This week, we reflect on the power of art and culture to change the way we see the world.
It’s a building that has been a source of inspiration for musicians, painters and writers for nine centuries. Following the devastating fire earlier this week the Parisian writer, Agnes Poirier reflects on what Notre-Dame means to her, her city and the culture of France.
Has watching a band live onstage ever changed your outlook on life? Cameroonian musician Blick Bassy tells The Cultural Frontline why seeing the group Les Têtes Brulées perform their unique blend of traditional Bikutsi rhythms and live electric guitar taught him how to be himself.
What happens when you lose the art that you lived for? The pioneering Japanese dancer Mana Hashimoto shares the story of how she reinvented her life and her dance practice after she lost her sight.
Plus we hit the streets of Lagos and Nairobi to hear from both cities’ citizens about the art that has changed their lives.
Presented by Mugabi Turya
Produced by Mugabi Turya, Lucy Collingwood and Nancy Bennie
Image: View from the Notre Dame, Paris. Credit: Getty Images
Art breaking barriers
The Cultural Frontline celebrates artists, writers and directors using art to bridge divides and provide a platform for everyone to tell their stories.
Many theatres around the world now include some accessible versions of their shows for people with disabilities, such as captioned performances for Deaf audiences. But how accessible is theatre for performers with disabilities and do disabled audiences feel represented by the content being performed?
We hear from two champions of accessibility in theatre: Amit Sharma, theatre director for disabled theatre company Graeae and Dr Marlene Le Roux from Artscape Theatre in Cape Town.
Prayaag Akbar writes about the divides that separate so much of private and public life in India. His latest novel Leila imagines life in an Indian city in the near future, in which religious and ethnic groups have begun to build enormous walls around their communities to ensure what’s described as “purity for all”. Prayaag tells the story of a mother trying to reunite with her daughter in an increasingly hostile society, and shares his own experiences of caste, class and religious divisions.
Moroccan writer Leila Slimani was appointed by French President Emmanuel Macron as his personal representative and global champion of French language and culture – a recognition perhaps that the future of the language is in Africa. It’s estimated that by 2050 more than eight out of ten of the world’s French speakers will live in that continent. Leila tells us about the classic French song with a special place in her heart.
We also hear about the Sex Workers Opera, giving voice to an often marginalized group of women and men. They’re working with SWEAT in Cape Town – that’s the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce - to establish a sex workers theatre there.
The Wajuku studio and arts club is encouraging creativity in the Makuru informal settlement near the Kenyan capital Nairobi. Artist Shabu Mwangi founded Wajuku to give young people living in poverty access to art.
Plus - the Theatre of Witness in Northern Ireland involves men and women who were in the police or prison service, or paramilitary groups, or whose families were attacked during the 30 year conflict there, known as “The Troubles”. They visit schools in areas deemed to be at high risk from paramilitary activity, to share their stories with schoolchildren in an effort to prompt healing and understanding across the Protestant/Catholic religious divide.
Presenter: Tina Daheley
Producer: Paul Waters
Image: performer from the Unmute Theatre Company, Cape Town, South Africa. Credit: Danie Coetzee
A passion for dance
As part of the BBC’s Dance Passion season The Cultural Frontline celebrates great dancers from across the world and talks to performers and choreographers about their passion for dance.
Can dance put marginalised people centre stage? We head to the Small Theatre in Yerevan, Armenia’s capital to meet Vahan Badalyan, the theatre director working to provide an artistic platform to the city’s disabled citizens.
Have you ever heard of Pantsula? The acclaimed choreographer Gregory Maqoma tells the story of the dance that was born during the apartheid era in South Africa’s black townships and grew to become a powerful form of social protest.
Prepare for an audience with the bad boy of classical dance. The performer Sergei Polunin talks to Tina about his support for Vladimir Putin, his love for performance and why he is never far away from controversy.
Plus- she’s the choreographer behind the moves of Dua Lipa and Christine and the Queens, Marion Motin tells the Cultural Frontline about the life and art that influences her dance.
Presented by Tina Daheley.
(Photo: Sergei Polunin performing Photo Credit: Rankin)
Arabic cinema's fearless female film-makers
Recent years have seen a new wave of female talent and women-focused stories in Arabic cinema. But what are the types of stories being told and can the portrayal of these stories help influence society across the region? We explore the opportunities and challenges faced by women working in front of and behind the camera. In this current era of #MeToo and #TimesUp, we discuss these and other challenges that arise when showing women on screen, as well as those faced by women within the industry.
In front of a live audience in the BBC Radio Theatre, the award-winning journalist, Nawal al-Maghafi, hosts a panel of leading and emerging filmmakers from the region including the award winning director Annemarie Jacir, the actor and film maker Ahd Kamel, one of Morocco’s emerging directorial talents Mariakenzi Lahlou and the film writer and academic Shohini Chaudhuri.
Presented by Nawal al-Maghafi
Image: Ahd Kamel, Nawal al-Maghafi, Mariakenzi Lahlou and Shohini Chaudhuri at the BBC Radio Theatre in London. Credit: BBC
Meet Dimash, Central Asia’s Biggest Pop Star
Sell out tours, millions of social media followers and adoring fans across the globe. Welcome to the world of Dimash, Central Asia’s biggest pop star. We find out how he went from a child singer to a pioneer of pop music and why he is trying to change the world’s perception of his home country, Kazakhstan.
Has a song, a book, a work of art ever changed the way you see the world? Zandra Rhodes, one of British fashion’s leading trend setters, reveals why the work of the artist Duggie Fields inspires her.
They have been dubbed “the wildest DJ crew and label in Mexico” and have been credited with revolutionising a dance music scene in Mexico City that has been devastated by the War on Drugs. The BBC’s Emmanuella Kwenortey speaks to the creative minds behind the pioneering artistic collective NAAFI and finds out what drives these cultural mavericks.
Plus we find out why the sky is the limit for Indian statues. The writer Sandip Roy explores the increasingly competitive and record breaking nature of public art and public life in India.
Presented by Tina Daheley
Image: Dimash in concert. Credit: Nikita Basov