Scientists say 'hierarchy of controls' needed for events

02 Dec 2021

As the Omicron variant reaches the UK, findings from the Government's test events scheme say masks and anti-crowding measures are necessary.

English museums tighten Covid measures

01 Dec 2021

Museums across the UK are tightening their Covid measures in light of the Omicron variant.

The Museum Associations reports many museums are making "contingency plans" for Christmas rotas, fearing a return to the staff shortages caused by self-isolation rules last year.

In accordance with Government guidance for retail, face masks are now mandatory in The National Gallery and The British Museum's shops. Both institutions recommend face coverings throughout their premises unless exempt.

The V&A, Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam Museum and Yorkshire Air Museum are amongst those now asking visitors to wear masks in all their public spaces.

Face coverings remain mandatory in all museums across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Is the future of digital theatre in the balance?

a digital camera records a stage
01 Dec 2021

Over half of publicly subsidised theatres that streamed performances during the pandemic have reverted to in-person performances only. Richard Misek has been investigating why.

Panto ticket sales down by half on 2019

29 Nov 2021

Panto ticket sales through October are half of what they were this time in 2019, analysis from The Audience Agency (TAA) suggests.

Data from 343 venues for the week commencing October 11 found a 52% drop in tickets sold, a 53% drop in income and 27% drop in performances compared to two years ago.

The decrease reflects audiences' low commitment to attendance: 44% of respondents TAA’s Cultural Participation Monitor said they definitely won't go to a panto this year, compared to 8% who plan to.

Those aged over 65 are most likely to stay away, with two thirds expected not to attend at all this winter.

TAA says a pre-Covid trend of decreasing panto sales is accelerating, presenting a further threat to venues, and warns "venues may need to rethink the festival formula in response to these changes".

£1m to support South Yorkshire’s cultural recovery

28 Nov 2021

Creative and cultural start-ups and small businesses in South Yorkshire can now apply for grants supporting post-Covid recovery. 

The Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) will offer between £5,000 and £40,000 per applicant. A total of £1m is available, with £450,000 earmarked for Doncaster. 

Proposals must show consideration towards the borough’s Great 8 Priorities, which include tackling climate change, promoting cultural opportunities and six wellbeing goals.

South Yorkshire is among the regions that lost the most economic value due to Covid-19, according to new research.

Mayor Dan Jarvis acknowledged local arts, culture and heritage have been hit hard by the pandemic, making investment an essential part of recovery.

“If supported and nurtured, the creative industries can help drive growth in our region and realise untapped potential.”

Culture hit twice as hard as rest of UK economy

25 Nov 2021

Merseyside, South Yorkshire, and the West Midlands are among the regions that lost the most economic value due to Covid-19. 

Scotland adds negative tests to passport scheme

24 Nov 2021

Unvaccinated people will be able to attend venues in Scotland after negative test results were added to its certification scheme.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced on Tuesday (November 23) that the system for nightclubs and large unseated cultural events will not be extended to theatres, cinemas and hospitality venues to the relief of industry organisations.

From December 6, people can provide a negative lateral flow test result to enter venues.

"The new rule will also, we hope, encourage the greater use of regular lateral flow testing and it will still meet our aim of reducing the risk of transmission, within higher risk venues," Sturgeon said.

Plea to save NI arts from urgent 'threats to very existence'

23 Nov 2021

An anticipated £13m in Executive support may not be enough, as more than half the sector's jobs remain at risk.

Distanced performances 'crucial' over winter

23 Nov 2021

Venues face a choice between offering lower capacity events or losing up to a third of their audiences, surveys suggest.

Covid cuts Northern Ireland arts workforce by a quarter

22 Nov 2021

A quarter of Northern Ireland's arts workforce has been lost to Covid-19.

The number of people employed by arts organisations in the country fell 25% in the 2020/21 financial year, according to Arts Council Northern Ireland’s (ACNI) annual funding survey.

Covid restrictions meant just 59 in-person arts activities took place that year compared to 67,000 in 2019/20. Total income fell by £4.5m (9%) and earned income by £16m (69%).

Losses were offset by a 22% increase in income from public sources. ACNI delivered £12.9m in grants to 97 arts organisations last financial year, the same number as the year prior.

ACNI Director of Strategic Development and Partnerships Karly Greene said that though online events grew, they were no replacement for the income generated by live events.

“While we don’t yet know the long term impact these changes will have on the sector, this survey highlights a need for ongoing financial support and will be an important tool in helping us to strategically plan for the future."

Half of arts sector jobs were furloughed

18 Nov 2021

The cultural sector has suffered a 60% drop in economic output over the past 18 months, a University of Sheffield study reveals.

Restrictions led to 55% of sector jobs being furloughed - well above the national average of 16% - and more than 80,000 arts professionals applied to the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

This amounts to 68% of eligible freelancers in the UK.

Professor Vanessa Toulmin said the study highlights the "catastrophic effect" of the lockdowns on arts workers' finances, job security and wellbeing.

"People in the sector have been losing sleep and have had much higher levels of anxiety."

Final West End theatres reopen post-Covid

18 Nov 2021

In a milestone for the industry, London's Prince of Wales Theatre and Playhouse Theatre became the final West End theatres to reopen on Monday (15 November).

All 37 West End theatres have now recommenced live shows, 609 days after Covid restrictions were first enforced.

The Theatre Support Fund, established to support the industry through the pandemic, called it “a doubly special night”.

Prince of Wales Theatre is hosting Book of Mormon and Playhouse Theatre has reconfigured as the Kit Kat Club for musical Cabaret.

Cabaret's audience members, including those fully vaccinated, are being asked to present a negative lateral flow or PCR test from the last 48 hours to enter.

£107m Culture Recovery Fund round to sustain sector over winter

18 Nov 2021

925 organisations will share the latest round of grants from the £2bn fund - 873 of them for a second or third time.

Grants to develop Manchester musicians

18 Nov 2021

Ten creatives will receive £1,000 and development opportunities via Manchester International Festival's MIF Sounds initiative.

MIF Sounds launched at the height of the pandemic, helping musicians to continue working and work outside their comfort zone during an uncertain time.

This year's applicants can apply for anything from recording music, presenting a gig, releasing a record or starting a label imprint.

MIF Head of Music Jane Besse said the company is committed to helping rebuild the sector post-Covid.

One in three music sector jobs were lost in the sector as employment fell from a high of 197,000 in 2019 to 128,000 people in 2020, according to UK Music.

"We encourage everyone involved in the local music scene to apply - artists, technicians, promoters, venues, labels, managers and beyond," Besse said.

Digital staff undervalued amid pandemic pressures

17 Nov 2021

Research into the effect of the digital pivot on workers has coincided with calls for better pay for social media and marketing staff.

Ireland brings in vaccine passports

17 Nov 2021

People attending the theatre or cinemas in the Republic of Ireland must show proof of vaccination from Thursday (November 18).

Pubs, nightclubs and restaurants must close by midnight in a bid to curb rising Covid-19 case numbers.

Echoing his contemporaries in Scotland, Wales and more recently, Northern Ireland, Taioseach Michael Martin said vaccine passports are a "proportionate and effective" approach.

Northern Ireland Health Minister Robin Swann has proposed introducing the passports in cultural venues and other spaces with more than 500 attendees by mid-December.

England is still holding out, with no word on whether ministers will activate the country's Plan B for winter.

Scotland gives libraries £1.25m lifeline

16 Nov 2021

Twenty-three library projects across Scotland will receive a share of the £1.25m Public Library Covid Relief Fund.

The Scottish Government has awarded funding to local authorities to reopen libraries that closed during the pandemic, start wellbeing cafes and facilitate home library services.

The largest grant of £448,000 will help reopen five Glasgow libraries and increase opening hours across the city.

Scotland's Culture Minister Jenny Gilruth said the funding reflects the Government's goal of driving cultural recovery through its communities.

"This fund will see the provision of community-centred projects aimed at, among other things, reducing social isolation, promoting mental wellbeing and reducing the poverty-related attainment gap."

New cultural partnership for Blackpool

15 Nov 2021

Blackpool will establish a new cultural partnership to help the local arts sector recover from Covid-19.

Initiatives including a town centre creative hub and new live-work studios for artists will be pursued with the support of Blackpool Council.

The council said it hoped the partnership would help with "developing a vision and maximising investment in the sector".

Blackpool was recently named one of Arts Council England's priority places for investment.

Recent surveys have uncovered much creative talent and a full ecology of arts activity in the area, from amateur and community arts to professional creative work, but lower levels of investment than other parts of England.

Manchester International Festival achieves record audience numbers

10 Nov 2021

An extended programme helped Manchester International Festival (MIF) deliver record audience numbers this year despite social distancing requirements.

It's estimated more than 1.4 million people saw part of the 18-day event. A further 1.2 million across 187 countries engaged with MIF's digital programme.

The festival featured 68 events, including the first at Manchester’s new arts space The Factory, scheduled to open in 2023.

Events took place across each of Manchester’s wards and were supported by 450 volunteers.

“The enthusiasm and gratitude from audiences in Manchester [has] demonstrated the importance of creativity to our city,” said MIF Chief Executive John McGraith.

Vaccine passport extended to Welsh theatres and cinemas

09 Nov 2021

The Senedd has voted to make Covid vaccine passports a condition of entry to theatres and cinemas in Wales from Monday (November 15).

Labour ministers first called for the extension, which gained support from Plaid Cymru, passing 39 votes to 15 on Tuesday evening (November 5).

A Plaid Cymru spokesperson said the party will “support evidence-based actions that can help to limit transmission and keep the people of Wales safe”.

The decision has divided opinion. The Wales Millennium Centre says it welcomes any move that allows it to remain open, but Picturedrome Cinemas Director Steve Reynolds said theatres and cinemas are being “picked on”.

Civil liberties campaign Big Brother Watch said it would start legal proceedings against the Welsh Government following the results, calling Covid passes "authoritarian, invasive and unevidenced".

Passes for entry to nightclubs and larger events in Wales became mandatory last month following a narrow 28-27 vote. 


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