Opera for all shows why we need to stand up for arts for ‘uz’

Yorkshire Post - Culture & The Guide - - FILM - NICK AHAD

LAST week­end Tony Har­ri­son was at the West York­shire Play­house. Most fa­mous for his epic poem V, he was as funny and an­gry as ever.

Dur­ing the evening he read a cou­ple of po­ems about the idea that the arts are not for cer­tain peo­ple. They’re not for peo­ple who pro­nounce it ‘uz’ in­stead of ‘us’.

When I got home, I watched Bol­ly­wood Car­men, an in­cred­i­ble spec­ta­cle in the mid­dle of Brad­ford and it got me think­ing.

Thou­sands rammed into the city cen­tre to watch a Bol­ly­wood twist on Bizet’s opera. I’ve seen the opera adapted be­fore; I’ve never seen it fea­ture dance num­bers around a foun­tain in a city cen­tre and Car­men’s mates speak­ing with Brad­ford ac­cents. Ev­ery now and then on the live BBC3 broad­cast, there was a glimpse of some of Brad­ford’s other artis­tic jewels. On one side was the Al­ham­bra, beau­ti­fully lit with a thou­sand bulbs, look­ing stun­ning against the dark­en­ing York­shire sky.

Just to the right was the Odeon, boarded up and cov­ered by scaf­fold­ing. To­gether they neatly summed up the two pos­si­ble fates of Brad­ford’s other gem, the National Me­dia Mu­seum.

The mu­seum is un­der threat of clo­sure along with Manch­ester’s Mu­seum of Science and In­dus­try and the National Rail­way Mu­seum in York.

Ian Blatchford, di­rec­tor of the Science Mu­seum Group, which runs the three at­trac­tions along with a num­ber of Lon­don mu­se­ums, de­liv­ered the ham­mer blow last week. Bud­get cuts have been blamed and many al­ready fear Brad­ford will emerge as the poor re­la­tion.

I first went there as a kid, when it was the National Mu­seum of Pho­tog­ra­phy, Film and Tele­vi­sion. It in­spired me, a lad from Keigh­ley, to want to be a jour­nal­ist and I’m not alone. You couldn’t be­gin to count the num­ber of peo­ple who have been in­spired in mil­lions of count­less ways by a trip to places like that mu­seum.

If it does close, they might as well put a ban­ner over it say­ing the “The Arts are not for Uz in Brad­ford”. Re­ally? Tell that to the thou­sands who packed Brad­ford city cen­tre last week­end to watch a ver­sion of an opera by a French­man.

We de­serve the National Me­dia Mu­seum in Brad­ford, just as much as we de­served Bol­ly­wood Car­men. And we have a duty to en­sure the fu­ture of the arts is pro­tected for those com­ing be­hind us.

It’s time to stand up and make our voices heard. Brad­ford needs a mu­seum of national im­por­tance. If the National Me­dia Mu­seum is al­lowed to stay, we might just pro­tect a fu­ture where the tal­ent to cre­ate Bol­ly­wood Car­men will con­tinue to ex­ist and thrive. Let it wither and die and it won’t. It’s that sim­ple.

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