Tuesday. 19/3/2019

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Chiara Rimella

Off key

A healthy live-music scene is an important asset for a city’s night-time economy – and helps make it an interesting place to be after dark (as we see below). But a parliamentary report on the state of the UK’s live-music industry hits some bum notes: venues are struggling, there’s a lack of investment and little support for emerging talent and no one in an expensive house wants to live next door to a rowdy rock club.

The cacophony of Brexit presents further threats. If music venues in London, Manchester and Birmingham begin to close, it won’t just be the UK’s public and emerging acts who lose out: many European bands have used the circuit as a launchpad for larger tours of the continent or the US. If Brexit makes it more difficult for touring musicians to gain entry to the UK, some will decide not to bother.

Likewise, independent festivals, labels and venues will struggle to foot rising shipping and visa bills. The moment they decide to stop looking beyond the border for up-and-coming acts to bring to their stages, the more insular the ticket will become – and the easier it will be for the UK to lose its headline slot as an incubator for fresh new sounds.

Politics / France

Protest too much?

Demonstrating on the Champs-Élysées is up there with pétanque and football when it comes to French weekend pursuits. But fighting for one’s rights on the famous avenue may soon be illegal according to an announcement from the president’s office yesterday. Emmanuel Macron is considering a ban on all protests there after the gilets jaunes caused damage to shops, restaurants and newsstands. Few will decry the announcement. The movement, once intended to oppose a new fuel tax, has distorted into an unstructured rabble that rails against the Macron government. Protesting peacefully – and vociferously – is ingrained in French culture but now that protesters’ demands are unclear and demonstrations are hurting local businesses, Macron is right to introduce measures that preserve daily life on the iconic avenue.

Image: Shutterstock

Technology / Japan

Digital doubt

Computer developers in Japan are preparing for a Y2K-style computing crash this spring. When Crown Prince Naruhito ascends the throne on 1 May and a new, as yet unnamed era (or gengo) begins, the country’s digital calendars will be set to zero. Instead of being the 31st year of the current era – Heisei, categorised by the rule of Emperor Akihito – it will be the first year of the new gengo. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is predicting a set of computer bugs and it is feared that tax records, cash machines and residential registries might be affected. In the late 1990s many of the worst problems predicted to happen at the turn of the millennium were hot air and those that persisted were planned away. Japanese businesses will be hoping for a similar outcome this spring.

Image: Getty Images

Culture / UK

Encore, encore!

The UK’s live-music scene is under threat according to a parliamentary report released today, threatening an industry worth billions of pounds to the UK economy. “Bad experiences with ticket-resale platforms are damaging trust in the industry, smaller music venues are closing at an unprecedented rate and the future of the talent pipeline is at risk,” said committee chairman Damian Collins. His team gathered evidence from high-profile industry figures from across the board, including the Royal Albert Hall, the Arts Council and rock band Mumford and Sons. Let’s hope the government takes note: live music is a crucial part of the country’s culture and should be accessible to all.

Image: Getty Images

Politics / Canada

Spending power

Bill Morneau, Canada’s finance minister, unveils the government’s 2019 budget today. Given the damage done by the ongoing SNC-Lavalin scandal (the PM’s office is accused of “attempting to press” the then attorney-general to intervene in the corruption and fraud prosecution of the engineering giant), it’s a crucial opportunity for the government to win back Canadian hearts and minds while setting the tone for the general election campaign. The Liberals have never been shy spenders and Morneau has tabled a bold budget aimed at capturing vital demographics, such as seniors, while making home-buying more affordable for first-timers. He will hope to convey that the government is still serious about governing, while trying to shake off any shadow of skullduggery raised by the SNC-Lavalin affair. It won’t be clear if he’s been successful until October, when Canadians head to the polls to determine the Liberal party’s future.

M24 / The Stack

‘Interview’, ‘Homesick’ and British ‘Vogue’

Nick Haramis, editor in chief of Interview, explains why the title is returning to its original size. Plus, a magazine that covers things you can’t find online and a century of imagery from British Vogue.

Film / France

Paris retail: La Grande Epicerie

The newly opened La Grande Epicerie on the Parisian rive droite celebrates the importance of physical retail. Monocle Films pays a visit to admire the heritage brands and tasty produce.

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