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The Cultural Frontline

The Cultural Frontline

Podcast The Cultural Frontline
Podcast The Cultural Frontline

The Cultural Frontline


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  • Colombia: Culture out of conflict
    Since the 1960s, Colombia has seen decades of warfare between leftist guerrillas, right wing paramilitaries and the army, claiming an estimated two hundred and twenty thousand lives. Since a polarizing peace agreement in 2016, protests and violence have increased. After a closely fought presidential election in June the country elected its first leftist leader, Gustavo Petro. Always an important element of Colombian culture, music has brought citizens together in protest recently. Three-time Grammy nominated Bomba Estéreo, whose music fuses a unique blend of cumbia and champeta rhythms, use their platform to tackle political and environmental issues affecting the country. Beatriz de la Pava talks to founder band member Simón Mejía. Encanto, the Disney animated film about a Colombian family with magical powers has been a global hit. Constanza Hola speaks to María Cecilia Botero, the popular actor who plays grandmother Abuela Alma, about how the movie has shown the world a different side to Colombian culture. The conflict and its impact on Colombian society has featured heavily in the work of many of the country’s leading writers. Novelists Juan Gabriel Vasquez and Cristina Bendek discuss how Colombia’s history has shaped their work and the role of writers in today’s society. Producers: Andrea Kidd and Kevin Satizabal Carrascal (Photo: Protesters in Colombia. Credit: Juan Barreto/AFP via Getty Images)
  • Melanie C: Creativity and mental health
    In March this year, the World Health Organization announced research findings that the Covid-19 pandemic had triggered a 25% increase in the prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide. We ask how does the act of making art help creatives around the world address personal psychological challenges? And we celebrating art’s ability to inspire and soothe anyone - artist or not - who might be experiencing difficulties with their mental health. Spice Girl Melanie C opens up about how at the height of her fame she was dealing with depression and an eating disorder and tells us how she worked to overcome these challenges. Nigerian artist Jonathan Chambalin explains how making art helped him through the anxiety of lockdown. Singaporean landscape photographer Xuan Hui Ng describes how capturing nature enabled her to overcome a downward spiral of grief. And American Gen Z cultural journalist Alexis Oatman on how millions of Americans are responding to career burnout, including Beyoncé. If you've been affected by the content of this programme information and support is available via the BBC Action Line, click on the link below. (Photo: Melanie C. Credit: Matt Holyoak)
  • How is TikTok changing culture?
    With over one billion monthly users, TikTok is now the platform of choice for comedians, musicians, artists, filmmakers, writers and dancers around the world. Their aim is to go viral and even possibly become the next global superstar. So just how do you get your video onto phone screens around the world? Digital journalist and social media expert Rebecca Jennings talks to Sophia Smith-Galer about how the TikTok algorithm works and why there is content censorship controversy on the platform. What does it take to go from TikTok to the top of the music charts? Sophia speaks to four musicians about how the platform has changed the way they make music and why they want to share it with a TikTok audience. Emo-musician Daine tell us why they are nervous about the algorithm, and composer Julia Riew explains what made her want to document writing a Korean-inspired Disney-style musical with her followers. The singer-songwriter Tom Rosenthal explains how it feels to go viral, and the violinist Esther Abrami is using TikTok to bring her music to a wider audience. Charity Ekezie is a Nigerian creator makes videos that challenge and shatter negative stereotypes about Africa. Her funny and sarcastic videos have racked up millions of views, but she explains why she feels the platform needs to do more to ensure African TikTokkers like her get the recognition and financial opportunities they deserve. Have you been recommended a book on #BookTok? The hashtag has had over 73 billion views to date, and has been described as one of the “most active communities” on the platform. Latin American BookTokkers MarianaBooker and BooksbyLA explain what makes a good #BookTok video, their relationships with authors, and how to make money from using TikTok. Producers: Sofie Vilcins, Sophia Smith-Galer, Andrea Kidd, Simon Richardson, Kevin Satizabal Carrascal and Jack Thomason. (Photo: Phone with TikTok logo . Credit: Dado Ruvic/Reuters. Marianabooker photo courtesy of Mariana Etchegary Boyer. Booksbyla photo courtesy of Layla Fernanda.)
  • On Standing Rock
    In 2016, one of the largest tribal gatherings in North American history took place on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Reservation in North Dakota. Thousands of indigenous people, from across the continent, came together "in defence of water" and to protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe mobilised supporters from across the country and the response was extraordinary. Thousands of indigenous people from across America and beyond joined together as "water protectors" and in solidarity against the "black snake" of the pipeline. The encampments evoked memories of previous native conflicts with central government, with tepees on the prairie and men on horseback. But this was a very modern movement, fuelled by social media, largely led by women and using the full force of indigenous art and culture. Nick Rankin travels to North Dakota to find out what happened at this controversial site, and to see how those events continue to resonate there today. He talks to local artists and activists, and to several of the original water protectors. How has the tribe been changed? In what ways has it altered their relationship with other tribes and with the surrounding non-native culture? How significant is the role of Native Arts and language in this new wave of environmental protest? Presenter: Nick Rankin Producer: Anthony Denselow A Whistledown production for BBC World Service Image: Activist Waniya Locke (Credit: Anthony Denselow)
  • Global artists at the Edinburgh Festivals
    This week we hear from some of the international artists who’ve been taking part at this year’s Edinburgh Festivals. It’s the world’s biggest arts festival, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary. Aboriginal Australian William Barton is an award winning composer, vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and one of the country’s leading didgeridoo players. His music has been performed from the Beijing Olympics to Westminster Abbey in London and he tells Tina Daheley about the language of this ancient traditional instrument and how he blends it with European classical music. Scottish writer Uma Nada-Rajah’s play Exodus is set against the backdrop of a UK Conservative party leadership contest. In Uma’s all female version, we met a would be Prime Minister who’s staging a photo opportunity under the white cliffs of Dover to launch her anti-immigration policy, when a body washes up. Uma Nada-Rajah told Kate Molleson about the inspiration behind her topical satire. In the 1994 Rwandan genocide, an estimated 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed by dominant Hutu forces in 100 days. For her piece, The Book of Life, Rwandan playwright and director Odile Gakire Katese, known as Kiki Katese, tells the story of that conflict through the letters of ordinary Rwandans. She tells us why she feels that the arts can help to bring reconciliation to the country. Circus Abyssinia is the first all Ethiopian Circus troupe. Created by two brothers, Bibi and Bichu, their latest show, called Tulu, is inspired by the Ethiopian runner Derartu Tulu. She won the 10,000 meters in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, the first black African woman to win Olympic gold. Bibi and Bichu spoke to The Cultural Frontline’s Andrea Kidd and explained why they wanted to portray her story through circus skills. (Photo: An aerial silk performer from Circus Abyssinia. Credit: David Rubene Photography)

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