Boyce to represent UK at Venice Biennale

12 Feb 2020

Artist Sonia Boyce will be the first Black woman to represent the UK at the Venice Biennale.

The British Council announced on Wednesday that Boyce, known for her highly innovative and experimental approach, will present a new solo exhibition at Britain's pavilion in 2021.

Boyce said: "You could have knocked me down with a feather when I got the call to tell me I had been chosen.

"Obviously, I’m extremely honored, excited – and nervous. I’m eager to start this creative journey, exploring the experience with others who agree to work with me along the way.”



ACE to survey diversity of classical music sector

12 Feb 2020

Arts Council England is launching new research into the diversity of the classical music sector and workforce.

An advisory group is seeking survey input from instrumentalists, teachers and other professionals on how to break down the barriers to change.

ACE's Director of Music Claire Mera-Nelson says the sector is making moves to address its lack of diversity but the overwhelming public perception is that "there are significant barriers to participation, and the pace of change is too slow".


"For the first time we will have the evidence needed to properly understand the challenges musicians from diverse backgrounds face, and our options for moving forward."

ACE's survey can be found here.

Irish Arts Council to set pay rates

12 Feb 2020

Ireland's Arts Council will institute minimum pay rates for artists on funded projects.

The agency has developed a three-year plan to develop sector-led pay rates and scales for artistic work. It will make them part of the assessment criteria for all funding applications by the end of 2022.

Its strategy mirrors that of the Arts Council of Wales, which announced last year it would no longer fund organisations that don't commit to paying minimum rates "at the very least".


A policy document released yesterday says the nature of arts practice leaves artists "particularly vulnerable" to exploitation: "We want artists to be confident, to know their worth, and to feel more empowered in negotiation and contracting stages of professional engagements. We intend this
policy to play a part in encouraging artists to expect fair and equitable treatment. 

"The distinct nature of individual artforms and their associated sectoral or industry practices means there are significant differences in how pay and contractual issues manifest themselves across different artforms and arts sectors. However, we assert that certain best practice principles can be applied to
most engagements."

Ballet boss sacked for firing new mother

12 Feb 2020

A French ballet boss has been fired after he dismissed a dancer for having a baby.

Lyon Ballet's board unanimously voted to remove Yorgos Loukos, the company's Director of 33 years, last week. He has been ordered to pay ballerina Karline Marion €5000 in compensation for firing her two days after she returned from maternity leave.

Loukos told municipal authorities that he fired Marion, then 34, becuase of her "physical and stylistic weaknesses". She had worked for Lyon Ballet for five years.

Marion recorded a conversation with Loukos in which he said: "If between the ages of 29 and 34 you did a fair bit, though not a lot, you are not going to do much more between 35 and 40, particularly with a child."

Southbank Centre barred from heritage status

11 Feb 2020

Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan has barred several Southbank Centre buildings from being granted heritage status.

Efforts to get Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and the Hayward Gallery listed have been ongoing since the 1960s. However, Morgan turned down an appeal last week and issued a 'certificate of immunity', which prevents the buildings from being listed for the next five years.

READ MORE: Madani Younis leaves Southbank Centre after less than a year

She decided the Southbank Centre was "not of sufficient architectural or historic interest to merit listing" on the advice of Heritage England.

This is a departure from the heritage authority's previous opinion that the buidlings, built betweeen 1963 and 1968, should be included on the national heritage list.


‘No strategy or infrastructure’ for Welsh music

11 Feb 2020

There is a bigger audience for Welsh music than ever before, but a lack of long-term thinking means there aren’t venues, promoters and services to support artists.

Failure ‘key to success’: Lewisham and Croydon win London Borough of Culture title

11 Feb 2020

The coveted year-long cultural festival is “finally coming to south east London” in 2021 and to Croydon in 2023.

Northern Irish artist sues Dublin gallery

10 Feb 2020

A Northern Irish artist is pursuing legal action against a Dublin gallery and its owner.

Belfast portraitist Colin Davidson wants his former friend Oliver Sears to return "a substantial body of artistic works", relinquish any claim to selling his art, and remove all references to him from the Oliver Sears Gallery website.

Davidson's lawyer Peter McGrath told The Times: “Our client very much regrets having to take this legal action but believes he has been left with no alternative as all attempts to resolve the matter prior to litigation had proved unsuccessful."

Sears is an art dealer and 100% shareholder in the gallery.

First foreign language film wins Best Picture Oscar

10 Feb 2020

'Parasite' has made history as the first foreign film to win a Best Picture Oscar, as well as the best international film and original screenplay categories.

The South Korean satire from Bong Joon-ho, who won Best Director, also won the Palme d'Or at Cannes. It is the first time a film has achieved both honours in 65 years, the last one being Delbert Mann's 1955 romantic drama 'Marty'.

Only 10 foreign-language films have previously been nominated for best picture.

The win was a surprise in an otherwise predictable ceremony, and may mark a shift in the academy's approach following debate over the awards' inclusiveness in recent years.


Swindon saves arts funding, cuts gallery upgrade

10 Feb 2020

Four Swindon arts organisations have been given reprieve from plans to cut their funding entirely - but an upgrade to the local museum and art gallery has been canned.

Swindon Festival of Literature, Prime Theatre, Reach Inclusive Arts and Create Studios were spared by Swindon Borough Council, which had proposed cutting all their funding in its recent budget. However, about £5m allocated for an upgrade to Swindon Museum and Art Gallery will instead be used to improve the M4.

The way the council administers funding to the arts will change: instead of making grants, the council will commission services from arts organisations.

Councillor Dale Heenan said the change was necessary.

"We want to support these organisations but if we keep this money as grants we’ll be having this discussion every year. This way puts these services as part of our statutory responsibilities, not our discretionary ones."

Arts sector joins forces on 'manifesto for inclusion'

07 Feb 2020

The collaborative seeks to address barriers to diversity across artforms and protected characteristics, rather than through piecemeal initiatives.

Activists sneak Trojan Horse into British Museum

07 Feb 2020

Activist group BP or Not BP? has placed a giant 'Trojan Horse' scultpure inside the courtyard of the British Museum.

The action, which signifies an escalation in the group's campaign against oil company BP's sponsorship of the museum, precedes a 1000-person protest planned for Saturday.

Group member Helen Glynn said the horse is "the perfect metaphor for BP sponsorship".

"On its surface the sponsorship looks like a generous gift, but inside lurks death and destruction."

Though the group snuck the sculpture inside early Friday morning, it has requested the museum leave it there overnight: "We do not want to block any entrances or cause any disruption to the flow of people coming in or out of the museum.

"We acknowledge that this is an unusual request, but as your chairman has said, climate change is 'the great issue of our time'. Business as usual must change."

New body to champion Welsh creative industries

06 Feb 2020

Creative Wales will initially focus on developing the country’s music, screen, digital and gaming industries.

Battersea Arts Centre becomes relaxed venue

06 Feb 2020

Battersea Arts Centre will become a fully relaxed venue from Friday.

Artistic Director Tarek Iskander said spaces at the south London centre have been made more accessible for disabled guests, and that audiences will be permitted to talk and move around during performances. The organisation believes this makes it the first relaxed venue in the UK.

"The fear was that it would be hard to manage or be disruptive, but it hasn't. You can feel the audience give out a sigh of relief," Iskander said.

Though there was some scepticism from artists about how relaxed performances would work in practice, Iskander said the change hasn't felt like a "trade off".

"I think particularly for young people who don't come to the theatre often, the relaxed methodology can be really helpful for them.

"We all have the right to participate ... as long as it's respectful. It's one of the things we have to address otherwise we'll just keep turning people away."

Theatre director Terry Hands dies

05 Feb 2020

Lifelong theatre director Terry Hands has died aged 79.

Hands, who worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company and Theatr Clwyd, was a driving force in establishing Liverpool's Everyman Theatre in 1964, the BBC reports.

Once asked about the future of theatre, Hands said "there will always be people who don't like the arts because you can build a hospital, you can do another school".

"I mean, why put somebody on the moon, you could've built five hospitals?

"Why do anything which is not measurable? The theatre develops the imagination - thinking, the freedom."

No sign of Scottish Culture Strategy

05 Feb 2020

Scotland's Government is yet to release its new Culture Strategy, despite the document having been ready to publish months ago.

Government officials said last month that the strategy would be released "as soon as is practical" after the General Election. It had feared the document would "fly under the radar" if released before December 12.

But the Scottish Government was unable to provide a date for its release this week. A spokesperson said it was "in its final stages of development and we will publish it soon".

Arts centre faces closure as landlord hikes rent by 300%

05 Feb 2020

The independent venue funds high-profile exhibitions by dressing celebrities like Bob Dylan, Kanye West and Angelina Jolie. But after 27 years, its founder says he’s on the losing end of “a long, expensive game”.

Arts centre planned for Sheffield

05 Feb 2020

Sheffield will receive a new arts centre as a London-based organisation relocates to the area.

Arts Catalyst, a charity that commissions science and technology-based work, is moving from King's Cross to Sheffield later this year.

Artistic Director Laura Clarke said the city has "an amazing DIY ethos and quite an exciting, growing cultural landscape at the moment".

"If you think about the ways we work, and the subjects we're interested in, Sheffield feels like it has a lot of synergies."

Its team is looking for a suitable building in which to set up the new centre, which will have a gallery, research area and possibly creative workspaces.


V&A Dundee welcomes its millionth visitor

05 Feb 2020

V&A Dundee welcomed its millionth visitor on Tuesday, about 500 days after it first opened.

Seven-year-old Nalani Becker of Berlin visited with her father Jan. She was given a gift bag with exhibition tickets, afternoon tea and a £100 voucher for the museum's shop to mark the occasion.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop congratulated V&A Dundee, saying the milestone was "an impressive achievement and a sign of the museum’s strong appeal to visitors from around the world".

Life after Brexit: New advice on copyright and Creative Europe

04 Feb 2020

Here’s what your organisation needs to know about funding and regulatory changes now that the UK is out of the EU.


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