The countdown to Arts in Parliament begins

On 17 January 2012, Parliament officially launched the Arts in Parliament programme in an evening reception hosted by the Lord Speaker.

Attendees watched performances from two groups who will be taking part during the programme and met the other artists and organisations who are contributing to what promises to be an exciting and innovative spectacule.

Youth Music Voices were the first to perform, serenading the audience with a short but diverse programme of their vocal repertoire including a special arrangement of Stevie Wonder's 'As'. Normally a 120-strong choir, the 25 singers present gave a strong indication of the strength and range of their abilities which will be on full show in the summer.

Akademi, a South Asian dance company, were the second performance of the evening. Specialising in performing in unconventional spaces, two of their dancers used the space in the Cholmondeley Room to great effect to showcase the diversity of South Asian dance.

For the Arts in Parliament programme, in Westminster Hall Akademi will perform a newly devised piece based on unity and inclusivity, and will include dance, storytellers, music and projection in an interactive and innovative spectacle.

Speakers during the night included the Lord Speaker, Baroness Lola Young of Hornsey and Frank Doran MP, all of whom expressed their enthusiasm for the programme and highlighted its work with young people and aim of making Parliament more available to everyone in the UK.

Frank Doran MP, Chair of the House of Commons Works of Art Committee and advisor to the Arts and Parliament programme, also said that “it’s wonderful that Parliament has devised such an innovative cultural programme which showcases some great British talent.”

You can see photographs from the launch event on Parliament's Flickr account.