No hope of new Warrington theatre

19 Feb 2020

Warrington Borough Council will not resurrect plans for a new theatre, the council's leader has confirmed.

Plans for a 400-seat theatre in a former drill hall were scuppered in July last year before new plans for a reconfiguration of the Pyramid Arts Centre arose in October.

But Councillor Russ Bowden says there are no plans for a new culture facility, saying the council's culture strategy is focussed on "theatre more as a performance, rather than a building".

Councillor Tony Williams said: "I think, as we go on and repopulate the town centre, there will be more pressure on us to provide a theatre and encourage the arts in the town."

Fairfield Halls Artistic Director quits

19 Feb 2020

The Artistic Director of Fairfield Halls has quit six months after the Croydon arts centre reopened.

Neil Chandler told local councillors last week that it had been challenging to manage five cancelled re-opening dates for the venue following its £42.6m refurbishment.


The redevelopment, completed in September, was 15 months late and £12m over budget. An underground carpark and landscaping are yet to be completed.

It has recently been criticised by locals who feel the building doesn't look much different than it did before.

Ticket sales since the reopening have also been underwhelming at 26%.

Chandler's departure comes a week after Croydon was announced as London Borough of Culture for 2023.


Jewish Museum London pulls out of National Portfolio

18 Feb 2020

The museum will continue to receive £220k a year from Arts Council England as well as an extra £100k to explore different business models.

Arts and culture deliver £56m boost to Leeds

18 Feb 2020

A grant scheme for arts and culture in Leeds generated more than £56m for the local economy last year.

Leeds City Council says the arts@leeds project, which gave 41 organisations grants of up to £50,000, funded more than 2300 activities involving more than 126,000 people. The total audience for these events exceeded 1.4 million.


The scheme is a cornerstone of the Leeds Culture Strategy, which aims to grow the city’s culture sector to grow and put culture at the heart of all major policy decisions up to 2030.

First UK performance for transgender composer

18 Feb 2020

Florence Anna Maunders will be the first transgender composer to have music performed by a British orchestra.

Bromley Symphony Orchestra will play Maunders' "Bacchanal", an orchestral influenced by electronic dance and Syrian folk music, on March 14. Musicians voted her piece as the 'Orchestra's Choice' to mark its cenetenary year.

Maunders said: "When you’re a woman it’s much harder to get your music performed – the statistics are against you, but when you’re a transwoman, the odds are astronomical – everyone’s against you!"


Bradford uses health budget to fund libraries

18 Feb 2020

Bradford Council has diverted £700,000 from its health and wellbeing budget to offset cuts to its library service.

The decision, subject to ratification early next month, would allay the fears of staff who went on strike last year and constitute an official endorsement of the wellbeing benefits of libraries.


Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe said the council's focus “has to be on preventing ill-health in the first place, not dealing with it after the fact. And libraries have a big part to play in that.”

Bradford Council did not consult experts in making its decision. However, the link between libraries and wellbeing was investigated in a 2015 report by Arts Council England. The funder aims to make libraries more central to culture as part of its new 10-year strategy.

ACE threatens funding over lack of diversity

18 Feb 2020

Arts organisations that can't improve the diversity of their workforce will face funding cuts, Arts Council England (ACE) has warned.

The caution from Chair Nicholas Serota comes as the funder releases its annual diversity survey. Serota says the data reveals "a disappointing picture": 11% of the workforce at National Portfolio Organisations (NPO) are non-white, compared to 16% of the working age population, and disabled people make up just 6% of NPO workers, despite being 21% of the working age population.


Under ACE's new strategy, "organisations that receive regular investment from the Arts Council will need to set themselves stretching targets for representation in governance, leadership, workforce, participants and audiences," Serota says.

"Failure to meet these targets will have an impact on future funding."

Check back later this week for analysis of Arts Council England's diversity data.

£2.1m clean-up for Coventry City of Culture

17 Feb 2020

Coventry will get a £2.1m cleaning before City of Culture events begin next year.

New skip collections will be provided to curb fly-tipping, graffiti will be tackled, weeds whacked and every city street swept if Coventry City Council's budget is approved next week.

Councillor John Mutton said he was "embarrassed" of some areas of the city, saying they were in a "pretty appalling" state.


The council has already allocated £1m to strengthen counter-terrorism measures.

Fringe promoter offers to fund 'artists of colour'

17 Feb 2020

An Edinburgh Fringe Festival promoter is offering funding to help artists of colour perform at the event.

The Pleasance says the £10,000 funding pot will be used to support shows where at least 50% of its creators and 50% of its cast identify as artists of colour.

Director Anthony Alderson said: "I really hope this paves the way for ensuring the Fringe is an even more open community and making sure important voices are heard."


The initiative was created by Edinburgh Unviersity student Jessica Brough as a response to "the scarcity of shows by people of colour at the fringe, across categories, and the disproportionate promotion and support they receive in contrast to productions by either entirely or majority-white performers."

Jewish Museum London withdraws from National Portfolio

14 Feb 2020

The Jewish Museum London has withdrawn from Arts Council England's National Portfolio to focus on reviewing its business model.

It will continue to receive the same level of funding plus an additional £100,000 to explore new options. It will not have to meet the monitoring and strategic targets expected of National Portfolio Organisations.

Its Chief Executive Abigail Morris has also stepped down. The museum is recuriting for an interim CEO.

READ MORE: Jewish Museum London pulls out of portfolio amid financial struggles

Who is Oliver Dowden? Meet the new Culture Secretary

14 Feb 2020

Dowden’s record suggests he will focus more on the digital part of his portfolio than culture.

Scotland’s Budget: culture funding at a standstill

13 Feb 2020

Future arts funding depends on National Lottery returns rapidly increasing when a Government cash injection expires next year.

Sector victory as council pulls ad for 'volunteer community artist'

13 Feb 2020

Wiltshire Council says it now knows asking for experienced, skilled and pre-vetted volunteers “was not the right approach”. 

Watchdog halts StubHub-Viagogo merger

13 Feb 2020

The UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has the ticket sellers from integrating their businesses so it can investigate the proposed merger.

StubHub and Viagogo announced the planned US$4bn merger in November. But the CMA says it has “reasonable grounds for suspecting that it is, or may be the case, that arrangements are in progress" already.


Senior representatives of StubHub and Viagogo must report to the CMA fortnightly to prove they are still distinct businesses. The companies must also maintain separate sales and brand identity.


Contemporary art gallery closes

13 Feb 2020

Contemporary art gallery Blain|Southern will close all three of its galleries, its Founding Director has announced. 

Harry Blain and Graham Southern opened the original gallery in London in 2010, expanding to Berlin in 2011. A third site in New York was opened last year.

Blain released a statement on Wednesday night that says: "I deeply regret that I have been unable to secure the gallery’s future long term.

"It was an honour to collaborate with so many talented artists and build an exhibition programme that reflected and celebrated the breadth of contemporary art practice worldwide."

Fears for 'flatlining' Yorkshire arts funding

13 Feb 2020

Yorkshire arts groups fear "flatlining levels of funding" are contributing to the decline of its rural communities.

Fifteen arts organisations wrote to Arts Council England ahead of the release of its new strategy to warn that only 2.5% of National Portfolio funding goes to rural areas. Rural organisations are also hobbled by deeper cuts to local authority budgets and lower levels of philanthropic giving compared to towns and cities, the organisations say.

Rural Arts Chief Executive told The Yorkshire Post that North Yorkshire communities "are so often expected to travel long distances to access high quality culture".


"This contributes not only to the demise of vibrant rural communities but creates access barriers, now that over 75 per cent of our buses have been cut, and has a significant carbon cost."

Night Czar paid £1k to host Borough of Culture event

12 Feb 2020

A political opponent has accused London Mayor Sadiq Khan of “cronyism” after his appointee and friend received money from the city’s culture budget.

Boyce to represent UK at Venice Biennale

12 Feb 2020

Artist Sonia Boyce will be the first Black woman to represent the UK at the Venice Biennale.

The British Council announced on Wednesday that Boyce, known for her highly innovative and experimental approach, will present a new solo exhibition at Britain's pavilion in 2021.

Boyce said: "You could have knocked me down with a feather when I got the call to tell me I had been chosen.

"Obviously, I’m extremely honored, excited – and nervous. I’m eager to start this creative journey, exploring the experience with others who agree to work with me along the way.”



ACE to survey diversity of classical music sector

12 Feb 2020

Arts Council England is launching new research into the diversity of the classical music sector and workforce.

An advisory group is seeking survey input from instrumentalists, teachers and other professionals on how to break down the barriers to change.

ACE's Director of Music Claire Mera-Nelson says the sector is making moves to address its lack of diversity but the overwhelming public perception is that "there are significant barriers to participation, and the pace of change is too slow".


"For the first time we will have the evidence needed to properly understand the challenges musicians from diverse backgrounds face, and our options for moving forward."

ACE's survey can be found here.

Irish Arts Council to set pay rates

12 Feb 2020

Ireland's Arts Council will institute minimum pay rates for artists on funded projects.

The agency has developed a three-year plan to develop sector-led pay rates and scales for artistic work. It will make them part of the assessment criteria for all funding applications by the end of 2022.

Its strategy mirrors that of the Arts Council of Wales, which announced last year it would no longer fund organisations that don't commit to paying minimum rates "at the very least".


A policy document released yesterday says the nature of arts practice leaves artists "particularly vulnerable" to exploitation: "We want artists to be confident, to know their worth, and to feel more empowered in negotiation and contracting stages of professional engagements. We intend this
policy to play a part in encouraging artists to expect fair and equitable treatment. 

"The distinct nature of individual artforms and their associated sectoral or industry practices means there are significant differences in how pay and contractual issues manifest themselves across different artforms and arts sectors. However, we assert that certain best practice principles can be applied to
most engagements."


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