The Guardian festival blog: Snap up a masterpiece! Our brilliant bumper guide to gaming the arts | Culture

One of the founding myths about culture is that it’s inaccessible: barely a month goes by without a news story about opera being too exclusive or theatre-lovers being priced out of their seats. There’s a grain of truth to that, of course. Temporary exhibits at major museums such as the National Gallery in London have passed £20 and, according to recent research, top-price tickets for over half the shows in London’s West End go for over £100 (let alone associated costs such as transport and eating out). But it doesn’t need to be that way. Compared to many countries, we in Britain get a pretty good deal when it comes to culture, buttressed by schemes such as free admission for […]

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The Guardian festival blog: Shock of the old: how Wexford opera festival dares to be different | Music

Always do something different. Richard Wagner’s famous advice to his admirers should be the motto of Wexford Festival Opera. Different is what Wexford does, year after year – sometimes in the face of daunting financial, artistic and political challenges. It has made the festival what it is: an improbable but unique place of annual autumnal pilgrimage in the opera world as well as one of the prime cultural achievements of modern Ireland. This year’s festival, which ends on 4 November, has been hewn from the same operatic motherlode as its 66 predecessors. Wexford’s speciality is the unknown and neglected operatic repertoire. Its calling cards are the works – sometimes written by household names – that have fallen into neglect. This […]

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The Guardian festival blog: ‘How can you know what will offend?’ Row continues over Wireless festival swearing ban | Music

A row has erupted over the perceived censorship of artists performing at London’s Wireless festival, the annual three-day hip-hop and R&B event that was headlined this year by Stormzy, Drake and J Cole, after new restrictions were imposed on performers using bad language. On 22 October, Haringey council published a review of the premises license allowing Wireless to take place in Finsbury Park, London, in response to an application by the Friends of Finsbury Park (FOFP) community group. FOFP had submitted a list of 20 suggested conditions “to make it a more manageable event for the community”, said chair Simon Hunt, a philosophy student at Oxford. These included a reduction in the number of attendees, an earlier Sunday curfew, stricter […]

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The Guardian festival blog: David Bowie: the day I pulled the plug on his Glastonbury comeback | Music

There’s a vast crowd heaving before the Pyramid stage, dusk is turning into night and some shadowy figures have slipped behind their instruments and started to play space-jazz. Here is the culmination of Glastonbury 2000, the millennium festival’s final act, and, for a moment, everything hangs in the balance. Since 1995, David Bowie has released Outside, Earthling and Hours – each sprinkled with the odd cracking song but all grasping rather desperately for the zeitgeist. Bowie’s 53 now, and although he has toured relentlessly throughout the preceding decade, this isn’t his arena or his production. He’s out on a limb and he could fail in front of all these people and the million or more watching on BBC Two … […]

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The Guardian festival blog: Wireless? After a swearing ban, the festival will be totally spineless | Suzanne Moore | Opinion

Goodness gracious me. I don’t know exactly who is booked for next year’s Wireless festival in London but let’s hope they are jolly and well-brought-up people who will keep the noise down. I mean, that’s what you want at a festival isn’t it? Well, no. And Wireless isn’t for the likes of me, though I can hear it from where I live. Interestingly, the biggest sound I ever heard coming from Finsbury Park was when Madness played. The ground was shaking. The earth moved for the centrist dads that day. Now Haringey council in its infinite wisdom has, after listening to protests, agreed that Wireless can continue, but performers have been told they must not swear, make obscene gestures or […]

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The Guardian festival blog: Fyre festival: creator of disastrous event sentenced on fraud charges | US news

A federal judge has given the creator of the highly publicized, failed Fyre festival in the Bahamas a six-year prison term. Billy McFarland was sentenced on Thursday in federal court in Manhattan. Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald called him a “serial fraudster”. He had admitted defrauding investors of $26m in the 2017 music festival and over $100,000 in a fraudulent ticket-selling scheme after his arrest in the festival scam. Buchwald says McFarland deserved a long prison term because he disrespected the criminal justice system by lying to law enforcement agents when they learned about the ticket-selling business. Speaking in a courtroom packed with friends and family and at least one victim, McFarland apologized as family members cried behind him. He said […]

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The Guardian festival blog: Glastonbury tickets for 2019 sell out in half an hour | Music

Tickets for Glastonbury 2019 sold out half an hour after going on sale as record numbers of people attempted to buy one, the festival organisers have said. Standard tickets were released just after 9am on Sunday and the official Glastonbury Twitter account said it was experiencing “incredible demand” within minutes. The festival’s co-organiser Emily Eavis announced at 9.36am that the sale was over. “Tickets have now all sold out! We are blown away by the huge demand, looks like record numbers tried. Thank you for your patience and incredible support and for those of you who missed out, there will be a ticket resale in April,” she tweeted. This followed a swift sellout last Thursday of tickets packaged with coach […]

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The Guardian festival blog: Personality missing from BBC sporting contest | Brief letters | Sport

My abiding memory of the Bath Festival of Blues and Progressive Music of 1970 (Letters, 3 October), to give it its full title, was Pink Floyd coming on stage in the early hours with a local women’s choir to perform Atom Heart Mother, not to mention Led Zeppelin headlining on the Sunday night. It was a amazing lineup and, as a Glasto regular gearing up for the ticket sale this Sunday, I am so glad that Michael Eavis was there with us at the Shepton Mallet showground that weekend 48 years ago.Stephen FashChobham, Surrey • While changing the format of the Sports Personality of the Year awards (Sport, 3 October), I wonder if the BBC might consider changing the name […]

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The Guardian festival blog: When Jefferson Airplane landed on water | Brief letters | Music

Adam Sweeting references the three classic US rock festivals of the 1960s at which Jefferson Airplane performed (Marty Balin obituary, 1 October). JA also played at the Bath Festival of 1970, progenitor of the Glastonbury series, at which they were famously rained off halfway through their planned set.John EdmondsonHolywell, Flintshire • Sexist setting, as spotted by Fiona Collins (Letters, 29 September), is unfortunately not confined to the quick crossword. The prize puzzle on 22 September had “Star men” as the clue for “Astrophysicists”. It’s not as unjust as Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, who discovered that stars are mainly composed of hydrogen and helium, missing out on the Nobel prize. But it’s still not right. Tim SandersLeeds • Fiona Collins has misunderstood the […]

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The Guardian festival blog: Bestival music events firm bought for £1.1m | Music

The Bestival and Camp Bestival music festivals have been snapped up by a multi-millionaire Dorset entrepreneur just days after a collapse into administration. Richmond Group, controlled by the loan broker James Benamor, is buying the festival business after offering £1.1m for Bestival’s assets and brand. Richmond had lent Bestival Group £1.6m in February last year. Benamor founded Amigo Loans, a Bournemouth-based company that offers quick guarantor-backed loans, which was floated on the stock exchange in July. The business is valued at more than £1bn and Benamor’s Richmond Group has a stake of 61%. Julie Palmer, of the advisory firm Begbies Traynor, who was appointed administrator on 20 September, said she had received more than one offer for the business but […]

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