Food Donation

Acts Of Kindness Across The United Kingdom

Amidst such an unprecedented, uncertain and daunting time, it is important to try to maintain positivity and hope and to turn to humanities strengths and kindnesses at a time where everything seems hopeless. A cacophony of news broadcasts alert us to some really hideous acts; we have seen coronavirus used as a weapon, persons breaking down in tears after store shelves had been ravaged by panic buyers and NHS staff being evicted from homes as landlords fear contracting the virus. These are drops in the water though, compared to the utter kindness thousands upon thousands of people have shown. In the United Kingdom, as of the 2nd of April there have been 29,474 reported cases and sadly 2,352 deaths from COVID-19. Criticism on testing is rife towards the UK government as the target of 25,000 tests a day is not being achieved. Yet it is a day where the country will take part in its second clap for carers. As the public, whilst in lockdown, stands on their doorsteps clapping, cheering and banging pans in a collective cry out of appreciation for those health workers on the front line saving lives.

There have been plenty more incredible demonstrations of kindness throughout the country in the past weeks as the pandemic has taken the nation. Grassroots organisations are popping up across the country with volunteers acting like pop-up foodbanks, suppliers and helpers. One of which is ‘Meals for the NHS’ where volunteers have been raising money to provide and deliver hot meals for NHS staff working around the clock with only a vending machine for food. Supermarkets are also donating fresh fruit and vegetables to hospitals where health staff have not had time to shop. This is among many other organisations who are providing food parcels or packs of essentials for those most vulnerable or unable to shop.

Embed from Getty Images

The government and the National Health Service called for an army of volunteers to become responders to help aid the healthcare system. Job roles included, collecting essential supplies for someone who is self-isolating, transporting medical supplies between hospitals and pharmacies, transporting patients to and from appointments and calling those who are self-isolating to simply check-in and prevent loneliness. 170,000 volunteers signed up overnight, 405, 000 in 24 hours and recruitment had to be paused after 750,000 applications quickly overwhelmed the system.

Businesses from the large to the small, whether in the same industries or far from it, have been producing much needed supplies, from hand sanitisers to personal protective equipment, to ventilators. Some hotels have been offering free rooms to NHS staff who do not feel safe enough to go back to their family homes after directly fighting the virus, or whom want a shorter commute or a rest. Catteries and Kennels have offered up free support to those who need help looking after their pets in the crisis. Shops from tool makers to travel suppliers are donating items such as visors and compression socks for health workers on their feet all day battling the crisis.

It is not just members of the community who are supporting their peers and the NHS. The NHS worker who was evicted from his home due to his landlord worrying about his contact with the virus, set up a website to help house those other health workers in need of a place to stay. Businesses and individuals are also helping the homeless by offering up essential items such as hand sanitisers.

Embed from Getty Images

Acts of kindness range from these large or noteworthy gestures to the small and personal. Families and friends are reaching out to each other, sending support and love. Neighbours are collecting essentials for those who are vulnerable in the area and walking their dogs. Neighbours and strangers are singing Happy Birthday to those in isolation, digitally or from their windows. Professional and hobbyist sewers are using free time to make Personal Protective Equipment for healthcare workers facing the shortage. Shops are giving free flowers to the NHS and community members are baking thank you cakes. Children are placing rainbows in windows to generate smiles and thank the NHS.

All of the acts of kindness across the UK are almost impossible to include in one article and it does not even cover those who are offering entertainment and free classes online for those self-isolating. Of course, acts of kindness can be seen world-wide, some even producing smiles in other countries as those acts wend their way through the internet. Italians on balconies giving the gift of music to their neighbours. A doctor in Spain asked for letters to be sent to those hospitalised with the illness and received an overwhelming response from well-wishers. Stars in America have been donating funds to charities to help those most vulnerable. Overall, the best of humanity is definitely shining through.

National Theatre

National Theatre Provides Free Live Streams of Theatre Shows During Coronavirus Lockdown

With the close of all public events and entertainment venues, the much loved world of live theater was well and truly put on ice for the foreseeable future. To help bridge the gap, the National Theatre is offering access to a range of breathtaking theater productions on YouTube for free over the coming months, allowing every theater lover to get their cultural fix from the comfort of their own home!

As part of their new initiative ‘National Theatre at Home’, every Thursday night from the 2nd April onwards, the National Theatre will be making a new production available for viewing at zero cost to the viewer. People can tune in from all over the world and stream the productions for free, while students and teachers will also have access to the National Collection Theatre at home.

The first production to be released will be Richard Bean’s One Man Two Guvnors which features a Tony Award-winning performance from James Corden, best known in the US for presenting The Late Late Show. Each production will be available to watch on demand for seven days. Further releases include Sally Cookson’s stage adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, Bryony Lavery’s adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island Shakespeare’s classic comedy Twelfth Night featuring Tamsin Greig as Malvolia. And for those who are interested in finding out a little more, there will be a host of additional content available including cast Q&As and post-stream talks.

Embed from Getty Images

In a bid to assist with home education, The National Theatre Collection is also being made available as an online resource for schools, universities, libraries and the wider education sector. This will be available for the entire period that schools are closed and includes 24 productions. There are also exclusive productions from the National Theatre’s archive which have not previously been released. Organized through Bloomsbury Publishing, schools and academic institutions can request login details which can then be shared with pupils at home. The free offer will be available until the end of May and can be accessed by anyone in the global education community.

It is hoped that during this time, many people who have not been to live theater productions before may gain a new love for it and want to see more once the theaters reopen. There are many reasons why people don’t visit the theater, from costs to distance to simply never experiencing it previously so not knowing what to expect. It provides the perfect opportunity to experience some of the best productions in the industry and to do it from the comfort of your own home.

For students, it can help them to proceed with core aspects of their coursework or studies and teachers will be able to shape virtual lesson plans around the productions in order to maximise the educational aspects associated with watching the production.

Embed from Getty Images

For young people, it provides the perfect opportunity to expand their cultural awareness and appreciation whilst also forming the basis for educational activities and tasks. Older children can be encouraged to watch a play and write a detailed review about it. Or you may be able to find a series of questions which they can answer based on the production that they watched, critiquing the plot or the execution of the story, how close it was to the original text, what the importance of the adaptations were and how this enhanced the story when performed live.

For much younger children, small sections of the play can be watched and then discussed afterwards. They could perhaps write a short explanation of what they saw, or draw a picture of one of their favourite characters. If the segment includes a strong storyline or plot, you can ask them to predict what might happen next and then continue watching to see if they guessed correctly.

Or perhaps it could be a welcomed distraction for adults after a hectic time trying to work from home or educating the children. It could even form part of a ‘date night’ with a partner, as they settle down to watch it and imagine they were enjoying it at the theater for real. And for older people, it could provide a couple of hours of escapism and allow them to fully immerse themselves in the world of theater, despite not being able to leave their homes.

Whatever the motivation, there is no doubt that this offering by the National Theatre is nothing but positive and will help many people to pass the time over the coming months as social distancing continues to keep our much loved leisure outlets closed. It could also mark a pivotal moment in how live theater is consumed by the masses in the future, as many organizations begin to fully realize the potential that the digital world has to offer.

College Couple Walking

‘Establishing Their Independence’: Experts, Students Weigh In On College Dating Culture

Young adults — arguably in their social and physical peaks — are grouped together for four years to obtain degrees. In the midst of this newfound independence, college students often find themselves entertained by the inevitable – dating each other.

“College is a time of multiple high-impact transitions,” clinical and community psychologist and psychoanalyst Mark B. Borg said. “Dating brings to the forefront the main needs associated with being the social creatures we humans are – the need to belong and the need to differentiate.”

Students don’t necessarily go into college with dating expectations, but the situation they are in sometimes leads them to it.

“I had family and friends tell me, ‘Don’t go into college like dating someone because you’re gonna meet so many other people,’” supply chain management sophomore Julia Lower said. “So that was my idea. I didn’t have the intention of wanting to start dating someone as soon as I got (to college).”


Read more…

Small Movie Theatre

Meet the Most Important Mogul in South Korean Entertainment

Since the moment the lights went up last May at the Grand Theatre Lumière in Cannes (which preceded an eight-minute standing ovation), Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite has broken precedent after precedent: first South Korean film to receive the Palme d’Or, first foreign movie to win the SAG Awards’ ensemble prize, Korea’s first Oscar nominee (it has six nods) — and, come Feb. 9, the $162 million grossing social thriller has a credible chance to win best picture, which would make it the first non-English-language film to do so.

Behind Parasite’s — and Korea’s — catapult to the forefront of the cinematic conversation is Miky Lee, the heiress turned media mogul whose $4.1 billion entertainment empire serves as the foundation of much of the country’s cultural output, from television dramas streamed by millions of viewers worldwide to K-pop concerts packing arenas around the globe to movies dominating the box office in Asia and, perhaps soon, farther west.

As vice chair of the Korean conglomerate CJ Group, Lee, 61, oversees its vast entertainment and media business. It’s difficult to find a link in the film, television and music industry chains in which CJ isn’t involved; the company has its fingers (or a whole hand) in production, financing, licensing, distribution — and even exhibition. But beyond the specific projects CJ is directly responsible for, Lee’s efforts also created the infrastructure for Korea’s entertainment industries as a whole while providing a foundation for its homegrown artists to flourish and make waves around the world. In fact, it’s possible to draw a direct line between CJ’s investment in the local film industry and the rise of filmmakers like Bong, meaning that without Lee’s support, Parasite might not even exist.

“Vice chair Lee herself is a huge fan of film, TV and music,” says Bong, for whom CJ has financed and distributed four films — Memories of Murder, Mother, Snowpiercer and now Parasite. “She’s a true cinephile who’s watched so many films and managed to bring over that fanatic passion to the world of business.”

Early on, Lee channeled that passion into an almost evangelical intensity when it came to promoting Korean filmmaking.

“I used to carry DVDs and go to Warners, Universal, Fox, anybody I had a chance with, and pitch Korean film, Korean film, Korean film. No one thought Korean films were good enough to do anything with,” Lee says of the years before a crucial turning point: Park Chan-wook’s Oldboy taking the Grand Prix at Cannes in 2004. “From then on, I didn’t have to go into this long justification anymore.”

So when Parasite hit the Palais 15 years later, the pipeline Lee helped lay down meant that the international film world was no stranger to Korea. Bong was at Cannes in 2006 when he first struck up a relationship with distributor Tom Quinn, then with Magnolia Pictures. Last year, Quinn’s Neon picked up Parasite — CJ’s 10th Cannes selection — for the U.S.

CJ was founded in 1953 by Lee’s grandfather Lee Byung-chul as a sugar and flour manufacturing division of his expanding trading company, Samsung. Over the next 40 years, CJ grew its food and beverage business and expanded into biotechnology and pharmaceuticals but had nothing to do with media.

Meanwhile, Lee was gravitating toward the humanities, studying language and linguistics at top universities in Korea, Taiwan and Japan. Fluent in Korean, English, Mandarin and Japanese, she then attended Harvard for her master’s in Asian studies, where she discovered a knack for teaching and an interest in introducing Korean culture to her Korean American students, who had assimilated to the ways of the West.

Lee brought the DreamWorks proposal to her uncle, Samsung Group chair Lee Kun-hee, who was intrigued, given the recent activity of other Asian electronics giants in Hollywood: Sony buying Columbia Pictures and Matsushita divesting from MCA/Universal. But a deal never materialized, with Samsung preferring instead to focus on hardware.

“I realized that whoever became our equity partners, we needed to communicate in the same language,” Spielberg told Time magazine shortly after the deal fell through.


Read more…

Corporate Culture

Culture Compliance And Corporate Governance In The New Decade

This year marks the beginning of a new decade, challenging us to look back at the progress and innovation the business community has made with regard to compliance and corporate governance, but also to look ahead to the 2020s and what will be required of companies to thrive in an increasingly diverse and global consumer market.

In this new decade, “corporate culture” has a much broader definition and now includes, among other things, employer attentiveness to employee concerns, diversity and inclusion, and, more generally, corporate social responsibility. How companies respond to this broader culture mandate will have a significant impact on how well companies succeed in the new decade. Those companies that recognize and adapt early to the changing cultural dynamic in which we all operate will fare far better than entities that remain stagnant or turn a blind eye to the inevitable changes occurring in communities throughout the world.

“Corporate culture refers to the beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company’s employees and management interact and handle outside business transactions. Corporate culture is also influenced by national cultures and traditions, economic trends, international trade, company size, and products. Corporate cultures, whether shaped intentionally or grown organically, reach to the core of a company’s ideology and practice, and affect every aspect of a business.”

After the global financial collapse over a decade ago, both the public and private sector introduced external and internal reforms to ensure it would not happen again. Whether these reforms proved successful remains an open question. Nevertheless, there were some common messages with regard to culture that many companies integrated into their ethics and compliance programs in light of the 2008 collapse:

The items highlighted above are undoubtedly important to emphasize at any company seeking to instill a strong corporate culture of compliance and good governance. However, they alone are not enough. As evinced by the recent 1MDB, emissions, and foreign bribery scandals, corporate entities with highly-developed and formalized ethics and compliance programs often still find themselves inculpated in nefarious acts of corruption and fraud. Evidently, the well-meaning reforms instituted at many companies in the aftermath of the financial collapse are simply insufficient to quell rogue employees from acting badly, or to overcome a corporate culture that has not fully adopted and prioritized compliance and governance measures of integrity.

Increasingly, companies are realizing not only must they clearly outline their principles of ethics and compliance, like the ones described above, they must also actively create and maintain a culture that promotes compliance. One-size-fits-all annual compliance training programs are wholly inadequate to create the work environment companies seek, employees desire, and regulators and the government demand. They are also dangerous and likely to subject a company to civil and criminal liability. Indeed, “culture” is referenced by the U.S. Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which include expectations for companies to promote an “organizational culture that encourages ethical conduct” and “a commitment to compliance with the law.”[5] Similarly, The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions refers to the importance of a strong culture of organizational ethics.

Creating an effective compliance program requires companies to go beyond a list of written rules. It requires instilling a top-to-bottom environment of achieving business goals with a commitment to compliance. It involves using data analytics, companywide open reporting, and live and online training, including “gamification” (using gaming tools), to help employees believe to their core that their conduct is right for the company, right for them, and something to be proud of. Indeed, today’s employees — that increasingly include Millennials (members of Generation Y) — value corporate culture more than ever. They are scrutinizing the culture of both the companies they work for and buy from.

While salary is important to today’s employees, the culture and environment in which they work is equally important, if not more so. A healthy work-life balance is essential. Employees want to work in an environment that prioritizes the health (both physical and mental) and happiness of its workers—even if it means a lower salary. Flexible hours, flexible vacation time, personal time, and an appreciation for personal needs (occasionally over professional needs) are expected.

As importantly, today’s employees want to know that their voice counts and they are being listened to. They want to work for an employer that encourages their employees to speak up in a safe environment where they will not feel victimized. Over the past few years, there has been a lot of attention paid to whistleblowing hotlines. Significant operational resources have been devoted to training in conduct and culture, expressly to encourage speaking up and calling out misconduct, particularly allegations of non-financial misconduct that involves issues of race, sex, and sexuality. Nevertheless, most companies, despite giving the right message and having correct written policies and a framework in place, have difficulties engendering the right culture to ensure the fair treatment and confidentiality of both the whistleblower and those subsequently investigated. Today’s employees recognize that the way in which a company deals with employee complaints, whistleblowing, and negative comments and critiques in general is a litmus test of the health of the firm’s culture more generally.

One of the many reasons diversity and inclusion is important to today’s employees is because they themselves are more diverse and inclusive than the generation before them. Millennials in the United States are the most racially diverse generation in American history, a trend driven by the large wave of Hispanic and Asian immigrants who have been coming to the U.S. for the past half century, and whose U.S.-born children are now aging into adulthood. In this realm, Millennials are a transitional generation. Some 43% of Millennial adults are non-white, the highest share of any generation. About half of newborns in America today are non-white, and the Census Bureau projects that the full U.S. population will be majority non-white sometime around 2043. More than any other generation, Millennials consider themselves politically independent, religiously unaffiliated, and interested in a wide variety of different nations, cultures, ideas, and beliefs.

Companies that acknowledge this reality, hire and work with a more diverse range of people, and develop authentic diversity and inclusion programs, will be better positioned to create the cultural environment today’s employees seek. Moreover, companies must realize that diversity and inclusion mean different things to employees in different countries, requiring emphasis on race, color, religion, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, physical ability, social mobility, and more. Companies must be intentional about bringing diversity into meetings and work opportunities. The goal of inclusivity is to make sure that everyone feels included in everything they do and that each individual feels she, he, or they belongs.


Read more…

Culture Words

How Cultures Change Over Time

One universal about the nature of cultures is that they all change over time, although not to the same degree or at the same speed. The fact that cultures change is very much inherent in what exactly a culture is, and it is for that reason that we all know what it means for a culture to adapt.

We have all seen it, after all — it’s something that we all know from our own lives and our own observations. But the question of how they change is a little trickier to appreciate, and something that we might never get to the bottom of. Nonetheless, in this article we’ll look at some of the major ways in which cultures tend to change over time, no matter where they are or who lives within them.

One of the major and most important ways that cultures change is by the invention of new products and ideas which change how we do things. From the wheel to the Internet, inventions are often the major driving forces behind the changes that a culture goes through. In a broader sense, we might call this technological change — clearly something that is particularly relevant at the moment, and which is exponentially growing all the time.

Much of how a culture is operating is dependent on the manner in which it presents itself to itself. In essence, this comes down to aesthetics, and it is something that a lot of people understand to be important intuitively. Aesthetics appear in many places, and you can see how they are changing by looking at those places: for instance, in the top five dance crazes that a culture has developed, or the way in which its artists tend to portray something. The way that we show ourselves the world is an important part of how the culture changes and adapts over time.

Laws are important to any culture. You can tell a lot about a culture by the laws that it follows — and those it considers unimportant. In a sense, it would be accurate to say that a society produces all the criminals it deserves — that is, they are a result of the place they were born, and the kinds of laws that they have in the first place. When laws change, it is one of the major ways in which the culture as a whole changes, and this is something that is going to be the case at all times in all cultures.

By infrastructure, we really mean the way in which the basic structures of the culture in question fit together. This includes things like courts, hospitals and police, and it is clearly an important part of the process of an evolving culture. If you want to see how a culture changes over time, take a look at how its infrastructure changes. That will give you a clear indication which you can’t really overlook, and it will show you what it is that the culture in question finds to be important.


Read more…

Self Care Technology

Creating A Culture Of Self-Care In The Tech Industry

GV Freeman wanted to cultivate joy and reduce suffering in the tech industry. Having grown up feeling out-of-the-loop in Central Nebraska, the St. Louis-based entrepreneur burned extra hours to find opportunities in the tech industry. Self-care wasn’t a priority. It wasn’t even on his radar. In true startup spirit, he singlemindedly drove himself to build a successful career. The toll of stress on himself and the pupils he mentored inspired him to push for change.

So, in July 2016, he started the nonprofit organization Software Field Manual.

Based on a book he wrote by the same name, Software Field Manual teaches new entrepreneurs how to launch technology businesses without wasting time or money. Online resources and in-person workshops help participants create business plans and go-to-market strategies.

But it’s not all about the business side of business. Software Field Manual promotes a culture of mindfulness and mental wellbeing among entrepreneurs.

Freeman believes a healthy company must have healthy leaders. Therefore, mindfulness—a self-care strategy shown to yield massive health benefits—lies at the core of the organization.

“If we as a tech community can start teaching self-care to founders when their companies are limited to one person or two people, we will build self-care and mindfulness into the culture of those companies before they become 100 or 1,000 people,” Freeman said.

If you teach these skills to entrepreneurs from Day One, Freeman reasons, entrepreneurs will infuse them into the marrow of their companies. Both a stronger company and a stronger community will emerge.

“If the former CEO of Uber would have found mindfulness, he might not have been such a douchebag,” Freeman joked. “And he might still have his company today.”

Software Field Manual’s focus on self-care aims in part to mitigate the mental health crisis among entrepreneurs and startup founders, who are particularly at-risk. Entrepreneurs are 50% more likely to experience a mental health condition like depression, substance abuse, or bipolar disorder. The stress of owning and operating a nascent technology business is exacerbated by a toxic culture of working too many hours a week.

“There is a fear and a scarcity mindset attached to money in the United States,” Freeman said. “Especially in the tech startup community, there is almost a guilt attached to working less than 50, 60-plus hours a week.”

Despite the huge amount of hours people put into their jobs, it doesn’t translate into personal wealth.

“The distribution of wealth is so lopsided. You have people taking $250 million salaries home, plus bonuses, and then you have a whole bunch of people on the low end of that who are barely making a livable wage,” Freeman said.

According to research by the Seven Pillars Institute, societies with significant economic inequality suffer from lower long-term GDP growth rates, higher crime rates, poorer public health, increased political inequality, and lower average education levels. Not the greatest news.

Studying under the late spiritual leader Ram Dass helped Freeman see the connection between startups, self-care, income inequality, and the potential for entrepreneurship to help.

“The further down the mindfulness path you go, your definition of fulfillment and happiness changes. [For instance,] the closer I get to knowing myself, the happier I get. And I begin to realize that happiness comes from the inside, not the outside. So I need a lot less money to be happy,” he said.

Software Field Manual also strives to strengthen the tech and entrepreneurial communities by making them more equitable.


Read more…

Human Evolution

Human Cultural Evolution Found to be Just as Slow as Biological Evolution

A team of researchers from several institutions in the U.K. and one in the U.S. has found that human culture evolves just as slowly as biological evolution. In their paper published in the journal Nature Human Behavior, the group describes how they developed metrics for cultural evolution and compared them with metrics for biological evolution.

Modern society is filled with references to the speed at which change happens—mainstream music moves from rock, to pop, to rap, seemingly overnight; dress hemlines go up or down with the seasons. But some of that might be an illusion, the researchers with this new effort contend, because of the way we view change. They suggest that human cultural change is just as slow-moving as biological change—and it is because most cultural artifacts are subjects to both stabilizing and directional forces.

To compare the rate at which human culture changes to rates of biological evolution, the researchers assigned variables to characteristics of several cultural artifacts—whether or not guitars were the major instrument in the average song, for example, or how car features such as size and power change over time, or the way references are tagged in scientific papers. Similar metrics for measuring the speed of evolutionary change have already been identified and measured by multiple scientific studies. The researchers chose to use some of the most well-known, such as the study of finches on the Galapagos Islands and moths changing color during the early industrial period in England in response to soot-covered tree bark.

The comparative analysis involved applying the Haldanes metric—it showed that human culture changed at very nearly the same pace as biological evolution. The researchers even suggest that cultural artifacts in a given society could be viewed as similar to organisms living in a given environment. Artifacts such as scientific papers, they note, when carried into society at large, either survive and become a part of the culture, or they die—just like natural selection. They acknowledge that there are instances in both cultural and biological evolution that change very quickly, such as smartphones or finch beaks, but overall, the rates come out nearly evenly.

Read more…

HBO Logo

HBO And Bill Simmons Lock In Music World Doc Series For 2021

Bill Simmons and his digital media company, The Ringer, have a deal in place to create a six-part 2021 documentary film series that spotlights pivotal creations and creators within the music sector.

Simmons, the co-creator of the Peabody Award-winning 30 for 30 film series for ESPN, will import a similar framing philosophy to the music world with the new venture. The as-yet-untitled doc series will devote its installments to signature music acts, labels, albums, eras, or trends and each edition will be helmed b. different director.

“It’s been a dream of mine to put this project together,”  Simmons said. “It wasn’t until I started working with Jody and Marc that the potential of it started to seem real. We see an opportunity to elevate the storytelling form with music docs much like 30 for 30 changed the landscape for sports documentaries at the end of last decade. We don’t want to make music docs that just cover the beginning, middle and end of someone’s career. We think there’s a different way to do these. And we want to work with the best directors possible, talented filmmakers who have the same passion for this project that we do. I couldn’t be more excited for the challenge. Being able to explore this with HBO is like the cherry on top.”

Executive produced by Simmons, Polygram Entertainment, and Universal Music Publishing Group executives Jody Gerson and Marc Cimino, the series is expected to air on HBO during a six-week window in 2021.

“We’ve had a longtime collaboration with Bill, and we are thrilled that he came to HBO with this idea,” says Casey Bloys, President HBO Programming. “We look forward to working with him and the team at The Ringer to illuminate many of the fascinating artists and moments that have shaped the music industry.”

Simmons’ The Ringer launched in 2018 with an emphasis on sports, pop culture, and tech commentary. The Ringer Films division of the company produces long- and short-form, non-scripted programming with credits including HBO’s critically acclaimed Andre the Giant and the upcoming Women of Troy, about the groundbreaking USC women’s basketball team of the 1980s.

Jody Gerson, Chairman and CEO of UMPG, says: “This series is about storytelling for musicians in a way that has never really been done before. There are countless great artists and songwriters who have culturally-defining stories and, for the first time, we can share those intimately with fans around the world. Marc and I have been big fans of Bill’s talent for storytelling for a long time, and we are thrilled to partner with him, The Ringer, HBO and Polygram Entertainment on this special project that will share the culturally defining stories of artists and songwriters.”


Read more…

Pop Culture Sign

Pop Culture May Evolve at the Same Rate as Birds and Bugs

We like to think modern culture moves at a dizzying pace, fueled by a relentless parade of new works of music, literature, and technological design. Change in nature, by contrast, seems to follow a slower trajectory as genetic mutations over generations give animals bigger teeth, say, or a better camouflage. But maybe the opposite is true, and human culture doesn’t move so fast and we consumers are less eager to embrace change than we realize.

That’s the conclusion of a new study by a group of British researchers who analyzed rates of change for popular songs, English literature, scientific papers, and car design. Using metrics designed by evolutionary biologists, they compared the rates of cultural change to the rates of biological change for finches from the Galapagos Islands, two kinds of moths, and a common British snail. The result was kind of surprising: Biology and culture move at about the same speed.

“This tells you something profound about human psychology,” says Armand Leroi, an evolutionary biologist at Imperial College London. “We are surprisingly conservative about our choices, and what we like changes very slowly.”

The idea that culture evolves like animals and plants do has been around for a few decades. Most of the prior research, however, has looked at archaeological artifacts, such as the evolution of stone tools, arrowheads, or language. Leroi and his team wanted to look at the pace of change in modern cultural artifacts instead, to see if they could see differences between today and earlier civilizations.

Read more…