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Annual Awards 2018


The First Annual Connected Cultures Awards 2018

Recognising excellence, as perceived in the Connected Cultures world, defined by Montgomery C Burns (the Simpsons) as being:

“the quality or condition of being excellent”.

With these awards, then, we hereby recognise outstanding achievement in the field of being Excellent, in the following fields:

1. Theatre

Winner: Michelle Terry – appointed in April as Artistic Director of the Globe Theatre.

Awarded for creating an extensive, innovative, challenging programme in 2018, as well providing plenty to keep the traditionalists happy. Also for her stirring roles as Hamlet and Macbeth. Also for including more gender-switching roles and greater BAME representation.


Michelle Terry at The Globe

Runners up:

Mark Rylance / Othello (Globe).

Played it for laughs but tragically nobody was laughing by the end.

Ian McKellen / King Lear (Duke of York’s).

When the feeling's not gone and you're still going on. Knight and day.

Joan Iyiola / The Duchess of Malfi (RSC).

Ultimately succumbing in a bloodbath at the Swan.

Paapa Essiedu / Hamlet (RSC tour).

A master of his craft playing a master procrastinator in an African version of the best play ever.

Christopher Eccleston / Macbeth (RSC).

A former Time Lord obsessed with murdering Time.

Imogen Stubbs / Honour (Park Theatre).

Thanks for the selfie backstage!

2. Literature

Winner: Clemantine Wamariya / Author of The Girl Who Smiled Beads

A story of war and what comes after.

Clemantine often leads with a Rwandan folk tale but her main story here is the disturbing narrative of her plight as a young girl growing up as a Rwandan refugee. For years obliged to move from one African country to another, from one camp to another, before settling in America and starting to make a new life, committed to helping others. This is a tale that inspires, connects and unites. One that should never have happened, but having happened, needs to be told. And read. And learnt from.


Clemantine Wamariya, holding The Girl Who Smiled Beads, at the BBC

Runners up:

Michelle Obama / Author of Becoming

Her memoirs were given away with tickets to the London Southbank conversation of the century event with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. But they form a highly valued book, written in a warm and personal style, revealing the hard times as well as the good. As well as the great.

Afua Hirsch / Author of BRIT(ish), On Race, Identity and Belonging

See the Connected Cultures Overall Award for Cultural Connectivity

3. Contemporary Art

Winner: Samira Addo / Sky Portrait Artist of the Year.

For winning this prestigious live portrait competition in public and on camera, with wonderful artistic vision and subtlety of brush. For her enigmatic and beautiful style. Also for her display at the Other Art Fair in October, which included her enchanting self-portrait.

Runners up:

Danny Boyle / Pages of the Sea

(Remembrance Sunday art. Physically and emotionally moving)

Sarah Owusu

Exceptionally striking portraits of inspirational black historical figures

Michelle Loa Kum Cheung

Stunning pyrography and her display at The Other Art Fair

Joe Armstrong

Delightful landscapes in Cornwall and London


Samira Addo, Sky Portrait Artist of the Year, with her painting of Kim Cattrall

4. Dance

Winner: Ballet Black

For The Suit and A Dream Within a Midsummer Night’s Dream

A superb double bill at The Barbican and then performed extensively on tour.

Also for hastening the arrival of pointe shoes in colours that are genuinely nude for black and Asian skin tones.


Ballet Black, in a scene from The Suit (photo: @photobyash)

Runners up:

English National Ballet

For Giselle and for continuing to push the boundaries in ballet as well as performing well-loved classics. Led superbly by the ever amazing Tamara Rojo

Oti Mabuse and Graeme Swann

For the Spider Man performance on Strictly Come Dancing

5. Film

Winner: Peterloo / directed by Mike Leigh.

For rekindling memories of a time when the British Government was in disarray and the people were suffering. Rather like today. At least we are not run down by mounted guards waving sabres now, but that may come back in vogue one day.


A scene from Peterloo. Coming soon to a city near you?

Runners up:

Black Panther

Wakanda Forever says it all.

Stan Lee

The genius behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe. One man who really did make a difference.

The Incredibles 2

A disappointing sequel by the standards of the original, but another stirring outing for me in the role of Mr. Incredible. I’ve still got time.

6. Television

Winner: Black Earth Rising

Michaela Cole and John Goodman starred in this troubling realist fiction drama. Uncovering the truth about the perpetrators of the Genocide in Rwanda. Emotionally traumatic. Historically re-awakening. And a welcome change from the lead actors’ more

familiar comic roles.


Things not necessarily looking up for Kate Ashby (Michaela Cole) in Black Earth Rising

(photo: BBC)

Runners up:

The Southbank Show / Melvyn Bragg

The 2018 return of this superbly presented probing of Culture and the Arts. In many ways the inspiration for Connected Cultures.

Cunk on Britain / Charlie Brooker / Diane Morgan.

Informative and misinformative. Inspiring, and irreverent. And that interview with Robert Peston: Significant or important? Either way a classic.

Upstart Crow / Ben Elton and David Mitchell

A rare and completely wonderful Shakespearean comedy drama. A series of infinite delight and literary appreciation. Brilliantly scripted and brimming with dramatic references. Comic visual gags to boot.

7. Radio

Winner: Eddie Mair / Presenter of Radio 4 PM

The authoritative Radio 4 presenter who never allowed himself to take his show – or the news and current affairs items he covered – too seriously. Eddie finally left the BBC after more than 30 years, and joined LBC.


Eddie Mair, a giant among broadcasters, at the BBC

Runners up:

James O’Brien

LBC talk show supremo. Now an author, of How To Be Right in A World Gone Wrong. Okay, he is a champagne socialist but what he says invariably sounds right and would be of benefit to society if only those in power listened to him. The public are there as a foil for his ever impressive ranting.

Melvyn Bragg / In Our Time

Celebrating 20 years of essential conversation on BBC Radio 4.

8. Sport

Winner: Dina Asher-Smith

A fantastic sprint year with three gold medals won at the European Championships in Berlin, for 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay. Dina also claimed the UK 100m and 200m national records. And then there was that dress at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Show.


Dina Asher-Smith In Berlin, in red, white and blue


Dina Asher-Smith in London, in just red

Runners up:

It really did take someone special to knock Pep Guardiola, Sergio Aguero and MCFC into second place. A genius of a manager with a team of true Champions.

It took that wonder team to knock Alastair Cook (England’s all-time leading test match run scorer), Jimmy Anderson (the most successful fast-bowling wicket taker in the world, all time), Joe Root (the England captain with a penchant for dodgy haircuts) and the rest of the England cricket team, into third place.

Coming fourth, as they did in the World Cup in Russia, are Gareth Southgate (Waistcoat Man), Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, and the England football team. Thanks for the thrills and for bringing back some dignity to the national game.

9. Journalism

Winner: Robert Peston

He switched sides from the BBC to ITV and gained his own discussion programme. Maintained his class and style, which is both completely engaging and a shade frustrating too. A brilliant professional who is incisive and succinct, but can ramble on, when allowed. Charming and a touch whimsical at times. A man of contradictory styles and multiple personae? Maybe. But all the better for it.


Robert Peston, another channel hopper, making sense of politics

Runners up:

Lucrezia Millarini

So professional. So polite. So stylish. Welcoming to and interested in all her viewers and her guests in the London Tonight studio, with a fun sense of humour.

“Thank you for coming into my awards ceremony”. (I’m paraphrasing, lol.)

Occasionally a little star-struck at film premieres in Leicester Square, but why not?

Now a regular presenter on National ITV news, and we are all better informed because of this.

Afua Hirsch

See the Overall Award for Cultural Connectivity

10. Political / Social Leadership

Winners: Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron

For their display of unity on Remembrance Sunday, commemorating the fallen and the end of the First World War 100 years ago. Also for their leadership in discussions affecting Britain and the European Union. Angela, you are the leader we need. The closest thing we have to an actual leader in Britain. You will be free soon. Have a think.


Angela Merkel with Emmanuel Macron, in true European Unity

Runners up:

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

For maintaining her strength and dignity despite regularly being thrust into the limelight, called on for a star feminist quote, and sometimes obliging with some surprise comments. Slipped up on post-colonial theory but that seemed to be a misguided attempt at humour.

Michelle Obama

For her global series of intimate conversations in front of millions, collectively. A much loved and admired woman with more drawing power than Beyoncé. In a political guise, Mellie Grant without the Scandal. The next proper president of the USA please. A true role model.

The Queen

Long may she reign. Long may she oversee the taking of the reins at Royal Ascot.

Prince Harry

For heightening awareness of the importance of HIV testing. For bringing joy to the world, along with Meghan, in May. For his ginger beard. For being such a darn nice guy.

11. Online Presence and Influence

Winner: The Culture Map / Shing Yoong

A brilliant Travel blog regularly featuring fascinating locations, with stunning photography, always leaving me wanting to visit the countries and cities Shing has been to. Born in Yorkshire and passionate about her county of birth. Lives in London, despite trying to get away a few years ago. Shing has a BA in Creative Writing and an MA in Human Rights and Social Justice. A kindred spirit to Connected Cultures and a great source of inspiration as well as world knowledge.


Shing, founder of the Culture Map, impressed by Columbian produce

(photo via @TheCultureMap)

Runners up:

Brittle Paper

The leading online portal for Contemporary African literature and culture. Founded by Ainehi Edoro. Authoritative, in-depth analysis and appreciation, extensive literary knowledge, critical thinking, awareness and connectivity with a vast, fast-spreading online community. A fun approach too.

Ene Abah

For her personal blog: Making a difference in my time. Regularly documenting her travels with the Red Cross in various troubled locations in Africa. Raising awareness of the ups and the downs. Enhancing her posts with fascinating photographs and tales of engaging with the locals.

12. Thought Leading and Influencing – via Social Media

Winner: Gary Lineker

For his insightful comments on Twitter. Goes beyond his specialist subject (football), and regularly shows himself to be a genuine thought leader all round, with incisive wit. Gets special credit here for tackling Brexit. Aggers tried to muffle him on Twitter, but we need strong voices and sound leadership. Peter Shilton’s support for Jacob Rees-Mogg simply needed to be kicked into touch and never heard again. Almost laughable if it wasn’t so sad.


Gary Lineker: never made a tackle on the pitch but now he's taking on his former goalkeeper team-mate and other deranged Brexit supporters

(photo via Gary's Twitter feed)

Runners up:

Michael Vaughan

Took a tough line on the Australian cricket cheats when others were meekly calling for lenience. Knocks back his tiresome critics with a straight bat. Momentarily let himself and all of us down with an apparent compliment to the fake American president, but quickly deleted it and despite this error of judgement is a genuinely good bloke.

JK Rowling

Like Lineker and Vaughan, JK Rowling has a huge following and a keen eye for the issues that matter. Goes for her targets with rapier-like sarcasm. A powerful social commentator.

13. Social Justice

Winners: Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad

Joint winners of the Nobel Peace prize 2018.

“for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict. Both laureates have made a crucial contribution to focusing attention on, and combating, such war crimes.”

NobelPrize.Org

Connected Cultures cannot improve on this description.


Nobel Peace Prize winners Nadia Murad (L) and Denis Mukwege (R)

Runners up:

Clemantine Wamariya

See the Literature category

Alyssa Milano

Regularly makes a stand on issues that matter in the US and beyond, calling those in power to account and demanding change. A lead voice in the #MeToo campaign. No longer a Charmed One, but playing a far more important role now in real life as well as maintaining a creative presence.

Yara Shahidi

The star of Grownish and previously Blackish. But, like Alyssa Milano, knows that real life matters more. And people need to hear about the tough realities. Extremely gifted in spoken word performance and ad hoc speech making. Expected to claim even more prominent roles as both an actress and a social activist.

Ene Abah / International Red Cross

See the Online Presence category

Emily Thornberry / Labour MP

Frequently taking a lead in showing leadership, even when her own leader is reluctant to come forward. Perhaps a shade too keen to post videos of herself in parliament, but someone has to. Her voice needs to be heard.

14. Special Award. Celebrating one of our most important national interests

Winner: Lucy Verasamy and the British weather 2018

Presenter on a subject more talked about by the British than even Brexit, in a year that has seen a lengthy opening spell of extreme cold, a slow warming up in spring, a prolonged, glorious summer heatwave, followed by a torrential autumn that seemed to disappear lightning fast. Pretty much all the weather we can handle in an English year.


Never a dull moment

Lucy presents the weather with a delicate slight of hand and a wonderful smile, as well as a forthright grasp of meteorological insight and profound wisdom. Welcomed into millions of homes on a daily / nightly basis. As Lucy once surmised on ITV breakfast news,

“Maybe it’s because I bring some sunshine into your lives.”

Quite so. Even when it rains. A true cultural heroine for Britain, regularly setting out one of the ever changing but invariably familiar contexts in which we live our lives.

Congratulations to all the winners. High praise also to all the runners up.

We look forward to 2019, to another year of creative brilliance and social endeavour, and all the marvellous achievements to come. Happy New Year!

© Eddie Hewitt 2018

See the Connected Cultures Overall Award for Cultural Connectivity

#all #socialcohesion #thearts

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