Category Archives: Arts and the Consumer

Cultural consumption: fight for our rights and oust laziness

Donor card: a chance to thank our supporters

This morning’s reception in the foyer was a wonderful opportunity for us to say a very warm ‘thank you’ to some of the philanthropic supporters of the University, and in particular some of those who support music-making at Kent.

We’re very fortunate to have so many people interested in supporting the University in all manner of ways, of which supporting music through the Scholarship scheme and donations towards the Colyer-Fergusson building is crucial to nurturing, developing and encouraging all the young musicians who come to Kent. This morning’s reception was an opportunity for us to say thank you to some of them, for their continued interest in Kent and in the young minds and musical talents that arrive each September.

Two of our Music Scholarship students, soprano Kathryn Cox and trumpeter and singer, Joe Prescott, were among the crowd, talking about music-making and what the generosity of the supporters allows them to achieve.

Music Scholars Kathryn Cox and Joe Prescott. Image: Matt Wilson
Music Scholars Kathryn Cox and Joe Prescott. Image: Matt Wilson

A lovely occasion, and a reminder of the importance of what the University does, not only for those who are studying here, but to a much wider community. Our thanks to all of them.

The Arts: rejuvenating the county

I’m reminded anew of this article in the Guardian some months ago about the impact culture and the arts are having in East Kent.

Writing last year, the Director of the Turner Contemporary Gallery, Victoria Pomeroy, states that

the arts are leading the way in raising the profile of the area as a desirable destination. From Whitstable to Folkestone, Canterbury to Dover, arts and culture are making a significant contribution to the tourism offer.

east_kentWith the tourist industry bringing in ‘£3.2bn’ to the area annually, the partnership between the arts, heritage and the tourist industry is rejuvenating the county’s economic development, bringing visitors to historic and cultural attractions throughout the region.

Last year’s bid for East Kent as ‘City of Culture,’ drawn up by collaboration across venues and organisations across East Kent. may not have been successful, it’s true, but it does reflect a changing mentality across the county, triangulated in investment in iconic venues such as the recently-refurbished Marlowe Theatre and Beaney House of Art and Knowledge, the Turner Contemporary in Margate, and the University’s own award-winning Colyer-Fergusson Building. Since 2011, Revelation St Mary‘s has been developing an exciting series of events at the heart of Ashford town, and there are festivals such as the Canterbury Festival,  Deal Festival, Lounge on the Farm, and Sounds New attracting major performers to the area; this year, in May, the new Whitstable Literary Festival will be launched.

There’s a sense that professionals across these industries locally are starting to forge working relationships, building on the sense nascent in the City of Culture bid that there is a vibrant county-wide cultural presence that can make a significant contribution towards supporting regional economic growth. We’ve certainly noticed an increased cultural vibrancy both here and next door in the Gulbenkian Theatre, with its developing partner-groups and youth theatre projects, and the number of local, regional and national performers coming into the music building; Kent really does have a lively artistic scene, one that engages the community across the age-range and brings them a high standard of artistic experience The recent high-speed rail link means Canterbury, Ashford and Margate are within easy reach of London, and are now more readily accessible. Notwithstanding the impact the Colyer-Fergusson building is having on the student experience and music-making provision on the campus, it’s exciting to see it forming a part of the cultural landscape developing across Kent.

Read the article online here.

Music, students and employability

As I’ve written about several times previously,the employability of our students in Life After Kent is important, both to us as an extra-curricular department – the range of disciplines being studied in combination with musical pursuits at the university is extraordinary – and to the University itself, with its Employability Points Scheme and the Careers and Employability Service.

With this in mind (and with only a slight changing of ‘music students’ to ‘musical students’), here’s a useful article in The Guardian recently, focusing on the employability of music graduates and the range of skills they can offer that make them highly desirable in the employment sector.

The experience of organising, hosting, and performing in events that are open to the public provides them with skills beyond those on other degree programmes.

Read the article in full here.

Employability: arts vacancies Pinterest board

As a means of organising all the arts vacancies advertisements that I’ve hitherto been posting to our Facebook group, you can now Follow a special Arts Vacancies board on Pinterest.

As we come across arts vacancies in the south-east region (mainly Canterbury, but occasionally further afield – there’s currently one for Plymouth on there!), I’ll be adding them to the board with the closing date for applications indicated, so you can quickly see all the extant opportunities, together with direct links to the relevant website.


This will be your one-stop guide to current arts-related opportunities, as well as provide an idea of various arts organisations and institutions that provide them.

Click here to visit: keep watching…

Early musical training produces ‘long-lasting effects on performance and the brain’

A recent article in the New Scientist reveals that starting to learn a musical instrument at an early age can coincide with a key period of neurological development.

MRI scans revealed that the white matter in the corpus callosum – the brain region that links the two hemispheres – had more extensive wiring and connectivity in the early starters. … the corpus callosum aids speed and synchronisation in tasks involving both hands, such as playing musical instruments…

…younger-trained musicians may have an advantage because their training coincides with a key period of brain development . At age 7 or 8, the corpus callosum is more receptive than ever to the alterations in connectivity necessary to meet the demands of learning an instrument.

Image: Mikael Damkier/Alamy

Although starting to learn early helps develop connectivity in the brain, the article goes on to say that this does not, alas, guarantee musical genius. Darn…

Read the full article here.


Head in the clouds: streaming your music

As a music consumer, do you feel the need to own your CD collection ? Or has your consumption been overtaken by streaming ? As a mark of how strongly companies believe consumers can be lured from the former to the latter, the French music-streaming service, Deezer, is about to launch in the UK to take on other services such as we7 and Spotify, according to a recent article in The Telegraph.

When LPs shrank to CD format, there was a lamentable loss of the tangibility of an album: those lavish gate-fold prog-rock albums from the 70s, often with lyrics printed inside and weird and wonderful cover-art, became a thing of the past.

Streaming services
Merrily down the stream...

Nowadays, with the advent of on-line listening available through streaming, listeners no longer even need actually to own a copy of the CD: they can listen to it whenever they like, add it to their Library, offer ‘shouts’ about their preferences and even share their preferred tracks with friends. Services such as Spotify are really taking advantage of this, enhancing their service with links to Facebook and the ability to integrate with Twitter last year.

Spotify’s founder, Daniel Ek, calls this moving people ‘from the ownership model to the access model,’ managerial-babble for enticing consumers away from purchasing music and encouraging them to access content via streaming services.

Will this be the future of your digital library, a cloud-based one that you don’t own but can access whenever you like just as easily as your own library on your PC or your shelves ? Do you still enjoy the pleasure of ownership, or does the ability to stream suit your listening lifestyle ?

2012 Olympics: good for new music

Twenty composers have recently been announced for the ‘New Music 20 x 12’ initiative, unveiled as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

Each commissioned piece will last twelve minutes, and be broadcast on Radio 3 and toured around the UK.

The initiative has been created independently, and is delivered by the PRS for Music Foundation and partners. Composers involved include Julian Joseph, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Jason Yarde, Anna Meredith and Howard Skempton.

Whether you think the Olympics is a good or a bad thing for the UK, here at least is a sign that it will have a beneficial effect on the cultural life of the country.