WE ARE VIRTUALLY THERE
Before presenting his ´virtual´ Ribble Vallay Jazz And Blues programmes when the Festival was cancelled, Steve Bewick actually used these Sidetracks And Detours pages for a kind of triall run, and so he and I spent a fortnight or so swapping e mails and facebook messages putting together an article called Lockdown With The Locked UP Blues, in which Steve and I, with our very different tastes in music, each selected a piece of music to accompany breakfast, elevenses, lunch, afternoon tea, and late night dinner.
I posted the article here on Sidetracks and Detours ten days a fortnight or so ago and Steve then delivered it as a ´virtual festival´ radio programme and most of our selected tracks, listed below on Friday 1st May.
West Side Story by Stan Kenton Orchestra (Bewick)
Morning Has Broken by Cat Stevens (Warwick)
Black Coffee by Peggy Lee (Bewick)
Black Caffiene by Emmylou & Rodney Crowell (Warwick)
Jazz Hop Café on radio (Bewick)
Lunch With Gina by Steely Dan (Warwick)
Right Said Fred by Bernard Cribbins (Warwick)
Tea For Two by Shostakovich (Bewick)
The Noise Upstairs by various musicians on You Tube(Bewick)
Tiny desk concert by Go Go Penguin (Bewick)
I Eat Dinner by Kate & Anna McGarrigle (Warwick)
Make Love To Me by Jo Stafford (Bewick)
Time After Time by Miles Davis (Bewick)
Driftwood by Between the Vines (Warwick)
All of the above were presented on our pages with direct links, but they are easy to find via your favourite search engine, too, should you feel so inclined.
I have also recently compared, for readers of my Lanzarote Information pages, how similar are some of the initiatives taking place in the UK with those here on Lanzarote. It is fascinating, I think, to consider not only how these initiatives might help preserve our culture but also how they could change forever the way the arts are delivered. We have recently broadcast news across our outlets of a fantastic sounding on-line archive of readings of Wordsworth´s writings being created under the auspices of his great-great-great grandson and family to celebrate the 250 years since the birth the former poet laureate.
We also reported here in a recent post on our Sidetracks & Detours blog that current poet laureate Simon Armitage is co-ordinating plans for a new build National Poetry Centre in Leeds and has been busy doing so even whilst recording a poetry-and- music album with his band Lyr.
There have been a number of similar initiatives, too, in Spain and on The Canary Islands in these last few weeks of lockdown.
In fact Sidetracks & Detours have today learned that the Cabildo and town halls of Lanzarote are to co-ordinate the enhancement of online cultural programming
“We will try to offer, preferably, programming of local artists to raise awareness of, and improve the sector,” says Alberto Aguiar, the Director of Culture
The island government and seven town halls have already begun work to provide a coordinated package of online cultural content to the citizens of the island.
A lot of online programming is already being shared with content from Lanzarote artists. “We are sharing on the web from plays to virtual tours to the CIC exhibitions El Almacén, or videos of local artists or books and catalogs in PDF format,” the advisor said. This will be a series of ´virtual meetings,´ conducted by video-conferences, to be held every fifteen days. The Director of Culture and the Councillors of Culture of the municipalities of Arrecife, Tías, Teguise, Yaiza, San Bartolomé, Tinajo and Haría, will enjoy a regular contact seeking to co-ordinate the programming of online cultural activities. Mr. Aguiar also tells us this ´committee ´will schedule joint activities between the eight administrations.
The first meeting took place last week´ during which Cabildo and town hall representatives laid the foundations upon which they will work together. The Director of Culture told us that this organisation will be ´coordinating the programming of online content, scheduling joint activities and enhancing the profile of local artists and cultural activities´.
Alberto Aguiar placed great emphasis on this last point, stating that “all administrations have agreed that, even if we share online content at regional or national level, it is very important that we promote, above all, the industry and local artists. We must help give them visibility.´
In that sense, Aguiar was keen to remind us that, from the website of and the social networks of Cultura Lanzarote, a lot of online programming is already being shared with content from Lanzarote artists.
´We are sharing on the web,´ he points out, ´experiences as diverse as plays (and dramatic performances´) to virtual tours to the CIC exhibitions at El Almacén, or videos of local artists (and the provision of) books and catalogues in PDF format.´
The Spanish and Canary Island and Lanzarote newspapers and radio stations will carry news of all these developments, of course, but we intend to continue updating our English speaking readers here in these pages on Lanzarote Information and also through my own sidetracks & detours blog.
In recent weeks both these outlets have carried news of a fantastic virtual concert by the Tonin Corujo Quartet, a dramatic performance taking a biographical look at Cesar Manrique (see left) and even of the President´s facebook support of arts and cultural events.
I absolutely applaud the initiative described above and it is imperative that local artists, in these lockdown times, are able to enjoy some sort of presence with not only their fellow artists but also with the wider public. However, I hope, too that we can somehow include some of the visiting islands who have brought wonderful treats to these shores over the past few years. Artists such as Pablo and Humberto, Maximum Ensemble (right) and other visiting classical musicians such as Murray McLachlan and Veronika Shoot all contribute to Lanzarote´s cultural offer in at least so much as they us artistic expressions that indigenous artists engage with and respond to.
That, though, is only a minor caveat I apply to what is a wonderful undertaking by The Cabildo that will not only eventually provide a Panavision vista of our arts and culture offer but will also, in the meantime, remind our arts practitioners and even those of who simply admire their work, that the sector is seen as being as important as any other along the sidetracks and detours we will have to take on the road to recovery.
Developments are progressing so quickly, that almost immediately after publishing that recent story about how The Cabido Of Lazarote has commenced the task of digitalising information on line about the artworks and artefacts in their archives, we were informed of further enhancements. We were then able to share with our readers of our Lanzarote Information outlet, further news of how the Department Of Culture is ensuring that when visitors enter through its portal in future you will step in to an altogether, braver, newer and wider world.
The Department Of The Cabildo (government) de Lanzarote, co-ordinated by the councillor Alberto Aguiar, has renewed its web portal. (´One of the reasons for doing so,´) said Aguiar, ´is to adapt to the new circumstances and (to make it easier for all users) to better enjoy our resources online.´
The new website of Cultura Lanzarote, which is located at the same familiar web address (www.culturalanzarote.com), presents a renewed perspective, combining existing functionalities such as a calendar of activities, and a search facility, by genre, of cultural activity, as well as sections identifying cultural spaces with new sections that allow access to digital cultural resources.
´We had been working on the renovation of the portal for some time and just as we were about to present it, the health emergency caused by COVID-19 arose,´ explained Alberto Aguiar. ´Then we decided to go ahead with the web but with some changes to adapt it to the new circumstances and, consequently, that would make it easier for us to share cultural resources online that citizens could enjoy from home.´
The advisor added that these changes include ´(an increased presence of digital resources, current news and also the calendar of (forthcoming) events.´
´However´, he says, ´the versatility and flexibility of this portal will allow us, once normality returns, to travel with a single click, to the design that we initially had in mind, in which again the calendar of activities will have the main weight that it deserves.´
Alberto Aguiar pointed out that all the resources they upload to the web, “will (remain in situ) once the quarantine passes. We will leave them on the web so that they can be enjoyed at any time. The idea is to make the web a space for use of these resources from home,”
The Head Of Culture Lanzarote has clarified that among the resources that have already been uploaded to the web in the previous weeks, and that will continue to be made available to citizens and visitors of the portal, are catalogues of exhibitions in PDF format, videos of local artists, books and publications, virtual visits to the exhibitions, musical and theatrical performances, as well as material for the little ones of the house.
The website has been developed by the company La Rofera, which is run by José Juan Torres, and which was one of the start-ups – a start-up company dedicated to information technologies – established at hub El Almacén thanks to the collaboration agreement between the Cabildo de Lanzarote and the Chamber of Commerce of Lanzarote.
All the information is on the new website of Culture Lanzarote which is located on the same web address (www.culturalanzarote.com), It presents a renewed aspect that combines existing functionalities (calendar of activities, search by type of cultural activity, sections for cultural spaces,…) with new sections that allow access to digital and cultural resources.
In sharing this news with readers of these pages I have just one more tiny caveat that I hope Alberto Aguiar will not view as mischief or nit-picking. This new access all areas on-line initiative is fantastic and deserving of mucho aplauso, but although I am greatly in favour of providing access to such facilities I would add just a word of caution. I myself designed and now run a number of teaching aides via on line sites about creative writing and writers in general as well as specific sites about, for example, the 100th commemoration of World War One.
They can be a fabulous treasure trove of information, but nothing can quite replicate the informed passion shared by experts like Pepe Betancort or some of the island´s best arts-guides like Estefania Comejo who often delivers wonderful walks and talks at Cic El Almacen, and in The Cabildo building. I hope, therefore, that the on-line posts will work as a complement to the human communicators and vice versa.
That, though, is just a very minor niggle, and The Cabildo, and perhaps Senor Aguiar in particular, deserve our praise and thanks for their foresight and initiative. We hope they will continue to spread this news to our English speaking residents, as they have done by sending this press release to Lanzarote Information.