Model's moving debut
Another month, another budding friendship with a supermodel. Sarah Brown, who famously traipsed around the muddy fields of Glastonbury on Naomi Campbell's arm, will reappear on the capital's arts scene on Saturday at the London Film Festival where she will introduce the debut film from Christy Turlington Burns. The supermodel (who added Burns to her surname when she married the film producer Edward Burns in 2003) has directed her first documentary, No Woman, No Cry, about deaths in childbirth. Brown will attend in her capacity as patron of the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood. The 60-minute documentary opens with home video footage of Turlington Burns giving birth to her daughter, Grace, before exploring the pregnancy stories of four women around the globe, from a Maasai woman who has to walk five miles to a makeshift clinic to a midwife in Florida who treats women without medical insurance who have been refused elsewhere. "The day my daughter was born was one of the greatest days of my life but it also became the scariest," says Turlington Burns, who was compelled to make the film after suffering a traumatic labour. "While I got the care I needed, too many women don't." The film will be released on www.brightwide.com, the online screening channel launched by Colin and Livia Firth to give prominence to films that might otherwise lack distribution.
Rebels raise a smile
As culture's head honchos reeled from the news of catastrophic 30 per cent cuts to the Arts Council budget, the young upstarts at the National Youth Theatre decided to storm the fortress on Wednesday afternoon. Just hours after George Osborne had finished announcing the results of the spending review, the NYT's rising stars performed in the House of Lords' Cholmondeley Room for assorted peers (including their patron Lord Waheed Alli), MPs (Ed Vaizey, above centre, Minister for Culture, popped by) and alumni (actors Liza Tarbuck and Con O'Neill). "We wanted to make the point that young people are still worth investing in. To us, 30 per cent cuts could mean 30 per cent fewer opportunities for our young talent," says a spokesman for the NYT. "We wanted to make sure there was a good news story today, as well." Quite right, too. So what did the young folk sing to lift heavy hearts? Nat King Cole's "Smile", with some customised lyrics: "Smile, though your art is aching." All together now!
Thrills and chills on Halloween
Ghost Stories continues to hold the West End in thrall. The spooky show has already extended its run to February 2011, with writer Jeremy Dyson drafting in his old League of Gentlemen mate Reece Shearsmith to play the lead. Now it's staging a special performance for Halloween at midnight on 30 October. The play is scary at the best of times, but the witching hour could see the theatre's own ghost make an appearance. The Duke of York's is haunted by the actress-turned-manager Violet Melnotte who died in 1935 and can often be seen sitting up in the boxes, apparently.
In the frame
Frieze Art Fair has packed up and next stop for the art aristocracy's private jets is Art Basel, Miami Beach in December. This year, the fair has announced a new venture in Art Positions: "Fourteen young galleries showcasing projects by one artist." What an excellent idea. Just like Frame, the new venture set up by Frieze two years ago featuring 25 young galleries showcasing projects by one artist. At least the London contingent will feel at home over there.
I suppose they've all been rather busy with the spending review but it's disappointing to report that there hasn't been any response yet to the questions I sent to the new email service, Ask Ed Vaizey, last week. A quick check on the DCMS's YouTube channel where the Minister for Culture is supposed to be posting video responses similarly draws a blank; it's still showing Jeremy Hunt's speech to the Royal Television Society from 28 September. After this week's announcements, they're sure to receive a massive influx of emails. I'd hate for them to get a backlog.