Monday 13 July 2020 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Monday. 13/7/2020

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Nic Monisse

Stand-up and be counted

Monocle’s team have a number of secret skills; among them a radio producer who’s a musical virtuoso and an art director who’s just shy of being a Tour de France-standard cyclist. Myself? I moonlight as a stand-up comedian (pictured). But since I’ve become a little out of practice in recent months – there are only so many times I can ask my partner “What do you think of this one?” before I’m asked to move out – I’m going to get serious for a minute.

Comedy clubs in the UK face a long wait before being allowed to admit patrons. This, according to a survey released last week, means that some 77 per cent of the country’s comedy venues could face closure within a year. The impact on comedians (and moonlighters) will be dire: their work relies on an immediate in-the-room response that can’t be translated into an enjoyable or profitable live stream. It’s become clear that for the industry to survive, substantial governmental funding will be needed – unlike music, opera and theatre, comedy receives no funding from Whitehall’s culture department.

Comedy has long lacked a formal industry organisation to lobby the government on behalf of its performers. However, the newly formed Live Comedy Association, which conducted the aforementioned survey, has assumed the role. It’s now pushing to receive part of a £1.6bn (€1.8bn) arts bailout package, after comedy was not listed as one of the government’s supported art forms. Although it’s a shame that it has taken a pandemic for the industry to get its act together, the emergence of a voice to speak up on behalf of comics is a good thing. Failing to listen will be no laughing matter.

Image: Getty Images

Diplomacy / Serbia & Kosovo

War of words

Ever since Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008, almost a decade after the end of a bloody and costly war, relations between the two countries have been frosty. EU-backed talks broke down two years ago and US-led negotiations planned for last month were suspended after it emerged that Kosovo’s president, Hashim Thaci, is under review for war crimes – he’s answering questions at the Hague today. Europe has now stepped back in: a video summit, chaired by Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel, took place on Friday. Further EU-mediated talks followed on Sunday, ahead of one-to-ones with Macron this week for Kosovo’s prime minister Avdullah Hoti (pictured) and Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic. The road is littered with unobserved agreements and James Ker-Lindsay, visiting professor at the London School of Economics, says that there are no easy answers. Whereas the US focused on the “big picture”, the Europeans have prioritised process. The problem: “A piecemeal, confidence-building process fails as easily as big-picture stuff,” says Ker-Lindsay.

Image: ALAMY

Elections / USA

Split decisions

There’s one group of voters who could prove decisive in November’s US presidential election: members of the Republican party who won’t vote for Donald Trump. Linda Chavez, who served in Ronald Reagan’s White House and now leads the pro-immigration think-tank Becoming American, says that whereas many so-called “Never Trumpers” like her couldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016, there is a coalescing around Joe Biden. Even if only a small number of Republicans switch sides this year – between three and five per cent – that could be enough to end Trump’s presidency, says Chavez. “He has been narrowing his base, not expanding it – it’s a niche of populists, angry whites and people who don’t like the change that has come to America as a result of immigration,” Chavez told M24’s The Globalist. “Thankfully those people don’t make up a majority of the American electorate. And you can’t win elections with a niche voter base.”

Image: Shutterstock

Media / Canada

Northern exposure

Despite being an official language of the northern Canadian territory of Nunavut, a lack of broadcasting in Inuktut (an umbrella term for Inuit dialects) has long hindered efforts to preserve the language and culture. But that’s set to change with the creation of a new independent television network: Inuit TV. Announced last week and set to debut later this year, the network – funded with CA$2.4m (€1.6m) from NTI, an organisation that represents Inuit interests – will deliver all its programming in Inuktut. Inuit TV president Alethea Arnaquq-Baril told CBC News that Nunavut simply doesn’t receive enough Inuktut programming from CBC or APTN (Aboriginal Peoples Television Network). The new broadcaster will showcase Inuit creators while also providing the population with information and entertainment in their first language. Although Inuit TV will also be made accessible online, conventional broadcasting reportedly remains the best way to reach Inuit homes due to unreliable internet across the massive region.

Hospitality / Global

Finishing touches

Hotels reopening for the summer season have been going out of their way to show guests how they will be kept safe. The Hoxton, which has properties in Paris (pictured), Amsterdam and London, has done away with everything you might not need in a room, including notepads and maps, and has made housekeeping available upon request. CitizenM has fast-tracked the launch of an app across its 15 properties globally, which is designed to ensure that as much of the hotel experience as possible can be contactless. The challenge, however, lies in reassuring guests that they can still receive a warm and personalised experience. Robin Chadha, CitizenM’s chief marketing officer, says that while guests can use their mobile phone to do everything from turning on the lights to ordering food, staff will always be available. “It’s like when airlines introduced apps with self check-in, it didn’t really take away from the experience of actually flying,” he says. “It just took away the hassle and the friction.” While technology can help, doing away with the human touch altogether could be costly too.

M24 / Eureka

Dash Water

Jack Scott and Alex Wright are the co-founders of Dash Water, which makes sparkling water using fruit and vegetables that would otherwise go to waste. Since launching in 2017, the UK brand has saved more than 250 tonnes of fruit and sold more than seven million cans.

Monocle Films / Spain

Creative Mallorca

Palma has kept its charm for young creatives despite its tourist-trodden streets. We meet the people keeping this city alive.


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