Audience behaviour: Where do we go from here?

Interior of Blackpool Winters Gardens showing empty foyer
12 Sep 2023

As the Covid aftermath continues to unfold, David Reece explores how audience behaviour has changed and what that means for the way the performing arts shape future success.

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.

National Audit Office to scrutinise Covid loans

09 Jul 2024

A probe into Covid loans provided to both the arts and sports sectors will be conducted by the National Audit Office (NAO).

A statement issued by the public spending watchdog said it will produce a report on whether the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is "delivering value for money through its management of the loan book". 

It will examine whether an appropriate and proportionate governance and oversight structure was established to deliver its objectives, whether the loan schemes have been effectively managed so far, and whether the department is well-placed to meet the challenges of managing its loan book in the future and maximise financial returns.

Between July 2020 and March 2022, the Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) provided around £2.6bn of support for the arts and sports sectors to help them survive the pandemic. Of this, £474m was in the form of repayable loans over a period of up to 20 years.

The NAO said it was the first time that DCMS had managed a significant loan book.

Recipients of loans under the scheme include English National Opera, Historic Royal Palaces, London Theatre Company, the National Theatre, the Royal Albert Hall, the Royal Opera House, Royal Shakespeare Company and Southbank Centre.

Museum and gallery visits hit four-year high

People at London Tate Modern
06 Jun 2024

Visitor numbers across the 30 museums and art galleries sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, show year-on-year rise but remain more than 10% below pre-pandemic levels. 

Culture Recovery Fund: ACE investigating four cases of possible fraud

People wearing face masks looking at art
30 May 2024

Emergence of ongoing investigations coincides with fresh scrutiny of a £480,000 grant administered by ACE in 2021 to a Manchester-based firm. 

New beginnings for post-pandemic theatre workers

Image of Central School of Speech and Drama
14 May 2024

Covid has affected the UK theatre industry at all levels, with wide ranging impacts on the workforce, livelihoods, working practices and support networks. But, as James Rowson explains, early career workers have been particularly affected.

Government urged to develop live performance 'crisis plan'

26 Mar 2024

Performing arts sector remains at threat from future global shocks unless action on resilience planning is taken by both central and local government, report finds.

Theatre workshop warns of skills shortages

21 Mar 2024

TR2, the workshop base for Theatre Royal Plymouth, is struggling to find staff to construct sets because of a skills shortage.

The Head of TR2 Brendan Cusack told the BBC that the Covid pandemic had taken its toll, with people with the right skills moving to other jobs post-lockdown such as in film, TV or the building trade.

"When lockdown happened a lot of people went over to other areas," he said. "Film and TV in this country now is absolutely massive. A lot of people went across to those areas and transferred into the building trade too.

"Finding the right level skill in carpentry and steel fabrication, even before starting to think about scenic art and prop making, is now quite tricky."

Women in theatre 'still impacted by the pandemic'

Female director giving feedback on a scene to two actors in a theatre by
01 Nov 2023

Survey finds pandemic continues to impact female workers, with numbers in the workforce falling and opportunities diminishing.

Grassroots music sector in ‘full-blown crisis’

Band playing in front of a crowd at a small venue
26 Sep 2023

Research conducted by Music Venues Trust finds 125 grassroots music venues across the UK have been lost in the last eight months.

DCMS ditches Cultural Commissioner role

A woman places a pink Culture Recovery Fund sticker on the window of a venue
17 Aug 2023

Role created by government to help the cultural sector recover from the impact of Covid pandemic is axed three-and-a-half years after its inception.

Museum and gallery visits remain 25% down on pre-pandemic

The interior of the National Gallery
14 Aug 2023

Fewer international tourists since the pandemic identified as one of the reasons why visitor levels for leading museums and galleries are yet to fully recover.

Creative recovery?

Children playing in Abasto Streets, Buenos Aires.
20 Jul 2023

A new report from King’s College London and the World Cities Culture Forum looks at the role of cultural policy in shaping urban futures. Jonathan Gross, one of the researchers, shares its key findings.

What kind of ancestor do you want to be?

Adah Parris on stage addressing an audience
05 Jun 2023

As Chair of the Centre for Cultural Value’s advisory group, Adah Parris reflects on the challenges and opportunities facing cultural practitioners and leaders keen to build a positive legacy.

DCMS extends term of Commissioner for Cultural Recovery

Portrait of Neil Mendoza. he is looking at the camera with his arms folded, wearing a black suit, blue shirt and tie
24 May 2023

Lord Neil Mendoza to stay in role for further six months to support delivery of Culture Secretary’s priorities, but DCMS declines to comment on future of position.

Sick days in arts industry rise by 66% in past year

12 May 2023

Businesses in the arts and entertainment industry have seen one of the biggest rises in sick leave across the UK, research has found.

The Sick Leave Report 2023, conducted by HR firm Access People HR, analysed sickness rates from more than 2,000 businesses, finding that the average company in the arts reported 39 days lost to sick leave in 2022. This compares with an average of 24 in 2021, 28 in 2020 and 20 in 2019.

In total, the sector experienced 66.7% more days lost in the last year due to short and long-term illness. The industries that charted the highest rise in the past year were water supply, sewerage and waste management (135% rise) and accommodation and food service activities (146%).

The firm said the rise in sickness rates in the arts and entertainment industry could be a sign that attitudes have changed following the pandemic, including concerns around spreading contagious diseases to the public.

It also pointed out that there is labour shortage in the sector, with arts officers, producers, dancers, musicians and artists all on the government's list of shortage occupations.

Forensic accountants to examine Coventry Culture Trust books

11 May 2023

Administrators to conduct own investigation into the charity's spending after hearing concerns about its use of public money.

New funding round for Northern Ireland's rural arts programme

10 May 2023

Rural arts organisations in Northern Ireland are being invited to apply for funding as part of a programme to increase access to and participation in the arts.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland's Rural Engagement Arts Programme (REAP) was launched last year.

The £1.5million inititiative is now on its second funding round, with grants from £500 to £10,000 available.

The focus of the scheme is to tackle isolation and loneliness through the arts. It was conceived as a post-pandemic recovery programme aimed at rural communities that were particularly hard hit by Covid-19.

Projects already funded through REAP include Glenlough Community Choir in rural North East Antrim, and Portstewart-based Big Telly Theatre Company, which created a touring, interactive piece of 'hybrid street theatre'.

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said REAP will "increase opportunities for people living in rural communities to engage and participate in meaningful arts activities, enriching their lives for the better. I would encourage organisations to apply.”

Heritage sector ‘over reliant’ on volunteers, survey suggests

a tour guide speaks to an audience in a town square
03 May 2023

Dependence on volunteers is found to be highest in organisations with lower turnover, although issues of attracting volunteers from varied backgrounds appear widespread.

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