CELEBRITY historian Dr Janina Ramirez has called for “thoughtful, informed and considered” action to ensure a forward thinking arts scene in the light of the pandemic and the Black Lives Matters protests.

The cultural historian this week addressed the Oxford Festival of the Arts, which continues until July 5.

Dr Ramirez, who lives in Woodstock, is a celebrated writer and an Oxford University academic who has presented television shows on art history, Anglo Saxon saints, Leonardo da Vinci, and the mystic and theologian Julian of Norwich.

Celebrating the festival’s programme of culture, music, history and art, she said: “The arts are crucial at the moment.

“As discussions over statues, history and memorialisation rage around the world, the time is right to nurture thoughtful, informed and considered forums to ensure the future of the arts is strong and forward-thinking.

“This festival allows a much needed platform for all the arts at a time when creativity and expression has been challenged by the pandemic.”

She said she relished the opportunity to “share ideas that have been growing and changing during these historic times”.

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The festival was founded and is still sponsored by Magdalen College School, and presents a programme of discussion, lectures and performances. The event was forced to go online as a result of the coronavirus lockdown.

Forthcoming highlights include a talk by historian and TV presenter Suzannah Lipscomb, cellist Gabriella Swallow, Oxford’s Creation Theatre Company, Alleyne Dance and the Choir of Magdalen College.

The event has a Tudor theme.

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Prof Lipscomb, who is presenting a talk on women, sex and power in the 16th century, on Sunday, says: “In this time of pestilence, literary and artistic events have to innovate, and none is doing it better than the Oxford Festival of the Arts."

Alleyne Dance company said: “As Alleyne Dance, and as individual artists, we travel all over the world sharing our craft and are absolutely thrilled to be part of this year’s Oxford Virtual Festival of the Arts.

“We hope to connect with the community and give them an insight to our creative world.”

Witney Gazette:

Suzannah Lipscomb

The school’s own Alexis Thompson – a former Masterchef contestant and cookery school owner – will demonstrate Tudor cookery techniques.

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Creation Theatre, which is renowned for groundbreaking productions of 1984 and Brave New World, will present hour-long explorations of Shakespeare’s Henry VIII – or All is True – tomorrow and on Saturday.

The rarely staged ‘history’ is best remembered as the play which was being performed when the Globe theatre caught fire in 1613.

Cellist Gabriella Swallow will tonight perform a tribute to the great Oxford musician Jacqueline du Pré on the 75th anniversary of her birth.

She said: “I’m delighted to play a virtual recital at Oxford Festival of Arts this year.

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“Music is more vital than ever and we must continue to communicate it with each other as best we can until we can meet in the concert hall once again.

“Oxford has always held a special place in my heart after giving many concerts in the area over my career and most importantly as my cello was made there by Charles Harris 200 years ago this year."

* Oxford Festival of the Arts continues until July 5. All the events are free and details are on the festival website artsfestivaloxford.org