BBC World Service – The Arts Hour on Tour in San Francisco

Join the BBC for a very special, San Francisco based recording of its world-renowned radio program, The Arts Hour on Tour.

The BBC’s Nikki Bedi will be in the city to ask why San Francisco provides such a fertile ground for culture and technical innovation.

Nikki will be joined on stage by NPR’s tech correspondent Aarti Shahani, who reports on the hottest developments in the tech world, Eugene Chung the founder of virtual reality film company Penrose Studios and Douglas Eck from Google AI, who is finding out whether machines can make music and art.

There will be live music from Oakland Blues man and musical pioneer Fantastic Negrito, electronic duo Reed & Caroline, who explore the history of technology in their music, and stand-up from star of the San Francisco comedy circuit Francesca Fiorentini.

Nikki will be hearing about how the technology developed in the Bay Area influences culture globally and how the industry has changed San Francisco for artists.

Speakers and Artists

Nikki Bedi

Nikki is a television and radio broadcaster with a passion for making arts and culture accessible. She currently curates, writes and presents The Arts Hour on the BBC World Service, their flagship arts and culture program, which once a month becomes The Arts Hour On Tour, a show that is traveling across the globe, one country at a time, to bring the hottest names, talents and issues to the airwaves and to 75 million listeners. Nikki has most recently been seen on TV presenting the topical, weekly arts and entertainment programme Front Row, on BBC 2 on Saturday nights. She’s a regular interviewer and presenter on BBC Radio 4’s Loose Ends and has presented Front Row and Woman’s Hour on the same station.

Describing herself as ‘glocal’, Nikki’s work is both global and local and her Sunday morning show on BBC Radio London keeps her at the heart of the capital’s radio station. Born to an Indian father and English mother, Nikki began her career in Mumbai as both a stage and film actress and worked with some of India’s finest directors. Her foray into the world of presenting came when the UK’s Channel 4 gave her a talk show, Bombay Chat and its success prompted Star TV in Asia to give her a primetime chat show called Nikki Tonight, which became Asia’s most widely viewed and most controversial talk show. After spending time living and working in Los Angeles, Nikki returned to the UK to become the face of Universal’s film channel The Studio and also presented the live movie show Worldwide Screen on NOW TV.

Aarti Shahani

Aarti Shahani is a Tech Reporter on NPR's Business Desk. Based in Silicon Valley, it's her job to cover the biggest companies on earth. In her reporting, she works to pinpoint how economies and human relationships are being radically redefined by the tech sector. Shahani has an unconventional path. Journalism is her second career. Before it, she was a community organizer in her native New York City, helping prisoners and families being deported from the U.S. She loves learning from brilliant, intense people — be they the engineers who are building self-driving cars, or the jailhouse lawyers filing laser-sharp habeas petitions. Shahani received a Master in Public Policy degree from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, with generous support from the University and the Paul & Daisy Soros fellowship. She has a bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago. Her reporting has been honored with awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, a regional Edward R. Murrow Award, and an Investigative Reporters & Editors Award. She finds Northern California to be a beautiful and jarring place — and she hopes one day to understand its many contradictions.

Douglas Eck

Douglas is a a research scientist working at the intersection of music and machine learning. Before coming to Google in 2010 he was an associate professor of computer science at Université de Montréal where he worked closely with the LISA machine learning lab, the BRAMS center for Brain Music and Sound and the CIRMMT group at McGill. He also worked with Ubisoft on video game player modeling.

Eugene Chung

Eugene Chung is a film director and the founder of Penrose Studios, a startup focused on augmented and virtual reality. Previously, Eugene was Head of Film and Media at Oculus VR, which was later acquired by Facebook for $2 billion. While at Oculus, Eugene co-created Oculus Story Studio. Prior to Oculus, he was with New Enterprise Associates and Pixar Animation Studios. He holds degrees from UC Berkeley and Harvard. Penrose Studios is the world’s foremost independent virtual and augmented reality film production studio. It creates fully-immersive computer-generated (CG) worlds that are experienced through captivating stories and full freedom of movement. The San Francisco-based start-up is known for its unprecedented innovation in virtual reality storytelling that liberates the imagination and rekindles a sense of wonder.

Fantastic Negrito

Fantastic Negrito is the incarnation of a musician who is reborn after going through a lot of awful shit. In fact, the name Fantastic Negrito represents his third rebirth, literally coming back from death this time. The narrative on this man is as important as the sound, because the narrative is the sound. Songs born from a long hard life channeled through black roots music. Slide guitar, drums, piano. Urgent, desperate, edgy. Fantastic Negrito is the story of a man who struggled to “make it”, who “got it”, and who lost it all. For anyone who ever felt like it was over yet hoped it wasn’t, this is your music; blues harnessed, forged in realness. For anyone who ever considered getting their old high-school band back together, this is your inspiration. These are singular songs by a true musician who writes and produces. They are his fuel as he embarks on the third comeback of his life.

Reed & Caroline

Reed Hays first used the Buchla Electric Music Box after hiding in an empty harp case in the basement of Oberlin College and sneaking into the electronic music lab after hours. Caroline Schutz, an art major, became an accomplished singer and musician in her post-Oberlin days with her bands Folksongs for the Afterlife and The Inner Banks. By sheer chance, Reed and Caroline’s first synthesizer and vocal collaboration became the score for a number of L’Oreal hair color commercials. After a mutual friend played him a Reed and Caroline recording that featured only Buchla and singing, Vince Clarke commissioned the duo to prepare an entire album for his VeryRecords label.

Francesca Fiorentini

Francesca Fiorentini is a journalist, comedian and activist. She is host and producer of the show Newsbroke on AJ+, the digital outlet of Al Jazeera Media Network. She is also a field correspondent with Explorer on the National Geographic Channel. As a stand up comic Francesca has performed at SF Sketchfest, the Comedy Comedy Festival in Los Angeles, and regularly appears in clubs and seedy bars in the Bay Area. She has worked in alternative media since 2004 as an editor with War Resisters League and with Left Turn Magazine.


BBC Arts

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters are at Broadcasting House in Westminster, London and it is the world's oldest national broadcasting organization and the largest broadcaster in the world by number of employees.