Edinburgh Fringe programme grows to second largest ever

03 Aug 2023

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is set to present the second-biggest programme in its history after an influx of last-minute additions.

Despite fears that performers would be “priced out” by the high cost of accommodation in the Scottish city, the festival, which begins on Friday (4 August) is set to feature more than 3,600 shows, the second-largest number in its 76-year history.

More than 600 productions and 28 new venues have been added to the official programme since its initial publication in June.

Concerns around accommodation were raised in the run-up to the event after 87% of artists polled following last year’s festival said they felt that the affordability of accommodation and living costs in Edinburgh in August would be a barrier to future participation. 

But an increased amount of student housing made available for this year’s event, coupled with deals agreed with venue operators, is thought to have helped reign in prices, the Scotsman reported.

The flurry of late bookings is partially attributed to the return of the official Fringe app, which was not used at last year’s festival, creating less reliance on inclusion in this year’s printed programme.

The app, launched on July 11, has been downloaded more than 21,000 times.

“We always say that we don’t judge the success of the Fringe by the number of shows that are on,” said Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive of the Fringe Society.

“For us, that’s more about people actually seeing and supporting work, audiences connecting with shows and artists having a positive experience in Edinburgh.”

Lyndsey Jackson, the society’s Deputy Chief Executive said that “signs are positive and ticket sales are going well”.

“They are definitely ahead of this time last year and people are seeing audiences from 2019. Venues are broadly indicating the same,” she said.

Jewish Museum London closes its doors

31 Jul 2023

The Jewish Museum in London has closed its current site in Camden as part of plans to sell the building and reopen in a new location.

Trustees of the museum, which receives £224,000 a year from Arts Council England (ACE) as part of the National Portfolio for 2023-26 announced the plans in early June. 

It hopes to reopen in a larger new home within the next five years.

Nick Viner, chair of trustees, told the BBC: "It's been an incredibly tough decision, but the museum has always found it difficult to be financially sustainable even though it's had some huge success with exhibitions.

"We are planning to do several temporary displays in London and beyond all whilst we think about how we can engage communities online with our collections."

Three-fold increase in theatre roles with digital remit

Camera on theatre set.
17 Jul 2023

A cross-European study of digital theatre production before and during the pandemic reveals steep rise in roles with a digital remit since 2019. 

The arts and emerging technology

Performance of Golem. Person in clown makeup alongside 'Golem' – a creature crafted from clay. They are both stood on stage.
28 Jun 2023

Catherine Allen’s expertise spans augmented and virtual reality, including the development of the immersive sector. Here, she outlines how the arts have always been and continue to be crucial to the development of emergent technology.

Public library projects receive £1m boost

20 Jun 2023

An initiative to increase the number of people who use public libraries has awarded £1.09 million to 27 projects across England.

The LibraryOn fund, which is supported by Arts Council England and facilitated by the British Library, was launched in March this year.

Library services and consortia were invited to apply for capital expenditure grants of between £10,000–£70,000, with the aim of making it easier for library users to access services online.

Grants have been awarded for website development, apps and virtual library tours. Other funded projects involve artificial intelligence and search engine optimisation.

Library services in Sunderland, Leicester, West Sussex and Gloucestershire are among those benefiting. 

Liz White, Head of Public Libraries and Community Engagement at the British Library, said: "We’re excited to see this grant award for library services in areas across England, balancing investment in core offers with a wide variety of opportunities for digital innovation, user research and shared learning about ways of working. 

"This reflects our north star goal to increase the number of people using public libraries and raise awareness about their enduring value and importance."

Former NPO gets funding for digital theatremaking 'laboratory'

14 Jun 2023

Theatre company curious directive has received financial backing from the Department for Culture Media and Sport to explore digital theatremaking.

The former National Portfolio Organisation, based in Norwich, was one of scores of grassroots organisations outside London to be affected by Arts Council England investment decisions for its 2023-26 investment programme.

The Stage reports that it will receive £25,000 towards a digital theatremaking 'laboratory' project that will allow creatives and the public to experiment with technologies including those that merge digital worlds with reality.

Jack Lowe, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of curious directive, said: "Since 2008 we have, in our own understated way, been committed to searching out the future of theatre-storytelling. 

"Be it Frogman (with live performance and VR) or Gastronomic (which used AR in a live theatre setting) we’ve consistently performed a sort of midwifery for digital technology in the ensemble devising theatremaking process."

"Despite this significant heritage, this is our first mainstream grant to support our exploration of digital technology and, like everything in our analogue making space in Norwich, the funds will also be used to secure resource, which will be shared with other artists."

Using data to inform content strategy

Graph showing data analytics
12 Jun 2023

Data and insights are at the heart of good business decisions but finding the time can be a challenge. Curiosity and incremental learning could be the answer, says Zosia Poulter.

Equity moves to support performers facing 'AI threat'

voice over artist working in a studio. image depicts a man wearing headphones, speaking into a microphone while doing work on his computer
08 Jun 2023

Equity says new resources will educate performers on their legal rights, and calls for government to take urgent action to regulate the use of artificial intelligence.

ACE reopens Capital Investment Programme

empty theatre auditorium
06 Jun 2023

Total of £20m available to help cultural organisations safeguard their physical and digital infrastructure for the future.

Government to set up working group on music industry pay

30 May 2023

The government has accepted the Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee’s recommendation on establishing a working group to explore issues around fair pay for creators and performers in the music industry.

The follow-up report by the committee was published in January, more than two years after it first began an inquiry into the economics of streaming.

Ministers have now agreed to the establishment of a working group to focus on fair renumeration for artists whose music is played on audio streaming services, as recommended by the committee, Music Week reported.

Chair of the CMS Select Committee Dame Caroline Dinenage said the creation of the working group “is a welcome step towards addressing the frustrations of musicians and songwriters whose pay falls far short of a fair level given their central role in the success of the music streaming industry. 

“The government must now make sure the group is more than a talking shop and leads to concrete change so the talented creators and performers we have in this country are properly rewarded for their creativity,” she added.

“The committee will be keeping a close eye on progress and also looking more widely at artist and creator remuneration to ensure everyone who works in our creative industries can share in its successes.”

The working group will be composed of representatives and experts from across the music sector and will “explore and develop industry-led actions that support fair remuneration for existing and future music creators as part of a successful and globally competitive music industry”, said former Culture Secretary John Whittingdale.

“While terms in new contracts are increasingly creator-friendly, those benefits are often not extended to creators still signed to older contracts, many of whom are paid at substantially lower royalty rates than their modern counterparts,” he wrote.

“The government wants to see a thriving music industry that delivers sustained growth in an increasingly competitive global music market alongside fair renumeration for existing and future creators. 

“We believe that these aims are complementary and that reasonable action can be taken by industry to address creators’ concerns around remuneration.” 

But Sophie Jones, Interim CEO of the BPI, expressed concerns that the working group will “disincentivise investment” in the UK’s music sector “at a time when labels are fighting hard to grow exports and protect the rights of artists in the era of AI”.

She said the effort seemed to be “at odds with the government’s ambition to grow the UK's world leading creative industries by an extra £50bn by 2030”.

“Numerous studies have demonstrated that streaming has benefited consumers and artists alike, with record labels paying more to artists than ever before,” she said.

Drama School receives £1.35m to develop immersive technologies

30 May 2023

The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama has been awarded £1.35m from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to develop immersive and digital technologies.

The investment comes ahead of the launch of the school’s Performance Lab, which the schools says will “acts as a catalyst for research and development in theatre and performance in immersive performance and digital technologies”.

“Performance Lab will contribute distinctive new research to enhance the UK’s creative and cultural economy,” Central’s Head of Knowledge Exchange, Professor Bryce Lease, added.

Central School, part of the University of London, will also use the investment to upgrade existing facilities and support its work in a range of areas including sound and audio performance and digital performance training.

UKRI’s investment forms part of a £103m package supporting the higher education sector across England.

Online marketplace for Scottish arts organisations launches

(Left to right) Nicola Cruickshank, Marketing Assistant at Ocean Terminal; Heather Robertson, Living Memory Association Manager; Caroline Kaye, volunteer at Living Memory Association; and Tommy McCormick, Culture & Business Scotland Fund Manager
22 May 2023

Scheme established by Culture & Business Scotland seeks to provide new opportunities for creative collaboration by allowing businesses to purchase products and services from cultural organisations.

Do you cater for neurodiversity?

Concept of the diversity of people's talents and skills stock illustration
22 May 2023

Not all disabilities are visible. So to make your digital spaces more accessible for neurodivergent users, writes Ell Powell, there are some key things to consider.

ACE confirms further delay to audience data platform

People inside an auditorium
15 May 2023

Launch of new audience data platform rescheduled for second time meaning it will be two months late.

New £6m immersive tech programme for cultural organisations

10 May 2023

A new £6m programme aims to equip the UK cultural sector with the skills to develop projects using immersive technology.

The three-year XRtists programme is a joint initiative from the arts councils of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, Creative Scotland, and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

The programme will begin in 2024, once a consortium has been chosen to run it. Applications are currently being invited from universities, independent research organisations, cultural organisations and creative businesses.

Plans for the programme include training and funding opportunities for artists and cultural organisations, including museums.

An annual industry showcase is also planned, which will support the "ongoing development and distribution" of immersive work.

The successful consortium will be expected to carry out research around new business models for immersive content.

Darren Henley, Chief Executive at Arts Council England, said the programme will "draw on the wealth of creative talent across our performing arts, galleries, museums and other cultural organisations to unlock new ideas and applications for immersive technology, while developing skills in these powerful emerging technologies across the cultural sector”.

AHRC Executive Chair, Professor Christopher Smith, added: “XRtists will build on previous investments to unlock further innovation and economic growth and will bring the power of immersive technology to new audiences and partners.”

PwC blames Illuminate hold-up on 'contracting delays'

View of an audience within a theatre
03 May 2023

New platform for audience insights will launch six weeks late, leaving NPOs temporarily unable to use it for survey data.

Navigating the challenges of digitisation and museums

Cornwall Museums Partnership Beyond Digitisation Project. 3D models of a costume collection.
03 May 2023

Digitising collections is an ongoing challenge for museums, as evidenced in the latest National Museum Partnership reportFiona Morris and Charlotte Morgan discuss the potential of cross-cultural and technical partnerships as a solution.

How can arts organisations improve online giving?

People sat together around a black table in an office. They are smiling and laughing. On the table, there is a mug, post-it notes, and a notebook.
02 May 2023

In the competitive field of fundraising, digital gift giving has been experiencing a boom, as Stephanie Clark explains.

Most artists make a loss on music releases, research finds

02 May 2023

Most independent artists who promote their own music releases make a loss, according to new research.  

The research by Pirate.com, a global music studio hosting 350,000 artists worldwide, found that 75% of musicians who spend money on promoting releases don't make it back. 

Over 1,000 live musicians, producers, rappers and MCs from the UK and US were asked how they promote their music.

Of these, 91% said they did so without the support of a label or manager.

Of the musicians surveyed 54% said they use social media for self-promotion, with 56% of these using it everyday.

The research highlights the increasing need for musicians to create additional, visual content in order to promote their work.

More than half (56%) of music creators said they will make visuals for their next release.

Dan Davis, Head of Community at Pirate.com, said: "Making music in the social media age means constantly jumping on new promotional trends.

"However, making content is rarely free and new revenue sources for artists aren’t emerging at the same rate as new trends."

Creativity 'expunged' from school curriculum, report warns

Young people with clarinets recording music on desktop computers
27 Apr 2023

Creative Policy and Evidence Centre raises concerns over lack of focus on creativity within schools across the UK.

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