Expand tax credits for Covid-19 recovery, MPs told

The scultpture 'Fried Eggs for Breakfast' at Dundee Contemporary Arts, which is a member of Future Arts Centres
03 Jul 2020

Wider application of the Theatre Tax Relief scheme would allow arts centres to reopen “within weeks”, a coalition of venues says.

NEWS COMMENT: After the Interval – who will return?

Andrew Miller
03 Jul 2020

The slump in disabled audiences’ confidence presents a major problem for the arts sector, says Andrew Miller.

Coventry City of Culture delayed until May 2021

Paper Peace, part of Coventry 2021's first campaign, Humans of Coventry
03 Jul 2020

Partners say the new date means the cultural showcase “can be reimagined in response to challenges facing the country”.

Arts subjects to stay when schools reopen fully

group of children sitting cross-legged in a studio holding a silk cloth and other props
03 Jul 2020

The Government has dropped parts of a draft plan that would have sidelined ‘non-core’ subjects for up to a year.

Visible symbol of hope to envelop theatres

03 Jul 2020

Theatre buildings are to be wrapped with pink barrier tape reading ‘Missing Live Theatre’ to draw attention to the fact that, while much of the entertainment and hospitality industry reopens to customers, theatres will be unable to stage live performances.

Aiming to deliver “a positive message of hope and visibility”, the #MissingLiveTheatre initiative began in an email exchange between a group of set and costume designers, which has now formed a wide community of designers, #scenechange, with over 1,000 members coming together in support of theatre.

#scenechange will work with theatre staff to wrap the theatres with tape, starting with the National Theatre, flowed by the Royal Exchange Theatre, Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh, Theatre Royal Plymouth, Lyric Belfast and Sherman Theatre across the day on Friday, and throughout the West End on the Saturday. The week of 6th July will see further theatres nationwide joining and more than 50 venues have already committed including the RSC, Sadler’s Wells, Theatr Clwyd, Theatre Royal Stratford East, Sheffield Theatres and Ambassador Theatre Group.

#scenechange said: “As we launch #MissingLiveTheatre, we want to bring joy and colour to theatres across the UK and Ireland, whilst highlighting the ongoing impact of Covid-19, and what we as an industry and local communities are missing.”

Theatres wanting to join in the #missinglivetheatre campaign should contact: action@scene-change.com . The group will provide risk assessment and technical support, as well as linking theatres up with local designers for onsite installation. The tape will remain in place for up to a week before being removed and reused by #scenechange to envelop another theatre.


Manchester pleads with Government to give the city a voice

02 Jul 2020

News that Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre may make up to two-thirds of its staff redundant has prompted Manchester City Council to send a second letter to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, asking for urgent support for the cultural sector and a place in the taskforce that is seeking a way forward for the cultural industry.

The Royal Exchange has announced that, without trading income, it must scale back "in order to survive". A statement from the theatre said the Government's roadmap didn't give it any "confidence or clarity to be able to restart any activities in the immediate future" and that socially distanced performances were not financially viable.

"This means that we have been forced to make the incredibly hard decision to enter a period of redundancy consultation with our staff."

The City Council, which two weeks ago wrote to the Culture Secretary asking to be involved in planning for the future of the sector, has now written again, pointing out that Manchester and the wider city region has the second largest cluster of creative industries after London and the South East, so will feel the impact of the current crisis more keenly than most.

The letter says the time for action is now, and that there is a clear need for an urgent statement of what that support will be so that local government organisations, Arts Council England, and other funders can work together confidently to support and influence recovery.

Theatres fear financial meltdown if panto season is lost

01 Jul 2020

Norwich Theatre Royal has become one of the first theatres to call off its pantomime, saying the risk of going ahead was "too great" after three months with no income. But the UK's biggest pantomime producer, Qdos, is waiting until 3rd August to decide whether its 34 shows across the UK can go ahead. Qdos managing director Michael Harrison said, in the absence of clarity from the government by then, they would begin the process of unravelling the season.

UK success in final round of EU culture programme

01 Jul 2020

22 cultural organisations from across the UK have been awarded €1.75m from Creative Europe, the EU’s funding programme to support creative and cultural sectors. The UK’s application success rate of 47% is higher than the European average of 30%, and one in five of all 2020 funded projects has a UK partner.

During the current Creative Europe programme from 2014-20, UK organisations have been awarded a total of €23.8m for Cooperation Projects, but as the UK is not seeking to participate in the EU’s Creative Europe programme from 2021, this was the final round in which they were eligible to participate. From next year UK organisations will only be able to join cross-border Cooperation Projects as Third Country ‘associate partners’, alongside countries such as Canada and Japan,.

To support organisations going forward, Creative Europe Desk UK has published guidance on the UK's Participation in Creative Europe.

Ambitions end for Plymouth School of Creative Arts

01 Jul 2020

A former Free School hailed at its 2015 opening as establishing “a progressive continuum of creative learning and practice from age four to Masters level study and beyond”, has been re-born as the Millbay Academy and will be operating under new leaders as part of a rescue operation Ofsted rated the school as ‘inadequate’ in every category and only by becoming part of a multi-academy trust has it been saved from closure. A new curriculum and a school uniform are being introduced in an attempt to improve standards at the school.

The Louvre sets out to shake off its intimidating image

01 Jul 2020

To counter perceptions of elitism, The Louvre is preparing for "cultural democratisation", with improved presentation, labelling and curating of its collections to be ready for the run-up to the 2024 Olympic Games. Director Jean-Luc Martinez, who comes from a working-class background, said the former royal palace in Paris can "intimidate" certain demographics and he wants to extend the outreach success of the Louvre's outpost museum in Lens, a poor former mining town in northern France.

Cirque du Soleil to fire and rehire staff to avoid invsolvency

01 Jul 2020

International touring performance company Cirque du Soleil, which had to cancel its shows around the world since the Coronavirus outbreak began, is cutting 3,500 jobs in an attempt to stave off bankruptcy. Shareholders and the province of Quebec, where the firm is based, will be taking on the organisation's debt and are setting aside $20m to provide relief to affected employees and contractors. The company intends to rehire "a substantial majority" of staff as shutdowns are lifted.

Museum research focuses on chronic pain sufferers

01 Jul 2020

A study exploring how online museum programmes and virtual museum experiences impact individuals suffering chronic pain is being developed by an international team of university researchers. The research was previously based in museums, but lockdown has led to the project being extended to cover online experiences. Previous studies have shown that social disconnection can make pain feel more intense, while social connections can help decrease the intensity, and researchers are trying to find out how this can be translated into patient care.

Researchers from University College London, the University of California, Davis, and the University of Zurich, in collaboration with the Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance, are looking for volunteer participants who suffer from chronic pain to take part in the study.

Equity pleads for circuses to reopen

01 Jul 2020

Funfairs may open from 4 July though circuses may not, and Equity General Secretary Christine Payne has written to Caroline Dinenage, Minister of State for Digital and Culture, to demand that circus be allowed to re-open. DCMS guidance bars travelling circuses from opening, but Payne argues that circus is effectively an outdoor event: a roof with walls that can be opened, lifted up to provide ventilation and exits. She said: “There are no narrow corridors where people might pass too close. Seating is made to be set up in any configuration; the whole thing is designed to be rearranged at a moment's notice. It is what has been done down the years as circuses move from town to town.”

As performers live on site in their caravans, they are always in a ‘bubble’; and as the ticket office, toilets and catering facilities are all outside the Big Top in the open air, circus has more in common with a funfair than a building-based performance.

Government appoints experts to influence delivery of Culture Strategy

Scottish Parliament
30 Jun 2020

A National Partnership for Culture will advise and influence Scottish Ministers on the delivery of Scotland’s culture strategy, but national funding agency Creative Scotland is not a member.

Sector outrage at Culture Secretary’s roadmap to reopening

Birmingham Hippodrome
26 Jun 2020

Oliver Dowden claims to know that “theatres must be full to make money” but his five-stage plan to see performing arts venues reopen has no money attached.

Gift Aid proposals could boost fundraising returns

26 Jun 2020

Proposals for a temporary increase in the level of Gift Aid that can be claimed on donations are being put forward to Government by a coalition of charities and sector bodies. In their Gift Aid Emergency Relief briefing paper, the organisations are calling for the change to help charities facing income losses as a result of the pandemic. The proposed changes include an increase in the Gift Aid claimed on eligible donations, up to a third from the current one quarter. A £100 donation from a UK taxpayer would then be worth £133.33 to the charity once Gift Aid had been claimed.

Publishing industry caters for "white, middle-class readers", report finds

26 Jun 2020

A new study on diversity in publishing has concluded that assumptions about audiences for fiction being white and middle-class still prevail, and this is the only audience big publishers are interested in. The report, Rethinking ‘Diversity’ in Publishing, is based on research among authors, agents and representatives from all of the major publishing houses, including CEOs and managing directors, editors, designers and marketing, PR and sales staff. Conducted through a partnership between Goldsmiths, University of London, Spread the Word and The Bookseller, the reseach found that Black, Asian and minority ethnic and working-class audiences are undervalued by publishers, economically and culturally, and this is influencing the acquisition, promotion and selling of writers of colour.

Dr Anamik Saha, Lead Researcher for the project, said: “Our study finds that publishers and booksellers do not have the resources, know-how, or sadly, the inclination to reach wider audiences. They do not see the economic or cultural benefit. Big publishers and booksellers need to radically reimagine their audience. The entire industry is essentially set up to cater for white, middle-class readers, in terms of the books it produces, the media it engages, even the look and feel of bookstores and the demographics they serve. This has to change.”

Rocky path ahead for museums and galleries

a row of portable toilets in a field, photo taken at twilight
26 Jun 2020

A 9-point checklist will guide the safe reopening of museums and galleries, but visitors may still stay away if the services and facilities they usually enjoy are not available.

Rates victory sets precedent for other museums and galleries

Internal photo of Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery in Exeter
25 Jun 2020

The rateable value of an Exeter museum fell from £445,000 to just £1 following a Tribunal ruling that has opened the doors for others to appeal their rates bills.

Long-term support needed to mitigate risks to Edinburgh's festivals

25 Jun 2020

The umbrella body Festivals Edinburgh is calling for support from public funding to “underwrite the risks inherent in managing our way through the next few years”. They say the collapse of both ticketing income and sponsorship revenues, together with the costs of introducing new hygiene and social distancing measures, are leading to market failure which can only be prevented by "timely intervention and risk-sharing".


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