Colors: Red Color

I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here finalist and popular Radio 1 DJ Jordan North has teamed up with McDonald’s to show his fans how he has been spending his lockdown days since the castle.

He posted a hilarious video on his Instagram, known for his love of food hot off the press from his ‘Date Night’, North is seen preparing for his perfect night in with a face mask, slippers and is seen settling down to watch his beloved football team Burnley FC at his ‘Happy Place’ Turf Moor with the new McDonald’s Katsu Curry Chicken McNuggets.

This is the second video from Jordan showcasing how he has been filling the lonely nights during lockdown, two weeks ago he posted on his Instagram showing himself nervously preparing for a dinner date… Only to find out his date is McDonald’s new Katsu Curry Chicken McNuggets.

Taking social media by storm, both videos combined have already received close to half a million (460k) views and over 750 comments with a range of hilarious replies underneath.

Arts union Equity has written to the chancellor and culture secretary to say most of its members are still "in serious need of financial help".

Government schemes so far have proved "inadequate and patchy at best", its general secretary and president said. "Creative workers need action now," they wrote, adding that many were "struggling to stay afloat".

A government spokesperson pointed to its "generous" support including the £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund. In their letter, Paul W Fleming and Maureen Beattie wrote: "The reality for most of our members, including thousands of people who regularly work throughout the community in care homes or delivering theatre in education, is that there is no route back to work any time soon.

"With this crisis certain to last for months to come, our members will soon pass the year's mark since our industry's closure - a year without regular, reliable income for the vast majority of our membership."

Equity represents actors and other "creative practitioners". Four out of 10 could not access the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS), Equity said. It added that freelancers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland had received some additional support, but "those in England have not received any further help".

In their response, the government spokesperson said the SEISS was "one of the most generous in the world" and that it had "provided billions in support to the UK's world-class cultural sector", including the Culture Recovery Fund and the £500m film and TV insurance scheme. "At the upcoming Budget we'll outline the next stages of our Plan for Jobs to support businesses and families across the UK," they added.

In July, Equity welcomed the support from the Culture Recovery Fund Equity but its previous general secretary, Christine Payne, said it was important that the funding didn't just prop up venues. Meanwhile, Manchester City Council has decided to launch its own hardship fund for arts freelancers in the city, using £500,000 from retailer B&M and The Savannah Wisdom Foundation.

"Manchester's arts and culture sector contribute massively to city life and to its economy and have an important part to play in the city's recovery from the pandemic," councillor Luthfur Rahman said. "We're fully committed to continuing to do everything we can to support it now and in the future."

According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, three-quarters of arts, entertainment and recreation businesses said their turnovers in the second half of December were lower than usual - the joint highest of any sector, along with accommodation and food services. And half of arts, entertainment and recreation staff were on furlough - more than for any other industry.

A European study has found that the continent's cultural and creative sector has been hit harder by the coronavirus crisis than every other industry except aviation. The sector's revenues dropped by 31.2% last year compared with 2019, just behind aviation on 31.4%, the paper said, citing a report by the European Grouping of Societies of Authors and Composers (GESAC).

ACE (Arts Council England) and the National Lottery Heritage Fund have awarded £3million each to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games as major funding partners of the cultural festival. This timely and much needed investment from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Arts Council England gives a huge boost to the Games cultural festival that will run for six months from March – September 2022.  The festival will reach 2.5million people through a range of high-profile events and participatory projects which will take place in the heart of West Midlands communities.

The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games cultural festival will include:

·         29 headline artistic commissions showcasing the region’s distinct creativity across arts and heritage.  Commissioned projects will range from the intimate to the spectacular, and will also explore the rich diversity of communities from across the region

·         Six themed ‘Open Calls’ seeking ideas from local artists and organisations, leading to a further 28 commissioned projects

·         Funding 200+ cultural and creative commissions and projects

·         Investment in 450 artists and creatives with 90% of commissioned work from people based in or originally from the West Midlands

Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said: "This investment will help showcase the fantastic art, history and culture of the West Midlands to the world. 2022 will be a year of national celebration for the UK and the Commonwealth Games' cultural programme will allow the region’s diversity and creativity to play a key role in our recovery from the pandemic - driving tourism, investment and cultural renewal."

The Chief Executive, Arts Council England, Darren Henley,  said: “The Commonwealth Games promises to be a huge moment in the cultural calendar of 2022, and we’re delighted to offer this funding for what looks set to be a fantastic festival of arts and culture. Our £3 million investment from the National Lottery means that the Birmingham Commonwealth Culture team can continue their ambitious plans for a truly spectacular six-month programme.

“The eyes of the world will be on the West Midlands in 2022. Thanks to National Lottery players, our investment will bring to life six months of truly spectacular artistic and cultural events showcasing the creativity, innovation and flair for which Birmingham is rightly famous around the globe.”

Ros Kerslake CBE, Chief Executive, the National Lottery Heritage Fund said: “The Cultural Festival is a fantastic opportunity to showcase to the world the rich and important stories and heritage that give Birmingham and the West Midlands it’s unique character. This national celebration will explore a diverse range of cultural heritage including music, nature, migration, food, and industrial heritage through a wide range of activities including dance, music, theatre, film, oral histories and visual art. 

“Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the Cultural Festival brings a new dimension to the Commonwealth Games.  The celebrations will engage 2.5m people from Birmingham’s diverse communities, creating 400 volunteering opportunities and bringing people together in a shared moment of pride and celebration that is set to create a lasting cultural legacy.”

The Chief Creative Officer, Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, Martin Green CBE, added: “This timely investment and partnership, underlines a significant moment of genuine confidence in the West Midlands’ arts and heritage sectors. Through the cultural festival, we will support and commission some incredible creative projects that connect communities across Birmingham and the West Midlands. 

“What we love about the arts and heritage sectors is their uniquely transformative power, and there has never been a greater need for this hope and optimism than right now, as we all stare down the impact that the pandemic has had on the creative industries. This funding announcement marks a welcome milestone as it takes us just over halfway to our income target for the festival.  Whilst there is plenty more work to do, we are optimistic that we can now welcome more funders to the region, who share our ambitious aims.”

The £6million investment joins Birmingham City Council’s £2million support to move the festival closer to its baseline fundraising target. As a direct result of the awards, the culture team will begin to commission projects, launch Open Calls and support artists and heritage-makers to develop their ideas for 2022.

Birmingham based Friction Arts has been shortlisted for the first Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch)’s Award for Civic Arts Organisations for its community outreach work in response to the pandemic.

One of only 10 civic arts organisations across the UK to make the shortlist chosen from 260 applications, the Award, in partnership with King’s College London, ‘highlights and celebrates civic arts organisations and their response to the pandemic’ and ‘shines a spotlight on the vital role that arts organisations play in sustaining a thrilling, creative, and connected society, particularly during challenging times.’

To reach the shortlist acknowledges and recognises the vital work Friction Arts has carried out within local communities in the city during the pandemic. Helping to bring people together, improve mental health and wellbeing and provide much needed support to artists, performers, and members of local communities during an extraordinary time for the performing arts industry and residents of Birmingham.

Over 5 projects reaching out to over 300 people aged from 8 to 80 have already taken place including:

·         Supported 18 freelance artists to successfully apply for Arts Council England funding

·         Collaborated with 20 artists to create an offline festival ‘Quiet Carnival’ to test new work which gained new audiences

·         Provided safe space for vulnerable members of communities, performers, musicians, elders to utilise outdoor space(s) and stream music, rehearse and meet (once permitted)

·         Piloted a ‘directory of creative enquiries’ at food banks to offer bespoke advice and materials to children and families

·         Supported community member Sarah Kaur, (home-educator) to help grow ‘Culture Club’ an online programme aimed at children not in school using creative approaches for exploration of cultural identity.

An Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Organisation, Friction Arts has been making art projects, exhibitions, and performances in Birmingham and Internationally for over 25 years. From allotment gardeners in Handsworth to street children in Johannesburg, they help people tell untold stories, make the unseen visible and give the unheard a voice in the world.

Co-Directors and Lead Artists of Friction Arts, Sandra Hall and Lee Griffiths commented: “It's a great privilege to be included in the shortlist for this award. It’s a real testament to the creativity, responsiveness and hard work of our teams of artists, and to the commitment of our participants to our work, in the face of extremely challenging circumstances.”

The Award is part of a suite of initiatives being supported by the Foundation in response to the pandemic. Focusing on strengthening the arts and cultural sector to respond to urgent community needs, prioritise relevance, and become more inclusive and impactful.

Tyrone Huggins actor, director, writer and Chair of Friction Arts added: “We’re extremely delighted to be the only organisation in Birmingham to make the shortlist for the very first Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation’s Award for Civic Arts Organisations.  If successful we intend to invest in a major city-wide project to help people across the city grieve for the people, opportunities and physical contact we have lost during the pandemic.”

Frictions Arts await the presentation ceremony on Thursday 11th March 2021 to see if it will win one of the three prizes on offer: £100,000 for the winner, or 1 of 2 runner-up prizes each worth £25,000. It will also have its work catalogued in a digital pamphlet that will be released to coincide with the award ceremony in the spring.

The Internationally acclaimed Sonia Sabri Company, a dynamic dance and music company, announce details of the first ever online version of its highly popular Lok Virsa Festival for 2021. Lok Virsa, fast becoming one of the leading Festivals of its kind in the UK, was first premiered at the Royal Festival Hall in London attended by 8000 participants. The festival, now in its 7th year, celebrates some of the rarely experienced traditional and folkloric art of music, crafts and dance rooted in the lands of the Indian subcontinent.

Lok Virsa, which means ‘heritage of the people’, has toured the country annually and would normally take place live in a venue across one day.  However, adapting the festival online during lockdown has meant Sonia Sabri Company can transform the festival to a virtual world-class stage of workshops and performances over 7 days. Sonia Sabri Artistic Director, dancer-choreographer, said: “This year, Lok Virsa; Good Vibrations truly is an International Festival.  As well as artists from the UK, we are delighted to welcome artists from Iran, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Afghanistan, India, and Bangladesh.  Each will come together across the week to bring colour, energy and high-class performances and events into our homes at what continues to be a challenging time for everyone.”

The free events will provide adults and children from diverse backgrounds with the opportunity to experience an array of arts and crafts workshops and participatory activities including Rangoli (using coloured rice, lentils, and flower petals to create eye-catching designs on the floor) Henna Painting, Block Printing and Weaving from award-winning artist Nilupa Yasmin.

The Festival’s dance offer features Festival Founder Sonia Sabri performing her own form of Kathak dance, Bengali folk-dance performance with Shadhona Dance Company; Indian folk dance with Kinga Malec; Folk Dance of Bangladesh workshop by Arthy Ahmed; Silk scarf dance workshop of Afghanistan led by a member of the Sonia Sabri Company and Afghani folk dance performance by Kathakaars. 

Chris Sudworth, Birmingham Hippodrome Director of Artistic Programme added: “Birmingham is the biggest dance city outside of London, and at Birmingham Hippodrome we support several Associate companies, led by some of the best choreographers in the region, to reach new audiences with new work – Sonia Sabri is definitely one of those.

“We have worked with Sonia since 2018, supporting her to create and tour her new family production ‘Same Same…But Different’ nationally, and to host a fantastic Lok Virsa Festival at the Hippodrome in 2019. We’re delighted to support Sonia to adapt the Festival for online audiences, offering workshops and performances, and to look ahead to further collaborations for the future.”


Further highlights of Lok Virsa: Good Vibrations include music from Bahram Jamali (Iran), Kamal Sabri (India) and Shafi Mondal (Bangladesh) plus Rafique Khan (Rajasthani folk music performance); Shyam Nepali (Folk Nepali music performance).

Lok Virsa: Good Vibrations is supported by Birmingham Hippodrome and  runs from Monday 15th – Sunday 21st February. The Festival will open with a dance workshop on the Birmingham Hippodrome Facebook page. Further artists will be announced over the coming weeks.

Events will be broadcast across Sonia Sabri Company’s social media platforms.  All workshops and performance details will be available via Facebook.  Events may be subject to change.

New headline acts have been added to next month’s Wolverhampton Literature Festival line-up. The festival returns for its fifth year from Friday 12 to Sunday 14 February, with an online offer celebrating the creative communities of the Black Country and beyond. The new acts join an array of outstanding performers, speakers, authors and poets already announced for the digital festival.

Heavy Metal fans can celebrate the fire and power of Metal God Rob Halford, frontman of the iconic band Judas Priest, as he returns to his Black Country roots to discuss his candid and revealing memoir ‘Confess’. Rob will be charting his journey from a council estate to international musical fame and audiences will be able to hear the tales of unlikely encounters with everybody from Superman, Andy Warhol, Madonna, Jack Nicholson and the Queen.

Author Will Self will be returning to the festival alongside author and Professor in English Literature from the University of Wolverhampton, Sebastian Groes, and Dr Tom Mercer, Lecturer in Psychology, looking at the intricacies of remembering fiction we read in the past and how our perspective changes when we re-read stories. In this event audience members will be invited to take part in an interactive memory experiment. This event is co-organised by BBC Arts and the Groes’ Art and Humanities Research Council-funded research project Novel Perceptions. 

The popular comedian and co-host of Radio 4's award winning 'Infinite Monkey Cage' (with Professor Brian Cox)", Robin Ince, will also be joining the line-up along with Wolverhampton’s funny lady Susan Murray to discuss his book ‘I’m A Joke and So Are You’ with the two highlighting the hilarious and often moving examination of the human condition with fun, laughter and some insight into the audience’s psyche.

City of Wolverhampton Council Cabinet Member for City Economy, Councillor Stephen Simkins, said: “It is fantastic that the line-up of the festival is being added to and that the festival is attracting talent from around the world from all creative industries. There is so much to get involved in and with these new events added I urge everyone to take a look at these exclusive and intimate virtual events.”

The new events sit alongside other festival headliners, which include some of the region’s most nationally-renowned, home-grown talent such as author Sathnam Sanghera, Line of Duty and Bodyguard creator Jed Mercurio and activist Patrick Vernon OBE.

There are also craft-masters from further afield such as journalist and New York resident Jon Ronson and Shobna Gulati, making this year's festival the most ambitious to date.