What’s happening in Edinburgh on the week of the 22nd April 2013.
Record Store Day took place this weekend, and saw musicians, artists and the record-buying public come together to celebrate the unique scene. Set up in 2007 it was established to promote independent music shops by selling exclusive vinyl recordings to fans.
Our reporter, Shiv Das, spoke to Avalanche Records, in Edinburgh, discussing how the weekend went.
Edinburgh is home to five independant record stores-
1.Avalanche, 5 Grassmarket, Edinburgh
2. VoxBox, 21 St Stephen Street, Stockbridge, Edinburgh
3. Elvis Shakespeare, 347 Leith Walk, Edinburgh
4.Underground Solushn, 9 Cockburn Street, Edinburgh
5.Vinyl Villains, 5 Elm Row, Edinburgh
The Edinburgh International Festival has today announced it has appointed a new artistic director. Fergus Linehan, the former director of the Sydney International Festival as well as fomer Head of Music at the Sydney Opera House, will take over the role in October. He succeeds Jonathan Mills, who has been in charge at the festival for seven years.
Mills will step down after the 2014 festival, but Mr Linehan will work part-time as director designate from 1st May this year. He will step up to the role full-time from October 2014, which will mean 2015 will mark his first festival as director. He will remain in charge at the EIF until at least 2019.
Under Mr Linehan the annual turnover of the Sydney International Festival almost doubled, rising from $12m to $20m between 2004 and 2009, thanks to a rise in ticket sales, funding, and sponsorship.
Speaking of the appointment, Linehan said “I am delighted and deeply honoured to have been appointed as the next director of the Edinburgh international festival. I look forward to safeguarding the founding principles of the festival in ways which are engaging and relevant to all.
“Successful festivals respond to both place and provenance to create a unique identity and this is particularly true of Edinburgh, the pre-eminent festival city. It is with this in mind that I will begin the exciting work of developing my plans and ideas for 2015 and for future festivals”
Mills had previously faced criticism over his festival programmes, which some critics claimed were lacking in homegrown talent.
Edinburgh’s Lord Provost Donald Wilson also welcomed the appointment, saying “Fergus brings new skills, intellectual rigour and a highly successful track record to the Festival and the city.
“Having previously lived in Edinburgh and worked with companies visiting the city he is familiar with what the city can offer its residents as well as visitors and artists from around the world. I look forward to welcoming him back to Edinburgh and Scotland’s creative and vibrant cultural life.”
Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop, added ‘The Edinburgh International Festival has a worldwide reputation for excellence and innovation. In bringing together exceptionally talented artists from nations across the globe, it helps to celebrate and promote Scotland’s rich culture and heritage on the world stage and strengthen our links with other countries. I welcome Fergus Linehan’s appointment as Director and wish him every success in the role.’
The Edinburgh College of Art is getting ready for this year’s fashion show which will take place later this week.
This year’s runway show will feature designs from students graduating in Fashion, Performance Costume and Textiles. The Edinburgh College of Art Fashion Show is Scotland’s leading fashion event and one of the capital’s cultural highlights.
This week’s event promises to be bigger and better than ever before, with 20 collections featuring a diverse range of designs inspired by lost Peruvian tribes, 1990s kids TV shows, the sleek shapes of luxury yachts, and the power of the colour blue.
The Fashion Show will take place on Thursday 25th April and Friday 26th April, in the University of Edinburgh’s McEwan Hall. There will be one Schools performance and five public performances.
For anyone interested in attending the Fashion Show, there are still tickets available online for £15.
by Sandra Züllig and Louisa Clair Anderson
More than 500 volunteer stitchers from practically every area of Scotland are involved in what will be the Great Tapestry of Scotland.
This huge community arts projects, which began in Autumn 2011, aims to create a series of over one hundred and forty panels that tell the key stories in Scottish history – everything from Duns Scotus to Dolly the sheep. The tapestry is set to be finished by August this year and will be displayed in the Scottish Parliament in September, before going on tour in Scotland and abroad.
The Great Tapestry of Scotland is the brainchild of one of Scotland’s best-known writers, Alexander McCall Smith. The 44 Scotland Street author, together with historian Alistair Moffat, and the artistic talents of Andrew Crummy, not to mention stitchers from all over Scotland, form a team set to produce the world’s longest tapestry. Writer Alexander McCall Smith says that “the recording of events, both great and small, on cloth is nothing new. The most famous example, of course, is the Bayeux Tapestry, which is one of the world’s best-known works of art. More recently, the completion of the Prestonpans Tapestry in Scotland has reminded us of just how effective this method of narrating history can be. When I saw that tapestry for the first time, I was struck not only by its beauty but by the story behind its creation.”
The numbers behind the Great Tapestry of Scotland
49, 50,000 sewing hours (equivalent to sewing 24 hours a day for 6 years!)
30 miles of woolen yarn (enough to lay up and down Ben Nevis 37 times!)
12,000 years of Scottish history
Over 500 stitchers
Over 140 panels
1 beautiful tapestry depicting the entire history of Scotland!
by Shiv Das
Edinburgh City Council’s planning department have ruled against a man who has set up his own music venue in a house in the capital.
Douglas Robertson submitted an application for certificate of lawfulness to enable a house as a live music venue, which the Council has rejected.
Robertson, a freelance photographer, rented an old grocer shop to use as a photography studio 20 years ago, and used the basement below for musicians to rehearse. Over the past two years Douglas and his wife have hosted countless local and touring musicians playing classical, folk, bluegrass, Americana and jazz. They have raised over £1200 pounds, and hosted over 100 concerts last year. Visitors are asked to pay a £10 donation, which goes straight the performers. He has a strict 11pm curfew rule every gig.
Robertson has paid some of the costs himself. He has spent £5000-£6000 on equipment over the years, and provides free soup and bred for all the musicians before the gigs.
City Council served a town and county planning legislation enforcement notice demanding that Robertson seeks a partial change of use for the house to continue concerts. This requires a public entertainment licence and installing fire and safety regulations.
Cllr Richard Lewis, Culture Convener, said: “Of course, we want to support those, like Douglas, whose enormous passion for live music already contributes greatly to the scene in Edinburgh – and has the potential to contribute a whole lot more – but this cannot be at the expense of the relevant planning legislation.”
Andrew Burns, Council Leader, adds “Planning’s conclusion was that the level of concert activity contravened permitted use for what is a house in a residential area’’.
The Council’s Planning Service contacted Robertson in early November 2012 to ask him to stop the concerts from the end of 2012. This followed a planning enforcement investigation which itself followed a complaint from a nearby resident which obliged the Planning Service to investigate.
“The vast majority of our neighbours either enjoy our concerts as guests or have no problem with them. Only one neighbor has actually complained in the last 10 years” Roberston said.
A recent study by the Scottish Artists Union reports three quarters of visual artists are living on an income of less than £5000 a year.
The SAU, which is lobbying and campaigning on behalf of visual artists working in Scotland states that the present figures are a worrying depiction of their earnings.
Only 5% of artist taking part in the survey are earning more than £15000 after tax and expenses.
Simon Hynd, a successful film director from Edinburgh, is now working for the BBC but says that the first years after graduation are the hardest: “When I started out, I was definitely in that category. For the first three years at least I was earning less than £15000 a year.”
Jonny Wilson, an unemployed film writer from Edinburgh, belongs to the same category and claims that being an artist is often a question of class.
“I fall into that category as I’ve only earned about 5000 this year. I have had some contact with BBC executives and people like that. They all seem to have come from privately educated backgrounds and have the means to fund themselves while chasing their dreams. Those from the lower socio-economic scale just can’t afford to do that. They have the reality of having to pay their bills and that eats into your energy and your ability to create.”
The recent report by SAU also states that most visual artists have never applied for a public funding or received a grant.
Mr Wilson’s observations are backed up by SAU’s report saying that 47% were forced to get a part-time job in order to keep their heads above water. Mr Hynd remembers being in the same situation: “That’s something that I did as well. I was working in retail while I pursued my dream.”
However, Mr Hynd was in the lucky but unusual position to get financial support from his family: “I was in a fortunate position because I have a wife who has a regular job so she was able to support me to an extent. She took a bit of the pressure off. Other artists definitely don’t always have that luxury.”
A charity fashion show has raised nearly £3,000 for children’s charity CHAS.
The event, organised by students at Edinburgh University, will run a special VIP event tonight (Friday, the 30th) and finish with a general admission performance on Saturday evening.
For more information or to buy tickets for Saturday go to: http://www.edinburghcharityfashionshow.com/
The Harry Potter Studio Tour is opening tomorrow, 31st March in Hertfordshire, London.
Fans of the Potter franchise will be able to see sets from the films at Leavesden Studios in Watford, where all of the eight movies were filmed. The tour features real sets, models, props and costumes from the movies. Sets, which have been made in great detail include the Great Hall of Hogwarts, Harry Potter’s dormitory, Headmaster Albus Dumbledore’s office and Diagon Alley.
Fans can also watch short films about designers talking about their work, ride a broomstick in the green-screen effects room and see how animatronics, prosthetics and make-up were used to bring to magical creatures to life.
David Heyman, a producer on all the Potter films has said: “This is a tour for Harry Potter fans, but it’s also a tour for people who are not necessarily Harry Potter fans. It’s such a good insight into the making of a film…basically a how-to.”
Tickets for the tour can be bought online at http://www.wbstudiotour.co.uk/en/your-visit/tickets-prices. Tickets cost £28 pounds for an adult and £21 for a child. The tour promises to be a magical experience for the whole family.
Harp lovers across the world will be gathering at Edinburgh’s Merchiston Castle School from today, to join in a celebration of traditional music from the celtic fringe, and further afield.
Musicians from countries as diverse as Holland, Sweden, Poland, China, Africa and Colombia will gather to share their music – and their talents.
Performers include Lamine Cissokho from Senegal, a descendant of a famous musical dynasty that trace their roots back to the 15th century. He has been playing the African kora (harp) and other traditional West African instruments since the age of ten.
Edmar Castaneda is another attractive performer. From humble beginnings in Colombia, his musical inspiration came through his musician mother and local folklore traditions.
The festival has been running in Edinburgh for thirty years, and continues to thrive. Its Artistic Advisor, Isobel Mieras, comments with a twinkle in her eye,
“It’s a troublesome baby – it’s got big and successful, and looking after it becomes harder and harder!”
Originally for dedicated students of harp and other traditional instruments, the festival has become a growing attraction for lovers of traditional and folk music more widely.
“A lot of people think it’s a bit po-faced, but believe me, harp music can be exciting!”
Performances will be augmented by courses and workshops designed for everyone from the youngest child touching a clarsach for the first time, through to experienced players.
Young harpist, Elinor Evans, can be heard in this piece playing a traditional Scots tune, arranged by Isobel Mieras.
GAME, Britain’s biggest video game retailer, has gone into administration today.
The retailer counts around 1.300 stores distributed between the UK and mainland Europe, 5.100 employees in the UK and Ireland, of which 385 are employed at its headquarters in Basingstoke, Hampshire.
In Edinburgh, Gamestation on Princes Street, the flagship store of the company, had already been closed in late 2011.
However, as the retailers are refusing to release any comments, it’s understood that the GAME stores in St. James Shopping centre and Ocean Terminal are still open as usual.
Meanwhile, it has already been reported that about half of the 600 UK shops have been closed during the day, and it’s unclear whether the rest will stay in business.
The company’s website is currently no longer accessible, and it names MJA Jervis and SD Maddison as the appointed Joint Administrators.
Mike Jervis has commented: “Despite these challenges, we believe that there is room for a specialist game retailer in the territories in which it operates, including its biggest one, the UK.
“As a result, we are hopeful that a going concern sale of the business is achievable”.
GAME, which was founded in 1991 as Rhino Group, had already been rumoured to be in troubled waters as their credit worthiness came under scrutiny just a few days ago.
As a consequence, three main suppliers, Nintendo, EA and Capcom, blocked the distribution of their most recent releases to the retailer.
The overall performance of the company in the last few months has been abysmal, with a £18 million loss for the year to 31 January being blamed on high fixed costs and an ambitious international expansion.
Hollywood director James Cameron has become the first person to solo dive to the deepest point in the ocean. The Marian Trench, which is located in the western pacific ocean close to Guam, is an astonishing 7 miles (11km) deep.
In 1960 the first and last successful endeavor to reach the bottom of the Marian Trench was made by US Navy Lt Don Walsh and oceanographer Jacques Piccard. Cameron though holds the record for being the first person to reach sea ground alone.
He spent several hours on the Pacific Ocean sea floor, collecting samples for scientific research and taking photographs and moving images.
After his return Cameron tweeded: “Hitting bottom never felt so good”
The specially designed sub, the Deepsea Challenger was made in Australia, weighs 11 tonnes and is more than 23feet long.
Cameron said about the expedition: “Most importantly, though, is the significance of pushing the boundaries of where humans can go, what they can see and how they can interpret it.”
National Geographics supported the expedition and its executive vice president of the Mission program Terry Garcia is proud of the program: ”In 2012 we are still exploring largely unknown places — as National Geographic has been doing for nearly 125 years. I’m delighted to say that the golden age of exploration and discovery continues.”
James Cameron always had a passion for deep waters. He has made more than 70 deep submersible dives, including a total of 33 to the wrack of the Titanic. Since Cameron is still a film director at heart it is not surprising that the Deepsea Challenge will become a 3-D film which will subsequently be broadcast on the National Geographic Channel.
A ‘battle to the death’ is set to take place in Edinburgh tomorrow night.
The Voodoo Rooms will for the second time host Literary Death Match (LDM), an event originally created by Todd Zuniga, an LA-based writer and journalist and the founding editor of Opium Magazine.
The contest pits four authors against one another, as each reads a short extract of their work. Two finalists are chosen by a panel of judges, which have in the past included Christopher Brookmyre, Jon Ronson and D.J Taylor.
The winner is then decided by a more esoteric contest, as audience members are encouraged to take part in bizarre book-related games. A recent LDM in Boston on March 8th featured a round of “Pin the Moustache on Hemingway” – audience members were handed the moustaches of various famous authors, such as Arthur Conan Doyle and James Joyce, and then blindfolded, before attempting to attach the moustaches to Hemingway’s upper lip.
Deciding contests have also included a Spelling Bee Finale (held in Norwich earlier this month) and a Neil Gaiman Cupcake Chucking Contest in Minneapolis – St. Paul. Whichever author the winning audience members represent is then crowned champion, and awarded “literary immortality”.
LDM has been described by the Guardian as “witty, iconoclastic and unfettered from the constraints of the traditional, and largely corporate, publishing agenda.” Earlier this year, Zuniga was named one of 2012′s “Faces to Watch” in the LA Times, with his style described as an “unlikely combination of Vegas showman and book geek.”
The event has taken place all around the British Isles and has travelled to 39 cities across the world, taking in Helsinki, New York and Beijing. LDM has also featured at several festivals, including the Free Fringe and the Latitude Festival.
This is the fourth time that LDM has come to Edinburgh, with the first visit taking place in August 2010. Previously the contest has been held in The Banshee Labyrinth and at the Edinburgh Book Festival last August.
Iain McPherson, General Manager of the Voodoo Rooms, described the venue as being “very excited” to host the event again.
Staff and students at Jewel and Esk College have launched a new record label, Feast Records. Utilizing the college’s impressive array of recording equipment the label is aimed at promoting “new young musical talent in Scotland”.
An event will be held to celebrate the new label on the 30th of March at Edinburgh’s Electric. The launch will be ticketed at £5 on the door and will feature young Edinburgh bands such as Maydays, The Nature Boys and Fridgemaster. Feast’s upcoming website will also feature gig and album reviews, studio sessions and up and coming bands.
This record label comes as the latest in a line of recent small independent labels to be launched in the capital such as Song by Toad, Offbeat, Alextronic and Pure Synthesis.
Feast records can be found here on facebook.
Jewel and Esk College website can be found here.
The final film in the British fantasy film franchise took the top prize at the Empire Film Awards 2012 in London last night.
Along with Best Film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 scooped the award for Best Director, for David Yates. Accepting the award he commented, “It’s a real treat to get this from people who love movies,” referencing the fact that the awards are decided entirely by the public.
Harry Potter was not the only British film to emerge victorious, with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy winning the awards for Best British Film, Best Thriller, and Best Actor, which went to self-proclaimed ‘veteran’ actor Gary Oldman. Oldman, who received his first Oscar nomination this year after 32 years in the industry, commented that he was delighted to be receiving an award voted for by movie-goers, “This is a very special award, because it isn’t political. There’s no agenda, it’s just movie fans and I will cherish this.”
Best Actress went to Olivia Colman for her harrowing portrayal of a battered house-wife in Paddy Consedine’s Tyrannosaur. “Although it doesn’t seem it, it was the most enjoyable experience I’ve ever had on set,” said Colman on accepting her award.
Another British film, The Inbetweeners, beat out raunchy comedy Bridesmaids to win the Best Comedy prize.
Listen to Katrina Conaglen and Kirsten Waller’s discussion of the awards in an Edinburgh Napier News podcast extra:
A rare automaton of a black man smoking a cigarette will be sold at auction by Lyon & Turnbull this week. Valued at around £1500, the piece is made by famous Frenchman Vichy and dates from the period 1860 to 1910, known as “The Golden Age of Automata”.
Sourced from a private collection near Dundee, the Black Smoker has mechanical movement to the eyes, mouth and neck. Douglas Girton from Lyon& Turnbull spoke of how the figure’s unusual qualities have sparked an interest among buyers internationally;
“It’s the most viewed item on our online auction. Our customers are excited by the fact that it’s a bit different and quirky, buyers are definitely very curious about our Black smoker!”
The success of the Hollywood Blockbuster “Hugo”, directed by Martin Scorsese, which featured automatons or mechanical robots, has undoubtedly added to the interest of the piece.
Originally used as a promotional piece in the window of a tobacconist, the antique figure remains in excellent condition with the clockwork mechanism in full working order.
The high price tag attached to this once forgotten family heirloom is down to its renowned manufacturers, as Lee Young, automaton specialist pointed out;
- “This is very collectible item, especially as it dates from the period between 1860 and 1910 when many small family based companies of Automata makers thrived in Paris. From their workshops they exported thousands of clockwork automata and mechanical singing birds around the world. It is these French automata that are collected today, although now rare and expensive they attract collectors worldwide.”
Gustave Vichy was born in 1839 to a Parisian watch and clock maker who, along with his wife, set up the Vichy Company in 1862 with the aim of building and selling clocks, mechanical objects and toys. In 1866, Gustave took over the company and dedicated his time to developing automata while his wife, a seamstress, dressed the figures. The Vichy Company became part of a group of family businesses that thrived in Paris between 1860 and 1910 and known as the “Golden Age of Automata”. Gustave had great success producing advertising automata and one of his models won the Grand Prix at the Great Exhibition of 1900, the only award given to automata or mechanical toys. His son Henry gradually took control of the firm, incorporating Lioret phonograph mechanisms into some automaton models, which were advertised as being able to sing, speak and play musical instruments.
The black smoker goes on sale on the 28th March 2012 at 11.00am at Lyon & Turnbull, 33 Broughton Place, Edinburgh EH1 3RR.
Tickets for the Edinburgh International Festival will go on sale tomorrow, 24 March 2012.
The festival, which will run from the 9th of August to the 2nd of September, will showcase talents from 47 nations in performances of theatre, opera, dance and music.
4 million people will flock to Scotland’s capital city to watch 40, 000 performances by more than 25, 000 artists. This year will be the 65th anniversary of the Edinburgh festival and the programme will enshrine the values of the Olympic games and global identity.
Prices for the festival start at £6 and discounts will be made available closer to start of the festival. Students and children under 18 will be able to buy half price tickets on selected performances from the 24th of March.
The popular finale, the Festival Fireworks Concert, is expected to sell out quickly, as well as tickets for the opening concert Delius’s A Mass of Life.
Tickets can be bought from Hub Tickets http://www.hubtickets.co.uk/ from Saturday as well as from the Edinburgh Playhouse, Festival Theatre, The Queen’s Hall, Royal Lyceum Theatre, and the Usher Hall, from Monday the 26th of March.
The UK’s entry into the Eurovision Song Contest 2012 has been unveiled today on the official Eurovision website. The entry, a ballad entitled “Love Will Set You Free” is performed by veteran crooner Engelbert Humperdinck.
Humperdinck, 75, will perform the song at the Contest finals in Baku, Azerbaijan on May 26, in a bid to reverse the recent UK bad fortune in the competition. It has been 15 years since the UK have won the first place prize, with the 1997 entry from Katrina and the Waves, “Love Shine A Light.” It has won the competition a total of 5 times since first entering in 1959.
Born Arnold Gerald Dorsey, Humperdinck is best known for his 1967 hit, “Release Me.” His career has spanned 56 years, and he will be the oldest male performer to take part in Eurovision.
A soaring power ballad with lyrics, “Though I’ll miss you forever, the hurt will run deep. Only love can set you free,” the song has drawn mixed reactions on twitter.
User @barnabyedwards was enthusiastic, “What madness is this? The UK’s Eurovision entry appears to be a proper song sung by a proper singer,” while @garydunion was more condemnatory: “Oh Jebus, the UK eurovision entry is even worse than I feared. This is truly dire.” His thoughts were not echoed by @dvolvemusic “Love that people are being forced to EAT THEIR WORDS about Humperdinck’s eurovision song. Its insanely brilliant, Yeah, i still love it “
Monty Python’s Spamalot, a hit Broadway musical is opening at the Edinburgh Playhouse tonight. Written by Eric Idel and John du Prez, this production of the “rip-off” of Monty Python will run for six-days.
The production stars former Doctor Who Star Bonnie Langford and this UK tour will run in Edinburgh for 6 days. In celebration of the musical, a giant spam tin is making appearances around the city centre, visiting Edinburgh Castle, the National Gallery and Parliament.
Spamalot tells the story of King Arthur and his knights of the round table à la Monty Python. Featuring the 1975 film’s killer rabbits, foul-mouthed Frenchmen alongside Broadway staples like chorus girls, the show was immensely popular in the US, winning the TONY award for best musical in 2005.
The show begins at 7:30 Monday-Saturday (matinees at 2:30). Tickets can be purchased on The Playhouse’s website for between £15.50 and £39.50.
Vintage, a Random House division, will relaunch Ian Fleming’s back catalogue of James Bond stories. His estate has signed a 10-year book deal which will see the books in both print and e-book form.
To date, the James Bond books have sold more than 100 million copies worldwide, with the first being released in 1953.
There are 14 books in total, including two short story collections. The entire series will be relaunched this summer.
The James Bond name also lives on through the films. Daniel Craig’s third 007 film Skyfall, is set for release in October.
Several authors, including Sebastian Faulks, John Gardner and Jeffery Deaver are among authors who have written officially-sanctioned Bond novels. Deaver is responsible for the series’ latest addition, Carte Blanche, which was released in May, 2011.
Edinburgh’s only short film night is being launched today.
Taking place at the Banshee Labyrinth Cinema, Write Shoot Cut is a monthly screening of local, national and international short films.
As well as giving film fans an opportunity to see a variety of short films, the evening involves a Q&A with the filmmakers and will conclude with an opportunity to network over drinks.
Created by Edinburgh screenwriter, Neil Rolland, the event is a physical replica of his increasingly popular blog of the same name. The site showcases the best short films on the internet alongside personal interviews with the people who made them.
Starting at 7pm and lasting no longer than 90 minutes, the screening allows viewers to see around six films without taking up their whole evening.
Mr Rolland says: “I think people get put off shorts because there’s a lot of rubbish out there, there really is. So I sift through all the submissions and find the ones that have stood out in some way.
“They don’t have to fit a particular style, they just have to be interesting in some way, whether that’s the idea, story, directing, performances – whatever.”
Himself a filmmaker, Mr. Rolland’s short script Away – directed by Ryd Cook – screened at Cannes in 2009 and was shortlisted for the Anthony Minghella Best UK Short Award at Hull Film Festival.
His most recent short, Friday Night and Saturday Morning, is currently being assessed by curators around the world for inclusion in their film festival programmes, including the Edinburgh International Film Festival in June.
One third of Little City Pictures, Mr Rolland recognizes the importance for filmmakers to have a support network.
“Making films is only possible if you’ve got that support there. So hopefully [Write Shoot Cut] will be able to give that to people who maybe aren’t too sure on where to start or what to do next.”
Despite Edinburgh’s active film calendar, this is the only event dedicated to short films.
Dave Brown, co-founder of Edinburgh-based seensome, says: “By focussing on local talent, Write Shoot Cut looks like it will be a great night and a welcome addition to the Edinburgh film scene. Short films provide a welcome stepping stone allowing filmmakers to develop their abilities, as well as being an art form in their own right.”
Other monthly events include the Filmhouse Film Quiz, Shooters in the Pub, and Screenwriters, EH.
With Edinburgh International Festival’s much-anticipated summer programme being launched on Wednesday and the first Fringe tickets already on sale, March is the time when the buzz of Edinburgh’s summer festivals really kicks off.
But there’s a new festival in town which is getting the tongues of arts enthusiasts wagging: the Festival of Erotic Arts (FEA).
Running for three days in June, FEA is the first of its kind in Scotland and follows a growing number of cities who have begun hosting such festivals in recent years; Seattle’s Festival of Erotic Art is now in its tenth year, and attracts over 10,000 visitors, while similar events take place annually in Paris, Berlin and New York among others.
As with any new and controversial event, FEA’s programme announcement sparked furore over the weekend, with both the city council and the Church of Scotland voicing concerns over the potential risks posed to vulnerable women and the impact advertising could have on children.
But rather than reinforcing and perpetuating clichés, the festival’s organisers, Itsy Live Events, promise to give a platform to erotic art in all its forms, as well as creating a place for art and performances not otherwise seen in mainstream venues.
Events are typical of any other arts festival; exhibitions and talks include Erotic: Surreal and Abstract and A Spoken History of the Erotic Arts. The innocently named Arts & Crafts Fair is being plugged as “a one-of-a-kind sexy fair” with everything from books to accessories to clothes being sold by craftmakers and artists alike.
For those keen to dip their toe into the erotic water, there’s a beginner’s workshop in Japanese style bondage, which involves decorative ties with ropes. Run by a bondage professional, the ticket price includes a goody bag with lesson sheets, 15 metres of rope, and an all-important pair of safety scissors.
Despite being a short, weekend festival, many of the names involved in the FEA are the crème de la crème of the UK’s fetish scene. London-based Torture Garden’s fetish, burlesque and body art club nights for “alternative arty weirdos” are the biggest in the world, with previous visitors including Marilyn Manson, Dita Von Teese and Jean Paul Gaultier. A debate on the nature of human sexuality will be hosted by award nominated cabaret act, ArtWank, while internationally bestselling author and blogger extraordinaire, Zoe Margolis, will be giving a Q&A on the art of sex blogging.
With Margolis a regular contributor to The Guardian and The Observer, the FEA is going out of its way to make sure this festival is taken seriously. Describing it as “a sleaze-free celebration of a thriving art form”, there’s an undeniable absence of smut in the way it’s being marketed – and if nothing else, it’s good advertising for Itsy Live Events’ other specialist service, “reputation management”.
Bob Dylan has started recording his new studio album.
This will be his 35th full-length effort and it could be released before the end of the year.
“It’s an amazing thing, how he keeps creativity,” Los Lobos singer David Hidalgo told the Aspen Times. He has recently finished recording with Dylan at Jackson Browne’s Los Angeles studio.
Adele, Miley Cyrus, Pete Townshend and Bad Religion were recently featured in a tribute album for Bob Dylan, which included 76 of his best tracks.
Bob Dylan’s label is also preparing to release his complete discography for around £200.
Harry Potter fans are eagerly awaiting the launch of Pottermore, J.K. Rowling’s interactive website. It has now been announced that all users will be able to access the website, and ebooks, in early April.
Pottermore posted an announcement on their website today stating: “We know that the extended wait for those wishing to be part of Pottermore has been frustrating, and we’d like to thank you all for your patience so far”. Officials said the delay was a result of moving Pottermore to a new platform set-up.
The website’s full launch was initially scheduled for October, 2011. With more than 550 million page views made over the course of two months, access to site was forced into delay. Pottermore, allows users to duel with their fellow wizards, cast spells and progress through the storylines of the various Potter books. J.K. Rowling has also written 18,000 additional words of Harry Potter content for the new site. It was initially opened to one million beta users in July, 2011.
“We always knew Pottermore would be incredibly popular, which is why we made the decision to only open to one million beta users to begin with. We wanted to make sure that we had a really good understanding of how people want to use the site and which bits we’d need to modify before giving more people access,” Pottermore said in a statement.
“We gathered some incredibly useful feedback from our beta users, and it became clear that our original platform wouldn’t be suitable when millions more users came on to the site. So we made a big decision: to move Pottermore to an entirely different platform set-up. This ‘invisible’ change has involved a lot of work behind the scenes but it will enable our users to get the best from Pottermore as it grows and develops.”
Early April will also bring Overdrive’s distribution of Harry Potter ebooks and digital audiobooks to more than 18,000 school and public libraries worldwide.
For updates about the website follow Pottermore on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/pottermore
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society has started selling tickets to this year’s event through their own website.