David Lister: When will David Cameron make a song and dance about song and dance?

The Week in Arts

Share

Whether or not you agree with what David Cameron said about the film industry this week, whether or not you think it insufficiently mainstream (as he does) or too mainstream, at least the Prime Minister was engaging with the arts.

Or, to be more precise, he was engaging with one art form – film. Prime Ministers tend to do that. They make speeches about film, and they invite rock stars to No 10. And that's it, really.

So here's my question for quizmasters, political historians and arts archivists everywhere. When did a British prime minister last make a speech about dance? What are Mr Cameron's views on the state of British choreography? Does he have opinions on the ballet repertoire, which one could certainly argue is too mainstream in its overreliance on a few Tchaikovsky classics? This isn't a little niche area. Dance is massively popular. But can you imagine the astonishment if Mr Cameron were to follow up his visit to Pinewood and his film speech with a visit to a Royal Ballet class at Covent Garden to hold forth on extending the repertoire?

Come to that, when can we expect a prime-ministerial speech on classical music and opera? When Vladimir Putin held a radio phone-in in Russia the other day, one of the callers was the maestro Valery Gergiev. It would be hard to imagine Mr Cameron having a debate with a British conductor in front of the nation.

Theatre is more vibrant today than it has been for some time, but there are issues regarding various aspects of it: the lack of ethnic minority people in the audience, the need for contemporary playwrights to engage across the political spectrum, the extent of touring among the big subsidised companies. Where does the PM stand on all this?

I'm not suggesting that Mr Cameron should be dashing from arts venue to arts venue, sounding off as the whim takes him. Nor do I think he has to have a view on every art form under the sun. Let any cabinet discussions on mime festivals remain undisclosed for another 30 years. But I do wonder why Mr Cameron, all prime ministers before him and the other party leaders see culture only in terms of popular culture. Yes, the film industry is important in terms of revenue, but so is the music industry, so is West End theatre. And our museums and galleries, concert halls and dance houses bring in huge numbers of tourists.

There's a world outside the multiplex. Mr Cameron could learn much about his country, let alone great acting and great painting, by attending tonight's last night of state-of -the-nation play Jerusalem, and the first day of the David Hockney exhibition at the Royal Academy next week. And by all means make a speech about both.

Tears of a diva timed to perfection

Only a cynic, or someone allergic to classical crossover, could have failed to be moved at the reports of Welsh diva Katherine Jenkins breaking down in tears during a concert at Oxford. Jenkins, who announced a split with her fiancé just before Christmas, was opening her tour this week, and had just sung "Your Silhouette" about a woman alone. The lyrics refer to "lying in your empty bed" and "clinging to a memory of you".

What's a girl to do? Even a 31-year-old consummate pro like Miss Jenkins couldn't stop the tears and had to be consoled on stage by her music director. This was all captured by photographers, and was widely reported. Even non-Jenkinsites like myself now know she has a national tour and a song called "Your Silhouette". But, was it actually the first time she had sung the song since the break-up? Wouldn't she have rehearsed it that afternoon? But these are niggles. Let's hear it for Katherine Jenkins, a real diva who brings tears to the eye, especially her own.

Why no credit for Andrew Lloyd Webber?

I took issue last week with Andrew Lloyd Webber, who said that the Olympics could cause a "bloodbath" for London theatre, and that he would be closing some of his theatres during the Games.

I believe that people will still go to the theatre during the Olympics, and I'm not the only one, it appears. The Society of London Theatre put out a press release this week saying theatres would be open during the summer, though it coyly never mentioned Lloyd Webber or his decision to close some of his venues. There were also comments from Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire, the husband and wife team who are joint CEOs of the Ambassador group of theatres. Mr Panter declares: "London theatre will be very much open for business during the Olympics."

A separate comment from each of them seems a bit over the top, especially when again neither mentions the blatantly conflicting view of Andrew Lloyd Webber. Is he in purdah? Why are his fellow theatre owners clearly entering the debate he started, yet refusing to give him the dignity of a name check? Most odd.

d.lister@independent.co.uk // twitter.com/davidlister1

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Service Desk Analyst - Application Support - Central London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Service Desk Analyst (App...

Ampersand Consulting LLP: 3rd Line Support Engineer (Windows Server, Exchange Server)

£35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: 3rd Line Support Engine...

Investigo: Finance Analyst

£240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

Ampersand Consulting LLP: Server / Infrastructure Engineer (Exchange, Windows, VMware)

£32000 - £38000 per annum + Bonus and Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Serv...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Ice skating in George Square, Glasgow  

How many Christmas cards have you sent this year?

Simon Kelner
 

Al-Sweady Inquiry: An exercise in greed that blights the lives of brave soldiers

Richard Kemp
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum