Race Equality Commission to review Equity’s anti-racism activities

rear view of protestors on an anti racism march holding banners
28 May 2020

The Commission will be asking fundamental questions about how the union organises, represents and fights for Black and minority ethnic workers, hoping to achieve reconciliation after a recent period of acrimony.

Artists and environmentalists to form climate change think tank

26 May 2020

Inverleith House in the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is to be rebranded 'Climate House'. Under threat of closure until recently, it will be at the heart of a three-year project to bring together artists, environmentalists, scientists, activists and policymakers to form a new think tank called the General Ecology Network. The project will be funded by a £150,000 award from the Outset Contemporary Art Fund and will address key issues surrounding the climate crisis.

Arts centre apologises for anti-Tory tweets

26 May 2020

A spokesman for Belfast's Duncairn Art and Cultural Centre has apologised for a series of tweets shared on its social media account referring to the row over government advisor Dominic Cummings. They called the Tories “liars” and described the English electorate at "gullible, right wing fanatics". The spokesman said the employee who posted the tweets mistakenly thought they were being issued from a personal account, and that the Centre is "proud to be a cross-community, non-political organisation". The employee "has been warned about future conduct and removed from the social media admin role.”

Contemporary culture holds its own in international tourism

26 May 2020

One of very few bright spots reported in the British Tourist Authority's Annual Report for 2018/2019 is international impressions of the strength of culture in the UK. Although the UK fell to 4th place in the overall national brand rankings, overtaken by both Canada and France, perceptions grew that the country is "interesting and exciting for contemporary culture". On this attribute it has risen one place to third in the league table. It was ranked 7th for cultural heritage.

Despite this, the UK's share of international tourism fell last year in both volume and value terms. The BTA report notes that while inbound tourism spending in the UK dropped by 7%, spending elsewhere in Europe rose by 5%, Asia-Pacific by 8%, and the Middle East by 4%, though spending in the Americas saw no change on the previous year. 

The two least positive attributes of the UK in the eyes of the rest of the world are 'natural beauty' (ranked 26th) and 'welcome'. The country ranked 16th when assessed against the statement "If visited, people would make me feel very welcome" - falling one place for the third consecutive year. 



Lifeline for Brighton Hippodrome

26 May 2020

A £7,000 grant from the Theatres Trust will support Brighton Hippodrome CIC to address the planning issues and legal deliberations around the restoration of the Hippodrome, a large-scale Frank Matcham-designed circus-theatre. The building is "the finest surviving example of its type in the country" and has been on the Theatres Trust’s Theatres at Risk Register since the list began in 2006. It is now reportedly up for sale again by the company that was planning for it to become a boutique hotel with shops.

Levels of digital engagement dip

26 May 2020

The fourth week of a tracking study examining trends in consumer engagement with digital culture has found a downward trend in weekly consumption of some cultural activities, and less frequent consumption of others. The number watching filmed performances of theatre, concerts and/or dance shows online in the past week fell to 14% from a high of 19% two weeks ago.

Fewer people are watching live social media streams or broadcasts; looking at art online; engaging with online learning; watching free to access videos; and playing online multiplayer video games every week. The popularity of watching videos made by other users; looking at, commenting on, or ‘liking’ social media posts; using video software for social activities; engaging with social media by celebrities; and sharing images or videos not created by themselves is also in decline. A daily consumption pattern has shifted towards 'less than daily'.

Turner Prize 2020 to be shared due to pandemic disruption

26 May 2020

Next month the prize jury will announce bursaries of £10,000 to go to 10 artists, instead of a shortlist announcement followed by a £25,000 winner in December. Prize organiser Tate Britain said the timetable for preparing for the autumn exhibition would have been unachievable under the current restrictions, and instead it wants to help support a larger selection of artists.




Studies reveal threat to museums across the world

26 May 2020

Studies by UNESCO and the International Council of Museums have found that almost 9 out of 10 of the world's 95,000 museums have had to close at least temporarily since the start of the pandemic. The United Nations cultural agency has warned that nearly 13 per cent may never reopen. In Africa and the Small Island Developing States, only 1 in 20 museums have been able to offer digital content to their audiences.


Refund woes continue as consumers berate ticketing practices

view across a pop concert from the back of an auditorium
26 May 2020

Huge public anger over ticketing companies’ foot-dragging approach to offering refunds for cancelled and postponed events continues to boil on social media.

Ministerial taskforce to discuss reopening, but not funding

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden
22 May 2020

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden is asking senior representatives across the DCMS portfolio to find “creative ways to get these sectors up and running again”, but there is no talk of a cash injection to secure their future.

Local venues could be key to keeping audiences engaged

Back to Blackbrick
22 May 2020

Rural touring could win back audiences first, as confidence in village hall venues is higher than for other types of auditorium, research finds.

Inquiry lays bare the impending collapse of the cultural sector ecology

audiences at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
22 May 2020

Commercial operators reveal eye-watering losses and other non-subsidised organisations sit on the brink of ruin in the absence of financial support from the Government for those ineligible for existing emergency funding streams.

No progress on multi-entry EU visas for musicians

21 May 2020

Hilary Benn MP, Chair of the Exiting the European Union Committee for this parliament, has asked Culture Minister John Whittingdale what assessment he has made of the potential economic effect on UK musicians of leaving the transitional period without an agreement with the EU, and challenged him to explain whether it is Government policy to negotiate an agreement on multi-entry touring visas for UK musicians wishing to perform in the European Union.

In his replies Whittingdale said "We understand the diverse circumstances of companies, organisations and individual practitioners and how they may need to adapt as we leave the EU". He told Benn the Government recognises that the strength of the sector "depends on musicians and crew being able to move quickly and easily between countries, taking necessary equipment with them.”

He referred to ‘mode 4’ within the World Trade Organisation’s  General Agreement on Trade in Services, which concerns the movement of people providing services across borders, and said: “On temporary entry for business purposes (mode 4), a reciprocal agreement based on best precedent will mean that UK citizens will be able to undertake some business activities in the EU without a work permit, on a short-term basis.

“The same would apply for EU citizens making business visits to the UK. The precise details, including range of activities, documentation needed, and the time limit, will be negotiated.”

He said the Government wants "a relationship with the EU based on friendly cooperation, centred on free trade on the lines of the free trade agreement the EU has with Canada". But in the event that a comprehensive free trade agreement cannot be agreed, "the transition period will end and the UK will operate under the deal agreed with the EU in 2019 and an arrangement similar to that between Australia and the EU"...

"In all circumstances, we expect UK musicians’ work to continue to be an export that is highly valued in the EU as it is across the world."

Royal Lyceum to be mothballed to protect the future of the venue

21 May 2020

Two-thirds of staff at Edinburgh's Royal Lyceum Theatre have been warned they may lose their jobs as the theatre goes into "hibernation" after running up losses of more than £700,000 in the last two months. It has ruled out reopening until at least spring of 2021 as social distancing measures are thought to be impractical and financially unviable for staging shows at the venue.

University to run arts-based research exploring loneliness

20 May 2020

Manchester Metropolitan University researchers will be giving young adults the opportunity to create arts-based resources that can help young people think about, talk about and relate to their own and other people’s solitude. The project is aiming to provide new personal perspectives on the mental health and loneliness of those aged between 16 and 25, and will look at how young people are responding to physical distancing and the lockdown.

‘Equality, diversity and social justice’ must follow the crisis, says Arts Council

the foyer of Wales Millennium Centre
20 May 2020

The sector is “on its knees”, the Arts Council of Wales tells a Senedd committee, and invites the arts community to contribute to plans for “lasting and systemic change” post-lockdown.

Scotland’s Bursary scheme to benefit 865 creative practitioners

20 May 2020

Four out of five of the 1,069 applicants to the first round of the Creative Scotland Bridging Bursary fund are receiving sums ranging for £500 to £2,500, amounting to a total of £1.55m. The bursaries have been awarded to provide financial support to freelance creative professionals who have lost earnings due to the cancelation of their work in the pandemic.

Such was the demand for Bursary funding that the scheme, which opened for requests on Monday30th March, remained open for just four days and closed at 6pm on April 2nd.

Decisions on the awards were made purely on eligibility, and it was not a competitive process. The winners are distributed across Scotland, and over half are working in music and the visual arts. Musicians were awarded the highest proportion of the funding, with 217 people sharing £417k, but 228 awards were also made to visual artists, who shared £405k.

A second round of the Bridging Bursary fund was announced when additional funding of £1m each from Scottish Government and the Freelands Foundation was made available. The fund for this round was open from 20th to 25th April and these requests are currently being processed.

Fundraising campaign brings reprieve for small music venues

20 May 2020

140 grassroots music venues are being removed from the ‘critical’ list following the #saveourvenues campaign initiated by the Music Venue Trust, which has so far raised over £1.5m in donations. But MVT points out that the money doesn’t mean these venues are protected permanently, and is calling for more music industry donations and governmental intervention, particularly around the issue of the rent relief for grassroots music venue tenants.

Describing the progress so far as “a good start”, Mark Davyd, founder and CEO of MVT said, “…we are not complacent as this is only a relatively short-term fix. Whilst the immediate threat of closure for these venues has been halted they are still under real threat in the coming months, as are over 400 others…we still have a mountain to climb to secure the long-term future of this sector.”

As well as providing financial support, MVT’s crisis intervention team has also been providing legal and planning advice, liaising with landlords and helping venues navigate through bureaucratic processes to access help.

Plans could see a pound shop turned into a performance school

20 May 2020

An empty Poundstretcher store in Brighton could be turned into a dance and performance training suite if planning permission is approved. The Institute for Contemporary Theatre is hoping the building will provide the space it needs to grow, and to run more courses in partnership with BIMM Institute and the Screen and Film School. The project is part of a bigger scheme, for which a property developer has applied separately for planning permission to knock down the back of the building and build six flats.

New alliance to give higher visibility to disabled creative practitioners

A performance of The Who's Tommy at the Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich
19 May 2020

Concerns that progress towards diversity is being de-prioritised as a result of the Covid crisis have prompted a new forum from which to raise the voice of D/deaf and disabled creative practitioners and campaign for inclusion.


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