The Monocle Minute

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The week ahead, opportunities and observations
Saturday 18 August 2018

Society

Image: Alamy

Art attack

Berlin has long been seen as an artistic mecca but in truth its artists are struggling to make ends meet.

For years Berlin and its cheap studio rent acted as a clarion call for the continent’s artists and musicians. But there are signs that the German capital’s time as an artistic epicentre may be on the wane, as lesser-known, edgier central European cities begin to be touted as “the new Berlin”. A report by the Institute for Strategy Development and the Professional Association of Visual Artists Berlin has revealed the reasons why. The survey of 1,700 Berlin-based artists showed that the average annual income from their artistic work is €9,600, with an alarmingly high gender-pay gap of 28 per cent. Worryingly, 80 per cent of artists lose more money than they earn by making art. If Berlin is keen on not letting its artistic community slip – and being superseded by the newer, cooler versions of itself – it may be time for city hall (and policies supporting the city’s culture scene) to wade in to guarantee living wages.

Fashion

Image: Getty Images

Waste of space

Clothing brands may be preaching sustainability but the problem of wardrobe waste has reached Narnian proportions.

In recent years there has been a push towards minimalist lifestyles. Everyone from Marie Kondo to fast-fashion brands (yes, really: see H&M’s sustainability campaigns) has told us that we should buy less but buy better. Yet while responsible clothes consumption is a hot topic, a new survey suggests we have plenty more work to do. Movinga, a German removal company, collected data on the question, what percentage of people’s wardrobes have not been worn in the past 12 months? The results are sobering: according to the 18,000 households polled across 20 countries, Americans, Belgians and Italians are the most wasteful of clothing (in all three countries more than 80 per cent of people’s wardrobes had not been worn during that period). For tips on minimalist dressing, look for the column from Fumio Sasaki, author of Goodbye Things: The New Japanese Minimalism, in our dedicated fashion edition of The Monocle Summer Weekly, out 30 August.

Law

Image: Shutterstock

Culture shock

Artists in Cuba are uniting against a dangerous decree as the government attempts to legalise cultural censorship.

Cuban artists are rallying against Decree 349, a law that will criminalise independent cultural activity when it comes into effect in December. The new legislation aims to give authorities control over artistic production by legalising censorship and targeting artists working in spaces without an official permit from the Ministry of Culture. Those found in violation will face fines, property seizure and even prison. A collective of artists formed in opposition to the decree, the Artistas Cubanos en Contra del Decreto 349, published a letter to Cuban president Miguel Díaz-Canel, stating that they “believe that Decree 349 does not present a sound vision of the future for Cuban culture”. Instead of moving forward after six decades of Castro rule, Díaz-Canel is solidifying the single-party system. Numerous artists who have come out to protest, including Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara and Soandry Del Río, have been arrested in the process – but they’re showing no signs of being silenced.

Culture

Image: Getty Images

Piping up

Scotland’s global pipe-band celebration is well underway, with more than 200 groups making a glorious racket in Glasgow.

Grab your tartan and leave your underpants at home for the World Pipe Championships, closing today in Glasgow. The annual two-day competition, which has been held since 1947, has brought together more than 200 bands from around the world this year, with 8,000 pipers and drummers taking part. Canada is taking the lead in the North American contingent, with 14 bands showing up, while perhaps the most surprising contender is the band from Zimbabwe. Overall 13 countries have been represented. Kevin Reilly from the Royal Scottish Pipe Band soothes fears that such displays of tradition are dying out in arguably the home of piping. “The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association has 14,000 members and about 48 per cent of them are under 18,” he says. “So the future of piping is looking very strong.” But Scotland’s hopes of a homegrown cup-winning hero may be dashed; Northern Ireland poses strong competition.

From Monocle 24

Sons of the East

Sessions at Midori House

Sydney’s Sons of the East drop by to play us a few indie-folk tracks in the midst of their European tour.

From Monocle Films

Barcelona: The Monocle Travel Guide

The Catalan capital boasts a singular character. Venturing beyond the tourist-beaten track, join us on a cinematic tour of fairytale architecture and independent retailers, as well as the innovative restaurants bringing a modern touch to Catalan cuisine. Available now at The Monocle Shop.

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