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    Statues of some three dozen characters in London and Manchester -- including John Barbirolli, above, Peter Pan, Sherlock Holmes and Queen Victoria -- are coming to life thanks to an interactive project that gives them a voice. Passersby can swipe their smartphones on a tag or type in a web address and receive an instant call from the characters. Actors including Patrick Stewart and "Downton Abbey's" Hugh Bonneville perform the monologues. The project launched Tuesday and will run for a year.
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Giant portrait set for National Mall

WASHINGTON » The Smithsonian has commissioned a portrait made out of sand and soil that will stretch over 6 acres at the National Mall.

Cuban American urban artist Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada will do the work. The piece is a composite portrait of several people photographed in Washington and is called "Out of Many, One," the English translation of the Latin "E pluribus unum," which is on the seal of the United States.

The piece will go between the World War II and Lincoln memorials. Work is expected to start in September, incorporating 2,000 tons of sand and 800 tons of soil. It will be on view in October.

Miami museum holds salsa contest

MIAMI » Miami’s history museum is partnering with area dance schools to promote its latest exhibition, "American Sabor: Latinos in U.S. Popular Music."

HistoryMiami plans a salsa competition Sept. 6 for amateur dancers ages 13-17. Winners will receive $10,000 worth of scholarships from the Ford Motor Co.

The artists featured in the show hail from across the country and include locals such as Mambo maestro Cachao Lopez, the late salsa superstar Celia Cruz and Miami favorite Willy Chirino.

The exhibition created by the EMP Museum and the University of Washington also received support from the Smithsonian Institution.

Vegas preps for Rock in Rio fest

LAS VEGAS » Organizers say they’ll start selling tickets to the inaugural Rock in Rio USA festival on Sept. 26.

The music festival is scheduled for May 8-9 and May 15-16 on the Las Vegas Strip. Tickets are $295 for a one-weekend pass.

A group including casino company MGM Resorts and show producer Cirque du Soleil recently announced plans to build a 33-acre open-air music venue between the Circus Circus resort and Sahara Avenue called the "City of Rock."

Organizers expect more than 300,000 people at the Las Vegas event.

Rock in Rio began in 1985 in Brazil, where 600,000 tickets for the event last September sold out in four hours, according to organizers. Headliners included Justin Timberlake, Beyonce, Metallica and Bruce Springsteen.

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