Centre for early career playwrights set for South London

30 Jun 2021

Battersea’s Theatre 503 is set to build a new centre for early career playwrights in Nine Elms, Wandsworth.

The project has been awarded £250,000 from Galliard Homes as part of Wandsworth Council’s ‘Cultural Anchor’ programme, designed to attract cultural organisations to the borough.  

The centre, which is expected to include a rehearsal suite, writing rooms and event space, will open its doors by 2023.

Theatre 503 Executive Directors Lisa Spirling and Andrew Shepherd referred to the plans as a “game changing moment”.

“It will have a seismic impact on the new writing ecology for generations to come. Diversity begins with who is telling the stories.”

Scottish Government awards £1m to Edinburgh’s festivals

30 Jun 2021

The Scottish Government has awarded a cash injection to Edinburgh’s festivals to support their safe return this summer.

£1m has been distributed between Edinburgh International Festival and nine Edinburgh Fringe producers.

The funding will be put towards outdoor performance spaces and mitigating additional costs faced by producers due to the pandemic.

Culture Secretary Angus Robertson said he is “determined to do everything within [his] power” to support the return of the festivals.

Artistic Director Katy Koren added: “After a fallow year for the Edinburgh Festivals in 2020, we are determined to bring safe events and performances back to the city centre this August."

Brexit Minister offers few answers, defends record on EU touring issues

30 Jun 2021

DCMS had to wait for a green light from Lord Frost to begin bilateral negotiations on touring, few of which have been agreed in the six months post-Brexit.

Giant dragon to lead The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Pageant

29 Jun 2021

Details of The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Pageant have been released, with the procession to be led by a giant dragon puppet.

Created by Bristol-based outdoor arts producers Trigger, one of ten teams selected for Festival 2022, ‘The Hatchling’ is the size of a London bus.

The pageant will follow a story written by Michael Morpurgo that depicts “the story of Her Majesty’s record reign”.

Pageant Master Adrian Evans commented: “We are commissioning artists and the communities they work with to interpret different chapters of The Queen's reign in a spectacular unfolding story."

Trigger will host a two-day performance including The Hatchling in Plymouth from August 14 this year.

Covid-19 forces Royal Ballet cancellations

29 Jun 2021

Royal Ballet has cancelled several performances after its dancers were forced to self-isolate.

Its Summer Draft Works series was due to debut on the West End on Thursday but has now been postponed until next season.

Tickets are being refunded, the organisation says.

Warwick Arts Centre completes £25m redevelopment

29 Jun 2021

Warwick Arts Centre will soon reopen for a season in Coventry's year as UK City of Culture, having completed a four-year, £25.5m redevelopment programme.

The venue at the University of Warwick closed in 2017 for the upgrade, which includes a three scren cinema, larger foyer, new restaurant and repositioned main gallery.

Director Doreen Foster said: "We cannot wait for our audiences to enjoy the experience and make new memories as they engage with the exceptional range of arts and culture that has always been our hallmark."

The venue is hosting activities this summer but will officially reopen on October 1.

Sadler’s Wells under pressure to axe Barclays sponsorship

28 Jun 2021

Climate change activists are urging Sadler’s Wells to end its relationship with Barclays.

The theatre currently runs The Barclays Dance Pass scheme after signing a sponsorship deal last year.

Campaigners including Mark Rylance have written to Sadler’s Wells, calling for it to engage in “sustainable arts sponsorship” and labelling Barclays “the largest financier of fossil fuel extraction in Europe”.

The letter argues the partnership poses “a threat that far outweighs any potential benefits from the provision of the dance pass”.

Sadler’s Wells has said it passed on concerns raised to the theatre’s board, which is headed by Barclays' Chairman Nigel Higgins.

UK and Australia announce cultural exchange programme

28 Jun 2021

The UK and Australia have celebrated their new trade deal with details of a cultural exchange programme, the first between the two nations.

‘Who We Are Now’ is a collaboration between the Australian government and the British Council and is expected to encompass visual arts, theatre, film, dance, design and literature.

Australian High Commissioner to the UK George Brandis referred to the progamme as “the most ambitious cultural exchange”.

The British Museum, Royal Opera House and Wales Millennium Centre are among the UK organisations involved.

Events will commence in both countries in September, running until December in the UK and March 2022 in Australia.

More than half of Scots ready to attend live events

28 Jun 2021

Research from Creative Scotland suggests more than half of Scots are ready to return to music, theatre and comedy performances.

59% of respondents said they would be “comfortable or very comfortable" watching a show one metre apart from other audience members, if other mitigating measures were in place.

Outdoor events currently hold the most appeal to audience members, with nearly two thirds of Scots saying they would now be comfortable attending an outdoor performance.

A spokesperson for Creative Scotland said the results show “how important art and creativity is for people”.

Under the current plans, the Scottish Government is expected to lift social distancing restrictions on outdoors events on July 19. 

A lift on all legal restrictions on entertainment events is currently scheduled for August 9.

New music board to boost West Midlands industry

A band performing on stage at a music venue
28 Jun 2021

The West Midlands Music Board will prioritise the economic growth and recovery, inclusion, representation and advocacy of its local music scene.

Dowden criticised for ‘photo op' in Portsmouth visit

28 Jun 2021

Oliver Dowden’s recent visit to Portsmouth has been branded a ‘photo op’ by venue representatives who were denied a chance to speak with the Culture Secretary.

Dowden announced the final round of the Culture Recovery Fund will open soon during his visit on Thursday (June 24).

Some local art professionals felt they missed an opportunity to discuss reopening arts venues, according to The News Portsmouth.

King Theatre Chief Executive Paul Woolf referred to Dowden’s decision not to meet with arts officials as a “great big pity”.

The theatre won funding in the previous two rounds of the Culture Recovery Fund but is yet to receive the total amount awarded.

Independent music labels continue to increase market share

28 Jun 2021

The UK’s independent music labels made up more than a quarter of all music consumed in 2020, according to data from the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).

Independent labels’ share of streaming and physical formats increased for the third consecutive year to just under 26% of the total market.

Early indications for 2021 suggest the trend in physical formats may be set to continue, with independent labels accounting for almost 40% of all vinyl sales in the first three months of the year.

Association of Independent Music CEO Paul Pacifico attributed the rise to increased streaming levels.

"Independent music businesses are the home of innovation and experimentation in the UK music industry. Our community of creative entrepreneurs keeps music moving forward.”

Culture Recovery Fund round 3 opens soon

25 Jun 2021

DCMS says it will open a third round of the flagship emergency arts funding programme soon, although a date has not been announced.

Out of £300m, £218.5m will be made available as grants to new and past Culture Recovery Fund recipients.

Funding will allow oganisations to prepare for full capacity reopening and build a financially sustainable future, the department says.

£35m will be directed to the Heritage Stimulus Fund and £20m to the Cultural Asset Fund. Both programmes support works to protect heritage assets at risk.

£35m will be kept as contingency, with £7.5m earmarked for administration costs.

Wakefield Council to bid for City of Culture 2025

24 Jun 2021

Wakefield Council has launched a bid for City of Culture 2025.

The bid will include the city of Wakefield and surrounding district after eligibility criteria for the competition changed to allow towns and cities to submit a joint entry.

Council leader Denise Jeffery said the bid is “a chance to develop a compelling year of culture which we hope to deliver regardless of the outcome”.

“We want to put Wakefield on the map as a lead cultural destination across the country and beyond."

Bradford, Chelmsford, Medway, Southampton, Lancashire and Cornwall have already declared bids.

The winner will be announced Spring 2022.

Barbican Centre workers call for change to 'inherently racist' management

24 Jun 2021

Sir Nicholas Kenyon has resigned as Managing Director two weeks after current and former staff went public about their experiences.

Museums and libraries in Wales to share £1.1m

24 Jun 2021

Eight museums and libraries across Wales will share £1.1m of funding from the Welsh Government’s Transformation Capital Grants.

Libraries in Maesteg, Neath, Pembroke, Rhiwbina and Treorchy will be “modernised” by funding for improving community facilities.

Rhayader Museum, Museum of Land Speed and Winding House Museum have also received grants to develop exhibition spaces. 

Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport Dawn Boden said the grantees are “important” for the recovery of the local area post-pandemic.

“These projects will widen access for our communities, promoting cultural engagement, providing learning opportunities and supporting community cohesion and prosperity, which is needed now more than ever."

Arts company says 'art should be a safe space for debate' amid transphobia row

24 Jun 2021

Artichoke says it will keep Jess de Wahls' contribution to exhibition which provides a platform for "all women, trans and non-binary people": "We do not believe in cancel culture"

Mercury Theatre to reopen after £11.3m investment

23 Jun 2021

Colchester’s Mercury Theatre is reopening following a five-year campaign that raised £11.3m to refurbish the venue.

Contributions to the Mercury Rising project included £1.5m from Colchester Borough Council and £4m of Arts Council funding.

The funding was used to "reimagine the theatre's space", which now includes a main auditorium with additional seating and improved accessibility throughout.

Executive Director Steven Mannix said he is “incredibly proud” that more than £10m was reinvested into the local economy during the refurbishment.

“The vital aspect now is that we are ready to welcome the community to their theatre; a theatre that has been supported by the community, built by local people employed by local contractors, and championing local talent."

Arts industry sees highest five-year increase in insolvencies

23 Jun 2021

The arts, entertainment and recreation industry suffered the biggest increase in insolvencies over the last five years, according to research from Business Rescue Expert.

The number of insolvencies in the industry increased by 18.1% against figures from 2016 to 4.2 insolvencies per 10,000 businesses in 2020.

Funding cuts and the ongoing effects of Covid-19 restrictions are likely to have contributed heavily to the increase.

The arts sector is one of five industries including accommodation and food services, finance and insurance and public administration that fielded an increase in insolvencies compared to 2016 levels, with most witnessing a decline.

Glyndebourne announces new fund for freelancers

23 Jun 2021

Glyndebourne has announced plans to launch a freelance fund for its contractors.

The Glyndebourne Freelancer Fund commits to ring-fencing 10% of the opera house’s annual freelancer costs. Further details are expected later this year.

The investment is part of a focus on “crucial investment to maintain competitive edge,” the organisation says.

Managing Director Sarah Hopwood said: “We have all become much more aware of the imbalance between performing arts companies and the freelancers who make up 70% of the theatre workforce.

“Glyndebourne will only survive and thrive if we can call on the skills and expertise of those people and we’re determined to play a part in helping to create a new, more equitable support structure for them.”

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