Art Beat;Arts;Diary

12th June 1998 at 01:00
Welcome to the first Art Beat diary. The "arts" have always been difficult to define, and - as Ken Robinson, professor of arts education at the University of Warwick, pointed out only last week - in education it has become a problem term. "Saying 'arts' provokes the image of a minority debate," he said. "In fact it's about the overall balance and direction of education, about the development of creative capacity and cultural understanding." I hope that the news and analysis this column brings you will contribute to practical problem-solving, to the enjoyment of the arts and to the wider cultural debate.

Given the success of The TES's music campaign - still in full swing - it seems a good idea to begin with a reminder about the 1998 Music for Youth National Festival, which this year will take place at three venues. Sixteen thousand young singers and instrumentalists will perform at the Symphony Hall and Adrian Boult Hall in Birmingham between June 23 and 26, at the South Bank complex in London from July 6 to 9, and at the Bridgewater Hall and RNCM in Manchester between July 14 and 17. (Music for Youth, tel: 0181 870 9624.)

Meanwhile, at 7.30pm on June 21, the Philharmonia Orchestra will join forces with the Leicestershire Schools Symphony Orchestra to play Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky to mark the end of the Leicester International Music Festival and the start of the Leicestershire Arts Summer celebrations of 50 years of youth music. The LSSO has something else to celebrate too - winning the Sainsbury's Youth Orchestra of the Year Award, worth pound;3,000 and a concert on Classic FM. (Tickets: 0116 233 3111.)

London has a new resource for photography and media studies students. The Victoria and Albert Museum has unveiled its Canon Gallery with an exhibition that gives a succinct history of photography and a taste of the collection. Leading practitioners such as Julia Margaret Cameron, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Don McCullin are represented. There is a stunning installation - using computer-generated images of leaves and pillars and pay-in-the-slot self-portraits - by the late Helen Chadwick, who was instrumental in setting up the gallery. And there are other modern examples of photography as "art" rather than the recording of a moment, a distinction that has never been clear-cut. The Victorian Julia Margaret Cameron, for example, was inventing fantasies about pretty maids on the Isle of Wight as often as she was capturing with documentary exactness the griminess of Tennyson's collar. (For details of an explanatory course ring 0171 938 8638.)

At the Barbican, Andy Warhol's love affair with the camera is presented with wit and clarity, but this was really a love affair with himself - the idea of the artist, the fashion icon, the setter of trends, ultimately the salesman. He multiplied his 15 minutes' worth of fame with enough skill to win him a sort of immortality, but, surrounded by equally narcissistic courtiers in photographs and on screens, his actual achievements seem minimal. There's more to him than a silver wig and a screen print of Campbell's soup tins. But not much. (For details of educational activities, 0171 638 4141.)

BITE:98 (Barbican International Theatre Event) began its 22-week occupation last month with a hypnotic opera by Philip Glass (music) and Robert Wilson (visual concept). Monsters of Grace, with its 3D computer images, lyrics by a 13th century whirling dervish, and lulling singing, demanded a response which did not rely on previous experience. Dance and theatre to come includes Twyla Tharp in July, Ninagawa's Hamlet and, "for children of all ages", Postman Pat, both in August.

The season at Shakespeare's Globe has got underway with a playful As You Like It and a Merchant of Venice which looks gorgeous but is stronger on the comedy than near-tragedy. GlobeEducation offers a number of events, including Childsplay which allows parents to leave small charges to their own Shakespeare workshops during matinees (0171 401 9919).

But let us not forget the creative capacity of teachers. Tandem, under the aegis of the Arvon Foundation, has come up with a holiday idea to help those who nurture young talent to rediscover their own potential. Five-day residential courses at four Devon centres, between August 17 and 22, will give teachers the chance to collaborate with artists on music theatre, music making, song-writing, drawing and sculpture as well as creative writing.

Tutors include the novelist Lindsay Clarke and song writer Paul F Cowlan. The heavily subsidised course fee of pound;150 includes full board and lodging. Further information from Tandem, Elm Court, East Street, Sheepwash, Beaworthy, Devon EX21 5NL (01409 231307).

Heather Neill

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