Jeanie had told their story.…