Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

It's Better Late.The Weekend That Ticks Every Cultural Box

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

It's Better Late.The Weekend That Ticks Every Cultural Box

Article excerpt

Byline: David Whetstone Culture Editor david.whetstone@ncjmedia.com @DAVIDJWHETSTONE

MUSEUMS, churches, galleries, former commercial office blocks pressed into cultural use and even a tunnel... all become venues for The Late Shows this weekend.

The fun started last night in Newcastle's Ouseburn Valley when the former hive of industry turned creative hub served up a lively starter ahead of tonight's main course.

This evening more than 70 venues will be united by The Late Shows, the annual festival of cultural late opening which has captured the imagination on Tyneside like nowhere else.

But in a way they are all competing - vying for the attention of the thousands, many equipped with the glow sticks which have become the Late Shows 'badge', who are expected to take part in this year's 10th anniversary culture crawl.

It is unlikely anyone will be able to see everything that is happening tonight. There is simply too much to pack in.

So people will approach it geographically, mapping a route around their chosen attractions, or perhaps thematically. Tonight will be a big night for the singers of Streetwise Opera who are performing at Bensham Grove, Gateshead, at 7pm, 8pm and 9pm.

People who sing with Streetwise Opera have all had experience of homelessness. They are not, perhaps, the kind of people you would expect to be performing scenes from Donizetti's opera L'Elisir d'amore or Benjamin Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream.

But that is exactly what you will hear from the singers who are just some of those to benefit from this award-winning charity that uses music to get people back on track.

Bridget Rennie, co-executive director of Streetwise Opera, has heard all the questions before. Why opera and not rock, gospel, choral or even rap music? "Opera is not the most obvious artform but in a way that's why it works," she said.

"Because it's something not a lot of people have done or know much about, it provides a very level playing field for anyone who drops in. Also, because it's something that is perceived as being quite elitist and challenging, when they show they are able to do well at it, it can change their perception of what else they might be able to do. …

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