Theatre apologises for ‘encouraging poor etiquette’

30 May 2023

Norwich Theatre has apologised for “inadvertently encouraging poor theatre etiquette” after sending a newsletter with the subject line “Something to sing along to”.

Subscribers to the theatre’s mailing list received the email this week as part of promotion efforts for the venue’s upcoming musicals, including Heathers, Blood Brothers and Annie.

After recipients expressed concerns that it might encourage people in the audience to belt out the songs themselves, the company sent a follow-up email apologising.

“In trying to emphasise the fun and joyous nature of the musicals, we inadvertently appeared to endorse poor theatre etiquette,” the email said.

“Of course we don’t mean for people to literally sing along while they are in the theatre (just when booking their tickets or in the car on the way home!).

“We’re really sorry for any misunderstanding, upset and the careless language.”

The apology coincides with an ongoing debate within the theatre sector about the appropriateness of live audiences singing along to musicals.

Last month police were called to a performance of The Bodyguard in Manchester last month when audience members refused to stop loudly singing and dancing, resulting in the show being stopped 10 minutes early.

Actor, playwright and director Ben Elton, who penned the script for Queen musical We Will Rock You, weighted in on the debate on BBC Breakfast, saying that audiences “should apply good taste and good manners”.

“Nobody’s paid to sit next to somebody [singing],” he said.

Theatre's planned 'Black Out' performance proves divisive

An external photo of Theatre Royal Stratford East
23 May 2023

Stratford East attracts criticism for designating a performance for a Black audience, prompting messages of support from the theatre community.

New programme to boost disabled and neurodiverse leadership 

16 May 2023

A team of learning disabled and autistic creatives from Access All Areas have banded together to create a new national arts programme to train other learning disabled and autistic people working in the arts, as well as training staff at venues and organisations in inclusive leadership.

The team underwent two years of leadership training as part of Access All Areas’ Transforming Leadership programme, which finished in 2022.

Working with seven other disability arts companies, eight UK venues and leadership development organisations, they will launch the new programme on 19 June, to coincide with Learning Disability Week.

The new programme aims to counter the historic exclusion of learning disabled and autistic people from the UK workforce and shake up the landscape of arts leadership by involving them in strategic decisions and discussions around the art being made and the stories being told.

Creatives from Access All Areas will co-deliver leadership training for 14 other learning disabled and autistic creatives from seven UK companies. The training will focus on directing skills, how to lead community arts programmes, governance and advocacy skills.

Access All Areas will also train staff at eight UK venues and seven organisations in inclusive practice, to help overcome structural obstacles to inclusion for learning disabled and autistic at executive and board level.

Opera North and Newcastle University launch three-year partnership

A scene from an Opera North production of Kiss Me Kate
12 May 2023

Organisations plan to build on previous work together through formal partnership to improve audience accessibility.

New cultural programme at London College of Fashion

12 May 2023

The fashion college will commence an annual cultural calendar to coincide with its move to Stratford’s East Bank.

Rural arts fail to engage diverse audiences

Power of Stories by Ipswich Museums and local community members.
03 May 2023

As part of our series of articles on widening participation, Elma Glasgow explores why the arts fail to engage ethnically diverse communities in rural areas. 

The power of music to connect

Image ofSarah Derbyshire
02 May 2023

In a career spanning over 25 years, Sarah Derbyshire's commitment to the power of music to change lives and support communities has remained a guiding principle.

Tank Museum hits record 100m YouTube views

25 Apr 2023

The Tank Museum has made museums history by attracting more than 100m views on its YouTube channel, which has more than 500,000 subscribers.

The military museum in Bovington, Dorset has had more views than any other museum in the world, surpassing the British Museum’s 61m total views.

The channel, which currently offers 427 videos, features expert staff members sharing their knowledge of tanks in the museum's collection, as well as mini-documentaries and footage from events.

The Tank Museum's head of marketing Nik Wyness said: “As a rural regimental museum, we see YouTube as an essential means of reaching a wider audience, helping us to fulfil our mission to tell the story of the tank and the people that served in them.

“YouTube has allowed us reach a global audience of tank enthusiasts and it’s as a direct result of this that we are now generating over a quarter of our annual turnover from non-visitors."

DCMS study questions 'digital capacity' of museum sector

A virtual exhibition
24 Apr 2023

Report into partnership activities undertaken by the national museums raises questions about the capacity for and value of post-pandemic digital provision.

Virtual museum celebrates Paralympic artefacts 

19 Apr 2023

A 3D virtual museum is set is to launch this week, showcasing objects from the National Paralympic Heritage Trust (NPHT).

The Digital Explorations Celebration & Virtual Museum, launching on Wednesday (19 April) at Stoke Mandeville Stadium, the birthplace of the Paralympic movement, will showcase objects including mascots, clothing and sports equipment.

The museum is part of the Digital Exploration Project, funded by the Rothschild Foundation and National Lottery Heritage Fund, with support from the Heart of Bucks.

The result of three years of work, the exhibition brings together more than 65 objects curated and scanned by participants from local disability organisations from across Buckinghamshire. 

The collection also includes artefacts from other museums, items from students at Pebble Brook School and artefacts from NPHT’s own collection.

Participants received professional training and work experience in historical research and cataloguing, digital 3D scanning, photogrammetry and editing.

“We are proud to support NPHT’s Digital Exploration project, preserving and sharing their inspirational Paralympic heritage of international significance, through the digital innovation of 3D models and exhibitions, promoting wider access for disabled people, young people and researchers,” said Leona Forsyth, Senior Grants Manager at the Rothschild Foundation.

“This work is also helping build a local cultural sector that is inclusive, vibrant and resilient. 

“The team’s personal approach and dedication to meeting individual needs through mentoring and training is developing the life skills and improving the quality of life and well-being of disabled participants, while helping build a more diverse, representative heritage workforce locally.”

Theatre asks people of South Asian heritage to share their stories

11 Apr 2023

A theatre in Staffordshire is asking people of South Asian heritage to share their stories for a chance to see them retold on stage.

The New Vic Theatre in Newcastle-under-Lyme is working with local arts company, Appetite, to create a new play, Punjab to the Potteries.

Playwright Shahid Iqbal Khan and Writer/Director Sarah Bedi will use the real-life stories to create the play's script.

Appetite Director Gemma Thomas said: "We want to hear from, celebrate and capture people's lived experiences of migrating to the Potteries, or being born here and raised in a South Asian family." 

The idea for the project was inspired by local man Val Bansal, who had shared his own family's story of migrating from the Punjab in India.

His father had moved to Stoke-on-Trent in 1964.

Bansal said: "There must be countless stories and memories, as well as many more photos in numerous households of people and families who took a similar journey."

There will be an open storytelling event in Newcastle-under-Lyme on 28 April.

Lewisham, London's Borough of Culture engaged majority of local schools

04 Apr 2023

Lewisham starts work on a cultural strategy following successful stint as London Borough of Culture focused on young people, community and cultural activism.

Performing arts centre secures government youth funding

03 Apr 2023

A performing arts centre in Norwich will receive £460,000 from a government fund.

The Garage in Norwich, a charity established in 2002 to support young people, particularly those that are disadvantaged, vulnerable or with limited opportunities, will get the money to improve its dance, drama and music facilities.

The money comes from the second round of the government's Youth Investment Fund will distribute a total of £90m to 43 youth centres.

The BBC reports that the Garage's Chief Executive, Adam Taylor, said the centre has been "working furiously" for 12 months to secure the investment.

"It's an amazing sum of money and we're incredibly fortunate to be in this position," Taylor said.

"It means we can repair our boiler which broke last year, and refurbish our cafe and bar and dance studios, which will help us earn money to support our charitable work with those facing challenging circumstances.

"The rest of the money will enable us to continue opening our doors to thousands of youngsters every day so they can take part in activities that give them the chance to change their lives."

Music venue purchasing scheme 'set for go ahead'

Exterior of music venue the Ferret
27 Mar 2023

Although the campaign is yet to hit its initial £2.5m target, Music Venue Trust says it plans to go ahead with scheme aiming to secure the future of grassroots music venues.

Southbank Centre relaunches wellbeing initiative

21 Mar 2023

An initiative developed by the Southbank Centre during the Covid-19 pandemic to reach those most isolated by the lockdowns is to be relaunched.

The Art by Post scheme scheme involves delivering free activity booklets to care homes, hospitals, charities, arts organisations, specialist dementia services, prison facilities and housing initiatives to give people an outlet for artistic expression. 

The initiative previously reached almost 4,500 people, 90% of whom said it had given them something to look forward to and 75% of whom said that it had improved their wellbeing. 

The scheme will return in partnership with the National Academy for Social Prescribing (NASP), with six new creativity booklets designed for people with long-term physical and mental health needs.

Participants can refer themselves or be referred by a friend, family member or professional service. Organisations can also sign up to receive the booklets in bulk.

The new booklets provide free poetry and art activities designed by artists and activists to nurture creativity and support wellbeing, with a focus on how to care for the health of the planet.

“At NASP we’ve witnessed the life changing effect social prescribing – connecting people to non-medical support to address problems like isolation or stress – can have on people’s mental and physical health,” said Sunita Pandya, Interim CEO at The National Academy for Social Prescribing.

“However, we are also keenly aware that some green social prescribing or arts for wellbeing projects aren’t accessible to those who cannot leave the house. 

“These booklets – which are being offered to link workers for distribution – make social prescribing activities available to all. We can't wait to see the work they inspire.”

Immersive art space to open at Wembley Park

Members of the Punchdrunk Enrichment team at the site of the new space (left to right) Alice Kitty Devlin, Peter Higgin, and Mia Jerome
21 Mar 2023

Performing arts charity sets out plans to launch new immersive arts space in London with the help of local artists and community groups.

Workshop to make musical instruments more accessible

09 Mar 2023

A collaborative workshop is planning to make outdoor musical instruments more accessible, particularly to young people who are blind or partially sighted.

The workshop, a collaboration between Percussion Play, the Royal Society for Blind Children (RSBC) and the Amber Trust, will take place at RSBC’s Life Without Limits Centre in London in April, to discover how Percussion Play’s instruments can be improved and made more accessible for vision-impaired children and young people.

The session will be facilitated by Amber Music practitioner Gennie Joy, who will guide children and their families in how to play instruments from Percussion Play, including Babel Drums, Cyclone, Cavatina and Tubular Bells.

Percussion Play hopes the workshop will help it identify the shapes, heights, colours and finishes most beneficial to people with vision impairments.

The instrument manufacturer also hopes to create a new instrument specifically for people who are blind or partially sighted during the collaborative session.

“We are excited to be working with the RSBC and The Amber Trust to discover how we can make our instruments even more inclusive,” said Jody Ashfield, Co-Founder and CEO of Percussion Play.

“Our instruments are designed so everyone can enjoy making music and we hope to improve our current range by engaging with young people who are partially sighted and discover what changes could be made to make them more accessible.”

Socially engaged practice in the Tees Valley

Stuart Langley’s public art work ‘beating heart’, commissioned by Middlesbrough Council. A Birdseye image of Middlesborough, showing a large block of flats with a large projection of a heart. It is surrounded by houses, other buildings and roads.
08 Mar 2023

Working in Middlesborough’s cultural sector for the first time, Charlotte Nicol was blown away by the energy. Here are her top tips for organisations thinking of relocating to a Levelling Up for Culture Place.

National Youth Theatre partners with Netflix on youth access programme

07 Mar 2023

National Youth Theatre has announced IGNITE Your Creativity, a partnership with Netflix that aims to introduce young people to backstage and technical careers in film, TV and theatre.

The programme is designed to offer opportunities to more than 500 young people aged 14 to 25 in South Wales, West Yorkshire and the North East of England in its first year.

“Theatre is one of the great pipelines to TV and film but sadly the pipeline of opportunity for so many young people has been broken for so long,” said Paul Roseby, Chief Executive and Artistic Director of National Youth Theatre.

“Certain parts of the creative industries are growing, but ironically so is the skills gap in production talent. This partnership will help redress the imbalance”.  

The programme is currently recruiting young people in Newport, South Wales, where participants will work with Urban Myth Films and their Newport-based film studios, the Sherman Theatre, National Youth Arts Wales and local community organisations and schools. 

The programme will expand to West Yorkshire and the North East of England later this year, delivering 20 free community and school workshops in each area. It will also offer set and theatre visits and free week-long courses led by industry professionals.

“Our industry has a pronounced absence of socio-economic diversity partly because it’s freelance, which makes it tough for those from less privileged backgrounds to gain a foothold,” said Anne Mensah, Vice President of UK Content at Netflix.

“IGNITE Your Creativity has been designed to raise awareness and aspirations, and build confidence and networks so that young people don’t need to have existing industry connections, live in a big city or have a degree for a career in TV and film.”

Championing communities

Clore Leadership's Governance Now conference
15 Feb 2023

Clore Leadership has held its 5th conference addressing issues of governance in the cultural sector. The theme this year was championing communities. Jonathan Mayes reports on what emerged.


Subscribe to Engagement