Visitor attractions face 'significant cost-of-living barrier'

Martin Creed 'Work No 850' at Tate Britain
12 Jul 2022

Predicition of higher admissions levels for visitor attractions this summer compared with last year, but cost of living emerges as a concern for potential audiences.

The great escape

11 Jul 2022

A major UK-wide mass participation art project aims to rekindle the curiosity and imagination of school-age children with the rich offerings of museums, as Jo Paton Htay explains. 

East London creative hub for music and dance opens

07 Jul 2022

A new £4.1m creative hub for young musicians and dancers has opened as part of efforts to support diverse talent.

The Talent House, based in Stratford, will house both East London Dance and national youth music organisation UD, providing young music and dance professionals free and affordable access to world class facilities as a launchpad to reach new audiences.

It is hoped the venue, paid for with initial funding from Arts Council England and the Greater London Authority, will attract more than 12,000 people every year with an "inspirational" public programme, co-curated with young people, artists and local residents.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who opened the hub, said: “London’s music and dance scene is thriving, but these companies need a home to nurture and support talent, so I’m proud to have invested in this state of the art facility, which will not only be a springboard for creatives and performers in Newham and across the city, but help to cement London as the creative capital of the world. 

"Investment like this is essential for our city’s recovery and a key part of building a better London for everyone.”

Young people curate exhibition at Ulster Museum

05 Jul 2022

Young people aged 16 to 25 have helped to curate a new exhibition at Ulster Museum in Belfast, assembling objects that represent their experiences, interests and opinions.

The exhibition was spearheaded by Reimagine Remake Replay, a creative programme that has connected over 4,000 young people with heritage through creative media and the latest digital technologies. It is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Kick the Dust programme.

A group of young people who have been active in the programme were selected to work on the exhibition Power to the Young People. 

The exhibition is based on themes including climate justice, arts and wellbeing and LGBTQIA+ rights, which developed naturally as a reflection of the priorities, interests and concerns of the young co-curators. It took a year to put together and features creative activities and digital interactives including a VR experience, a bespoke AR app and projection mapping.

“The programme recognises that this age group is under-served within heritage and within museums, so, for us being here is not just about the content, it’s also about changing the experience,” Niamh Kelly, Project Assistant and Youth Ambassador for Reimagine Remake Replay, told the Belfast Telegraph.

“It’s about making it more of a space that reflects young people, where they actually can see something that not just appeals to them, but speaks to them and is something that they want to get involved in.”

Theatre gives children body image boost

04 Jul 2022

Theatre productions can help to promote healthier body image in young children, a study has found.

Led by body image expert Professor Viren Swami of Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), the study evaluated the responses of children aged between five and nine-years-old before and after attending productions of Cinderella: the AWESOME Truth at a theatre in London.

Professor Swami was consulted during the development of the production with the aim of creating a show that could help children develop positive body image and self-image.

The research, based on responses from 54 girls and 45 boys, found that body appreciation scores for both boys and girls improved after watching the production.

The improvements were achieved while maintaining near universal enjoyment of the show and delivering key learning outcomes, as assessed through the children’s qualitative responses.

“We know that body and appearance dissatisfaction is associated with detrimental health and psychological outcomes, including symptoms of depression, low self-esteem, disordered eating, and decreased physical activity, and this can begin in children as young as six," Professor Swarmi said. 

“Due to social media, children are becoming aware of unrealistic and unhealthy aspects of body image at an ever-younger age. Therefore, it is important to find new ways of countering these threats by delivering positive messages to young children.

“It may not be feasible to reach all children through theatre given production costs and barriers to attendance, for example ticket prices. However, we have shown there is merit in using theatrical performances to promote healthy body image messages, as well as potentially embedding drama and theatre with a body image focus in school-based curricula.”

Pioneering Coventry theatre to close

30 Jun 2022

A theatre set up in a former shop in Coventry to allow audiences to enter a space and meet artists as equals is to close after 13 years.

Theatre Absolute has run the Shop Front Theatre in City Arcade since 2009, but has said it will close in November, with the premises due to be demolished next year as part of city centre redevelopment plans. 

The theatre, inspired by a model in Chicago, was set up by Theatre Absolute Artistic Directors Chris O’Connell and Julia Negus in partnership with Coventry City Council. 

It was the first, and remains the only, professional shop front theatre in the UK.

O'Connell said: “It will be immensely sad to see the space and the Arcade itself go, it’s been a brilliant home for independents. 

“But we had already decided that Theatre Absolute’s future lay in progressing our work in other ways and we’re excited to start exploring that.”

Opera UK to discuss sustainability, diversity and advocacy

21 Jun 2022

Opera UK has announced a series of online events to be held in the first week of July that will facilitate discussion around the future of opera in the country.

The sessions will be focused on three pressing issues: environmental sustainability, greater diversification in leadership and advocacy for opera, and will feature at least 14 expert speakers.

Contributors who have so far signed up include directors of leading companies, performers and those working on the ground in positions including technical production and stage direction.

Annilese Miskimmon, Artistic Director at English National Opera, Elizabeth Llwellyn, soprano and a trustee of Into Opera and Mark Pemberton, Chief Executive at the Association of British Orchestras, are all scheduled to participate. 

All events will be participatory, allowing attendees to join the discussions and ask questions. 

“Innovation and change is vital to ensure that our sector remains relevant, effectively engages with communities, and benefits our audiences,” said Genevieve Raghu, Artistic Director of Into Opera and one of Opera UK’s Founding Directors. 

“We hope these events will help to connect individuals and companies across the opera sector and instigate even more conversations, positive changes and, through increased collaboration of our members, we hope to see a strengthening of the resilience of the opera sector.”

The discussions will also serve as a platform to launch a new mapping exercise designed to help establish a detailed picture of the national opera industry. 

Rural art projects in Northern Ireland get £1.5m boost

Young people taking part in workshops run by arts organisation Glasgowbury
13 Jun 2022

New art fund launches to address needs of local rural communities as they emerge from the global Covid-19 pandemic.

BBC orchestras: broadcaster to explore alternative funding

The BBC Symphony Orchestra performing at the Barbican
08 Jun 2022

BBC to reduce licence fee funding for its performing groups as part of efforts to make £200m a year in savings.

Scheme to protect grassroots music venues launches

Le Pub in Newport is one of nine venues in the pilot
06 Jun 2022

The initiative gives music fans the chance to buy shares in grassroots music venues and help secure their long-term future.

Event marketing firm announces acquisitions

06 Jun 2022

Live entertainment marketing platform Activity Stream has acquired mobile ticketing specialists crowdEngage and event and venue management firm Yesplan.

Activity Stream said the move will strengthen its offerings to the live entertainment and experience sector, creating the first company to offer solutions across the life-cycle of an event, from event planning, marketing, communications, sales management and customer engagement through to event delivery.

The new company now has a client base of more than 450 organisations around the world in 20 countries.

Einar Saevarsson, founder and Chief Executive of Activity Stream, said: “Our mission when we founded Activity Stream was to accelerate the digital transformation of the live entertainment industry by offering intelligent tools that any experience brand could master, afford and greatly benefit from.” 

“Our clients want to build stronger, deeper and longer term relationships with each and every one of their visitors. We allow any experience brand to easily join up their many data sets and customer touch points, to produce meaningful, personalised and relevant communications, that drives revenue and loyalty.”

“The addition of Yesplan and crowdEngage places Activity Stream solutions at the very heart of some of the world’s greatest events and experiences.”

Welsh government defends £4.25m purchase of farm for Green Man festival

30 May 2022

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford has defended the Welsh Government's decision to spend £4.25m on a piece of land for the Green Man festival.

The Welsh Government has previously said that the purchase of Gilestone Farm in Powys was intended to ensure Green Man has a "permanent home" in Wales, but the festival organisers have said they have no plans to move from their current home at the Glanusk Estate near Crickhowell.

The festival is understood to want to use the farm for sustainable farming and local food production but no business plan has yet been submitted to the Welsh Government by the festival's organisers and will not be provided until next month.

Speaking in the Welsh Senedd in response to questioning by Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies, Drakeford said those running the festival believe that they can do more to contribute to the economy of that part of Wales, "building on the success of their business".

"To do that they need more space in which to be able to develop those further possibilities. That's what lies behind the arrangements," he said.

Drakeford said that in the short term the farm will be leased back to the original owner in order that they can complete the bookings that they have in their tourism hospitality business and to make sure that the crops that have been planted are harvested this year.

"From the very beginning, we knew that the businesses plan from those who are responsible for the festival would be delivered to the Welsh Government in June of this year, and that is what we still expect," Drakeford added. 

"We are working with a trusted partner. We are working with a company that the Welsh Government has known and worked alongside over an extended period of time, as it has grown to be the fifth most successful festival of its kind anywhere in the United Kingdom. 

"We hold the land against the business plan and we will continue to scrutinise the business plan to see whether the objectives that the company have discussed with us can be delivered through it."

Home office, home crowd

26 May 2022

Has working from home moved the goal posts for local arts attendance? Oliver Mantell has been considering the evidence.

National Archives and ACE announce collaboration

17 May 2022

A new three-year collaboration agreement between the National Archives and Arts Council England will see the two organisations work together to identify and tackle challenges across culture and heritage. 

By advocating sharing knowledge, skills and data and maximising funding opportunities, the organisations hope to jointly address challenges including diversifying the workforce and improving accessibility and the visibility of collections. They will also aim to help the sector build resilience.

Methods of collaboration will include alerting each other to at-risk collections to facilitate swift preservation action, and promoting “the positive role of archives and collections in placemaking and wellbeing”, the organisations said.

The two organisations already work together on several initiatives that are set to continue.

“This agreement comes at an important time for our sector when many institutions are facing challenges and having to make difficult decisions due to a variety of circumstances,” said Dr Valerie Johnson, Director of Research and Collections at The National Archives.

“I believe that through this new agreement, both partners will be able to support the wider cultural sector much more effectively,” she added.

Sue Williamson, Director for Libraries at ACE, said that the new collaboration will build on “a strong foundation of mutual support”.

“There are many synergies and common areas of interest between archives and public libraries, with some library services being responsible for managing an archive collection. 

“We foresee many opportunities to work together in partnership to support national strategic developments, to share learning and intelligence and to continue to support the wider cultural sector.”

Libraries as digital inspirers

VR libraries promotional image
11 May 2022

By making the most of digital technologies and creative media, libraries can be part of new ways for people to connect and share. Zillah Watson explains how virtual reality (VR) can expand horizons.

Heritage sector ‘confident about future'

Barnard Castle in County Durham
09 May 2022

Survey finds positivity among organisations across Britain and confidence to weather possible future waves of Covid-19.

Project seeks artists of colour ‘to tackle racial injustices’

04 May 2022

Initiative inspired by Black Lives Matter movement will commission artists of African and Asian heritage to help tackle “shockingly low” representation in British public arts institutions. 

'No clear reason' why people don't access digital arts

27 Apr 2022

Most people struggle to identify a specific reason why they don’t engage with arts online, a government survey has found.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport's Participation Survey which provides estimates of physical and digital engagement with the arts, heritage, museums and galleries, found that around one in four (27%) people had engaged with art digitally over the past year.

Of those who hadn't, when asked about the barriers they face, 45% said there was "no reason in particular", with 29% saying they were "not interested", and 11% saying they "don't have the time".

Other barriers to digital engagement included having a health problem or disability (8%), it being too expensive (8%), having no access to internet (5%) or "not knowing what is available" (3%).

The study found a negative correlation between digital engagement in the arts and areas of deprivation. The most deprived areas showed 20% engagement in the arts, compared with 31% in the least deprived areas.

Meanwhile, 32% of those in higher managerial, administrative and professional occupations engaged digitally in the arts, compared with 23% of respondents in intermediate occupations and 17% in routine and manual occupations.

Regional interest in orchestral music rises

11 Apr 2022

By the middle of last year "geography was no longer an issue" for inspiring audiences, but broader challenges remain.

Channel 4: Will sale 'dilute creativity' or 'deliver creative dividend for all'?

07 Apr 2022

Ending 40 years of public ownership may be more likely to harm the arts in the long term. 

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