‘The First World War sparked a period of cultural outpouring. I believe these commemorations will do the same’, remarked the UK Culture Secretary Maria Miller this morning as she announced a series of new arts commissions from the 14-18 NOW official centenary programme.
The outpouring has already begun. The First World War Centenary Partnership Programme, of which 14-18 NOW is a member, includes over 2,500 participants from 45 different countries. Many have already held or opened remembrance events, well in advance of 4 August, the date on which war was officially declared 100 years ago.
The 14-18 NOW programme will focus on the day itself, rolling out an extensive series of cultural projects over the summer encompassing the visual arts, film, music, dance and literature. Deliberately diverse and non-prescriptive, the programme hopes to reflect the multifaceted, sometimes ambiguous impact of the conflict itself on the people who lived through it. 2014’s series will be followed by another in July 2016, marking the start of the Battle of the Somme, and a final hub in 2018 to celebrate the Armistice.
One of the enduring legacies of the First World War is the art that came out of it. How to respond in a meaningful way, while acknowledging the distance of a century and two generations, will be a challenge for all the artists involved.
Speaking to Apollo, Maria Miller explained that the programme will seek to ‘draw from those times when so many of our great poets, visual artists and writers really found their inspiration – to take that inspiration and to use it in a contemporary way, with contemporary artists. I think that will endure, and will be a real legacy from this set of events.’
Find out more about the programme on the 14-18 NOW website.
The Face of War: ‘The Great War in Portraits’ (Martin Oldham)
12 Days: The Imperial War Museum (Gavin Stamp)