January 03, 2020

Give Abandoned Towns Culture And Art To Power ‘Decade Of Reconciliation’
This week, faith leaders, unions and others called for 2020 to be the “decade of reconciliation and reconnection”. Creating cultural opportunities in our towns and villages – those exact towns and villages that feel betrayed and abandoned by politicians – would be a powerful and dynamic way to make that happen. Sadly ‘culture’ can often feel like something that happens elsewhere in big, shiny buildings. But culture has the capacity to be just another part of life in the same way sport is enjoyed at an international level at big tournaments and at local grounds and parks by everyone. Culture is happening everywhere. It’s a gig in a room above a pub, a trip to the cinema, a Bollywood dance class, a trip to the local museum, a storytelling workshop or a local youth theatre show. In other words, culture is part of the very fabric of our lives but in too many communities across the country, it’s under-valued and often dependent on the goodwill of talented individuals on peppercorn budgets.We can do so much better.This week Nick Serota, trailed the launch of the Arts Council England ten-year strategy announcing a number of impressive priorities - more funding for those starting out in the creative industries, the east of England getting more cash and libraries playing a bigger part in the cultural life of communities where arts engagement is low.He also touched on rumours that the department of digital, culture, media and sport (DCMS) will be dismantled. Not a massive surprise when the prime minister has already lifted the secretary of state Nicky Morgan into the House of Lords, unaccountable to the citizens she is meant to serve.And of course it’s welcome when Serota says the priority should be to “reach those people who are not participating”. In Batley and Spen we’ve seen the power of creative people and places through the brilliant work of Creative Scene, empowering people not just to watch but encouraging them to create and perform.Working with Labour Towns on the idea of a Town of Culture and the performers alliance all-party parliamentary group (where I chaired the inquiry into the class ceiling in the arts) I know that if we truly believe this coming decade should be one of reconciliation and reconnection, art and culture must no longer be seen as just nice to have, but as a right.Culture is a tool to bring reconciliation and forgiveness, whether it’s the Israeli-Palestinian orchestra taking its message of peace around the world or the EU programme for peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland tackling sectarianism and racism through artistic engagement, or in the Congo, where after years of fighting, traumatized and violent child soldiers are brought back into their community through the power of dance. Art has the power to transform lives.On a less epic scale, just watching a performance is as good for you as a 30 minute jog. Participating is even better. Engaging in a creative activity with others ends loneliness and boosts wellbeing, strengthening our sense of belonging, making us kinder and more tolerant. And, as I’ve seen with the brilliant group Creative Minds, it can literally save lives.So replace DCMS if you must, but with the UK’s creative industries a global leader and fastest growing part of the economy, we must support the next generation of creatives. With cheap rents and supportive councils, our towns have the potential to be the incubator for a new golden decade of regional art and creativity. So if DCMS has to go, it must have a voice elsewhere with special cultural advisors placed in every governmental department. Culture that connects has the potential to end the tribalism created by the binary identities of Leave or Remain. To build empathy and understanding of the ‘other’, regenerate our town centres to create a sense of belonging, pride, wellbeing, kindness and hope for the future. We must show vision by investing in all our communities to create cultural opportunities to heal our wounds and bring us back together. It is possible. We just need the political will.Tracy Brabin is the MP for Batley and Spen.Related... Britain Isn't Polarised - Voters Just Want An End To Paralysis
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Star Wars Director Says It's About Time A Woman Makes A Star Wars Movie
Jan 02, 2024
Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeed Obaid-Chinoy is directing an upcoming Star Wars movie that brings back Daisy Ridley in the role of Rey. Obaid-Chinoy will become the first woman to direct a Star Wars film, dating back to the franchise's origins in the 1970s. Speaking about this, Obaid-Chinoy told CNN that she is "very thrilled" to make the movie and create something that is "very special.""We're in 2024 now, and I think it's about time we had a woman come forward to shape the story in a galaxy far, far away," she said.Obaid-Chinoy won Best Documentary, Short Subjects Academy Awards for Saving Face (2012) and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015).In 2020, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy told the BBC that a woman would eventually direct a Star Wars movie, saying that would "absolutely" happen, "without question." Victoria Mahoney was a second unit director on The Rise of Skywalker, but a woman has never claimed a top directing credit on a Star Wars movie.On the TV side of things, The Mandalorian has featured a number of female directors, including Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas Howard. Chow went on to direct the Obi-Wan TV series, too.Another high-profile franchise that has never had a female director is James Bond. Producer Barbara Broccoli and Skyfall director Sam Mendes have both said they want to see a woman direct a future 007 film.As for Obaid-Chinoy's Star Wars movie, little is known about it apart from the fact that Ridley will come back to play Rey. It is expected that this film will be the first of the three new Star Wars films to come to theaters, possibly releasing in December 2025.According to a report, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is writing the Rey movie, taking over for Damon Lindelof and Justin Britt-Gibson.
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NBA Names Clare Akamanzi CEO Of NBA Africa
Jan 02, 2024 15:29
The NBA named Clare Akamanzi – an accomplished business executive and international trade and investment lawyer – as CEO of NBA Africa. Akamanzi will start her position on Jan. 23, 2024, and report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. In this role, Akamanzi will oversee the NBA’s business and basketball development efforts in Africa and will be responsible for continuing to grow the popularity of basketball, the NBA and the Basketball Africa League (BAL) across the continent, including through grassroots basketball development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, and social responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families. For the last six and a half years, Akamanzi was CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), where she spearheaded Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth. Under Akamanzi’s leadership, RDB implemented several business policy reforms and initiatives that led to significant investment and development for the country, including through partnerships with the BAL, Arsenal FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC, FC Bayern Munich and TIME Magazine, among others. “Clare’s business acumen, international experience and familiarity with basketball and the NBA make her the ideal executive to lead our business in Africa,” says Tatum. “NBA Africa and the Basketball Africa League are well-positioned for continued growth, and under Clare’s leadership we believe these initiatives will transform economies, communities and lives across the continent.” “I’ve seen firsthand how sports can positively impact businesses, families and communities in Africa, and the NBA and the BAL are a perfect example of that,” says Akamanzi. “The NBA has done an incredible job growing basketball and the economy around it across the continent, and I’m excited about the enormous opportunities ahead to build on that momentum.” Previously, Akamanzi was Chief Operating Officer of RDB and Head of Strategy and Policy Unit, Office of the President of the Republic of Rwanda. She has extensive international trade, business and diplomatic experience, having previously worked for the Rwandan Government at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and at the Rwandan Embassy in London, England. Akamanzi has worked or studied in seven different countries and holds an honorary LLD from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, in recognition of her work in Rwanda. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was the recipient of three prestigious awards for academic excellence and distinguished contribution to the community: the Lucius N. Littauer Fellows Award, the Raymond & Josephine Vernon Award and the Robert Kennedy Public Service Award. In addition, Akamanzi holds a Master of Laws degree in international trade and investments from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Akamanzi has served on several company boards, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation, ECOBANK and Aviation, Travel and Logistics (ATL) company. She was recognized by Forbes as one of Africa’s Top 50 Powerful Women in 2020.
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