Artists working with immersive tech to get £6m support

31 Jan 2024

Immersive Arts, a UK-wide three-year programme backed by the UK’s four arts councils, expects to support over 200 artists and organisations unlock the creative power of technology.

Museum struggles to attract visitors after revamp

30 Jan 2024

Dorset Museum and Art Gallery needs to triple its current footfall to meet increased running costs following a £16.4m expansion.

Speaking to the BBC, Executive Director Clare Dixon said the organisation was facing a “critical time” as it has struggled to attract enough visitors to meet its costs since it reopened in 2021 after a two-year-long major reconstruction.

Dixon said Covid, the cost-of-living crisis, Brexit and the war in Ukraine had all impacted the museum’s finances.

She added: "The museum reopened in an unpredictable climate, with tourism plummeting and people not going out, so the impact that we hoped the transformation would have had obviously just didn't come to fruition.

"The building is incredible, the displays are beautiful, but the running costs are high.

"When you increase the size of a building, and you increase running costs, you need more people in to make it sustainable. This year is critical."

The museum was recently awarded a grant of £250k from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and a further £150k, spread over three years, from Dorset Council. The money will be used to boost marketing and fund a rebrand, underpinning exhibition costs and supporting learning and events.

Two theatres added to ‘at risk’ register

30 Jan 2024

The inclusion of Sheffield’s Abbeydale Picture House and Liverpool’s Epstein Theatre takes the list’s total of theatres at risk of permanent closure, redevelopment, or demolition to 39.

Fourth round of Cultural Development Fund opens

30 Jan 2024

A pot of £15.2m will be available for cultural organisations across England in the latest round of funding under the government's Cultural Development Fund, it has been announced.

So far, 20 projects have received a combined total of £76.8m from the fund since 2019, with arts centres, community venues and heritage buildings among the beneficiaries.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said this year’s round will be the first time since 2019 that projects in London are eligible to apply to the fund.

Arts and Heritage Minister Lord Parkinson said the further funding will extend government's work to level up access to arts and culture in a bid to ensure that everyone has high quality opportunities on their doorstep.   

“I encourage applicants to put forward ambitious proposals which will make a real difference to the lives of even more people across the country, and help to preserve the UK’s position on the world stage as a cultural and creative powerhouse,” he said.

Darren Henley, Chief Executive of Arts Council England which is delivering the fund on behalf of DCMS, said the money will bring the transformative power of creativity and culture to more people in more places, across the country. 

"By investing in the infrastructure that cultural organisations need, we can help them make an even bigger impact on the places where they're based, benefiting the communities they work with," he said. 

Speaking separately at an event last Wednesday (24 January), Parkinson said the government's Cultural Education Plan will be published shortly.

"The development of a Cultural Education Plan represents an important opportunity for the range of people and organisations who have a stake and an interest in cultural education to work together and to work with us in government in a practical and tangible way to respond to that, and to improve the lives of children and young people," he said in a speech at the Association of British Orchestra's annual conference.

"The Cultural Education Plan, which we will publish very soon, aims to highlight the importance of high quality cultural education, promote the social value of it, to support career progression pathways, to address skills gaps and to tackle disparities in opportunity."

MPs urge action to tackle ’endemic’ misogyny in music industry

A woman in a green t-shirt working a a studio mixing desk
29 Jan 2024

Parliamentary inquiry finds women working in music have had their 'lives ruined' by men who have never been held to account, including 'household names'.

Theatre faces criticism for going cashless

29 Jan 2024

The Plaza Theatre in Romsey, Hampshire has defended its decision to go cashless after receiving criticism on social media. They will be card only from 31 March. 

Neil Gwynne, Chair of Romsey Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society which runs the volunteer-led venue, said it was the right decision for the theatre’s long-term future.

“We made the decision because the overwhelming majority pay by card anyway, they have done ever since Covid," he said.

“There are a number of purchase points where we have to have a supply of cash which then has to be counted before and after every performance by our volunteers. 

"It’s a lot more work than people actually realise. Volunteer time is not limitless, so any way in which we can reduce the demand on the time of our volunteers is something we look out for."

Frazer: Philanthropy 'key to widening arts access'

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer at the National Gallery
29 Jan 2024

Culture Secretary says the denigration of corporate sponsorship and donations needs to end if arts and culture institutions are to get the financial support they need.

UK visual artists earn £10m in royalties during 2023

29 Jan 2024

Design and Artists Copyright Society (DACS) has announced that it distributed £10.1m in Artist’s Resale Right (ARR) royalties in 2023.

The sum was split between 1,893 visual artists and estates, 228 of which were first-time payments to artists whose works had only recently begun selling above the threshold value of  €1,000 on the secondary market.

ARR was introduced into UK law in 2006. Since then, DACS has paid a total of over £125m in resale royalties, benefiting 6,121 artists and estates. 

Christian Zimmermann, DACS Chief Executive, said: “These monies recognise both artists' and estates' contributions to our society and the economy, with an art market worth £9.5bn and our creative industries contributing £116bn to UK GDP.

“Royalties go beyond financial transactions - they are essential catalysts for reinvestment, empowering artists to create and estates to preserve the artist's enduring legacy."
 

Council plans £500k art fund after government cash boost 

Suffolk County Council offices 2014
29 Jan 2024

Suffolk County Council said that a £600m government support package to help local authorities with the cost of social care will enable it to propose a new arts funding scheme.

Learning music keeps brain healthy in later life

29 Jan 2024

People who play a musical instrument or sing have better brain health as they age, a study by the University of Exeter has found.

Scientists found that among 1,108 participants with an average age of 68, playing a musical instrument was associated with significantly better memory, with keyboard or piano players scoring the highest on average.

Singing in a choir was also found to improve brain health, with researchers suggesting the social aspect of being part of an ensemble may also play a key role. 

Anne Corbett, Professor of Dementia Research at University of Exeter, said: “Overall, we think that being musical could be a way of harnessing the brain’s agility and resilience, known as cognitive reserve.

“Although more research is needed to investigate this relationship, our findings indicate that promoting musical education would be a valuable part of public health initiatives to promote a protective lifestyle for brain health, as would encouraging older adults to return to music in later life.

“There is considerable evidence for the benefit of music group activities for individuals with dementia, and this approach could be extended as part of a healthy ageing package for older adults to enable them to proactively reduce their risk and to promote brain health.”

Royal Ballet School announces regional training hub

Child dancers standing in line holding a barre
29 Jan 2024

Charity says it hopes to open more training hubs across the UK as part of efforts to improve access to dance and grow commercial revenue.

Reading Council submits £13.7m theatre revamp plans

29 Jan 2024

Reading Borough Council has submitted plans for a £13.7m overhaul of The Hexagon theatre.

The proposals include the demolition of unused parts of the building and the addition of a new extension with a 300-seat auditorium and performance space.

If approved, work on the project could begin in August, with the theatre remaining open during construction

The update is part of a broader regeneration of the area known as the Minster Quarter and is backed by £19.1m that the council received from the government's Levelling Up fund.

English National Opera strike suspended

Protesters outside The Coliseum hold purple placards reading 'Save our ENO'
29 Jan 2024

Strike action by staff at English National Opera had been due to begin later this week on the opening night of The Handmaid’s Tale.

Jamie Lloyd Company splits from ATG

29 Jan 2024

The Jamie Lloyd Company (JLC) has ended its 10-year partnership with the Ambassador Theatre Group, becoming an independent company for the first time.

Led by Artistic Director and Executive Producer Jamie Lloyd, JLC's work includes productions of Sunset Boulevard starring Nicole Scherzinger and Lucy Prebble's The Effect.

Jamie Lloyd said: “It has long been the intention for The Jamie Lloyd Company to become an independent production company, and I am delighted to be beginning this new era with some very exciting new projects that will be announced soon.

"Our partnership with ATG has been truly special, and I am very grateful for their remarkable support over the last decade. I am looking forward to continuing our relationship with Adam Speers and everyone at ATG Productions when we collaborate on projects in the future.

"The company will work on a slate of current commissions and new projects created with some of the incredible collaborators I’ve worked alongside throughout my career — and, indeed, those artists I’ve yet to have the chance to work with.”
 

Fears council cash boost will not prompt reprieve for arts

Home Office, 2 Marsham Street
29 Jan 2024

Culture Secretary says additional £600m for local authorities will help them protect arts venues, but councils warn that the funding shortfall for social care remains too large for it to make a significant difference.

Record profits for music venue group

26 Jan 2024

A company that owns a nationwide chain of music venues has announced record profits for the 2023 financial year.

The Electric Group owns and operates live music venues, including Electric Brixton, SWX Bristol and NX Newcastle.

The company reported earnings of £1.98m for 2023, up from £1.04m in 2022 and £1.36m for the year before the pandemic.

It is hoping to expand its operations and is assessing the viability of three new venues.

The company, which bought the freehold to the Leadmill in Sheffield in 2017, has been embroiled in a prolonged dispute with the historic club's managers after serving them with an eviction notice in 2022.

Electric Group CEO Dominic Madden commented: “As a company we embody the spirit of independence. We thrive on collaboration, working hand-in-hand with artists, fans, and partners to foster a music community that dares to be different.

“It’s not just about preserving history, it’s about breathing fresh vitality into every venue. We embrace innovation and consistently seek ways to invigorate oculturally significantant venues. We are delighted with the outstanding financial results of our company.

"We are delighted with the outstanding financial results of our company. Although we have had some unique challenges to deal with in the post Covid era including dealing with the catastrophic arson attack at SWX Bristol, the demand for live music and our curated approach to music programming of events is unabated."

ACE in talks on future of Illuminate data platform

The PricewaterhouseCoopers logo on the side of a tall building
25 Jan 2024

Contract for Illuminate data platform ends in March 2026, a year ahead of the end of the recently extended National Portfolio for 2023-27, raising questions over its future.

East London museum awarded £800k for restoration

24 Jan 2024

Valence House Museum and Gardens in Dagenham will undergo £800k improvement works after securing external investment.

The restoration is backed by the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and Arts Council England’s Museum Estates Development Fund, with match funding from Barking and Dagenham Council.

The project includes conservation works in the medieval moated enclosure to restore natural habitats and biodiversity, roof repair and conservation investigations into the medieval fabric of the Grade II* listed building. 

Councillor Saima Ashraf, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Community Leadership and Engagement said: “Barking and Dagenham is a growing destination with a diverse arts and culture offer, and we recognise the huge contribution the sector makes to our entire community.

“Our borough’s heritage gems... are much loved by the community, and despite the financial pressures we, like councils up and down the country, are facing, we’re committed to ensuring our heritage sites remain available for local people to enjoy.

“It’s really important we continue to secure external funding to invest in these important sites and ensure a wide range of arts and culture activity to meet the needs of not just the few, but the many.”

Arts Council Wales chief urges 'national debate’ on value of arts

WNO's La Traviata featuring David Junghoon Kim as Alfredo
24 Jan 2024

Comments follow the Senedd's decision to reduce Arts Council Wales' annual funding by 10.5%.

Cultural festival awarded £30k from ACE

24 Jan 2024

A new cultural festival in Broxtrowe, Nottinghamshire, has received £30,000 of Arts Council England (ACE) funding. 

Running throughout June, the festival will offer indoor and outdoor events, including a mix of theatre performances, art workshops, film screenings and live music.

The bid to ACE was made through a Community Committee comprising Broxtowe Borough Council members and officers as well as local people with experience in the culture sector.

Chair of the Community Committee, Councillor Teresa Cullen, said: “This is such a significant amount of funding and such an exciting opportunity for us in Broxtowe. The festival will bring the best of Broxtowe cultural groups and artists to venues across the breadth of the borough. 

“It will also be a really important way for us to break down barriers between areas of our local community, raise awareness of issues like disability and mental health through cultural performances and be accessible for people for all backgrounds."

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