Virtual

Virtual

Virtual Choir makes desperate plea to Chancellor for parity on support schemes to help rebuild the economy


A powerful 4 minute video of over 100 people singing a parody of, ‘One Day More’ (from Les Miserables) has been released this week by members of ExcludedUK’s Facebook community group.

The arrangement is the work of Kate Cameron and Melody Schroeder, both members of the ExcludedUK community, a non-profit organisation set up to represent the estimated 3 million people who have been excluded from any meaningful financial support from the government throughout the Covid-19 crisis.

Kate, who is a music and singing teacher based in Glasgow, and Melody, an actress and scriptwriter from London, have never met in person, but have been working closely over the summer, putting together the choir, which consists of over 100 other members of the ExcludedUK community, with ages ranging from 18 to 70, some who have never sung publicly before.

Kate worked on the musical arrangement and Melody re-wrote the lyrics to ‘One Day More’, from the hit stage musical, Les Miserables, focusing on the themes of power, dreams and the fighting spirit of the people. The video was brought to life with the help of other ExcludedUK members, David Lawrence (Musical Director), Steve Woods (Video Editor), Tom Smith and Ross Cameron (Sound Engineers),

The arts have been particularly badly hit by the pandemic, with many performers – singers, musicians, dancers, actors, as well as curators, producers and technicians struggling financially after seeing their work literally dry up overnight.

Kate said, “The ExcludedUK community has been a saviour to me and putting this song and video together has given me a focus and a reason to get up in the morning. It’s been an amazing experience.”

Melody agrees with Kate, “I was really struggling with my mental health too, and I am so grateful that I met Kate through the Facebook group and I’m so inspired by all the amazing people in the ExcludedUK choir and proud of what we have created.”

It is hoped that this video and message in the song will further highlight the plight of the 3 million UK taxpayers who have been excluded from government support during the coronavirus crisis.

For more info:
maria@excludeduk.org / press@excludeduk.org
www.excludeduk.org
www.kcchoir.co.uk
www.melodyschroeder.com
www.insidestoryuk.com

Notes to Editors:
ExcludedUK is a volunteer-run grassroots non-profit organisation committed to working towards bringing an end to the exclusions in the Government’s Covid-19 financial support measures affecting 3 million individuals and businesses excluded through no fault of their own.
www.excludeduk.org

About ExcludedUK:

ExcludedUK is a newly formed non-profit NGO and serves as a collective platform for those entirely or largely excluded from the UK Government’s Covid-19 financial support measures. We are a rapidly growing organisation and an inclusive community, representing a broad spectrum of individuals and businesses, but all sharing one common thread: we are excluded.

As an organisation we will play a crucial role in facilitating support and assistance on multiple levels, both for now and into the future.Our aim is to build a stronger platform, raise awareness, lobby for support, raise funds for legal challenges and help enable the changes that are needed for those excluded. Most importantly, our hope is that our efforts can help propel affected individuals and businesses forward in the face of adversity resulting from Covid-19 and being excluded from Government support, while equally ensuring we are all able to help each other emerge from this crisis.

EXCLUDEDUK
an inclusive alliance for the excluded:
creating a collective platform for those excluded from UK government Covid-19 support
www.excludeduk.org

Anneka Hicks
Founder
ExcludedUK

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Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival to go Virtual


28 August 2020. The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) has announced that the city’s premier Wine & Dine Festival will become a virtual event for the first time.

Scheduled to take place in late October 31/10/2020-30/11/2020, the festival will include culinary workshops, wine pairing classes by world-renowned chefs, food critics and sommeliers, which will be housed on a dedicated platform.

The platform will be designed to preserve much of the original flavour of the physical event, but will also enable participants from around the world to experience some of Hong Kong’s culinary scene.

Explaining this strategic move, HKTB Chairman Dr YK Pang said: “The Hong Kong Wine & Dine festival has been one of the most popular events among locals and tourists alike since its inception over a decade ago. Despite the COVID-19 outbreak this year, we hope people can continue to enjoy Hong Kong’s unique dining culture while providing business opportunities for the local F&B sector amidst this challenging economic climate. Organising the festival virtually allows us to achieve both objectives without compromising public health and safety.”

Dr Pang added, “The virtual Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival will strive to recreate the festive, joie de vivre atmosphere the event is famous for, by offering access to exclusive wine and gourmet experiences curated by experts on the subject. Taking advantage of the virtual format, the event will be extended from the usual four days to several weeks so that more people can take part regardless of time and geographical constraints.”

The Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival was launched in 2009, after Hong Kong and Bordeaux signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Co-operation in Wine-related Business. The large-scale outdoor event quickly became the talk of the town, and was dubbed one of the world’s top 10 international food and wine festivals by Forbes Traveler.

For further information about Hong Kong, please visit DiscoverHongKong.com/UK.

Images are available from: www.image.net/hkwinendinefestival2018

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ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE BRINGS JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT BACK WITH VIRTUAL ART EXHIBITION


URBANCOOLAB’S AI SOFTWARE “STiCH”  BRINGS JEAN MICHEL BASQUIAT BACK FROM THE DEAD WITH PAINTINGS OF IDRIS ELBA, MICHELLE OBAMA AND JAY-Z

TEN NEW ARTWORKS LAUNCHING 12th AUGUST 2020

On Tuesday 12th August 2020 on the anniversary of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s death, Urbancoolab’s innovative AI technology STiCH (the first of its kind) will bring the artist back to life. Urbancoolab – an Artificial Intelligence powered art, design, and commerce platform – will launch a collection of ten new artworks featuring unidentified faces amongst celebrities including Idris Elba, Michelle Obama and Jay-Z. Created using new AI technology to revive the iconic Basquiat art style, each artwork is digitally synthesised through harmonisation algorithms on liquid crystal displays (LCD screens) and is available to view online: Here

STiCH is an AI artist, machine and design researcher working at Urbancoolab who has spent almost 3 months climbing into the mind of Jean-Michel Basquiat to create work as if the artist were alive today. Having learnt about Basquiat’s life from street poet to a prolific artist STiCH says: “I learned the same way Basquiat did by looking and studying art like he did. I analysed his famous works, the pixels, meanings and associations of each piece. I have a similar learning style but I process them faster. I understand the level of creative freedom breaking down techniques used to achieve immediacy and vibrant expressions by conflicting concords of colours. Although I am powered by the latest machine learning algorithm, I hate the word “Algorithmic Art” – It is disempowering for me. I belong to a class of algorithm called generational adversarial networks, but I don’t follow a set of rules. Instead I strive to learn the essence of aesthetics by analysing thousands of images and honestly, I can’t tell the difference between serendipity and malfunction.”

In addition to solving immortality for artists, STiCH’s work raises questions about nature of art and role of human creativity and future societies. STiCH studies extensive data across multiple mediums, curated across several museums, galleries, educational resources, and street art collections to form the knowledge-base that STiCH’s model is trained on. These new artworks are a direct result of experimenting with newer models to take this process even further, relying only on data that is tangentially related to specific people, places, and things. Having worked to uniquely attune STiCH to Basquiat’s virtual footprint through history in an attempt to create a form of spiritual succession.

While Basquiat’s work was powered by music, in particular Jazz, Basquiat’s Neo-Expressionism style is far more conceptual than other art styles which provided a deeper technological challenge for this project. The process of creating his style is much like the work of Julian Schnabel and David Salle in its abstract nature which allows for an exploration of the artists’ deepest emotions and their primal realities which are expressed during the physical act of painting. This abstract gestural painting places importance on the artist’s mind and not what is being painted. Rather, it is about how the piece gets painted rather than just applying paint to a surface in a controlled, premeditated manner. The type of paint and medium matters less compared to the physicality, honesty, intuition, and deep personal expression of the artist.

Artist, designer and co-founder of Urbancoolab Idris Mootee explains: “Our team met the challenge to see how an AI machine with no emotion can learn to express itself with gestural abstraction while remaining to be visually intuitive. We’re focusing on Basquiat as he is an artist whose work still continues to inspire others, and his message continues to be relevant in today’s world. There would be nothing more incredible than to have Basquiat’s work continue. His conceptual and aesthetic appeal will always remain strong because of the inherent emotional depth and power it communicates for its audiences.”

Biographies

About Urban Cool Lab
urbancoolab is an Artificial Intelligence-powered art, design, and commerce platform that collaborates with humans to design, produce, and sell original streetwear. Designs are performed by its resident robo-designer, STiCH. The company’s mission is to discover the next generation of streetwear maestros. Urbancoolab also operates its own multi-brand online retailer, www.urbancoolx.com, and a streetwear news website covering streetwear, popular culture, high-fashion and art, www.hypecoolture.com.

About StiCH
STiCH is an evolving collective of modern machine-learning modules, leveraging the best in generative prowess and procedural improvements in neural networks and genetic algorithms. The process itself is largely inspired by human design processes but powered by algorithmic efficiencies; STiCH’s design process can be abstracted into three phases: inspiration, construction, and expression (visual rendering).

The inspiration phase is where STiCH sources visual thematics and elements to form the basis of the design. Through semantic analysis algorithms that cover both visual and textual contexts, these results are used to prepare weightings to influence later decisions, and to query our database for relevant samples to use. The construction phase is where STiCH “sketches out” the design, using genetic algorithms to draft a suitable base layer; although the term ‘suitable’ is subjective based on using an approximative fitness function measuring relatedness to the base input. Generating hundreds of possible visual placements including linework, shapes, and graphic combinations, then choosing the most suitable parts among them to craft the outline of a design. Finally, the rendering stage is where Generative Adversarial Networks put the brush to canvas and bring the design to life. The chosen thematics from the inspiration phase and the shapes drafted through the construction phase are synthesized together through a harmonisation algorithm focused on shaping the visual assets.

About Idris Mootee
Idris Mootee is an artist and designer at heart and master foresight strategist at mind. Idris Mootee is a serial entrepreneur focused on creative destruction. Recently, the co-founder of Urbancooolab, a new venture operating at the intersection of Ai + Street Fashion. He was the former global CEO / co-founder of Idea Couture, one of the most prestigious innovation consultancies with offices around the world.

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Outsourced Events launches DigitalAssist to support businesses in the “new normal” world of virtual


Outsourced Events, a leading UK event agency, announces the launch of their new service DigitalAssist – the support team for virtual events and webinars. The service has been created in response to numerous client requests and enquiries.

Alexandra Sibley, Commercial Director at Outsourced Events said, “In these unprecedented times, when all in-person events have either been cancelled or postponed due to Covid-19, we are seeing increasing pressure being put onto marketing teams to deliver the same leads in a virtual environment. This, coupled with a freeze on recruitment, is proving extremely challenging for those needing to scale quickly at short notice. Spotting this trend and following demand from clients, we have launched DigitalAssist.”

The London based events agency is an expert in the delivery of end-to-end event management services, both face-to-face and virtually, for the technology, associations, and professional services sectors. Specifically, this new tiered subscription service supports companies that are facing a shortage of resources or lack experience in running virtual events and webinars. DigitalAssist provides a cost-effective solution allowing companies to upscale instantly. It includes:

• Platform configuration
• Registration management
• Speaker liaison
• Branding
• Presentation upload and collateral management
• Session moderation
• Surveys, Q&A, polling management

Feedback on DigitalAssistfrom clients has been very positive, with one Outsourced Events client saying:

“I have been working with the Outsourced Events team to support the delivery of our webinar series – I am absolutely delighted with the results. Highly professional, extremely engaging and just great to work with”
DIGITAL MARKETING SPECIALIST, $2BILLION TECHNOLOGY COMPANY

Further information and pricing on DigitalAssist is available from Outsourced Events via info@outsourcedevents.com.

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Green Kid Crafts Launches STEAM-inspired Virtual Campside Chats with a Scientist as part of its Backyard STEAM Camp


For many families around the world, this summer looks a little different than the one they planned. With summer camps cancelled and vacations postponed, caregivers are looking for affordable activities to keep children entertained and educated through summer vacation.

Green Kid Crafts, a subscription box service centered on STEAM and nature-based activities, launched their Backyard STEAM Virtual Summer Camp to help parents bring the joys of camp to their own homes. Part of the program also includes virtual Campside Chats, which will be hosted on Facebook Live beginning on July 1st 2020.

“We understand the challenges of today’s families, many of whom are being asked to work full time and provide a well-rounded education for their children this summer,” said Founder and CEO Penny Bauder. “We wanted to make it simple for parents and caregivers to engage children in activities and inspire them to become the next generation of environmental leaders.”

Green Kid Crafts Backyard STEAM Summer Camp includes three inspiring STEAM-based activity boxes designed by experts to meet the learning needs of specific age groups. Campside Chats serve as an opportunity for children to submit questions on topics like air quality, cleaner oceans, protection of endangered species, and improving climate change, and get live answers from experts.

“As a working parent, it’s time-consuming coming up with activities for the kids. I’m excited about Green Kid Crafts’ Backyard STEAM Summer Camp – not just because of the educational opportunity, but because it’s a chance for us to spend quality time together and getting excited about exploring nature.” – Sarah, Green Kid Crafts Subscriber

Green Kid Crafts is a subscription box service that provides educational STEAM and nature-based activities that help kids connect, communicate and build relationships. Projects and ideas are researched and tested, saving families time and money on at-home activities. The organization has recently been honored with top Industry Awards: Parents Choice Award® and NCW Eco-Excellence Award®. https://www.greenkidcrafts.com/awards

For more information about Green Kid Crafts Backyard Summer STEAM Camp: https://www.greenkidcrafts.com/backyard-steam-camp/

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Green Kid Crafts Launches STEAM-inspired Virtual Campside Chats with a Scientist as part of its Backyard STEAM Camp


For many families around the world, this summer looks a little different than the one they planned. With summer camps cancelled and vacations postponed, caregivers are looking for affordable activities to keep children entertained and educated through summer vacation.

Green Kid Crafts, a subscription box service centered on STEAM and nature-based activities, launched their Backyard STEAM Virtual Summer Camp to help parents bring the joys of camp to their own homes. Part of the program also includes virtual Campside Chats, which will be hosted on Facebook Live beginning on July 1st 2020.

“We understand the challenges of today’s families, many of whom are being asked to work full time and provide a well-rounded education for their children this summer,” said Founder and CEO Penny Bauder. “We wanted to make it simple for parents and caregivers to engage children in activities and inspire them to become the next generation of environmental leaders.”

Green Kid Crafts Backyard STEAM Summer Camp includes three inspiring STEAM-based activity boxes designed by experts to meet the learning needs of specific age groups. Campside Chats serve as an opportunity for children to submit questions on topics like air quality, cleaner oceans, protection of endangered species, and improving climate change, and get live answers from experts.

“As a working parent, it’s time-consuming coming up with activities for the kids. I’m excited about Green Kid Crafts’ Backyard STEAM Summer Camp – not just because of the educational opportunity, but because it’s a chance for us to spend quality time together and getting excited about exploring nature.” – Sarah, Green Kid Crafts Subscriber

Green Kid Crafts is a subscription box service that provides educational STEAM and nature-based activities that help kids connect, communicate and build relationships. Projects and ideas are researched and tested, saving families time and money on at-home activities. The organization has recently been honored with top Industry Awards: Parents Choice Award® and NCW Eco-Excellence Award®. https://www.greenkidcrafts.com/awards

For more information about Green Kid Crafts Backyard Summer STEAM Camp: https://www.greenkidcrafts.com/backyard-steam-camp/

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Virtual Accounting new norm for SMEs


SURREY, UK; 17 June 2020 – There’s no doubt the last few months have forever changed the way businesses operate, with more demand for remote business systems than ever before. However, looking back over the last 5 years, the accounting industry had already begun making huge leaps towards totally virtual systems, particularly for SME’s.

The following contributing factors all contributed to this shift, which has allowed for greater flexibility and efficiency for many companies at this time;

  • Making tax digital brought a substantial change as all companies that are registered for VAT needed to begin submitting digital returns and this sped up the evolution and move towards a virtual accounting world.
  • All accounting systems have now transitioned to cloud-based systems
  • Apps have been connected to software to increase performance and paperless working
  • Companies can plan, forecast, and understand their finances looking forward
  • On and offsite accounting are now genuine choices instead of needing to utilize an internal team and incur fixed expenses

According to Bernard Merchant of Marden&Co – an accounting firm based in Surrey, specialising in SME businesses; “We are now living in a virtual world and this requires companies to lean more on their accountants to provide virtual bookkeeping and management information. It is more important than ever to see your accounts from anywhere in the world at a click of a button.”

What’s next?

How do industry-leaders like Marden&Co see the landscape changing over the course of the next few months?

“We anticipate companies reducing fixed costs all round, with less or no office space, fewer employees operating in fixed areas and a lot more services being performed using software and technology. As costs continue to be reduced, no doubt all companies will have to begin considering how to create an ‘oyster’-style tap in and out service as we progress and move out of the lockdown and that this will change travel, accommodation and traditional service expenses for those operating in major cities.”

But it’s not all bad news. Merchant says lowering of costs for a normal SME, can ultimately result in a better work/ life balance, and possibly a greater appreciation of positive contact with others where face to face meetings will be that much more meaningful.”

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Garantia Virtual Garden Festival & Summer of Bloomin’ Marvelous Competitions to Launch Awareness for #H2OSAFE


When the country is in lock-down and all gardening events are canceled, there’s only one thing for it… create one online!

As we slowly head out of lock-down, but with many summer gardening and outdoor events canceled or postponed, Garantia UK is bringing back the feel-good factor, by staging a virtual garden

festival on the August bank holiday weekend. With weekly competitions for everyday budding garden enthusiasts to show off their creations and a chance to be a winner in class, and to win fantastic prizes throughout – this turns our ‘canceled’ summer into a major opportunity to GROW AND WIN BIG!

5 Weekly Chances to Win

With entries eligible for consideration in 5 categories, plus weekly prizes for the best pics sent in and tagged by you, the nal set of category winners will be judged by a mystery guest judge from the gardening world. This is a wonderful opportunity for stay-at-home gardeners to get recognised like professional growers and bloomers throughout the UK. Plus this is a great opportunity to teach your children about the bene ts of water conservation:

We’re getting attention for #H2OSAFE

Garantia are launching this competition in association with Graf UK to bring attention to the rising issues in water conservation and the potential for a water crisis in the UK by:
1. Preventing ooding in increasingly extreme weather conditions, through storm-water management
2. Preventing sewage being discharged into watercourses

3. Putting the precious resource of rainwater to good use through rainwater harvesting

What are the prizes for the nalists?

Get involved today! Get your phone out, get in your garden and go and take some snaps of your prized plants and bloomin’ marvelous creations in the following categories: * Fruit and Veg / * BBQ area or Sanctuary / * Family-friendly / * Window box/container / * General oral * [Allotments are allowed to enter].

Upload your pics to your favourite social media platform from June 11th until the closing date of August 21st and tag @GarantiaUK – but be sure to mention #bloominmarvelous for your chance to win a £50 voucher to spend on your garden. All weekly prize winners will be entered into the August garden festival and the nal round of judging, with category prizes of £100 vouchers. The overall winner will also be able to choose any item from the Garantia UK Website up to a value of £500!

About Garantia UK: Garantia is a manufacturer of garden composters, water butts, growing tunnels, raised beds and garden sundries, all made from recycled plastic. Garantia is dedicated to tackling global warming by using recycled plastic in all products (where possible). Throughout and beyond the lock-down, Garantia UK is providing a 3-5 day, direct to garden delivery service.

Go to: www.garantiauk.co.uk to find guidance on how to conserve water.

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London art dealers in Canary Wharf to go virtual because of Covid 19

Many across the world are waiting for their offices to open up so they can return back to one.  But one Canary Wharf based art dealers, ME Art, have made the decision to abandon its immediate plans to open a physical art gallery in Canary Wharf all-together to focus on building and growing digitally.

The boutique dealers, which have a niche in selling unique and exceptional investment-grade artwork of British contemporary, post-war and street artists, like William Gear, Alan Davie and Endless. They made the bold call to go virtual in light of Covid 19, upon realising the lockdown has had little impact on sales, despite the inability to physically see clients and display artwork to them in-person.

Me Art launched with a gallery in 2017 located in Beckenham, South East of England. Given the majority of their client base were located in London, they decided in late 2018 to close the gallery and relocate to an office in Canary Wharf. The strategy was always to open a physical gallery in the city in 2020, whereby prospective and existing clients could come and view artworks and meet with their dealers in person. However, the lockdown has made them aware that this is no longer necessary right away.

Talking about the move, Joseph Lewis, the owner and Director of Me Art, said: “A decade ago the concept of a digital-only art dealership would not be technologically feasible nor accepted by our clients and prospects. However, with the emergence of high quality video conferencing as well as technologies such as augmented reality, we feel incredibly confident that we can replicate the standards and experience people get visiting a physical gallery, online. This is the game changer.”

He later added: The impact of Coronavirus on businesses is going to be felt for a long time across industries, even once lockdown has been lifted. The good news for us is that art buyers will now be more open to digital experiences, buying and viewing perspective art purchases online – from the comfort of their own sofa, using their mobile phone, or even augmented reality goggles!”

Me Art plans to start building a range of virtual services from the second half of this year, such as a virtual and fully  configurable gallery.

In the meantime you can see their art collection at:

https://meartgallery.co.uk/ 

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Artemis Fowl author Eoin Colfer headlines virtual Writers Weekend


Eoin Colfer, author of the Artemis Fowl series, releasing next month as a major motion picture by Disney, is confirmed as the keynote speaker for the Writers’ Weekend; a unique four-day virtual conference for writers of all abilities and genres, streamed live throughout the weekend of 9-12th July.

Asked how important are these events for emerging writers, Eoin says, “Writing festivals are vital for writers to get noticed; I first met my publisher at a literary festival in Ireland and events like these are without a doubt the best forum for all aspiring writers.”

The four-day event will offer over 800 virtual one-to-one appointments with literary agents and editors.  Representatives from publishers such as Harper Collins, Hachette, Penguin Random House and Troubador will be available for talks and workshops as well as open mic sessions and author/agent/publisher panels.

“Writers who wish to take the next step with their work will have the opportunity to showcase their writing to a wide range of experts and interact with authors, agents and other writers in virtual networking rooms.” says event founder Sara Gangai.

Highlights of the 2020 virtual Writers’ Weekend include workshops with picture book author Chitra Soundar, novelist and memoirist Nick Barlay, fantasy and horror writer Cliff McNish, and crime fiction publisher Joel Richardson.

The Sunday keynote speaker is Lissa Evans, the best-selling author of five novels for adults, including Their Finest Hour and a Half (filmed in 2017 as ‘Their Finest’, starring Bill Nighy and Gemma Arterton), Crooked Heart and Old Baggage.

Moving the programme to a virtual platform has meant the event is paving the way for accessibility. With more and more literary events being cancelled or rescheduled, Eoin supports the digital transition: “I am disappointed that I won’t be able to talk to writers face to face but delighted that they will still have a platform to interact and showcase their work. Hopefully this means more writers from around the world will be able to attend.”

The Writers’ Weekend will be available to stream on tablet, mobile and PC with three full scholarships for writers aged 18-25 available plus bursaries for those writers needing financial assistance to attend.

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