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Birmingham here we come!

Copyright Christian Richters

Summer in the city has been wonderful this year for Four Colman Getty in St Thomas Street. The sun has shone on the Shard virtually every day. We’ve had a record number of tourist-snappers holding up the traffic, with the added excitement earlier in the month of six Greenpeace activists climbing the building in protest at oil drilling in the Arctic.For me August is synonymous with Edinburgh, both the Festival itself and, increasingly, the Fringe. Amy spent a hectic fortnight at the Fringe working on a number of shows at the Underbelly and Pleasance. The wonderfully engaging, Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs, has just won the Primary Times Children’s Choice Award and has come to London for a short run until 8 September.My personal favourite was Les Enfants Terribles’ production of The Trench. It was hauntingly good, a blend of storytelling, puppetry and live music, and inspired by the true story of a miner who became entombed in a tunnel during World War One. It was a sell-out so I hope some perceptive angel investor has already snapped it up for London in the lead up to the centenary of WW1 in 2014.The International Book Festival goes from strength to strength. Two of our best-known writers, Charles Moore and Val McDermid, were sell-outs. The Man Booker Prize was well represented too.Salman Rushdie, who won the 1981 Booker Prize and subsequently two Booker –related spin-off prizes, gave the keynote speech on the opening day. Speaking of his time in hiding, after the fatwa was issued against him, he described his time under police protection as feeling sometimes ‘like a comedy routine’.The Booker Prize Foundation supports the Book Festival so that the organisers shine a light on any of the writers appearing there who have been longlisted for the 2013 prize. We had five MB writers there this year; Tash Aw, Eleanor Catton, Richard House, Charlotte Mendelson and Colm Tóibín. Not bad out of a total of 13!Festival Director, Nick Barley, reports that tickets were much in demand and that the writers have appeared in front of large, enthusiastic audiences.He continues ‘We are very proud of the Book Festival’s support for emerging authors, and thrilled to have scored highly once again this year with such a glittering array of writers whose books the judges also agreed are of a hugely impressive standard. Of course, we invited them and all the other participants in this year’s Festival long before we knew that they’d be included on the Man Booker longlist. ‘Everyone is waiting with bated breath to find out which of these authors might make the shortlist when it’s announced on 10 September.’Clicking on to the world of social media, I was fascinated to learn that, since joining Facebook back in the distant digital past of 2010, the Man Booker Prize has built up a following of nearly 10, 000 literature fans. Facebook insights give us a fascinating glimpse into the lives of our online followers; they reveal, for example, that they are predominantly female (boys you need to catch up) - 3% are aged 13-17, and users login from as far afield as Nigeria, South Korea and the Philippines to join the Man Booker conversation.More results will be revealed in a celebratory infographic when we reach the imminent 10,000 mark- we hope this week! So if you don’t already ‘like’ the Man Booker Prize on Facebook, please do so now. www.facebook.com/ManBookerPrizeAnd speaking of festivals, the brochure for this year’s The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival and tickets have just gone on sale! It’s a fantastic line up, with something for everyone, from Jack Whitehall to Ian Rankin, Helen Fielding to Rachel Khoo, A S Byatt to Lionel Shriver, Jeremy Paxman to Will Self. Cheltenham is the last of the major festivals in the year and it’s well worth a visit because so many of the writers appearing there have books out that are newly published. The 2013 Cheltenham brochure is just out – do take a look. Do take a look at the brochure – you can download it here.In contrast, Jeffrey Archer always starts the year with a new book. His latest novel, Be Careful WhatYou Wish For, the fourth in the Clifton Chronicles series, will be published next spring. If you’re looking for a pacey read meantime, Best Kept Secret, the third in the series, is out right now in paperback. You’ll see it everywhere! I’m looking forward to a few cultural days out of town in Cheltenham next month and, as a company, Four Colman Getty seems to be getting out and about all over the UK these days. We’ve recently been taken on to handle a number of exciting regional projects including the Frequency Digital Festival in Lincoln in October, FutureEverything in Manchester, the reopening of The Theatre Royal in Plymouth later on this year and a major retrospective on the work of Teesside artist, William Tillyer, this October at the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art.A major out-of-London story, of course, is the new Library of Birmingham which opens next week on 3 September in a fanfare of excitement and publicity. The largest public library in Europe, it is truly a library for the 21st century. We’ve been working on the project for two and a half years so, as you can imagine, there’s quite a lot of coverage and comment in the pipeline…I’ve talked in earlier newsletters about the mentoring role I’ve had over the last nine months with the Book People who have volunteered one of the three fundraising teams for Beanstalk’s annual Corporate Challenge. The finale, when the three teams report on their campaigns is just round the corner and I’m very hopeful that the Book people will have well exceeded their target of £10,000. The money all goes towards Beanstalk’s literacy work, placing reading volunteers in schools, so it’s a very worthwhile challenge.I’m delighted to say that I’m chairing the Groucho Club’s Maverick Award for the fourth time this year. It’s a brilliant prize for the most exciting arts ‘maverick’ of the year. We’re looking to reward someone who has broken the mould in their field - whether as a designer, a writer, a film-maker, or an artist - and made a major contribution to the arts within the last year. This year, for the first time, the submissions process is being opened up beyond the membership of the Groucho. The winner is awarded £10,000, a lifetime membership of The Groucho Club (worth £10,000) and a limited edition Gavin Turk sculpture. And if you nominate the eventual winner, you stand to receive a case of Groucho wine and an invitation to the winner party at the Groucho.Do nominate someone for the prize. It can make a real difference to an artist’s career. The deadline for submissions is 10 September and you should send your suggestions to membership@thegrouchoclub.com.Exam results have been much in the news again this August and our campaign team has been hard at it putting some of our brilliant education spokespeople forward as commentators on Clearing, university and careers. Comments from both AGR and Brightside were picked up around A Level and GCSE results day.That’s it for now. More next month!Dotti

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