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Culture in Quarantine: newsflash!

Beyond lockdown some exciting news for artists in Coventry, Stratford Lit Fest goes virtual and Tom Hiddleston streaming live.

Coventry’s first £2.4m purpose-built ‘creative hub’ for artists

A computer-generated image of the new creative hub for artists.

A former car factory in Coventry is to be transformed into a £2.4 million creative hub for artists.

The Daimler Powerhouse will become the first purpose-built and collaborative art production facility in the city focused primarily on outdoor arts and play an integral part in supporting UK City of Culture 2021 as a production centre for major performance works.

Once part of the world-famous car factory located on the edge of the city centre in Radford, it’s set to become a major centre providing dedicated spaces for artists and resident creative companies.

This exciting new project is being spearheaded by Imagineer Productions, a creative company specialising in cultural events including the award-winning Arts Council England projects Godiva Awakes (2010-14) and Bridge (2018-20), based on the site at Sandy Lane Business Park.

Imagineer’s Bridge project. Photo by Andrew Moore

The centre will provide a dedicated base for Imagineer and a new home for six independent arts organisations, and enable them to create and work in game-changing, purpose-built facilities dedicated to community engagement and quality production.

SLF (Stratford Literary Festival) Goes Virtual, from May 9

Michael Frayn, the author of the farce Noises Off, Towards the End of the Morning, Headlong and Spies as well as dramas Copenhagen, Democracy and the screenplay for Clockwise starring John Cleese.

As one of the country’s top literary festivals forced to cancel because of the Covid-19 outbreak, Stratford Lit Fest has been busy curating an online festival.

Headliners due to appear at this month’s festival will be included in a handpicked programme of virtual interviews.

They include highly-acclaimed author and playwright Michael Frayn, Sunday Times Chief Foreign Correspondent Christina Lamb on rape as a weapon of war and Guardian food writer Felicity Cloake on her French food odyssey.

There will also be interviews with Christopher Somerville and Andrew Ziminski on cathedrals; Claire Hunter on sewing as a means of protest throughout history; Damian Barr and Jonathan Freedland, aka bestseller Sam Bourne, on their latest novels; Simon Reid Henry on challenges to Democracy in the 21st century; David Barrie on the astonishing way animals navigate, and Clover Stroud and Virago Publisher Lennie Goodings on how writing a history can unexpectedly become a memoir.

The festival’s Sharing Stories page has already attracted thousands of visitors and features best selling authors and illustrators – including World Book Day Rob Biddulph, Oi author Kes Gray and illustrator of many Julia Donaldson stories, Lydia Monks.

SLF is scheduled to be available here stratfordliteraryfesival.co.uk/SLFGV from May 9, and different conversations will be released each day throughout the week. All videos are free to watch, will be subtitled to make them accessible to everyone, and will include links to buy a copy of each book. The Festival returns for its Winter Weekend from Nov 20-22.

  • Stratford Lit Fest is also featuring in the Arts Council and BBC Arts-backed Big Book Weekend, with Tim Hubbard in conversation on May 9 with Adam Kucharski, associate professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine where he works on the analysis of infectious disease outbreaks, about his precipitously timed book The Rules of Contagion.

Watch the best of British theatre from home

Theatre fans rejoice! Curl up on your sofa throughout May four productions from the stages of other great British theatres, originally broadcast by National Theatre Live will be streamed on YouTube every Thurs at 7pm. This is in addition to much-loved National Theatre shows also free to view.

They’ll be available to watch for free, for a week and include:

  • Barber Shop Chronicles – a never-before-seen archive recording of Inua Ellams’ smash-hit play, about the places where banter is barbed, and the truth is telling.
  • A Streetcar Named Desire – Gillian Anderson and Vanessa Kirby play Blanche and Stella in the Young Vic production of Tennessee Williams’ American classic.
  • This House – James Graham’s timely, biting and funny portrait of British Politics in the 1970s.
  • Coriolanus – Tom Hiddleston plays the title role in the Donmar Warehouse’s production of Shakespeare’s searing political tragedy.

See here for more info.

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