Little moments of joy

Projection on cargo truck
09 Jun 2021

While audiences are most comfortable returning to outdoor events, organising a festival that can flex around ever-changing restrictions is still no mean feat. Penny Mills and Jonathan Goodacre have been looking at what’s working.

Coventry 2021: City of Culture is open for business

Coventry city of culture shop
19 May 2021

Despite all the difficulties of the past year, Jake Bartle and Emily Coleman are confident that this year’s festival will be a celebration of artistic achievement.

Audiences turn to sites with free entry

interior of the main hall of National Museum of Scotland
23 Mar 2023

Annual audience figures from the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions show that post-pandemic, audiences are returning quicker to cultural sites offering free entry.

Small increase in overseas visitors to museums and galleries

13 Mar 2023

The number of people visiting DCMS-sponsored institutions from outside the UK showed slow signs of recovery last year, according to new figures released by the department.

Between April 2021 and March 2022, there were an estimated 1.3m overseas visitors to DCMS-sponsored museums and galleries.

The number is nearly 23 times higher than the previous year, when there were just 54,000 visits from people living outside the UK, largely due to lockdown restrictions.

But the number of overseas visitors remains 94% down on the last financial year unaffected by the pandemic, when 22.7m visited DCMS-sponsored sites in 2018/19. 

Museums and galleries supported by DCMS include the British Museum, Imperial War Museums, National Museums Liverpool, the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum Group and the Tate Gallery Group.

The department says the current trend largely mirrors the decrease in overseas visitors to the UK since the pandemic.

Academics urge greater support for creative practitioners

09 Nov 2022

Policymakers should 'learn lessons from the pandemic' and intervene in four key areas to better support creative practitioners, researchers have said.

Historic venue closes citing ‘devastating’ pandemic impact

01 Nov 2022

A historic arts venue in Hastings is closing to the public due to the “devastating effects of the pandemic”.

St Mary in the Castle, a 200-year-old building on the seafront, had been under the care of the St Mary in the Castle Charitable Trust since 2013.

The trust, which was established to ensure the building’s maintenance and preservation, said it has been unable to renew its lease with Hastings Borough Council after it expired at the end of October.

“Unfortunately, the trust is unable to recover from the devastating effects of the pandemic without further financial subsidy to allow St Mary in the Castle to return to pre-pandemic operations,” it said in a statement.

“We projected this would not be until Spring 2023.”

The trust said pandemic led to fewer venue hires and lower audience numbers, leaving the venue unable to cover its costs. 

A spokesperson for Hastings Borough Council told Sussex Live that the council “simply does not have the resources available to support St Mary in the Castle,” despite efforts to save the venue.

“We met them on a number of occasions and gave them £18,000 last summer,” the spokesperson said.

“However even this, a grant of just over £50,000 from Arts Council England and over £87,000 for Covid recovery from the government through Hastings Borough Council appears not to have been enough, given the ever-increasing costs of running venues.”

Attractions warned of ‘exceptionally tough’ 2023 

26 Sep 2022

The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions warns that amid pressures on household spending, providing value for money to visitors is more essential than ever.

Economic value of museums and galleries on the rise

The interior of the National Gallery
23 Aug 2022

Latest government figures show the value to the economy of museums and galleries has rebounded to near pre-pandemic levels.

Recovery funds key to arts survival in Scotland and Wales

an artist working in her studio
17 Aug 2022

Reports suggest devolved governments’ funding was key to sector recovery and resilience but warn the pandemic exposed the need for further financial support.

Diverse-led organisations fared worst in cultural recovery support

Performance of the Indonesian cultural dance Pakarena
30 Jun 2022

Arts organisations led by Black, Asian or other ethnically diverse groups were least successful in obtaining financial support from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund, according to ACE’s new diversity data report. 

Low uptake of live events insurance scheme by festivals

image of Green Man festival
23 Jun 2022

Less than a quarter of the government's ringfenced insurance funding has been paid out, with music festivals finding the scheme not fit for purpose.

ACE pandemic response was a lifeline for the arts, new report says

22 Jun 2022

The Emergency Recovery Fund, launched by ACE the day after the country went into lockdown in March 2020, receieved 14,000 applications and distributed £105m.

A third of arts businesses plan to adopt hybrid working

21 Jun 2022

Businesses in the arts, entertainment and recreation sectors are among the most likely to adopt permanent hybrid work models, the latest Office for National Statistics figures reveal.

They show the number of organisations for whom working from home is, or is planned to be, part of their permanent business model has risen from 16% in autumn 2020 to 23% in April 2022.

Organisations in these sectors showed much higher preferences for hybrid work models than others, with 33% working to implement a long-term culture of offsetting days spent in the office with days working from home.

Data suggests most businesses are motivated to make the shift to hybrid work because of improved staff wellbeing, reduced overheads and increased productivity. 

“Despite the removal of all Covid-related restrictions, these latest statistics show there are still a large number of businesses eager to continue a culture of hybrid working,” said Tina Chander, Head of the Employment Law team at Wright Hassall.

She added that many employees are reluctant to return to offices full-time but that employers “still have an obligation to ensure the health and safety of their workforce is protected, even if employees are working from home full-time”.

Theatres cancel shows over rising Covid cases

20 Jun 2022

Last week theatres across the country were forced to cancel or postpone shows amid rising Covid infections.

The Viaduct in Halifax cancelled performances of As You Like It, with ticket buyers offered reallocated tickets or a refund.

Edinburgh’s King Theatre cancelled five days of its Sunshine on Leith, due to Covid affecting cast members. The theatre, which was hosting its last show before closing for a £25m redevelopment project, says all ticket holders will be contacted for a refund.

Also in Edinburgh, Lyceum theatre cancelled last week’s performances of its Laurel and Hardy show, with performances expected to restart this week.

Leicester’s Curve Theatre announced its production of Billy Elliot: The Musical will begin a week later than scheduled, on 13 July rather than 7 July, after a number of Covid cases among company members.

Ireland’s national theatre, The Abbey, has cancelled performances of Translations, from 17 June to 25 June, also citing Covid. A spokesperson said ticket holders will be contacted, and the show expected to continue from 27 June.

Art Fund opens grant schemes worth £2m

13 Jun 2022

The Art Fund is opening applications to two funding streams this summer, with more than £2m available in total.

The charity’s Reimagine grants programme, designed to increase stability as the sector navigates its post-Covid recovery, opens from 4 July until 12 September.

Arts organisations will be eligible to apply for grants between £10,000 and £50,000 for projects focused on remimagining approaches to engagement. Of the £2m available in total, £200,000 will be distributed by Museum Development UK towards small to medium sized museums for reset grants and resilience programmes.

Meanwhile, applications to The West Loan Programme with Art Fund, which enables museums to borrow works from major lending museums and galleries, will open at the end of June until 12 August. 

According to Art Fund's recently published annual report, the charity delivered more than £5.8m in grants across all its funding streams last year.

Director Jenny Waldman said this was made possible by the 130,000 Art Fund members who have purchased the National Art Pass and donations from trusts, foundations and donors: “Thanks to the generosity we have been able to step up to help museums through the challenges of the pandemic and into an exciting future”.

By the end of the year, the charity expects to have delivered over £6m in Covid-19 response funding.

Lloyd Webber labels Cinderella musical ‘a costly mistake’

13 Jun 2022

Andrew Lloyd Webber called his production of Cinderella in the West End "a costly mistake" on the night of the show’s final performance.

The production came to a close at Gillian Lynne Theatre on Sunday evening (12 June), after the composer unexpectedly cancelled the show weeks ahead of schedule.

Lloyd Webber was not in attendance, but the production’s director Laurence Connor read a letter from the impresario to the audience.

The statement paid tribute to the production’s cast, crew, musicians and creative team, before lamenting the decision to open a musical during the pandemic.

“I keep thinking if only we had opened three months later, we wouldn’t have had to postpone our opening twice because of Covid,” the statement continued.

“And if only we had had a crumb of help from the Recovery Fund, I promise you we would have been here for a very long while to come.”

The statement was met with jeers from audience members, following boos when Lloyd Webber's name was read out during the curtain call.

A revised version of Cinderella is expected to open on Broadway next year.

Cost of living 'jeopardising theatres and festivals', MPs told

Choir performing at Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod
07 Jun 2022

Select committee hears that theatres and arts festivals are facing a "double whammy" of increasing costs and lower demand for tickets due to ongoing cost of living crisis.

My Gurus: Be the change you want to see

24 May 2022

Founded in 2000, Slung Low is a theatre company based at the Holbeck in Leeds – Britain’s oldest working men’s club. Its Artistic Director, Alan Lane pays tribute to the people who have inspired him.

Heritage sector ‘confident about future'

Barnard Castle in County Durham
09 May 2022

Survey finds positivity among organisations across Britain and confidence to weather possible future waves of Covid-19.

Covid-19 and the global cultural and creative sector – part 2

Theater in Quarantine - Mask Study 1, created by Jon Levin, Katie Rose McLaughlin and Joshua William Gelb; April 1, 2020 Pictured: Joshua William Gelb The story of Theater in Quarantine.
27 Apr 2022

After two years of constant learning, Anthony Sargent thinks we now have the foundations for a new world.


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