Longlist Revealed - Bradford, Stirling, County Durham and Wrexham are among the places in the running for the title of the UK's City of Culture 2025. The longlist, unveiled by new culture secretary Nadine Dorries, also includes Cornwall, Southampton, Derby and Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon.
The winning city, which will succeed Coventry, will be announced in spring next year. For the first time, each listee will receive £40,000 worth of investment. They will all work with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to finalise their bids before the shortlist is announced early next year.
"Winning the UK City of Culture competition has a hugely positive impact on an area, driving investment, creating jobs, and highlighting that culture is for everyone, regardless of their background," said Ms Dorries. "This year's focus is on levelling up access to culture across the country and making sure there is a legacy that continues for generations to come. I look forward to seeing what this brilliant longlist has in store as they continue in the competition."
Grand Opera - Work has begun to restore the historic Grand Opera House in Belfast in time for the theatre's 125th anniversary in December. The £12.2m lottery-funded project will take 10 months to complete. It has been 40 years since the last renovation work was carried out on the unique auditorium. The decorative Victorian paint and plasterwork will be repaired and accessibility will be improved.
The theatre's ageing technical infrastructure will be updated with modern sound and lighting systems and the seating, carpets, curtains and drapes will be replaced. The building was designed by the leading Victorian theatre architect Frank Matcham, also responsible for designing the London Palladium and Hackney Empire.
The curtain rose on the first performance in 1895. It has since played host to some of the world's biggest names in entertainment, including Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, Sarah Bernhardt and Laurence Olivier. In 1963, a little-known Italian singer named Luciano Pavarotti made his UK debut on the stage of the Grand Opera House in a performance of Madame Butterfly.
Rescheduling - Genesis have postponed the final four UK dates of their reunion tour "due to positive Covid-19 tests within the band". The group said they would reschedule the gigs due to take place in Glasgow on Friday, and at the O2 in London on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. They did not say who had tested positive for coronavirus.
The Last Domino? tour started in September after being postponed by almost a year because of the pandemic. Frontman Phil Collins, 70, has been performing seated and has not been able to play the drums because of ongoing health issues, including back problems following surgery. He told the BBC last month that he can now "barely hold a [drum] stick" and has been replaced behind the drum kit by his 20-year-old son Nicholas.
Catford Tail - A new 300-seat venue that will host concerts, comedy and showcases of local talent will open in south London next year. Called the Tail, it will open in Catford and is part of the town’s existing entertainment complex, Catford Mews. It will open to coincide with Lewisham’s time as London Borough of Culture in 2022 and will have a capacity of 300. The venue is named after the town’s Catford Cat statue, which has adorned the entrance to Catford Shopping Centre since the 1970s.
Dance On - Dance troupe the Tiller Girls will join the cast of this year’s Pantoland at the Palladium. They will be joined by Donny Osmond, Julian Clary, Paul Zerdin, Nigel Havers, Gary Wilmot, Jac Yarrow and Sophie Isaacs.
The Tiller Girls act had regular appearances on Sunday Night at the London Palladium in the 60s and 70s and were originally launched by John Tiller in the late 1800s. By 1920, Tiller had 80 troupes performing all over the world from Broadway to Paris.
(Jim Evans)
12 October 2021

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