High priority areas yet to receive Levelling Up funding

Chesterfield's Stephenson Memorial Hall is being renovated after a successful Levelling Up Fund application
24 May 2022

Analysis finds 19 local authority areas deemed to be high priority for investment by both government and Arts Council England are yet to receive a slice of £4.8bn Levelling Up Fund.

Europe-wide project aims to create network of minority theatres

04 May 2017

(IN CROATIAN) Five minority theatres in Romania, Italy, Serbia, Albania and Croatia will combine to produce a play and a series of workshops in Spring 2018 using European Union funding.

New York opera security scare after powder sprinkled into orchestra pit

31 Oct 2016

The Metropolitan Opera cancelled a performance during the interval as a safety precaution after somebody sprinkled an unknown powder into the pit.

Library scoops £3,000 in the National Lottery Awards

25 Aug 2016

St Helens Libraries’ Cultural Hubs attracted over 2,000 votes to be named Best Arts Project for its work promoting health and wellbeing.

Arts Council pledges Grantium improvements

27 May 2022

Testing of upgrades to the much-maligned Grantium application system are underway, with a launch date for an improved version to be announced soon.

PRS For Music election results ‘disappointing’, says MMF

26 May 2022

The Music Managers Forum (MMF) has criticised the results of PRS for Music’s latest council election over a lack of diversity.

Seven of the eight appointees are men, and all are white, leading to a joint statement from MMF Chair Paul Craig, Vice Chair Kwame Kwaten and Chief Executive Annabella Coldrick calling the result “disappointing”.

They say the result is down to an “outmoded and outdated system of governance at PRS, which is in clear need of root and branch reform” and are calling for more to be done to “ensure the value of People of Colour to songwriting and publishing is not just acknowledged but properly represented”.

The council members were voted in through a ballot completed by PRS members. Three members – Tom Gray, Crispin Hunt and Philip Pope – were all re-elected, while Hannah Peel, Nigel Gilroy, Daniel Lang, John Minch and Richard Paine join the council for the first time.

The results were announced at PRS for Music’s annual general meeting. CEO Andrea Martin said the council members bring a “breadth of vision, diversity of skill sets and an understanding of the digital eco-system from which the organisation and the members will greatly benefit”.

UK’s first NFT agency for artists launches

26 May 2022

The UK’s first non-fungible token (NFT) agency specialising in connecting artists, art collectors and galleries is now open.

Ad Astra will help users create their own NFTs - original digital data stored in a blockchain - by providing them with an end-to-end service, including workshops to help understand blockchains and NFTs, as well as advice on creative direction, legal contracts and sales.

The service hopes to break down entry barriers facing artists that have the desire, but not the resources, to create and sell NFTs.

Founder and CEO Emily Wigoder says many artists, galleries and traditional art collectors are holding back from engaging with NFTs due to the cost, complications and perceived risks.

“This is exactly why we created Ad Astra. We hope to facilitate the dismantling of these boundaries to allow traditional artists and galleries to flourish in web3 and create NFTs that hold long-term value.”

Phoenix Dance Theatre reverses layoff decision

26 May 2022

Phoenix Dance Theatre will no longer lay off four employees in June as previously planned.

Under plans revealed by performers' union Equity, the Leeds theatre intended to pay those laid off £300 of guaranteed pay every three months, during which time they would be expected to be available if required.

The decision to reverse the layoffs follows a demonstration outside the Northern Ballet building, home to the theatre, led by Equity on Monday (23 May). An online petition against the move received more than 2,000 signatures.

The theatre will move ahead with separate plans to end the contracts of five dancers, one freelancer and four on fixed-term contracts, but confirmed all other employees will be retained.

A statement from the theatre said layoffs were proposed but decided against while a strategic review is underway, adding it remains committed to safeguarding jobs wherever possible.

It called Equity’s decision to make the process public “disappointing” and said the theatre “strongly refutes their account of our actions”. 

Dominic Bascombe, Equity’s Regional Office for North East, Yorkshire and Humberside, said he was delighted for the two dancers and two creatives affected.

“They have been overwhelmed by the support of the public, trade unionists and fair-minded people everywhere.”

Mayor of London teams up with Creative UK to support freelancers

26 May 2022

The Mayor of London’s Culture Team and Creative UK are joining forces in an effort to tackle "systemic inequalities" facing freelancers in creative industries. 

The partnership will hold an event in July where freelancers and organisations working across London’s creative economy will be given the opportunity to test, prioritise and develop ideas for a more sustainable freelance model for creatives.

The guidance and ideas that emerge from the online event will be taken forward and shaped into a robust business case, as part of City Hall's Redesigning Freelancing programme.

Creative UK said the fragility of the freelance model, which the creative industries rely on heavily, was revealed during the pandemic when many parts of the creative industries experienced a sudden, large drop in their volume of work, with freelancers left unsupported.

Evy Cauldwell French, Development & Partnerships Manager for Impact & Change at Creative UK, said: “Creative freelancers working throughout London continue to face an unequal playing field, with many sadly choosing to leave creative occupations due to unsustainable practices. 

"We are pleased to announce our partnership with the Mayor of London’s Culture Team, with whom we are empowering organisations and freelancers working across London’s creative economy to create a more sustainable future for our growing workforce.”

Edinburgh Fringe producers get £1.3m resilience funding

26 May 2022

Edinburgh Festival Fringe producers have received financial support to help them recover and remain resilient following the Covid-19 pandemic. 

A total of 13 Edinburgh Festival Fringe producers have been awarded a share of £1.275m from the Fringe 2022 Resilience Fund, financed by the Scottish Government and distributed by Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society.

Venues in receipt of the money are Assembly, BlundaBus, Gilded Balloon, Greenside, Just The Tonic, Laughing Horse, Monkey Barrell Comedy, Pleasance, Scottish Comedy Festival, Summerhall, theSpaceUK, Underbelly and ZOO.

A further £305k has been allocated to support the ongoing resilience of the Fringe Society, which includes £55k to support the delivery of street events during August.

Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive of Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, said: “It’s fair to say that the last few years have been the most challenging in our festival’s history. 

"Now, as we prepare to enter our 75th anniversary year, creatives across the Fringe landscape are working hard to ensure that this incredible festival not only survives, but continues to work hard to be the best version of itself.

“This support from Scottish Government is absolutely vital in helping us to achieve that goal: allowing producers and creatives across the landscape to not only recover from the devastating effects of the pandemic, but to offer enhanced support to artists, workers and volunteers; to continue to programme creative and innovative work; to improve accessibility; to tackle affordability and to ensure that this festival remains true to its founding principles of openness and inclusivity.”

Commonwealth Games cultural programme 'ignores diverse communities'

Future Birmingham - SUKI 10C, Digbeth.  The painted former public house at the corner of Bordesley Street and Meriden Street has been repainted.
25 May 2022

Report claims organisers have missed opportunities to include Birmingham's diverse communities in planned events, and are not on target to meet requirements measuring race equality, community engagement and accountability.

Creative industries policy centre gets five-year funding boost

25 May 2022

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) has announced that it will continue to fund the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre (PEC) for a further five years and is seeking a new host organisation.  

Since its inception in 2018 PEC, which comprises a consortium of universities from across the UK, has been hosted by innovation foundation Nesta, which led on its establishment.

The AHRC has issued a call for expressions of interest from research organisations who are interested in hosting the PEC and its core team from June 2023 for a further five-year period.

Professor Christopher Smith, Executive Chair at Arts and Humanities Research Council, said: “The Centre balances robust academic research with agile, reactive policy and industry priorities. 

"[This] announcement is good news for the sector and we very much look forward to finding the right host organisation to work with for the exciting next stage of development and reinforce the PEC’s position as a vital research and innovation infrastructure for the creative industries."

Plymouth College of Art gains university status

25 May 2022

Plymouth College of Art has been approved for university status and changed its name to Arts University Plymouth.

The institution, founded in 1856, has been granted full university status following approval by the Privy Council. It becomes the third university in the city in addition to University of Plymouth and Plymouth Marjon University.

"This exciting news recognises the quality of the work already taking place," said Professor Paul Fieldsend-Danks, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Arts University Plymouth.

"Achieving full university status is just our latest evolution in over 160 years of leading specialist arts education in the South West and internationally.

"Their tireless work has enabled us to demonstrate the value of arts education to students, to the UK economy and to a world that needs creatives now more than ever."

"Our vision for Arts University Plymouth is a new kind of art school for the 21st century, preparing graduates who are uniquely placed to provide creative solutions to the complex problems faced by modern society."



DCMS study moots major new data platform

25 May 2022

Report recommends new cultural sector data platform to help make the case for increased funding across the arts.

Arts workers get lowest pay rise of any sector

25 May 2022

Low pay and real-terms depreciation of salaries could ‘severely damage’ arts sector amid record number of job vacancies, advocates say.

Arts Council Northern Ireland to fund support for older people

24 May 2022

Funding applications are now open for community groups, arts organisations and councils across Northern Ireland who wish to take part in the Arts and Older People Programme.

Established in 2010 by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the programme challenges perceptions of what it means to be an older person. It is designed to tackle loneliness and promote positive mental health among older people through the arts.

The latest round of the programme, in partnership with the National Lottery, will award £200,000 of funding in grants of up to £10,000 to support projects benefitting older people.

“We know that taking part in arts activities can raise self-esteem, boost confidence and motivation, as well as help to relieve stress, loneliness, worries and pain,” said Lorraine Calderwood, Arts Programmes Officer of Arts Council of Northern Ireland. 

She said that recent rounds of the programme have “focused on delivering arts activity within care home settings, working with residents living with dementia and their carers,” and encouraged organisations across the region to apply.

To date, the programme has provided £2m of funding to community organisations and voluntary groups, resulting in the delivery of over 200 arts projects.

Applications for this latest round of funding will close on 7 July.

Only 13% of UK festival headliners are female

24 May 2022

Only around one in 10 headline acts at the leading UK music festivals taking place this summer will be women, a study has found.

A BBC study focusing on 50 of the biggest UK festivals found that out of 200 headline acts only 26 (13%) were an all-female band or solo artist whereas 149 (74.5%) were either an all-male band or solo artist.

Meanwhile 24 acts (12%) had a mixed line-up of male and female performers, and one (0.05%) artist identified as non-binary.

This is despite many events previously promising to achieve a 50/50 gender balance across their line-ups by 2022.

Maggie Rogers, a singer/songwriter who will be performing at Latitude Festival this summer, said: "What I come to music for - as a fan and artist - is community and to feel part of something, and I think community functions at its best when it feels inclusive.

"When that doesn't happen - when the line-ups reiterate imbalances that exist in gender and race and class - it's not surprising, but it's certainly not ideal."



Evidence Centre to provide theatre sector analysis 

24 May 2022

Society of London Theatre (SOLT) and UK Theatre, two of Britain's leading industry membership associations, have announced a partnership with data and insight specialists Baker Richards to develop an Evidence Centre that will provide analysis of the theatre sector.

The centre will use the latest technology to gather data from multiple sources, including automatically extracted ticket transactions, data on demographics and infrastructure, as well as attitudinal survey data and open government data.

It will allow SOLT and UK Theatre to identify trends in sales and audiences, evaluate theatre's economic impact, classify workforce data and demographics and present in-depth analysis that contributes to demonstrating the value of theatre to national and local government. 

“Over nearly two decades, Baker Richards has developed a rich understanding of the UK’s ever-changing theatre industry, promoting and creating measures and metrics which have been widely adopted,” said Robin Cantrill-Fenwick, Chief Executive of Baker Richards. 

For the new Evidence Centre, analysts will use innovative approaches including experimentation with machine learning and AI. The first iteration of the data tool is scheduled to be ready for use at the end of the year. 

President of SOLT Eleanor Lloyd said the new centre will be “a fantastic resource for our members to access”, facilitating “more sophisticated data and business intelligence, to assist our members with their marketing campaign planning and budgeting”.

Stephanie Sirr, UK Theatre President, said that while making the case for government support of the theatre sector during the pandemic, they had identified “some gaps in what we evaluate in order to make a well-rounded and informed case for theatre in a way that corresponds with government evaluation tools”.

“This new Evidence Centre will give us access to sales and economic data at a deeper level, which will help our members make the strongest argument yet for supporting UK theatres as key strategic partners in their many communities,” she said.

Natural History Museum plans new £180m research centre

23 May 2022

The Natural History Museum will move a third of its collection to a new research and storage centre in Berkshire as part of efforts to make its assets digitally available to academics around the world.

The planned £180m centre at the Thames Valley Science Park in Shinfield, Berkshire, is a collaboration with the University of Reading and is being funded by DCMS.

The centre will house a third of the Natural History Museum's assets, including its mammal collections and non-insect invertebrates - such as corals, crustaceans, molluscs and worms - totalling more than 27 million specimens.

It is hoped the collections will help studies of climate change, food security and biodiversity conservation.

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Reading Professor Robert Van de Noort said it was an "exciting development" for the university.

"It could provide significant opportunities for our academics and students, as well as bringing benefits to the broader local area," he said.

"This new relationship with the Natural History Museum should further enhance the international research success of both organisations," he added.

The centre is expected to be completed in 2026, subject to planning permission.

Royal College of Art opens new £135m campus

23 May 2022

A major new campus for the Royal College of Art (RCA), featuring a space for public exhibitions, has opened.

The £135m development accommodates four storeys of studios and workshops for sculpture, contemporary art, video and film, and design.

Meanwhile, a double-height 350sq m space space known as The Hanger has large doors at either end to enable the installation of heavy, large or complex works of art, and will be used for public exhibitions. 

A similar but smaller room provides research, testing and assembly space for sculpture and robotics projects.

To coincide with the launch, the RCA has announced a new five-year strategy for 2022–27 which includes plans to double the percentage of Black British and People of Colour students and researchers from underrepresented backgrounds.


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