Henley: ACE 'pushing government for extra funding'

30 Mar 2023

Arts Council England Chief Executive outlines efforts to support arts and culture sector in face of continuing economic pressure.

Colchester theatre partners with four associate companies

28 Mar 2023

Mercury Theatre in Colchester has announced a partnership with four new associate theatre companies in a bid to broaden its appeal and develop new audiences.

The 530-seat theatre, which underwent a major renovation and refurbishment in 2021, will partner for three years with English Touring Theatre, Frantic Assembly, Graeae, and Paines Plough.

The companies will work with Mercury to co-produce new work and receive touring productions. They will also collaborate on community and talent projects.

Mercury Theatre's Creative Director Ryan McBryde said: "Partnering with these extraordinary, world-renowned theatre companies will allow us to broaden the scope of our work, deepen relationships with our local community and provide more springboards for artists across our region."

He added: "We look forward to learning more from our new associates, developing and improving our own practice, and ensuring we’re the best we can be, for all of the brilliant, diverse communities across our region.”

Scott Graham and Kerry Whelan from physical theatre company Frantic Assembly said: “Partnerships like this are exciting opportunities to grow, inspire and learn from each other, finding innovative ways to share work and process."

Birmingham Council rubberstamps £3m-a-year for culture

A carnival procession through Birmingham as part of Birmingham 2022 Festival
22 Mar 2023

The funding will be split between 10 organisations over the next three years, with money also earmarked for local arts development.

Croydon announces Borough of Culture calendar

17 Mar 2023

Croydon has shared its programme of arts and cultural events for its stint as London Borough of Culture.

The timetable will run from April through to March next year, featuring street festivals, dance, music and theatre productions.

It commences on 1 April with Oratorio of Hope at Fairfield Halls, an orchestral commission led by London Mozart Players involving more than 250 of the borough’s young singers and instrumentalists.

The programme has been arranged by This is Croydon, a partnership between residents, cultural groups and the council.

The group says events will focus on grassroots talent, unsung cultural heroes, young people and disability-led productions.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan commented: “Croydon has a rich history of creativity, diversity and talent, and I’m delighted that this will be reflected through a huge range of inspiring art and performances in their year-long programme.” 

“It will be a fantastic example of how culture can inspire and unleash the potential of the next generation as we build a better London for everyone.” 

Croydon’s year of events marks the fourth iteration of the Borough of Culture project. Croydon is taking the torch from Lewisham, which hosted the 2022 edition, following on from Waltham Forest in 2019 and Brent in 2020.

Opera plans: ACE analysis will 'inform future investment'

The exterior of the home of English National Opera, the Coliseum in London
16 Mar 2023

An independent analysis of opera and musical theatre will be completed by October, with the findings set to inform future support and investment for the sector.

Growing calls for inquiry into Coventry City of Culture Trust 

16 Mar 2023

Politicians call for formal inquiry into handling of charity’s finances, as accounts show expenditure exceeded grants from leading arts and culture bodies.

Royal Opera House accused of 'whitewashing'

14 Mar 2023

An advocacy group for British East and South East Asians working in the screen and stage industries has accused the Royal Opera House (ROH) of "whitewashing" its new production of a Puccini opera.

The Beats group said the casting for the ROH's Turandot, currently running at the Covent Garden venue, was "simply unacceptable" and that it was "very concerned" at the "highly limited representation".

It said in a statement: "We fail to see why there are only two British East and South East Asians singers in a production that is set in China." 

The group has called on the ROH to "undertake a thorough review of its casting processes to ensure that its productions have much better and more appropriate representation on and off stage".

It added that the ROH's approach to casting "limits the ability of artists of colour to participate in the telling of their own stories on stage".

Responding to the criticism, the ROH said: "We are opposed to pigeonholing singers into certain roles based on ethnicity, recognising that to do so would be limiting and reductive. 

"At the same time, we do not ignore ethnicity entirely. Instead, we are committed to colour-conscious casting, an approach which considers the nuance required to authentically and respectfully portray each and every story."

It added that the new production "presents an outstanding and diverse cast".


Support fund for Edinburgh Fringe performers launches

Two performers on the streets of Edinburgh
07 Mar 2023

A new fund will offer bursaries to performers who want to appear at the renowned comedy festival in 2023.

Fringe operator 'at risk' after Coventry Culture Trust collapse

A woman and a boy attending a Coventry City of Culture event
06 Mar 2023

One of the main venue operators for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival has said its future is at risk following the collapse of Coventry City of Culture Trust.

Labour backs 'cultural corridor' across North

Shadow Culture Secretary Lucy Powell speaking at the Creative Coalition Festival
03 Mar 2023

Shadow Culture Secretary Lucy Powell sets out Labour's vision for the creative industries, pledging to devolve powers to local areas to drive growth and support a 'cultural corridor' across the North.

Frazer: Creative industries 'key priority' for government

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer delivering her speech at the Creative Coalition Festival
02 Mar 2023

In her first major speech to the sector, new Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer speaks of the importance of the arts and outlines her ambitions in the role.

Coventry City of Culture Trust enters administration

Gratte Ciel perform the World Premiere of ‘The Awakening’ in Coventry, UK City of Culture, in one of the packed big celebration weekends. Photo credit - Lee Corden (1).jpg
28 Feb 2023

Dozens of staff are made redundant as charity files for administration amid three-year legacy programme.

Oldham Coliseum: Demand for detail on ACE plans

People attending a public meeting at Oldham Coliseum in a bid to save the venue
22 Feb 2023

Performers' union Equity calls on Arts Council England to disclose its three-year vision for Oldham, as hundreds gather to protest funding cut for the town's Coliseum theatre.

ACE Chair concedes funding decisions 'not perfect'

Sir Nicholas Serota at the Cultural Governance Alliance annual conference in Birmingham
08 Feb 2023

In the wake of significant backlash over some of Arts Council England's funding decisions for its next National Portfolio, the organisation's Chair concedes that they 'didn't get everything right'.

Third of UNBOXED audience figures 'came from Countryfile'

30 Jan 2023

A large chunk of official audience figures for UNBOXED festival came from viewers watching Countryfile on the BBC, it has emerged.

Organisers of the £120m project said a total of 18.1m people had “engaged” with the project, consisting of 2.8m people attendeding events last year and a further 13.6m engaging with broadcast and digital content.

The Times reports that the 13.6m figure included five million Countryfile viewers watching an episode in October when the programme reported on one of the projects, Green Space Dark Skies.

Speaking in parliament, Labour MP Nick Smith raised the Countryfile figures with civil servants and ministers and questioned whether the festival had "made the impact it intended".

"The department [DCMS] reported in November that the figure for audience engagement was just over 18m," he said. 

"That sounds a reasonable reach, but it turns out that a one-hour “Countryfile” TV special was doing the heavy lifting with five million viewers — nearly a third of the total."

Smith has asked for the matter to be considered as part of a wider evaluation currently taking place.

Diving in at the deep end

Shonagh Manson
30 Jan 2023

Initially unsure about how to put her art degree to good use, Shonagh Manson has forged a career centred on ensuring artists and creatives are well supported.

Sector questions timing of ACE opera study

An opera singer waves to the crowd following a performance. The photo is taken from behind the singer, with a piano to their right
25 Jan 2023

Arts Council England plan to commission research into 'challenges and opportunities' for opera and musical theatre sparks debate within sector, with many questioning the timing of the decision.

Rotherham Children’s Capital of Culture gets £275k boost

25 Jan 2023

Rotherham Council’s cabinet has agreed to allocate a further £275,000 of funding for Rotherham as Children’s Capital of Culture in 2025.

The money will complement £1.84m in funding awarded by the government’s Community Renewal Fund in 2021 to help establish a “Creative and Cultural Skills Embassy” linked to the event and additional funding from Arts Council England.

The Yorkshire town is planning to brand itself as the world’s first Children’s Capital of Culture as part of a cultural strategy highlighting Rotherham as “a place people want to visit, where everyone can enjoy Rotherham through the eyes, ears and actions of children and young people”.

The money will be used to finance the next stage of the project over the coming year, with the Children’s Capital of Culture team will partner with three cultural providers and work with local young people to “deliver a programme of creative and cultural events, festivals, experiences and opportunities across Rotherham”, according to a cabinet paper.

“The ultimate goal of Children’s Capital of Culture is to support more children and young people across the borough to create a bolder, more ambitious and creative future for themselves, increasing overall pride and aspiration in our borough and nurturing a skilled young workforce that can make a real difference to Rotherham’s future,” said Children’s Capital of Culture Programme Manager Sarah Christie.

ACE reveals 'opera analysis' plan in response to backlash

Opera performers on stage
25 Jan 2023

Independent analysis of opera and musical theatre to be commissioned by Arts Council England to 'shape future investment' in wake of backlash agcainst funding decisions.

Music leaders call for rethink on BBC Introducing cuts

Florence + The Machine performing at a music concert
19 Jan 2023

Proposed shake-up of BBC radio programmes will see a reduction in music shows that have provided a platform for emerging artists such as Florence + The Machine, Ed Sheeran, Little Simz and Lewis Capaldi.


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