Art and Culture

Interview: Jon McClure of Reverend and the Makers

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Jon McClure, lead singer of Sheffield band, Reverend and The Makers, hosted the recent 4,500-strong Love Music Hate Racism Rotherham Carnival. He speaks to Lee Billingham about his music and politics

How did you get into music?

I got into music by being a kind of poet and writer. I put on parties and performed poetry. I also wrote stuff for the Arctic Monkeys' website. I used to write it under various pseudonyms, which kind of increased their mythology. It was more politically inclined than their music would be.

All art for the masses

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I'm in trouble with some readers of this magazine. It all stems from my column about dance in the last issue. Several people have objected to me writing about dance and "bourgeois" institutions like Sadler's Wells and the Royal Opera House.

In this month's letters page one reader complains that this is "art for rich people and says absolutely nothing about the world I live in".

This is not a new debate. The argument surrounding so-called "high culture" and "popular culture" has raged for decades. The Proletkult movement that arose after the 1917 Russian Revolution proclaimed, "In the name of our future we are burning Raphael, destroying the museums and trampling on the flowers of art."

Interview: George Pelecanos: Telling the tales of two cities

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The Wire has been dubbed the greatest series on TV. George Pelecanos, one of the writers and producers of the show, talks to Gaverne Bennett.

In November all eyes will be on Washington DC as the world waits to see who is to occupy the White House.

However, if you want to know what is behind and beyond that shiny residence there is no better chronicler than George Pelecanos.

Born and raised in Washington DC, Pelecanos had his first novel published in 1992. Fourteen crime novels later, and with many of the episodes of The Wire to his credit, George Pelecanos is still going strong.

Shaolins and tap dancing

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Artistic collaborations promise so much, but so often fail.

Who could forget filmmaker Stanley Kubrick's teaming up with Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise in the turkey Eyes Wide Shut? Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder singing "Ebony and Ivory" also springs to mind.

Sutra is a different kind of collaboration altogether. It brings together Buddhist warrior monks from the Shaolin Temple in China, British sculptor Anthony Gormley, Moroccan/Belgian choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Polish composer Szymon Brzóska.

Benjamin Zephaniah: Rhythms of radical culture

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Poet, novelist and musician Benjamin Zephaniah talks to Weyman Bennett and Judith Orr about politics, culture and why Boris Johnson's appointment of a black deputy should fool no one.

Your most recent album, Naked, blends spoken word with music. Is there more space for that?

For me they've never been really separate. When I start thinking about poetry I think of the sound of poetry and the effect it has on people when they hear it, rather than how they see it on the page.

Terence Blanchard - full interview

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Terence Blanchard's latest album, A Tale of God's Will (A Requiem for Katrina), is about the abandonment of the people of New Orleans by the Bush administration. Here the composer, saxophonist and film-score writer speaks to Martin Smith about his new music, the US government and working with Spike Lee.

What made you record the album?

Ronan Bennett: A sense of impending tragedy

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Writer Ronan Bennett talks to Shaun Doherty about the lead up to the Iraq war, the ignorance of New Labour and being a political writer

How did 10 Days to War, your series of eight short dramas marking the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, come about?

Someone had come up with the idea of dramatising the run-up to the war in a series of short films. It was green lit, fully financed, and given a broadcast date - which was obviously the anniversary of the war - but had no script. So I was asked.

But is it art?

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Not a week passes without the Daily Mail or the Daily Express bitterly complaining that art has been taken over by anarchists and crackpots.

Empty rooms with flickering neon, piles of bricks, pictures (beautiful pictures as it happens) made with elephant dung, isolated figures half submerged off the Welsh coast - they exercise the middle classes to the point of apoplexy. But what is their art then? What is the artistic culture of the right?

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