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Scottish gallery to pull BP Portrait Award exhibition from 2020

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Imara in her Winter CoatImage copyright
Charlie Schaffer

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This year’s winner – Imara in her Winter Coat by Charlie Schaffer

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The Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh has said it will no longer show the BP Portrait Award exhibition.

“We recognise the need to do all we can to address the climate emergency,” National Galleries Scotland said.

The prize is run by London’s National Portrait Gallery and has been sponsored by the oil giant for 30 years.

An annual exhibition of the entries has toured to Edinburgh for a decade, but this year’s show, which opens there on 7 December, will be the last to do so.

BP has faced growing criticism over environmental issues in recent years. National Galleries Scotland acknowledged that “for many people, the association of this competition with BP is seen as being at odds” with its aim to help tackle climate change.

‘Extremely popular’

“Therefore, after due consideration, the trustees of the National Galleries of Scotland have decided that this will be the last time that the galleries will host this exhibition in its present form,” it continued.

“The exhibition has been extremely popular with new and existing visitors over the years. We are grateful to the National Portrait Gallery in London and to BP for the opportunity that the competition and exhibition has provided to inspire young talent and to promote portrait artists from around the world.”

This year’s exhibition was on show at the National Portrait Gallery in London until last month and is also due to visit the Ulster Museum in Belfast.

Brighton-based artist Charlie Schaffer won this year’s £35,000 first prize for his portrait Imara In Her Winter Coat, of his close friend wearing a fake fur coat.

But the award was overshadowed somewhat by the row over BP’s continued sponsorship. Before the ceremony, judge Gary Hume said the company’s involvement “was now a problem”.

‘Polarisation of debate’

In response, the National Portrait Gallery said BP’s support “enables free admission for the public”.

The London venue said: “We respect the National Galleries of Scotland’s decision and we are grateful for all the support they’ve given to the award over the years.”

The gallery also said it was considering options for its annual competitions when it closes for a three-year refurbishment next summer.

A BP spokesperson said: “The increasing polarisation of debate and attempts to exclude companies committed to being a part of the energy transition is exactly what is not needed.”

Last month, the Royal Shakespeare Company decided to end its partnership with BP after school students threatened a boycott.

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Coronavirus: The Archers to reflect global outbreak in May

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The Archers

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The Radio 4 soap centres on life in rural England

The BBC has revealed that its long-running BBC Radio 4 soap The Archers will have its first coronavirus-related storyline in early May.

Recording is typically done weeks in advance of broadcast, meaning writers have so far been unable to reflect the rapidly evolving pandemic on the show.

Producers said they wanted listeners to be able “to go to Ambridge in the usual way for as long as possible” .

Episodes from 4 May will reflect the coronavirus outbreak in Ambridge.

Producers said the soap will feature fewer interacting characters “sharing more of their private thoughts with the listener” – a reflection of the social distancing taking place across the UK.

Tough measures to tackle the spread of coronavirus across the UK, including a ban on public gatherings of more than two people and the closure of shops selling non-essential goods, were introduced last week.

The number of people who have died with the virus in the UK has reached 1,228 – an increase of 209 since Saturday.

Temporary changes to The Archers will see the show cut back to four episodes a week and a shorter weekend omnibus.

Voice actors will record the forthcoming episodes from their homes, rather than busy studios, in order to protect the numerous cast and crew.

Jeremy Howe, editor of The Archers – which has been running for 70 years – said the production team had “worked tirelessly” to keep the show on air and reflect the current global crisis.

He added: “Whilst coronavirus might be coming to Borsetshire, listeners can still expect The Archers to be an escape, and the residents to be bickering and as playful and witty as ever.

“The Archers will sound different and will be simpler, but I think keeping the show running and giving us all an opportunity to hear from beloved characters will be a treat loyal listeners will want and need.”



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Coronavirus: YouTube stars urge fans to stay at home

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A montage of YouTube stars

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KSI, DanTDM, Anastacia Kingsnorth and Caspar Lee appear in the video

More than 100 YouTube stars have recorded a video message urging their fans to “stay home” during the coronavirus outbreak.

The video is introduced by entertainer JJ Olatunji, known online as KSI, who has more than 21 million subscribers on the video clip platform.

“We’re here looking to spread awareness on the UK government’s current advice to stay at home,” he says.

The 20-minute video will be posted on YouTube at 16:00 BST.

As well as YouTube stars, footballer Rio Ferdinand, singer Jess Glynne, and Love Island narrator Iain Stirling are among well-known faces to appear.

The idea for the montage came from the Sidemen, a group of British video-makers, which KSI is part of.

Their joint channel has 7.6 million subscribers on YouTube.

The group says any advertising revenue earned from the video will be “donated to the NHS”.



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‘Memes should be archived in a museum’

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Internet memes are being widely circulated as people around the world are staying indoors.

Memes, a type of media that spreads and goes viral online, are often amusing but could they have broader cultural significance?

Should an image of a woman shouting at a cat or a hefty sheep be archived in a museum? Arran Rees from the University of Leeds thinks so.

Produced and edited: Ian Casey

Camera: James Wignall



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