December Culture Report

Welcome to the December Culture Report, an optimistic sashay through the combined bubble of human peculiarity. Editorial team: Kaeshelle RianneAlice CrossleyCaris DollardFrancesca BriginshawFrank BroughtonIsaac McMorrow

ARTS UPLIFT 

The news that V is for vaccine has let us all glimpse the end of the covid tunnel. And the arts industry finally has a few reasons to be cheerful. Gig promoters are close to delivering all-tested events. It’s something Festival Republic’s Melvin Benn has long talked about, and rumour has it he’s prototyping the concept in a sympathetic Nordic nation, ready for Reading and Leeds next year. With a similar goal, Ticketmaster has announced integration with testing and vaccination suppliers. Meanwhile, a German survey using fluorescent dyes to monitor transmission found that with optimum ventilation, reduced capacity, compulsory masks, and seated drinking, an indoor concert was “low to very low risk”. Based on the latest transmission data, the profs at MIT have made this great risk-calculator.

In other good news, the Music Venues Trust estimates 89% of grassroots live venues secured government funding to get them to spring. However, that still leaves many under serious threat. MVT has a traffic-light system and a map of the 30 most endangered. Supporting backstage crew, Stagehand’s #ILoveLive crowdfunder has pulled together an amazing memorabilia raffle, from signed guitars to personal gigs.

Rescue cash for nightclubs has been less forthcoming. Some have secured it (alongside – controversially – media players Boiler Room and Resident Advisor), but the Night Time Industries Association fights on under the banner #LetUsDance, urging clubbers to donate here and to demand better from the government here.

Performers have been hit deeply, as actors, dancers, musicians, DJs, crew and other creatives free-fall between the cracks in support. We’re doing our bit to help with a campaign we launched for BLOK. With gyms open or closed each time Boris blinks, they’ve taken their sumptuous brand online with BLOKtv, and are giving away 5,000 free memberships to arts professionals who have lost their income due to covid. See the campaign hereIM CD AC

CULTURE CAMPAIGNS   

An NYC architects firm has designed The Donald J Trump Memorial Library as a flawless spoof (and calling card).
DLT – DJ Trump Library

BBH Singapore’s geo-clever Running Stories app uses augmented audio to turn your daily jog into a spy adventure or romantic novel.
BBH – Running Stories

Google’s AI robots have made this this brilliant endless montage of covers of Billie Eilish’s ‘Bad Guy’. Filter for ‘jazz-hands’ for best results.
WITH YOUTUBE – Infinite Billie

BLACK AISLES MATTER

The fuss about Sainsbury’s all-black Christmas ad (one of three films incidentally, with the others cast white or… Scouse) is a depressing reminder that Britain still has a lot of dumb racists in it, but also that Twitter is great for jokers who make racists look stupid. As ugly voices threatened boycotts, the best put-downs noted that ALL the supermarkets had lots of black and brown faces in their ads, leaving the haters with nowhere to get their festive gammon. After other supermarkets showed solidarity under #StandAgainstRacism, we can take this as a net positive, and celebrate that in its casting at least, UK advertising has come a long way in a short time FB

FUNWAY SHOWS

Into an industry renowned for seriousness comes the Gen-Z-driven rise of ‘silly fashion’. From Lazy Oaf and Daisy Street (see their latest Groovy Chick themed line) to Japanese designer Masayuki Ino, fashion is feeling a pull to the trivial. Ino’s designs include a coat with such towering shoulder pads it looks as if it has three children on each other’s shoulders, and a t-shirt that expands and pops out when you pour water on the compressed instant noodle packet inside. It seems comedy has a place in fashion for the future – and we could all do with an extra laugh or two right now. AC

GAME ON

An Oxford University study suggests playing video games can be good for your mental health. Academics working with actual gameplay data for the first time found people who played more games tended to report greater ‘wellbeing’. Great news for the next-gen consoles battling it out over Christmas. As fake videos of smoking Xboxes went viral, Sony launched Playstation PS5 by branding Greggs’ pastries and taking over London Underground stations – replacing tube signs with its signature shapes and colours. Meanwhile everyone else is obsessing over Among Us, a game of strategy and sabotage with echoes of the classic boardgame Cluedo. Surging in Twitch viewership, it topped the charts, with players keen to see impostors get away with murder or thrown off the spaceship. Rapper Kojey Radical enlisted fans as crewmates and Congresswoman AOC livestreamed it as a fundraiser. Among Us is one of those crossover titles that might make covideogamers of us all. KR

ONE TO WATCH

DJmag called TSHA “Ninja Tune’s brightest new star”. Channelling an ever-growing electronic pop sensibility in her music, over hazy drums and acid-flecked synth-lines, her new track ‘Change’ features vocals from British singer-songwriter Gabrielle Aplin, who she met at a Spotify writing camp last year. Getting plays from Pete Tong, KEXP and Triple J, the ‘Flowers’ EP is out now on Ninja Tune. IM