Young Vic arts education scheme helps ‘plug gaps’ in schools

Two pupils sit at computers for a lesson, a teacher leans forward to speak to them
16 Jan 2024

Young Vic's Innovate programme embedded six artists into two local schools to help teachers deliver creative activities as part of the core curriculum.

Barking theatre closes after survey reveals RAAC

16 Jan 2024

Broadway Theatre in Barking has announced its immediate closure after a building survey revealed the presence of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC).

The building will remain closed while further investigation and essential repairs are carried out.

RAAC was used extensively in the construction of public buildings between the 1950s and the 1970s. It is described as “much weaker” than traditional concrete by the Standing Committee on Structural Safety.

More than a dozen theatres shut their doors last autumn after the government issued updated guidance in response to widespread concerns about the material's longevity.
 

Natural heritage sites to share £15.6m of funding

A group of walkers gathered on a hill in the Peak District
16 Jan 2024

National Lottery Heritage Fund will introduce a landscape and nature-focused initiative later this year as part of its 10-year strategy.

£500k announced for Barnet arts education programme

16 Jan 2024

The charity Barnet Education Arts Trust in North London is to allocate £500k over the next three years to cultural activities for children and young people outside mainstream education. 

North Finchley's cultural centre - artsdepot - will run the scheme for 8,000 children and young people working in partnership with 120 organisations.

The funding will be used to hold events for home-educated children educated, take touring shows to religious schools and for pupils with special educational needs educated at the Pavilion study centre in Whetstone.

There will also grants available for schools to bring artists into educational settings.
 

Major arts development in Rochdale gets go ahead

Images of interior plans for Touchstones Rochdale. Provided by Rochdale Borough Council. Credit: Architectural Emporium.
15 Jan 2024

Work to improve Touchstones Rochdale is being funded by Arts Council England and Rochdale Borough Council.

Scottish museums share £400,000 development funding

15 Jan 2024

Museums Galleries Scotland has awarded grants worth £420,000 to nine projects via the Museum Development Fund. 

The projects include North Lanarkshire’s Museums & Collections, which will collaborate with local communities impacted by the legacies of slavery and empire to create more inclusive heritage spaces and develop collections knowledge. 

Meanwhile, Historylinks Museum in Dornoch will launch a People’s Gallery to tell the stories of ordinary people who have contributed to the history and heritage of the town. It will be co-curated by the community and include participation from schools and local clubs.

Elsewhere, Museum nan Eilean will support the international interest in the heritage of the Outer Hebrides and increase the sustainability of the Museum Service through holding an Emigration Conference. 

Lucy Casot, CEO of Museums Galleries Scotland said: “We’re delighted to fund nine varied projects from museums across Scotland. 

"These projects represent the work the sector is undertaking in remaining responsive to the needs of their community, better representing stories from people in Scotland and across the world, and contributing to a sustainable tourist experience.”

Cornwall museum awarded £2.1m Levelling Up support

Exterior of Royal Cornwall Museum, River Street, Truro, Cornwall - June 2022
15 Jan 2024

Successful grant bid for the Royal Cornwall Museum comes less than two years after it faced closure following a loss of council support.

Artwork proposed for Leeds park to make it feel safer

15 Jan 2024

Creative lighting and public art are to be designed by community groups for a park in Leeds to try to make the space more welcoming for women.

Wow Park - a co-creative public art and lighting project to make Woodhouse Moor feel safer - is being developed by the University of Leeds after a study of women and girls from across West Yorkshire found that most feel unsafe in parks in some situations.

The study, carried out by researchers in the university's School of Law, concluded that feeling vulnerable in parks is a barrier that needs to be urgently addressed to ensure that women and girls feel able to use, enjoy and benefit from them. 

Woodhouse Moor is an open space that borders the university and is used by thousands of students and local residents as a social space to walk to and from campus. Research in 2016 showed it is the city’s most popular park, hosting more than three million visits annually.   

The University’s Cultural Institute will use the study's findings to explore whether creative solutions can help transform the park to make it feel safer, more inclusive, and welcoming for women, girls, and local communities.   

Professor Ben Walmsley, Dean of Cultural Engagement and Chair of the Cultural Institute’s Steering Group said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to explore and showcase the powerful role that arts and culture can play in animating places and making them safer and more inclusive, as well as more attractive. 

“This project shows how the University of Leeds can work across its diverse Schools and Institutes to translate research into action and make a positive difference to people’s lives through sustained community engagement."

Study on future of arts festivals launches 

15 Jan 2024

British Arts Festivals Association (BAFA) will undertake a UK-wide research study to assess the future of arts festivals.

Supported by Arts Council England, Arts Council of Wales and Creative Scotland, BAFA is commissioning BOP Consulting to research issues including sustainability, equality, diversity and access. 

The data will be used to benchmark the sector, quantifying its contribution to the economy and the places festivals serve. BAFA said it hopes the findings will demonstrate the challenges and opportunities for the sector in the wake of Covid and Brexit.  

Fiona Goh, Director of BAFA, said: “There’s never been a more critical time for BAFA to be able to capture the size, scale and impact of this extraordinary range of cultural events in the arts festivals sector, taking place across the UK.  

"This vital research will not only help us understand the scope of work currently happening in the sector, and to pinpoint the impacts of the pandemic and Brexit, but also help us see how festivals are responding to the challenges of sustainability, the cost of living crisis and social justice movements. 

"We’re delighted that investment from three national arts councils will provide the data that we need to support the sector in shaping a better future together.”

Findings from the survey, which can be accessed here, are due to be shared in the autumn.

Smaller NPOs urged to establish university links

A dancer leaning back on a stage lit in vivid blue
15 Jan 2024

National Portfolio Organisations with the highest levels of public funding three times more likely to be working with universities on arts and culture research than those with lower levels of subsidy.

Council approves outdoor venue for Slung Low

15 Jan 2024

Slung Low theatre company in Leeds has been granted permission to create an outdoor event space after the City Council consented to a three-year temporary change of use of its existing venue in the Temple District.

The planning application indicates shows the space will present occasional public performances, primarily in the summer months, and house a double-decker bus, which will function as a classroom and cinema.

There will also be workshop space for artists in the existing building and school and community sessions, offering placements and learning opportunities for students.

Alan Lane, Artistic Director of Slung Low, told the Yorkshire Evening Post: "We’re so pleased to hear that the temporary change of use has been confirmed on the Slung Low at Temple site. It’s a brilliantly exciting collaboration with CEG and ourselves to provide a creative space at the heart of the new Temple District.

"From this space, we are able to support so many theatre companies, independent artists, and community groups. With an outdoor stage also on site we are able to welcome audiences to visiting shows and work from our resident companies like Wrongsemble and Barrel Organ.

"It’s a part of our continuing commitment to making Holbeck an even more exciting place to live and work.”

British Youth Music Theatre to relocate to Leeds

British Youth Music Theatre, Performance of Harry & Greta
15 Jan 2024

National Portfolio Organisation says Yorkshire city's location in the centre of the UK allows good access to partners in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales as well as across England.

Durham theatre improves terms and conditions for performers

12 Jan 2024

Gala Theatre in Durham has agreed to introduce improved terms and conditions for performers, bringing the venue in line with standards set by performers' union Equity. 

The move follows discussions between the union and Durham County Council, which manages the theatre.

The improved terms, which apply to non-permanent performers and stage management engaged under ‘worker’ status, include recognising overtime and making payment where appropriate, a limit on the number of performances, and a commitment to a standard five day working week.

Dominic Bascombe, Equity Regional Official for North East, Yorkshire and Humberside said: “The introduction of these terms in the contract will provide our members with a great level of comfort that working at Durham Gala Theatre meets acceptable standards. 

"We are pleased that Durham County Council have engaged in this process and have already seen the benefits of the terms being applauded by our members working there over the panto season."

A spokesperson for Durham County Council said: “Durham County Council are supportive of the work of Equity and continue to work in partnership to provide good working practices for those engaged in our performances.”

Earlier this week County Durham received a £1.25m Place Partnership award from Arts Council England, funded by the National Lottery, for a three-year programme of events, skills development and community-led activities.

The grant supplements the £2m Durham County Council has pledged toward the project and follows the region’s bid for the UK City of Culture 2025.

MPs warn of 'lack of definitive plan' to counter AI risks

Man produce electronic music in studio stock photo
11 Jan 2024

Government says it is prioritising the development of a regulatory framework for AI technologies that will promote innovation while responding to risks.

Consultation on future of Leeds museum launches

10 Jan 2024

Leeds City Council has launched a public consultation on proposals to end its lease on the site of a local heritage museum.

The Thwaite Watermill Museum, which is owned by Canal and River Trust and managed by Leeds Museums and Galleries, told the Yorkshire Evening Post it faces closure if the lease is terminated, as it cannot afford to take over the running of the building.

A consultation, which concludes on 19 January, asks users when they last visited the museum as well as their thoughts on the future of the site and if they think it should be handed back to Canal and River Trust.

Leeds City Council, which is one of dozens of local authorities across the country making severe budget cuts, said that the museum, located on an island in the River Aire, was costly to maintain. 

A council spokesperson said: “Leeds City Council have operated Thwaite Watermill as a heritage attraction since 1990. Although visitor satisfaction is high, the site has always had low visitor figures, with 9,502 having visited Thwaite Watermill in 2022.

“There are high maintenance costs linked to managing historic buildings of this nature, coupled with challenging environmental issues with the site prone to flooding. Finding the funds to maintain Thwaite Watermill has and will continue to be a challenge.”

In December 2023, Leeds Council put forward a raft of cost-cutting measures designed to save £58.4m over the next 12 months, alongside £7.4m of previously agreed savings.
 

Debbonaire: More money for arts 'my first priority'

A screen shot of Shadow Culture Secretary Thangam Debbonaire in a Zoom call. She has short dark hair and wears a red jacket with matching glasses
10 Jan 2024

Shadow Culture Secretary pledges to explore opportunities for additional investment in the arts, describing proposed cuts to local authority culture budgets as 'heartbreaking'.

More than 1,700 artefacts 'missing' from DCMS-funded museums

10 Jan 2024

Freedom of Information requests have revealed more than 1,700 artefacts are missing from publicly funded museums and art galleries in England.

The FOI requests submitted by the Press Association asked organisations that receive funding from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport for details on objects that have gone missing over the past 20 years.

The National Portrait Gallery reported 45 "not located" items - but said they were not missing or stolen.

"The bulk of the items currently not located are photographic negatives, and for the majority of those, the image has been digitally scanned and is available to the public as part of our online collections database," the gallery said.

Meanwhile, V&A noted 180 missing objects. A spokesperson said: “This does not mean these objects have been stolen or lost; it might mean, for example, that a catalogue entry has not been updated after a collection move. Items are regularly recovered as a result of this process".

Around 550 artefacts are missing from Imperial War Museum, with the institution describing them as “typically low-value, mass-produced items".

A museum spokesman said the items "date from many years or even decades ago, long before our current collections management systems were put in place". 

The Natural History Museum said it had experienced “just 23 instances of lost or missing items from a collection of 80 million, limited to small things like teeth, fish and frozen animal tissue.” 

A spokesperson said: “We have robust security measures in place which we regularly review. As a world-leading science centre, it's important that researchers from around the world have access to our collection to help find solutions to the planetary emergency."

Seven items were absent from the Horniman Museum, which said it has "reviewed" security in light of thefts at the British Museum "as a precautionary measure".

The theft of around 1,500 Greek and Roman objects by a British Museum employee between 1993 and 2022 emerged in August last year, causing considerable reputational damage to the organisation.

The thefts were mainly of unregistered items – gems and jewellery. The museum said that as of December 2023, 351 items have been returned, with 300 further missing items identified.

Jobs go at Crafts Council as revenue shrinks

Exterior of Crafts Council Gallery, Pentonville Road, Islington. May 2021.
10 Jan 2024

National Portfolio Organisation says cultural sector 'faces one of its most testing moments in recent history'.

Plans for Vegas-style music venue in Stratford scrapped

10 Jan 2024

A US company has withdrawn its proposal to build a Las Vegas-style immersive “Sphere” venue in Stratford, calling the planning process “a political football between rival parties”.

In a letter to the Planning Inspectorate withdrawing its application, Madison Square Garden Entertainment (MSG) said it was "extremely disappointing" that Londoners would "not benefit from the Sphere's groundbreaking technology and the thousands of well-paying jobs it would have created.”

"After spending millions of pounds acquiring our site in Stratford and collaboratively engaging in a five-year planning process with numerous governmental bodies, including the local planning authority who approved our plans following careful review, we cannot continue to participate in a process that is merely a political football between rival parties."

MSG had hoped to build the LED-clad venue to host concerts, shows and sporting events on a vacant 4.7 acre site last used as a coach park during the 2012 Olympics.

In December, Housing Secretary Michael Gove instigated a review of London Mayor Sadiq Khan's rejection of planning permission for the 21,000-capacity venue.

Khan told BBC London that he “welcomed music venues in London” but rejected the proposal based on “consequences to [local] residents if this globe was to be built, the impacts on them in relation to light, the impact in relation to their amenities and on planning grounds”.

Hampshire Council cuts puts cultural organisations at risk

Curtis Museum, Alton
10 Jan 2024

Hampshire Cultural Trust said that four of its museums and an arts centre could be forced to shut their doors within 12 months.

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