The diary: Andrew Motion; Booker Prize; Steve Lazarides; Ed Vaizey; Nerve
Friday 15 October 2010
Andrew Motion, chair of the Booker judges, used his address at the award ceremony to attack looming cuts. "Publishers will feel the pinch... The funding won't be there," he lamented. "We're all going to suffer." Starting with, it seems, the fourth estate. Arts correspondents were miffed to receive an email on Monday evening informing them that as numbers were "incredibly high", they were to be shunted from the main hall to the "parlour room" for the duration of Wednesday's event. So as one of their own, Independent columnist Howard Jacobson, celebrated his win at his table, exiled journalists watched live feed of an empty stage from their back room.
Was the Booker over-booked? It's odd that there wasn't room for eight reporters among the 528 other guests thronging the Great Hall. "There was no conspiracy against the arts correspondents," explains a table-planner. "We had a lot more people taking up our invitation than ever before, so we had to move some. It wasn't a decision that was taken lightly." It is, though, one they've already come to regret. "We very much hope we can move the media back into the main hall next year."
Back in the crèche, sorry, parlour, Motion's rousing final words rang hollow. "So in the years to come: keep spreading the word. Don't waste the crisis... Defend art's need to be difficult as well as accessible – to tell us what is not known, as well as reminding us what we have forgotten." Yes! And who better to spread the word and hold people to account than... oh, never mind.
It's not all belt-tightening, though. The financial rewards for winning the Booker extend far beyond the £50,000 prize – and Bloomsbury have already pressed print on 50,000 new copies of The Finkler Question. Shortlisted novelists, too, see their sales go through the roof. Imagine then, how annoying it would be to discover that you just missed out. Step forward Alan Warner, destined to join fifth Beatle Stuart whatsisname and that journalist who left U2 in the history of culture's nearly men. When he announced the shortlist last month, Motion hinted that a seventh novel almost made the cut. On Wednesday, he confided that it was Warner's The Stars in the Bright Sky that slipped off, following a heated debate. Still, it's the thought that counts, isn't it?
No tunnel visions of street art's hero
There was no sign of Banksy at the launch of Steve Lazarides's new show in the Old Vic Tunnels. Or maybe there was – it can be hard to spot an anonymous graffiti artist. In any case, the artist and the dealer who made his name parted ways a couple of years ago and haven't kept in touch. "I have no idea what Banksy's up to," says Lazarides. "He went his way and I went mine. It's hard representing one artist at that level and trying to do things like this with other people." He did find time, though, to visit his protégé's sell-out show in Bristol last summer. "It was brilliant. My Mum and Dad went too. They thought it was amazing."
Tangled lines of enquiry
The Minister for Culture has launched an email service, Ask Ed Vaizey, as a means of "direct contact" with his people. In an oddly indirect system, people are invited to email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, which will be vetted, sifted and put to Vaizey, who will then film his responses for a video which will then be posted on YouTube. All of which makes an old-fashioned letter sound appealing.
There is, naturally, a page of "Ask Ed Vaizey guidelines" to abide by. Questions will be ignored "if they are unclear... party political, not relevant... or likely to cause offence. Questions can be fun or serious... but should be brief." With this in mind, the Arts Diary fired off two questions. Does he agree with Nicholas Serota that the proposed cuts mean "the greatest crisis in the arts and heritage since government funding began ?"; and who should win The X Factor? More on these, I hope, next week.
Next week Nerve, an internet-dating rom-com has its UK premiere at London's Barons Court Theatre. Described by The New York Times as "sweet and sexy", its London run comes courtesy of Prestige Theatre and will star Ambrosine Falck (above right), better known as Heike in The Inbetweeners, while Victoria Pattinson, sister of Twilight heart-throb Robert, produces. His other sister, Lizzie, has a burgeoning career as a singer-songwriter. A talented family.
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