Musicians awarded compensation after orchestra insolvency

24 Jan 2024

An employment tribunal has ruled 17 members of a former ensemble, which became insolvent suddenly last year, are entitled to a share of £30,350 compensation.

The Nevis Ensemble, which had a total of 19 fellows who regularly performed in care homes, prisons, schools and recovery groups, announced sudden insolvency in January 2023.

The charity, which launched in 2018 and gave almost 700 performances, said it was facing “severe funding challenges” and was “unable to deliver their activities” at the time of the closure.

It left the musicians they supported without a promised annual bursary of £11,000, paid in monthly £1,000 instalments.

The compensation awarded in the employment tribunal is for unauthorised deduction of wages, breach of contract and unpaid holidays.

Sam Dunkley, Musicians’ Union Acting Regional Organiser for Scotland and Northern Ireland said: “We are pleased that the Employment Tribunal Judgment has found in favour of the Nevis fellows and awarded compensation for losses suffered and for a protective award for the lack of information and consultation. 

“These musicians were dismissed with no notice or consultation process, leaving them in real financial peril and without the security they should have had.

“We hope that those engaging musicians take time to consider the impact of this finding and recognise employed musicians properly in their workforce, as well as following appropriate redundancy and consultation procedures when necessary.”

Can fungi boost festival sustainability?

Crowds around a stage at Glastonbury Festival
24 Jan 2024

An Arts Council England-backed project has been exploring whether mycelium, a material made from the root network of fungi, can be used to construct sustainable temporary structures at festivals.

Coventry Culture Trust administration extended

23 Jan 2024

Administrators investigating a charity's spending have been given another year to continue their work.

Since Coventry City of Culture Trust collapsed in February 2023 with debts of more than £4m, administrators have been working to sell off assets to try to pay back creditors while investigating the circumstances of the collapse, with forensic accountants being hired to assist.

The appointment of an administrator automatically ends one year after the date it takes effect.

But a notice filed with Companies House states that, with creditors' consent, the administration period will now run until 27 February 2025. Any further extensions are only possible by court order.

Meanwhile, a senior Conservative MP said they want to "get to the bottom of what went wrong".

Speaking to the Coventry Observer, Conservative Party Chairman Richard Holden said he and his party’s local candidates for the next general election were "very keen" for the full legacy of the City of Culture year to be realised.

“Millions was given by central government to fund the City of Culture year and I know there is a big desire in Coventry to get to the bottom of this issue.

“I know [our local candidates] are very passionate about this issue and want to see a real legacy of the City of Culture.

“This includes getting to the bottom of what went wrong but also to work towards building on the positive as there was so much money and goodwill invested into the year.”

Somerset Council plans culture budget cuts

Exterior of the Brewhouse Theatre
23 Jan 2024

Cost-saving proposals include reducing support to the county’s theatres as the council faces a £100m funding shortfall.

Museum re-opens in former bank

23 Jan 2024

Chatteris Museum in Cambridgeshire is reopening in a former Barclays bank branch two years after moving out of its old premises, having outgrown it.

The former museum building, shared with the town council offices, closed in 2021. The BBC reports that the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority purchased its new home for £770,000.

An official opening has been planned for May, but it is open three days a week until then on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Collections Manager Andrew Spooner said: "We are really excited to have this fabulous space. It is a classic early Victorian, Georgian architectural delight built in 1840, and a Barclays bank since 1921. The bank shut in 2019, but people still refer to the building as 'Barclays'.

"We have 24 very keen volunteers, and thanks to various grants, including £97,000 from the National Lottery, we hope to keep the legacy and history of this wonderful town alive for future generations."

Use philanthropy to increase arts funding, says Robertson

Scotland's Culture Secretary Angus Robertson
23 Jan 2024

Scotland’s Cultural Secretary Angus Robertson says exploring new funding streams in addition to government funding, and working closely with local authorities, will be key for the future of the sector.

Music in schools initiative gets further ACE funding

22 Jan 2024

An initiative to perform live classical music shows in school playgrounds will tour schools and venues nationwide this year after being given further funding by Arts Council England (ACE). 

Inspired by the BBC's Promenade Concerts, Playground Proms were initially developed by comedy string quartet Graffiti Classics in 2021 as a way to perform during COVID social distancing restrictions. They began as a collaboration with Cumbria Music Hub and toured across the county.

The charity said the latest grant from ACE, the third it has now received, will enable the project to be rolled out to even more schools later this year in collaboration with music hubs in Cumbria, East Riding, Lancashire, Norfolk, North Yorkshire, Portsmouth and York, as well as a pilot project in Kent.

Cathal Ó Dúill from Playground Proms said, “We are so pleased to be able to take Playground Proms to even more school children in 2024 and are very grateful to Arts Council England for their support.

"We believe classical music can be enjoyed by everyone, and the response to our schools’ workshops and performances in the local communities shows this. 

"Some children we perform with may have never heard any live classical music before our visit, and we believe passionately in the transformative nature of live music in all children’s lives. 

"All our audiences really enjoy the music being presented in a new and fresh way, and we hope this can go some way to show there is interest from the public and classical music should be invested in."

Collections Trust reviews weblinks policy after Hamas reference

The title page of the inclusive terminology glossary against the background of Paintings in The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery
22 Jan 2024

Collections Trust has deleted a link to a terminology guide from its website following accusations that a section on Palestine described Hamas as 'freedom fighters'.

Peterborough theatre undergoes £5m refurb

22 Jan 2024

Peterborough's Cresset theatre has closed for a month to allow all of its 876 seats to be replaced as part of a £5m refurbishment.

The BBC reports that the work is now underway to upgrade the venue to "modern standards" after owners, YMCA Trinity Group, were awarded £5.1m to develop the work it does with young people from the government-funded Youth Investment Fund for capital spending.

Work will include replacing the roof and drainage systems, installing a new lighting rig and sustainable theatre lighting, and facilities to help performers with access needs.

Penny Hansen, Cresset's Head of Commercial Activities, said: "This is all about safeguarding the building's future. We need a safe space, and this is about upgrading it to modern standards.

"We offer incredible opportunities for young people, and it is very much about doing more of that."

Scottish government commits £200,000 to 'slavery museum'

The interior of the Museum of Scotland
22 Jan 2024

All six recommendations of independent steering group, set up to advise on how museums and galleries can better reflect the country’s role in empire, colonialism and historic slavery are accepted by Scottish government.

Council seeks reallocation of government cash to save arts centre

22 Jan 2024

Woking Council will ask the government if it can use money provided for digital strategy to keep an arts centre open.

The BBC reports that the cash-strapped local authority was given £1m as part of the government's UK Shared Prosperity Fund in 2022 but now wants to reallocate £600,000 of that for other purposes, including £130,000 to keep The Lightbox museum and gallery open.

Under the plans, £30,000 would also be given to Citizen's Advice to help plan for the future, and £101,000 would be allocated to improving footpaths and car parks in outdoor spaces.

Will Forster, Deputy Leader at Woking Council, said the move would help minimise the impact of the council's financial position on communities and local businesses.

He added: "We've had to make some really tough decisions this year. I'm glad that by utilising this funding sensibly, we can show organisations like The Lightbox and Citizen's Advice that we value them and are willing to do everything within our gift to support them."

The decision to reallocate the money to six priority projects was made at a council meeting last Thursday (18 January), and government approval will now be sought.

'Neglected housing' claim at artist studio scheme

Lakeside Centre
22 Jan 2024

Bow Arts provides low-cost housing and studios to artists in properties that have been deregistered from the housing list because they are due for demolition.

Activists urge architects to boycott British Museum redesign

22 Jan 2024

Environmental campaigners are calling on architects not to take part in a contest to redesign around a third of the British Museum following a controversial £50m sponsorship deal with BP that will fund the redevelopment.

The boycott is backed by the Architects Declare network, the Section of Architectural Workers trade union, now part of Unite, and Future Architects Front (FAF).

A spokesperson for FAF told the Architects Journal: "We fully support calls for architects to reject commissions funded with oil money.

"In the context of cascading ecological collapse, it is completely indefensible for architects to knowingly work with the most blatant perpetrators of climate destruction. Such donations by oil companies are transparent acts of reputation washing, and any architect with the slightest pretence of social concern must refuse to become complicit."
 

Scrapping free entry to Welsh museums ‘inevitable’

19 Jan 2024

The introduction of admission fees at all national museum sites in Wales due to “critical” financial pressures has an “air of inevitability”, a government committee has heard.

Deputy Minister for Culture Dawn Bowden told the Senedd’s culture committee that ending free entry was being considered as a way to generate income in the face of budget constraints.

In December, the Welsh government revealed plans for a curtailed cultural budget, handing a £3m cut to the National Museums of Wales and a 10.5% drop in funding to Arts Council Wales, suggesting cultural bodies need to "explore other sources of income".

Speaking at the culture committee, Plaid Cymru’s Llŷr Gruffydd said there was an air of inevitability about the introduction of entry charges.

Bowden told ministers: “It is not something that we would be considering or asking the museum to look at and to consider if it were not in a critical situation.

“The budget situation was such that this was an option that had to be on the table.

“Now, I'm not saying that that's where we will end up, but it would not be responsible of me to rule that out at this stage or to suggest to the museum they shouldn't be exploring that.”

ACE portfolio extension: NPOs wary of 'standstill funding'

Helen Sherman as Dorabella and Máire Flavin as Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte (2016), Opera North
18 Jan 2024

Arts leaders have reacted to Art Council England's decision to extend its current funding portfolio until 2027.

V&A Dundee halves its major exhibit output to cut costs

18 Jan 2024

V&A Dundee will reduce the number of major exhibitions it stages each year as part of “mitigating measures” to cut costs.

The move means the Scottish design museum will host only one annual paid exhibition.

A new report sent to the Scottish government by the organisation confirmed that the programming change, first introduced on a trial basis in 2022 in response to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, will become permanent for the foreseeable future.

The reduction in exhibits is part of a range of measures designed to financially bolster the venue in what it describes as a “volatile operating environment”. Other actions include covering operational costs from financial reserves and cutting overall spending.

In comments to the Scottish parliament last week, V&A Dundee director Leonie Bell said that over the previous five years, the museum had endured “year on year of mitigating measures”, leading to difficulties “to plan beyond a year ahead”.

An independent report published in September 2023 estimated that V&A Dundee had generated £304m for the Scottish economy in the five years since it opened.

The venue receives most of its funding from the Scottish government, which recently increased its grant for 2024/25 by £800,000, taking it to £3.8m.
 

ACE extends National Portfolio to 2027

Arts Council England logo
18 Jan 2024

The 985 arts and culture organisations making up Arts Council England's National Portfolio will be able to apply for an additional year of core funding.

Most artists want AI regulation from government

18 Jan 2024

The majority of UK artists want the government to introduce legislation to protect their work from being used to train AI, according to a new survey.

Conducted by Design and Artists Copyright Society (DACS), the study found 89% would like to see the introduction of more robust safeguards and regulations around AI, with 94% saying they should be compensated financially when their work is used to train AI. 

Although 74% said they had concerns about their work being used to train AI, 84% would sign up for a licensing mechanism to be paid when AI uses their work. 

Nearly a third of respondents reported using an AI software or platform to support or assist their work. Almost the same proportion identified a lack of skills or training as a barrier to using AI in their practice.

As a result of the survey, DACS is making five policy recommendations to the government, including that AI models must comply with copyright law and artists must authorise the use of their works for AI training. 

DACS also wants government to adopt blanket licensing and levy schemes to compensate creators as well as a general improvement in pay and work for artists and incentives for AI training.

ENO staff vote for strike action

Cast of English National Opera’s Iolanthe 2023 © Craig Fuller
17 Jan 2024

English National Opera plans to axe 19 posts in its orchestra, and make the chorus, orchestra and music staff part-time as part of efforts to adapt to lower levels of income.

Northern Ireland artists receive £1m from National Lottery 

17 Jan 2024

Arts Council of Northern Ireland has named 292 artists awarded funding from a £1.04m National Lottery fund as part of its Support for Individual Artists Programme.

The scheme provides artists working across all disciplines with grants of up to £6,000 to develop new creative projects, purchase equipment, and support international performance opportunities and residencies.

Recipients include a horror music composer, aerial circus performer, prosthetic make-up artist and prop-maker.

“Individual artists are at the very heart of the creative sector in Northern Ireland, enriching our communities and bringing our theatres, music venues and galleries to life,” said Gilly Campbell, joint Director of Arts Development, Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

“Thanks to National Lottery players and money raised for good causes, funding from the Arts Council’s Support for Individual Artists Programme will provide artists, working across all areas of the arts, with the vital investment they need to embark on new projects, develop their ideas and find new and engaging ways to present their art.”
 

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