The Friday Arts Diary

Our cultural picks for the week ahead.


Royal Academy of Arts, London W1, David Hockey RA: A Bigger Picture 21 January - 8 April
Hockney's landscape works on display at the Royal Academy are exquisite, ranging from LA scenes to Yorkshire from the Nineties to now. In addition to the giant multi-panel paintings created specifically for the galleries, Hockey has also enlarged 50 iridescent iPad drawings for the occasion and experimented with film documentation using 18 cameras, which are displayed on multiple screens. Advance booking is strongly recommended. (This exhibition will be reviewed in next week's New Statesman.)


Soho Theatre, London W1, Chris Ramsey: Offermation 25 January - 28 January
Chris Ramsey is bringing his acclaimed Fosters' Edinburgh Comedy Awards nominated show to Soho. It explores the nature of communication and how to bring down the barriers people put up between themselves. Ramsey is an exciting young comic, having previously supported Russell Kane and Al Murray on tour and appeared on Comedy Rocks, Never Mind The Buzzcocks, 8 Out of 10 Cats and Russell Howard's Good News.


Apollo Shaftesbury, London W1, The Madness of George III 18 January - 31 March
Alan Bennett's comedy about the Hanoverian monarch's brushes with lunacy originally premiered at the National Theatre in 1991 and has since become an international theatrical sensation. David Haig performs in the title role alongside an excellent cast, including Clive Francis, Beatie Edney and Madhav Sharma.


Aldwych Theatre, London WC2, Midnight Tango 20 January - 31 March
The stars of BBC's Strictly Come Dancing, Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace, get their own West End show, produced by Arlene Philips and directed by Olivier Award-winning choreographer Karen Bruce. The show explores the magic of the tango, and is set in a late-night bar in downtown Buenos Aires, and features ten of the finest tango dancers in the world.


Royal Opera House, London WC2, Don Giovanni 21 January - 29 February
Mozart's Don Giovanni is one of the most fiery and flamboyant operas in the canon. Gerald Finley and Erwin Schrott share the title role under the musical direction of conductor Constantinos Carydis.

This article first appeared in the 23 January 2012 issue of the New Statesman, Has the Arab Spring been hijacked?

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Cabinet audit: what does the appointment of Karen Bradley as Culture Secretary mean for policy?

The political and policy-based implications of the new Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

The most politically charged of the culture minister's responsibilities is overseeing the BBC, and to anyone who works for - or simply loves - the national broadcaster, Karen Bradley has one big point in her favour. She is not John Whittingdale. Her predecessor as culture secretary was notorious for his belief that the BBC was a wasteful, over-mighty organisation which needed to be curbed. And he would have had ample opportunity to do this: the BBC's Charter is due for renewal next year, and the licence fee is only fixed until 2017. 

In her previous job at the Home Office, Karen Bradley gained a reputation as a calm, low-key minister. It now seems likely that the charter renewal will be accomplished with fewer frothing editorials about "BBC bias" and more attention to the challenges facing the organisation as viewing patterns fragment and increasing numbers of viewers move online.

Of the rest of the job, the tourism part just got easier: with the pound so weak, it will be easier to attract visitors to Britain from abroad. And as for press regulation, there is no word strong enough to describe how long the grass is into which it has been kicked.

Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She has presented BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is a regular panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Politics.