Ticket touts sentenced to prison

26 Feb 2020

Two internet ticket touts have been sentenced to prison in the first case of its kind in the UK.

Peter Hunter and David Smith made £3.5m selling invalid tickets to Ed Sheeran, Coldplay and Taylor Swift concerts as well as shows like 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child' through their company BZZ Limited.


Their offences, committed between May 2010 and 2017, were discovered following an investigation by National Trading Standards. Hunter and Smith used almost 100 different names, 88 postal addresses and more than 290 emails to evade detection, as well as specialist software.

The pair received four years and 30 months in jail respectively

Sector fights ‘impossible’ new visa rules for EU nationals

26 Feb 2020

Shocked musicians fear European countries will respond in kind to stricter visa and immigration requirements for touring artists.

‘Sustainable’ opera productions announced

25 Feb 2020

Opera North will stage a “sustainable” production of Handel’s Alcina next year. The set, props and costumes will be made of materials that are either re-used or bought second hand. The company plans to follow this with three sustainable productions in 2021/22.

Call for post-Brexit ‘Musicians’ Passport’

25 Feb 2020

The Musicians’ Union (MU) is urging Government and Parliament to back a passport for musicians working in the EU after Brexit. It says the document should last for at least two years, cover all EU member states, and be “free or cheap”. MU General Secretary Horace Trubridge said that without easy two-way movement across borders, members’ ability to earn a living would “be severely affected”.

Domingo abused his power, investigators find

25 Feb 2020

Opera star Placido Domingo sexually harrassed performers for decades, an investigation has concluded.

Lawyers hired by the American Guild of Musical Artists determined that the accounts of 27 people who said they experienced or witnessed sexually aggressive behaviour when Domingo held senior positions at Washington National Opera and Los Angeles Opera showed a clear pattern of abuse of power and sexual misconduct.


In addition to those 27 people, another 12 told investigators they and the companies Domingo worked for were aware of his reputation.

Domingo issued a statement saying: “I have taken time over the last several months to reflect on the allegations that various colleagues of mine have made against me. I respect that these women finally felt comfortable enough to speak out, and I want them to know that I am truly sorry for the hurt that I caused them. I accept full responsibility for my actions, and I have grown from this experience.”

A separate second inquiry by Los Angeles Opera is ongoing.

Aberdeen libraries and arts funding under threat

25 Feb 2020

A proposal to close most of Aberdeen's libraries has been scrapped but arts funding is likely to be cut out of the city's budget.

Councillors will be asked to plug a £37.9m funding gap when the 2020/21 budget is presented to them on Tuesday. Major changes have been mooted including closing public toilets, ending school breakfasts, dimming streetlights and increasing council tax by at least 3%.


Last year the council considered closing all libraries except Aberdeen Central. Officers now recommend closing four community libraries, relocating libraries to occupy other community buildings and a £100,000 cut to overall library funding.

Aberdeen Performing Arts could have its funding cut by £98,000. Councillors will also consider whether to end music tuition in city schools.

Theatre owner questions Meghan's patronage

25 Feb 2020

Meghan Markle must consider whether she can continue as patron of the National Theatre following her departure from royal life, a major theatre owner says.

National Theatre Artistic Director Rufus Norris defended the institution's relationship with Markle after Nica Burns, the owner of several West End theatres, said the Duchess of Sussex must prove she can perform the role from abroad or step aside.

Burns said: "I think we should give Meghan until Easter to say what she thinks is possible with her patronage.


“If her new life means she is going back to work, maybe in film, or she'll have another child, I think the right decision would be for her to say: 'I have a new life and I can't continue.'

“If she is not going to be doing any work with the National, then she should step down. But as she is a role model, we would rather she didn’t.”

UK arts workers quarantined after coronavirus ship evacuation

24 Feb 2020

Eight performers who had been working on a cruise ship struck by the virus are now in quarantine in the UK. The workers were evacuated last week from the Diamond Princess, which was in lockdown off the Japanese coast for two weeks after some passengers tested positive. 600 of those on board have now contracted the virus and two have died.

Venues could be legally required to protect against terrorism

24 Feb 2020

Large arts venues such as concert halls would be among the spaces compelled to provide protection against terrorism under new Government proposals. The Home Office will consult on bringing in requirements to boost physical security, create incident response plans and train staff in how to respond to attacks. It is understood that the plans would not cover smaller venues.

Ofsted boss: Funding cuts are shrinking the curriculum

21 Feb 2020

Ofsted's Chief Inspector has warned that schools are "responding to funding pressure by reducing curriculum breadth".

In a blog post, Amanda Speilman said Ofsted "placed curriculum and quality of education at the heart of our education inspection framework, because all pupils should be entitled to a broad and rich curriculum".

“This makes it particularly concerning that schools are responding to funding pressure by reducing curriculum breadth, with languages, computing, design and technology and music most affected. Extra-curricular provision has also been cut in a number of schools. This may reduce pupils’ opportunities to enrich their experiences and grow cultural capital.”

The post was removed soon after, apparently because it had been published "erroneously", Schools Week reports.

Theatre company resists venue's ‘licence to change’ clause 

21 Feb 2020

If enacted it would allow the host theatre to refund ‘offended’ ticket buyers at the touring company’s expense.

Countess of Wessex to open ballet studios

21 Feb 2020

Sophie, Countess of Wessex, is opening ballet studios named after her in Southwark next week.

Seven studios and a studio theatre will form part of the Central School of Ballet at Paris Gardens. The school relocated there from Clerkenwell in 2017 following a £9m fundraising campaign.

The Countess has been patron of the Central School of Ballet since 2003.



Opening date for Northampton Museum and Art Gallery

21 Feb 2020

A refurbished and expanded Northampton Museum and Art Gallery will reopen to the public on 20 June.

The museum has doubled in size and now includes a temporary exhibitions gallery, schools activity space and a Shoe Gallery for Northampton's internationally significant shoe collection. 

The area's shoemaking heritage is celebrated in a new gallery shop that focuses on local artists and makers. 

Northampton Borough Councillor Jonathan Nunn said: “This much anticipated development, in the heart of our expanding Cultural Quarter, has been five years in the making and represents a significant addition to Northampton’s cultural life."


Whittingdale is back: the new DCMS Ministers

20 Feb 2020

DCMS has welcomed two new ministerial posts and a former Culture Secretary after widespread speculation it would be dismantled.

Digital technology isn’t improving audience outreach

20 Feb 2020

New research says that “when it comes to reaching more diverse and younger audiences … digital may be having less of an impact now than when the study began in 2013”.

National Theatre boss rejects 'left-wing bias'

20 Feb 2020

National Theatre Director Rufus Norris has rejected an actor's claim the organisation only permits left wing voices.

Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey and a Conservative peer, said the theatre and other arts institutions are part of a "left-of-centre metropolitan elite" that considers "their opinions as if they were facts, and everyone else’s opinions as if they were nonsense".


Norris said the theatre was broadening its repertoire and the artists and locations it works in: "I totally dispute the idea that we’re speaking in any particular bubble."




British Museum staff say 'ditch BP'

20 Feb 2020

Staff at the British Museum have added their voices to a growing outcry against oil company BP's sponsorship of the organisation.

Earlier this month, activists snuck a giant Trojan Horse sculpture into the museum's courtyard to protest BP's sponsorship of an exhibition about Troy.


Members of the PCS union’s culture group, which represents 4,000 workers across the UK’s leading cultural sites, said the British Museum "owes it to its staff, its visitors and its future to play a responsible role in the greatest challenge facing society".

“It is not true that we cannot afford to refuse BP’s oil money. In fact, we cannot afford to accept it.”


Dorchester theatre plans scrapped as fundraising fails

20 Feb 2020

The team behind a plan to establish a new theatre and arts centre in Dorchester are giving up after eight years trying to raise the funds needed.

The board of The Maltings Arts says the £12.5m project is no longer achievable: "We came to this conclusion with a heavy heart, as we and many other organisations and individuals have put a huge amount of effort into the planning, promotion and fundraising efforts," Chair Louise Sheaves said.

"Projects of this scale always require a large number of funders to come together at the right time, but in this case budgetary pressures on all sides have resulted in the funds not coalescing in time."

Mark Tattersall, Artistic Director of Dorchester Arts, said he was "bitterly disappointed but this is the right decision under the circumstances".

Delay over disclosure of sexual misconduct allegations

19 Feb 2020

The Royal Opera House did not tell the Royal Ballet School about sexual misconduct allegations against a resident choreographer for six months.

The allegations against Liam Scarlett were reported to the Charity Commission in October. The school was only told late in January that the claims might relate to some of its students.

The Royal Opera House has defended the delay, saying "we followed our safeguarding obligations throughout and notified the Royal Ballet School when it was appropriate to do so".

Scarlett was suspended in August.

Half of UK youths are streaming orchestral music

19 Feb 2020

Nearly half (46%) of UK youths are streaming orchestral tracks compared to 15% of over-65s, new research suggests.

A survey of more than 2000 adults commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra found 83% of under-25s are 'encountering' and 'engaging' with orchestral music, largely through video games, TV and film soundtracks.

Three-quarters of all adults have an active relationship with orchestral music - one quarter attend live concerts regularly - dispelling the common misconception that young people have no interest in the genre.


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