More manifestation, less manifesto

16 Feb 2022

Promises are powerful formulations reflecting genuine intentions. But, Richard Watts argues, they must be accompanied by concrete actions.

Keeping the torch of international cultural co-operation burning 

07 Dec 2021

Jonathan Goodacre considers how we can preserve the global ideas exchange that the arts and culture community benefits from so richly.

Welcome to UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK

people looking at an art installation
21 Oct 2021

What happens when creative minds from different sectors and disciplines come together to imagine and design bold, large-scale events to reach millions of people worldwide? Martin Green reveals what’s in store for 2022.

Creative industries policy centre gets five-year funding boost

25 May 2022

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) has announced that it will continue to fund the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre (PEC) for a further five years and is seeking a new host organisation.  

Since its inception in 2018 PEC, which comprises a consortium of universities from across the UK, has been hosted by innovation foundation Nesta, which led on its establishment.

The AHRC has issued a call for expressions of interest from research organisations who are interested in hosting the PEC and its core team from June 2023 for a further five-year period.

Professor Christopher Smith, Executive Chair at Arts and Humanities Research Council, said: “The Centre balances robust academic research with agile, reactive policy and industry priorities. 

"[This] announcement is good news for the sector and we very much look forward to finding the right host organisation to work with for the exciting next stage of development and reinforce the PEC’s position as a vital research and innovation infrastructure for the creative industries."

Evidence Centre to provide theatre sector analysis 

24 May 2022

Society of London Theatre (SOLT) and UK Theatre, two of Britain's leading industry membership associations, have announced a partnership with data and insight specialists Baker Richards to develop an Evidence Centre that will provide analysis of the theatre sector.

The centre will use the latest technology to gather data from multiple sources, including automatically extracted ticket transactions, data on demographics and infrastructure, as well as attitudinal survey data and open government data.

It will allow SOLT and UK Theatre to identify trends in sales and audiences, evaluate theatre's economic impact, classify workforce data and demographics and present in-depth analysis that contributes to demonstrating the value of theatre to national and local government. 

“Over nearly two decades, Baker Richards has developed a rich understanding of the UK’s ever-changing theatre industry, promoting and creating measures and metrics which have been widely adopted,” said Robin Cantrill-Fenwick, Chief Executive of Baker Richards. 

For the new Evidence Centre, analysts will use innovative approaches including experimentation with machine learning and AI. The first iteration of the data tool is scheduled to be ready for use at the end of the year. 

President of SOLT Eleanor Lloyd said the new centre will be “a fantastic resource for our members to access”, facilitating “more sophisticated data and business intelligence, to assist our members with their marketing campaign planning and budgeting”.

Stephanie Sirr, UK Theatre President, said that while making the case for government support of the theatre sector during the pandemic, they had identified “some gaps in what we evaluate in order to make a well-rounded and informed case for theatre in a way that corresponds with government evaluation tools”.

“This new Evidence Centre will give us access to sales and economic data at a deeper level, which will help our members make the strongest argument yet for supporting UK theatres as key strategic partners in their many communities,” she said.

National Archives and ACE announce collaboration

17 May 2022

A new three-year collaboration agreement between the National Archives and Arts Council England will see the two organisations work together to identify and tackle challenges across culture and heritage. 

By advocating sharing knowledge, skills and data and maximising funding opportunities, the organisations hope to jointly address challenges including diversifying the workforce and improving accessibility and the visibility of collections. They will also aim to help the sector build resilience.

Methods of collaboration will include alerting each other to at-risk collections to facilitate swift preservation action, and promoting “the positive role of archives and collections in placemaking and wellbeing”, the organisations said.

The two organisations already work together on several initiatives that are set to continue.

“This agreement comes at an important time for our sector when many institutions are facing challenges and having to make difficult decisions due to a variety of circumstances,” said Dr Valerie Johnson, Director of Research and Collections at The National Archives.

“I believe that through this new agreement, both partners will be able to support the wider cultural sector much more effectively,” she added.

Sue Williamson, Director for Libraries at ACE, said that the new collaboration will build on “a strong foundation of mutual support”.

“There are many synergies and common areas of interest between archives and public libraries, with some library services being responsible for managing an archive collection. 

“We foresee many opportunities to work together in partnership to support national strategic developments, to share learning and intelligence and to continue to support the wider cultural sector.”

Global Screen Fund extended with £21m pledge

17 May 2022

DCMS is extending its UK Global Screen Fund for three years with an additional £21m of funding.

Designed to boost international development and distribution opportunities post-Brexit, the fund supported more than 65 productions in its £7m pilot year.

According to DCMS, the continued investment will increase exports of UK film, TV and video games in new territories, help productions promote work at film festivals and support companies to hire staff with specialist skills.

It is split into three strands with the first, a channel aimed at supporting the sale and distribution of UK feature films overseas, reopening today (17 May).

Two subsequent strands, aimed at international business development and international co-production, will relaunch in the coming months.

Ben Roberts, CEO of BFI, administers of the fund, said international collaboration is fundamental to making new films and dramas that audiences around the world want to see.

“We are proud of the incredible craft and talent within our screen industries, and look forward to how we can help grow opportunities for the UK globally over the next three years of this essential fund."

Audit highlights UK's 'world-leading' art and music research

13 May 2022

Results from the assessment will determine the allocation of around £2bn in annual government funding.

Citizens’ assembly demands culture-filled future for Coventry

members of Coventry's citizens’ assembly
06 May 2022

Recommendations including more public artworks and neighbourhood creative hubs aim to contribute to the City of Culture's legacy.

Cultural anchors

The Barbican Centre, part of London's Culture Mile
04 May 2022

How can cultural institutions ‘anchor’ and facilitate growth in creative districts? Natalia Vartapetova and Christie Lam have been investigating.

The future for freelancers

FREELANCE : FUTURES logo
04 May 2022

An initiative to create more equitable conditions for freelancers in the sector has launched. Joon-Lynn Goh and Richard Watts introduce FREELANCE : FUTURES.

Building better collaborative futures

Statue of Rabindranath Tagore at Shakespeare’s Birthplace
27 Apr 2022

To support the development of ideas and cross-sector partnerships, there is a need for flexible, low stakes funding. Suzie Leighton and Myra Stuart think micro-commissions offer a way forward.

Entertainment taskforce to assess cultural impact

13 Apr 2022

A newly-formed entertainment industry taskforce will assess the social and cultural impact of its content.

The Entertainment Industries Taskforce on Social Impact includes representatives from the BBC, Meta, Netflix and Spotify and is convened by global charity OKRE.

OKRE Director Iain Dodgeon says the taskforce seeks to understand and build on the real-world impact of engaging with entertainment content.

“Real change is measurable change, and this is an important step towards demonstrating the breadth of social and cultural impacts that entertainment content can have.”

The announcement coincides with the launch of the OKRE Summit, a new annual event bringing together the entertainment and charity sectors to advance cross-sector collaboration.

The first summit will take place in London on June 15.

Increasing cultural opportunity everywhere

yellow sunflower petals
06 Apr 2022

It’s a fundamental matter of social justice that cultural provision and opportunities are so unequal. Richard Watts argues something must be done.

Collections need high profile loans

29 Mar 2022

Lending and borrowing are vital for museums and their collections to remain dynamic and relevant. Katie Lloyd and Catherine Monks think it’s one of the best ways to attract audiences back.

UNESCO's Creative Cities

Sherlock: The Abominable Bride filmed in Bristol
23 Mar 2022

UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network includes 13 UK cities. Karen Merkel shines a spotlight on a programme which demands international collaboration.

Reigniting my frazzled brain: the fight against impact fatigue

23 Mar 2022

For a busy, freelance arts professional, carving out the time to attend yet another event can be difficult and sometimes not worth the effort. But, as Rebekka Kill found out, this one was different.

Midlands dance organisations to merge

22 Mar 2022

Dance4 and DanceXchange are merging into a new, "more ambitious" organisation.

FABRIC will combine the organisations’ skills and expertise and free up resources to "actively invest" in artists and programmes.  

The two have worked together since 2017 and believe the move will help develop talent in the Midlands, encourage creative leadership and promote dance in public life.

"This new approach will breathe new life into dance," Dance4 CEO and upcoming FABRIC CEO Paul Russ said.

The merger will take effect from mid-April, with DanceXchange Interim CEO Debbie Jardine stepping down. FABRIC will keep both partners' buildings in Nottingham and Birmingham open, "building on the programmes and audiences of Dance4 and DanceXchange in these locations and beyond".

Russ commented: "We’re taking a bold step to a new future, seizing the moment to build on our collective knowledge and success, and the legacy of major events in the region to realise new opportunities and growth for dance."

Unsuccessful City of Culture teams 'not disappointed'

21 Mar 2022

The legacy of the competition goes beyond the title, those who missed out say.

Scheme takes aim at declining theatre commissions

14 Mar 2022

Fifteen plays will be commissioned under a new scheme to address a "devastating" decline in opportunities during the pandemic.

The Writers' Guild of Great Britain (WGGB), HighTide Theatre, UK Theatre and the Independent Theatre Council have partnered on the New Play Commission Scheme, securing £50,000 in funding. There is a £5,000 award for the best play by an unpublished writer.

A survey of UK Theatre members revealed new commissions had declined by a third since 2019/20, while a poll of WGGB members indiciated three quarters of playwrights had lost income during Covid-19. Half believed they would not be working in theatre in two years' time.

HighTide Artistic Director Suba Das said the commissions not only offer "a lifeline to both writers and companies across the UK but helps ensure new writing forms part of how we all move forwards as citizens and communities".

The scheme will launch in April.

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