Local authorities' culture offer hinges on Spending Review

14 Oct 2021

Councils call for an extra £400,000 funding for arts and culture as venues in smaller authorities face life-threatening cuts.

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 and are welcoming visitors with open arms.

Ventilation – How to breathe life into theatre

Leeds Playhouse
07 Aug 2020

Venue operators should be rightly angry that the Government continues to insist that social distancing is the main route to making their auditoriums safe, says Liz Hill.

Arts and health: think big and embrace the opportunities

Drummers on stage following behind a woman in a huge twirling skirt
22 Jul 2020

A substantial new income stream for the arts sector can go hand in hand with significant savings to the health budget, says Tim Joss. But first we need to move beyond some widespread assumptions that are holding back progress.

Question marks over festival insurance scheme

21 Oct 2021

Event organisers say they have been unable to obtain quotes for the Government's Live Events Reinsurance Scheme. 

Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) Chief Executive Paul Reed confirmed cover does not stretch to festivals that cancel if capacity restrictions are reintroduced.

"The scheme only covers you in the event of a civil authority shutdown at either local or national level, so it is extremely limited in scope."

The £750m scheme also doesn't cover artists or workforces scheduled for cancelled festivals.

A recent study found 58% of AIF members are not likely to pursue quotes for the scheme.

"They [the Government] want far too much money and there are too many caveats in it," Reed added.

"I think they just keep paying us lip service like they have done all the way down the line."

Over a third of music industry jobs lost in 2020

20 Oct 2021

69,000 music jobs – one in three of the total workforce – were lost last year due to Covid-19, UK Music’s annual report into the music industry has revealed.

The industry’s economic contribution to the UK fell by 46%, largely due to the cancellation of festivals and live music events.

The report also notes that in a sector where three-quarters are self-employed, many workers were not covered by income support schemes.

UK Music Chief Executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin is calling on the Government to implement tax incentives for the industry and boost funding for music education and the self-employed.

"In a year when we’ve seen just how important music is to all our lives, it’s more important than ever that we take the necessary steps to protect, strengthen and grow the industry.

"With the right support, the UK music industry can help drive the post-pandemic recovery."

Scotland starts enforcing vaccine passports

19 Oct 2021

Venues that fail to comply face a maximum £10,000 fine but policing falls to overextended local authorities and underserved security.

London loses almost a quarter of nightclubs

18 Oct 2021

The number of nightclubs in London has fallen by 22% since the start of the pandemic.

Figures from the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) show there are currently 198 venues operating as nightclubs across the capital - the lowest figure since the mid-90s. 

Chief Executive Michael Kill said the 16 months' of closure from March last year hit independent clubs the hardest.

“Nightclubs throughout this pandemic have been disproportionately targeted as high risk settings without substantive evidence, almost ostracised publicly. 

“The Government’s lack of understanding of this sector has led to ill-informed decision-making and businesses being marginalised or lost forever.”

Live venues await green light to reopen in Ireland

14 Oct 2021

Live entertainment is expected to fully reopen in Ireland next week despite concerns over rising Covid cases.

Capacity limits at indoor and outdoor events as well as social distancing are due to be relaxed on October 22, allowing nightclubs to reopen for the first time in over 18 months.

But Tanaiste Leo Varadkar has not ruled out the possibility of an extension: "The Delta wave swept across Europe, but you see countries in central Europe that are now yellow zones or green zones, and we’re still a red zone."

In contrast, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin believes nightclubs have been closed for "far too long".

Ireland's Institute of Public Health will meet next Monday (October 18) to advise the Government.

"We’ve got one of the highest rates of vaccination across the whole world and in Europe - I don’t know what more we as an industry can do," nightlife campaign group Give us the Night's Sunil Sharpe said.

15,000 jobs lost from late night cultural events

12 Oct 2021

The night-time cultural economy has lost 86,000 jobs due to Covid-19, 15,000 of them in culture and arts events.

Defined as a third party providing events, the night-time cultural economy has suffered more than the wider night-time economy and the out-of-home leisure economy as a whole.

A new report from the Night Time Industries Association says the culture and arts subsector - museums, galleries, theatres, music venues and cinemas - had grown faster than other parts of the night time cultural economy, accounting for nearly 200,000 jobs in 2019.

However, it lost £36bn in trade over the 18 months to June - more than 100% of its pre-pandemic value.

This section of the economy contributes 1.64% of GDP, "but also to the health, well-being and sangfroid of the population as a whole," the report says.

"It is felt quite strongly that the night time cultural economy bats much higher than just its economic contribution."

Arts companies struggle to recruit as vacancies surge

07 Oct 2021

Organisations are finding themselves in bidding wars over a shrinking pool of quality candidates. Is this the start of a talent drain?

Yousaf causes confusion over Scottish vaccine passports

05 Oct 2021

Vaccine passports for large events in Scotland are off to a rocky start after the country's Health Secretary urged people to ignore them.

Hamza Yousaf told door staff to allow entry without certification the first weekend the system became mandatory.

Venues will not face penalties for non-enforcement until October 18 after a "grace period" was introduced at the last minute.

Thousands experienced glitches with the app, prompting an apology from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

"The problem was not with the app itself but with the NHS systems that it links to," she said.

Legal challenge to vaccine passports in Scotland fails

01 Oct 2021

The policy has taken effect but tech issues are rife, guidance is lacking and venues say there hasn't been a "meaningful consultation".

Isolation exemption for artists reintroduced

01 Oct 2021

Arts professionals returning to England after working abroad need not self-isolate.

The exemption for workers returning from amber but not red list countries has been reintroduced. An initial scheme was suspended in January.

Organisations must submit an application to Arts Council England on their worker's behalf, and the worker must carry a signed copies of the application and their exemption letter with them at all times.

The Musicians' Union said the amount of information and time needed to get an exemption was prohibitive.

"Any last-minute gigs that musicians often accept means they may well have to self-isolate on return to the UK regardless."

Unvaccinated dancers bid to keep their identities private

28 Sep 2021

Professionals on Strictly Come Dancing who refuse to get vaccinated are trying to keep their identities hidden.

The Times reports they have hired lawyers in a bid to stop the Mail on Sunday naming two of the three dancers.

Whilst vaccination is not a requirement to take part in the popular TV show, the vaccine status of competitors and the right or otherwise of their partners to know has been a talking point in recent weeks.

Despite the show's strict safety protocols, singer Tom Fletcher and his professional partner, Amy Dowden, tested positive for Covid-19 over the weekend. There is no suggestion either was unvaccinated.


Northern Ireland drops social distancing in arts spaces

28 Sep 2021

Northern Ireland is set to remove a one-metre social distancing rule in all settings bar hospitality.

The move will be welcomed by theatres and music venues, which had complained the restriction was financially unviable.

On Monday (September 27), the country's Executive decided instead to rely on guidance and mandatory use of masks in cultural spaces.

Arts Council of Northern Ireland Chief Executive Roisin McDonough said it was "an important step forward" and "a very positive sign that the wider arts and culture sectors in Northern Ireland are now on the journey to recovery at last".

"I know all those working in and around the arts sector will continue to enact every safety measure needed to welcome back audiences, they have been much missed."

Venues are being asked to ensure attendees are fully vaccinated or have proof of a negative lateral flow test; however there is no legal mandate.

Indoor concerts are allowed, though people must be seated.

The change of policy will take effect at 6pm on Thursday (September 30).


Live Events Reinsurance Scheme officially opens

24 Sep 2021

The Government's insurance scheme for events has officially opened with an extra £50m to cover potential Covid-related cancellations.

£800m will be available to event organisers which have purchased standard cover at least 12 weeks out from the date.

The scheme's start was delayed by a day as the Government finalised arrangements with insurers.

Munich Re, Beazley, Arch, Dale, and Ark are carriers of the scheme, with more firms coming on board in the weeks to come.

Swansea Council opens £50k Cultural Fund

22 Sep 2021

Swansea Council has opened a £50,000 Cultural Fund to help its local arts and culture sector bounce back from the pandemic.

Swansea-based freelancers and organisations working in arts, culture and heritage can claim up to £1,500.

"We know that with lost income and more pressure on audiences' purses than ever, the costs of staging events or concerts will be daunting for some local groups. This is where we think we can help," cabinet member Robert Francis-Davies said.

"Swansea's cultural community is crucial to keeping our city strong and our residents fit and healthy."

To apply for funding, applicants must email the council and return a completed application before October 31.

Win-win for disabled arts-lovers and the sector

22 Sep 2021

While anxiety about attending events remains high amongst disabled people, Anne Torregiani says the Covid online content boom has seen revolutionary opportunities that could improve access for good.


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