Pleasure, connection, purpose: How museums can leverage emotions

'Project What If' exhibition at We The Curious. Eight tv screens showing different visual imagery.
09 Feb 2023

Museums are not only holders of our histories and stories, but also repositories of a range of emotions, elicited when we encounter collections, writes Lucy Bird.

Apprenticeships in theatre making

A student learns how set and prop designers work at the RSC as part of RSC Next Generation, 2017.
07 Feb 2023

To mark National Apprenticeships Week, Pritti Shoker explores the role of apprenticeships in building a more inclusive, creative and diverse sector.

Leading culture in our time

Three woman sat on a table at a work event. There are items scattered on the table including four bottles of water, mugs, a notebook, a pencil case and a small plate. Two white women are looking at an Asian woman holding a microphone (presumably speaking through it). The background is blurred, but there are other tables and guests.
01 Feb 2023

The start of a new year is always a time of reflection and optimism. But this year Hilary Carty finds she’s rather hesitant and feeling somewhat more vulnerable than in previous times. 

Museum summit aims to engage young people

31 Jan 2023

A new initiative hopes to engage young people in debating the future of the museums sector in the UK.

Organised by Kids in Museums (KIM), ‘The Future is Now’ symposium will take place at Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum on 12 May.

The event, which is aimed at 16-to 25-year-olds, comes on the back of DCMS research that found only 12% of that age group believe London museums are telling stories that are relevant to them.

“There is a huge need to consult young people about what they want from museums in order to change perceptions,” a spokesperson for KIM said.

On the day there will be talks and panel discussions on a range of topics.

“We want to create a space where young people can discuss, learn, advocate and build new networks with their peers," the spokesperson added.

“Their voices will be heard on a national level and generate fresh new ideas for the heritage sector.

Booking for the event, which is being funded by an £11,000 grant from Movement for Good Award from Benefact Group, opens in March.

Submissions are currently being invited from young people under 25 who would like to speak at the event.

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.

Southbank Centre and Apple unveil plans to support Black creatives

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook visiting London's Southbank Centre
23 Jan 2023

Initiative to improve access to the arts for emerging Black creatives has announced details of residencies in London, Manchester, and Birmingham and plans to work with local schools.

Historic hospital secures £4.9m for restoration work

11 Jan 2023

The National Lottery Heritage Fund has awarded £4.9m for the restoration of historic buildings at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London.

The work, which will be overseen by Barts Heritage will focus on conservation of the Great Hall and the Hogarth Stair, a staircase featuring two seven-foot-high canvasses painted by William Hogarth, depicting stories from the Bible.

The paintings require specialist cleaning and conservation, and the hall is also set to undergo extensive restoration work, including the repair and strengthening of the timber staircase and conservation work on an 18th Century chandelier. 

“We’re thrilled that our funding will be used to conserve these unique examples of Hogarth’s work and revitalise the stunning stair Hall for more and more people to appreciate and enjoy when visiting the historic buildings,” said Eilish McGuinness, Chief Executive at The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The project includes an outreach component via a programme offering cultural and educational activities such as therapeutic artmaking courses, sensory heritage walking tours and mindfulness activities. 

Young people interested in heritage conservation can apply for placements, apprenticeships and volunteering roles.

Will Palin, Chief Executive of Barts Heritage said the project combines “the much-needed restoration of the one of the most important historic hospital buildings in the UK with a pioneering heritage and health programme”. 

“We are thrilled to have secured this transformative grant from the Heritage Fund and look forward to welcoming the public both during restoration works and after the project is complete,” he said.

Gallery plagued by racism accusations relaunches

Exterior of esea contemporary's building in Manchester
10 Jan 2023

Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art relaunches as 'esea contemporary' following critical audit that found it had lost sight of its mission and purpose. 

Glyndebourne cancels opera tour following ACE cut

06 Jan 2023

East Sussex opera house cancels scheduled 2023 tour saying cuts to annual funding it receives from Arts Council England have rendered it 'financially unsustainable'.

Museums receive £1.8m for 'experimental' engagement projects

Lipstick exhibit from Museum of Transology
21 Dec 2022

Latest round of Art Fund's 'Reimagine' grants programme goes to projects experimenting with new forms of audience engagement.

Call for 'immediate action' to safeguard local culture

16 Dec 2022

Urgent action is required to protect local cultural services in the face of the cost of living crisis, a Local Government Association (LGA) report has concluded.

The Commission on Culture and Local Government, set up earlier this year by the LGA, found that the cost of living crisis, combined with the prospect of recession, and pressure on public services pose "new challenges".

"Under these circumstances it would be tempting to dismiss investment in cultural services as a luxury we can’t afford," the report states.

"But for the same reasons, these services have never been more important. 

"Cultural services, organisations and practitioners bring people together at times of crisis and celebration, they provide support and social connection, create jobs, develop new adaptive skills, and underpin empathy and critical thinking."

The report calls on local government, regional bodies, cultural arms-length bodies and national government to work together with cultural organisations and communities to "take immediate action to safeguard the future of local cultural infrastructure".

It says this should be followed by a longer-term action plan to deliver a series of outcomes including targeting regional inequalities and enabling local authorities to develop and deliver meaningful place-led strategies for culture, and a "power shift" towards place-led approaches to enable communities, cultural providers and practitioners to shape local decision making.

Baroness Lola Young, Chair of the commission, said: "Access to culture and creativity provides hope and inspiration and enriches people’s lives. That access must be fair for all.

"I hope our findings and recommendations will help councils, regional bodies, cultural arm's-length bodies and national government to work together with cultural organisations and communities to weather the latest storm and secure the future of this vital community infrastructure.”

National Portrait Gallery launches youth initiative with Raheem Sterling

14 Dec 2022

A charity established by England footballer Raheem Sterling has joined forces with the National Portrait Gallery to launch a creative youth engagement and skills development programme.

The London-based programme, called "Making of Me", aims to raise the career aspirations of 30 young people who want to express themselves creatively. 

Participants will be invited to take part in a series of 12 workshops and masterclasses, working with photographers, filmmakers and digital producers to create artworks exploring self-identity, representation, place and community.

They will be encouraged to take inspiration from portraits in the National Gallery’s collection.

The initiative aims to foster a sense of community and belonging among participants, while equipping them with a variety of skills and arming them with the knowledge needed to forge creative careers.

It is part of the National Gallery’s Inspiring People project, increasing the gallery’s reach during its closure. The programme will culminate in 2023, when the venue is set to reopen after major transformations to its building, with an exhibition of the participants’ work.

“Social mobility, education and employment make up the foundation’s three pillars and this project is a perfect fit for what we are aiming to achieve – helping to expand horizons, raise aspirations and create opportunities for the next generation,” said Clive Ellington, Chair of Trustees for the Raheem Sterling Foundation.

Henley: 'Many cities interested in hosting ENO'

External view of the Coliseum in London
09 Dec 2022

Arts Council England Chief Executive Darren Henley highlights future possibilities for English National Opera while facing questions from MPs on National Portfolio funding decisions.

BBC Radio 3 to move classical music programming to Salford

07 Dec 2022

The production of eight BBC Radio 3 classical music programmes will move from London to Salford, it has been announced.

The BBC said the move, part of its Across the UK strategy, will create a UK-wide classical music hub in the North, allowing it to reach out to new audiences and diversify voices heard on the station.

The eight programmes - Music Matters, Jazz Record Requests, Essential Classics, Through the Night and Sunday Breakfast - will move their production from London to Salford by Autumn 2024. 

The Listening Service and Afternoon Concert – both currently partly based in Salford - will move the entirety of their production and Words and Music will also increase its Salford production. 

Some programmes made by independent producers, such as Unclassified have already made the move.

Alan Davey, Controller of BBC Radio 3, said: “Strengthening Radio 3’s roots in the North of England, with a continued and important presence in London, will ensure the station holds its place at the forefront of leading and developing classical music and culture for the whole of the country. 

"We hope to support and develop a wider pool of established and emerging talent, and build new partnerships with different communities in the North as well as with the wider classical music industry.”

Plans for creative hub in Northampton unveiled

24 Nov 2022

Plans for a major new creative centre in Northampton have been unveiled as part of efforts to create vibrant space for culture in the town.

The Northampton Chronicle reports that the £4.7m project will see a five-storey redundant heritage building in the centre of the town transformed into a space featuring a contemporary art gallery, affordable creative studios and public spaces.

Daniel Lister, Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Town Centre Regeneration and Growth at West Northamptonshire Council, said: “We are delighted to be entering our second phase of work to deliver this ambitious project.

“Once open, it will offer a unique cultural hub in the heart of the Cultural Quarter, complementing the ongoing redevelopment of this part of town.

“We have all combined our vision to regenerate this central building and offer a space for artists and entrepreneurs across our county and beyond.”

The 2,000 square metre space, sited close to Royal & Derngate theatre and the newly refurbished Museum and Art Gallery, is due to open late next year or early 2024

ACE hands audience data contract to consultancy firm PwC

10 Nov 2022

Arts Council England drops arts and culture research specialists The Audience Agency from sector support role, handing new contract for data insights to global consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

London set for new concert hall 

17 Oct 2022

London’s first new concert hall in 14 years will open its doors for the first time next month.

The £3.65m venue, located in Embassy Gardens, Nine Elms, will be known as World Heart Beat and belongs to a music charity of the same name.

Alongside a 200-capacity concert hall, it will feature World Heart Beat’s second music education centre that will aim to make music education accessible to all social groups. The charity currently provides music tuition and performance opportunities to 380 young people each year outside of school hours.

The venue’s opening season will begin in January 2023 with “an eclectic ongoing musical programme comprising some of the biggest names in contemporary jazz”. Tickets will be on sale from early November.

“It is such a privilege to be able to contribute to the community with a state-of-the-art boutique concert hall and a music education facility,” World Heart Beat founder Sahana Gero said.

“We would like to think of World Heart Beat Embassy Gardens as an inspiring place to be, a citadel for musical aspirations and achievement. A welcoming home for all.”

ACE National Portfolio 2023-26: Transfer Programme explained

12 Oct 2022

What's the plan for London-based arts organisations earmarked for relocation once Arts Council England announces its next National Portfolio later this month?

Creative lives on air

Radio Club Creative Lives Festival 2021
05 Oct 2022

A new report has been published on the role of local radio in supporting messaging about creativity and positive mental health. Robin Simpson shares its findings.

Royal Opera House unveils subscription streaming service

04 Oct 2022

The Royal Opera House has announced a new online subscription service offering works from its archives, behind the scenes features, and talks for a monthly or annual fee.

The move to offer a permanent streaming service follows a programme of nine live-streamed concerts and 38 productions from its archives which ran during the pandemic. 

The organisation said subscribers, who will be asked to pay £9.99 a month or £99 a year, will have access to an extensive catalogue of full-length performances spanning two decades.

There will also be more than 85 behind-the-scenes features, trailers, talks and insights. Brand-new titles will be made available monthly, along with behind-the-scenes content. 

During the pandemic, content in the Royal Opera House's #OurHouseToYourHouse programme was viewed more than 15 million times in 183 countries, broadcast in partnership with the BBC, Sky Arts, Marquee TV and Netflix. 


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