Culture

Slavery: Scotland’s Hidden Shame

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Cat Mackay spoke to filmmakers Don Coutts and David Hayman about their 2018 documentary Slavery: Scotland’s Hidden Shame. Coutts and Hayman travelled to Sierra Leone and Jamaica, bringing to light facts about the Scottish ruling class’s central role in the horrors of the slave trade.

SR: Were you commissioned to make the documentary, or was it your own idea?

Jimi Hendrix Soundtrack of Revolt

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Fifty years after his death in1970 at the peak of his fame, Hendrix is still revered as the premium electric guitarist. His music became part of the soundtrack of a generation’s revolt. In the six years of his recorded output, he produced just four albums. But these, the hit singles from them and the new tonal and emotional territories he established with the electric guitar, make him one of the most important musicians of the century. Hendrix began playing on the Chitlin’ Circuit with, amongst others, the Isley Brothers and Little Richard.

Culture in Crisis: The Arts, Defunded

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There are three things to say about the government announcement of £1.8 billion for the Culture, Arts and Heritage sector announced in early July. First, for those who work in a sector of the economy that employs about 270,000 people this is potentially a lifeline. Second, compared to the funding provided by other (mostly European) governments for the same purpose, it is a pittance. Third, one of the effects of this money is that it will deepen the inequalities that already scar the different forms that make up the creative industries.

Theatre Online: Pass Over

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Since the lockdown and consequent closure of theatres, many theatre makers and theatre lovers have been trying to make a virtue out of a necessity of “online theatre”. One piece of onscreen theatre I was pleased to discover was Spike Lee’s film of Antoinette Nwandu’s play Pass Over, built around a recording of a performance at Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago in 2018. The play, based on Samuel Beckett’s classic Waiting for Godot, takes us to a street corner in a black, workingclass neighbourhood of an American city.

Watch Out For

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Online Exhibitions: Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery
Browse the online adaptations of National Portrait Gallery exhibitions and collection highlights with Google Arts & Culture. Winold Reiss & the Harlem Renaissance is realy worth checking out. Reiss, who was born in Germany, challenged the convention of racial stereotyping by portraying African American, Native American, and Asian American subjects as dignified individuals. In 1924, Reiss was commissioned to make portraits of major figures of the Harlem Renaissance.

Da Five Bloods

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Veteran filmmaker Spike Lee’s latest release examines the multilayered nature and impact of racism, money, war trauma and father figures. Four black army veterans meet up 50 years after their tour of duty on a mission to return to Vietnam. Their aim is two-fold.
First, to reclaim and repatriate their inspirational leader Stormin’ Norman. He it was who taught them how to fight, but he also schooled them in the racist reality of the nation for whom they were fighting. As the tale unfolds, the grim reality of how he died is revealed.

Music Roundup

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RTJ4 Album by Run the Jewels
The fourth album by Run The Jewels, namely rapper Killer Mike and rapper-producer El-P, is a timely release. RTJ4 hits hard at the rotten, racist police system in the heart of capitalism, with songs such as ‘Walking in the Snow’. The chilling last words of Eric Garner and George Floyd appear in ‘I Can’t Breathe’.

Classical Music - Beethoven

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What marked his artistic development was the impact of the Enlightenment revolution in ideas, particularly of freedom, equality and fraternity, that found material expression in the French Revolution.

This is the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven, one of the greatest composers, whose enduring power stems from the close relationship between his creativity and the social turmoil that engulfed the world he grew up in.

Beethoven came from a family of court musicians. In 1792 he settled in Vienna, the great social and cultural centre of the Habsburg Empire.

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