The Arab Spring may not have blossomed into a peaceful summer but the Mayor's Office is preparing a festival to mark the contemporary Arab world. It is hoped that the extravaganza will be "the first time so many different aspects of contemporary Arab culture will have been celebrated in one London festival". Shubbak: A Window on Contemporary Arab Culture will take place across large London venues including an exhibition of Arabic art at the Victoria & Albert Museum, an all-day event in Trafalgar Square called Souk on the Square and a showcase of Arab music and dance at the Barbican Centre. Sotheby's will also be involved, as will the British Museum, hosting readings and debates. But there is already some concern over whether the festival will tackle the thornier political aspects of the region, given the still raw ongoing conflicts in some parts. It is not yet confirmed whether the commemoration of countries including Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, UAE and Libya, will be political in nature or refer to their uprisings, although a spokesman says the planned event "is about arts and culture".
An African artist invited to attend a publicly funded project in Nottingham – as part of the Cultural Olympiad celebrations – has been denied a visa, along with another unnamed colleague. Patrick Mudekereza, a cultural figure from the Congo, had been invited as an advisor on the steering committee for the World Event Young Artists. The South African playwright, Mike van Graan, has spoken out about the case and now Manick Govinda, from the campaign group, Manifesto Club, says he is appalled by its irony: "When thousands of pounds are going in to celebrate cultural diversity, it is ironic that artists from Africa are being refused a visa to be involved in discussions for this big project," he says. The event hopes to bring together 1,000 artists between the ages of 18 and 30 from around the world. "It's supposed to be a wonderful celebration of internationalism but how are we to celebrate that with the huge hurdles of visa restrictions?" he adds. Artists to have been hit by the UK points-based visa system include the son of the Nigerian music legend Fela Kuti and the Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami.
Gallery rescued by a paint job
A plea was recently sent out by the director of Newcastle's Globe Gallery that read: "We REALLY need your help to finish painting our first section of the new gallery! Things are moving along at a pace but WE NEED TO FINISH PAINTING WALLS AND CEILINGS by tomorrow evening!! We're looking for anyone able to spend the day or a couple of hours helping us paint the space." Rashida Davison, the Globe's director, says the request attracted a healthy response with artists and the public alike turning up, overalls in hand. The gallery, which used to be a bank and is currently converting the building, was forced to think laterally after its funding application to the Arts Council was turned down: "We were still committed so our audience became our volunteers," she says.
A classic restoration
Battleship Potemkin is back, in all its original, incendiary, glory. Sergei Eisenstein's masterpiece about the navy mutiny that sparked the Russian Revolution premiered in the Soviet Union in 1925 but was banned in the UK until 1954 when it was released as an X-certificate. Now it is to be reissued by the BFI in a restoration that will have its original score by Edmund Meisel and which brings it back as near to the original as it has ever been including – for the diehard Potemkinites – 15 more shots since the previous restoration in 1976. It also replaces scenes from the Odessa Steps sequence that were cut by censors, and the film's 146 title cards have been restored to Eisenstein's specifications.
The price is right
A vintage Corona typewriter owned by the writer, Laurie Lee, was up for auction this week in Gloucestershire with an outrageously low pre-sale estimate price of £40 to £60. Even though it is not known if he used it to write the Cider with Rosie trilogy, it was still a travesty. Reassuringly, it sold for £680.