Gender pay gap within culture sector increases

A woman preparing for a performance
03 Apr 2024

For every £1 earned by men employed in the cultural sector women are paid 85 pence, government statistics show.

Bridging the divide for children in the North

Childwall Academy
17 Nov 2022

At the heart of the cost-of-living and Covid storm, children and young people have fewer opportunities to engage in arts and culture and barriers to access are growing. Hannah Baldwin thinks this is a crisis in the making.

Community arts groups share in £480k of Windrush funding

11 Apr 2024

Several art groups are among 28 community projects to share in more than £480,000 of government funding as part of the Windrush Day Grant Scheme.

Administered by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Community, the fund, established six years ago, supports community-led arts, educational, and sporting events across England that highlight the legacy of the Windrush generation.

Funded organisations include Sudden Productions, which will provide a platform for the Windrush Generation and their descendants to share their experiences through a stage production and drama workshops, and Island Movements, which will create a 30-minute ballet telling the story of a Caribbean family whose parents came over on the Windrush.

The Brixton Project, which promotes community cohesion through a carnival of art, theatre and music, will also receive a grant, as will Voyage, a project bringing young people and community elders together to produce a book and exhibition. 

The full list of recipients includes Northampton Theatres Trust, BLACK* artists on the move, Oxygen Arts CIC, Royal Pavilion and Brighton Museums, the London Borough of Newham, and Oxford City Council.

Men to be allowed to visit 'women-only' exhibit

10 Apr 2024

An exhibit at a Tasmanian museum must allow men admission following a court ruling in a gender discrimination case.

The Ladies Lounge at Tasmania's Museum of Old and New Art (Mona) has been open since 2020 and houses some of the museum's most acclaimed works.

Playing on the concept of Australian pubs, which were historically male-only spaces, the exhibit only offers women admittance. 

After being turned away from the exhibit last April, Jason Lau, a New South Wales resident, filed a gender discrimination lawsuit.

Representing himself, Lau argued the museum violates the state's anti-discrimination act by failing to provide "a fair provision of goods and services in line with the law" to ticket holders who don’t identify as female.

The museum defended its position, saying Lau's feeling of rejection was part of the artwork and that Tasmanian law permits discrimination "designed to promote equal opportunity" for historically disadvantaged people.

In his ruling, Judge Richard Grueber said it was not apparent how preventing men from seeing the artwork artworks achieved that goal.

Following the verdict, "persons who do not identify as ladies" will be allowed to access the exhibit in 28 days.  

A spokesperson for Mona has previously said the artwork would be "untenable" if the ruling was not in their favour. 

The representative said: "We are deeply disappointed by this decision," adding that the Mona would now consider its options.

Disabled artists and companies awarded £700,000

Seven performers in circus costumes. Central performer balances on ladder held horizontally. Empty wheelchair beneath.
26 Mar 2024

Disabled arts commissioner Unlimited says funding awards will help showcase the 'vibrant spectrum of disabled artists across the UK'.

Arts leaders criticised for membership of male-only club

26 Mar 2024

Several arts leaders representing Arts Council England (ACE) National Portfolio Organisations have faced criticism after The Guardian revealed they hold membership to the exclusive, all-male Garrick Club.

Alex Beard, the Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House, which receives ACE’s largest individual investment of over £22m per year, has been named a member, as has the Chair at English National Opera, Harry Brünjes, the Artistic Director of the Wigmore Hall, John Gilhooly, and the Chief Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, Antonio Pappano.

A spokesperson for Her Ensemble, an organisation that campaigns for equality in classical music, said the presence of many leading figures on the membership list “ultimately undermines a lot of the progress that the industry is making and encourages inequality.”

In a statement to The Guardian, ACE said, “Personal memberships of this kind are a matter for the individuals concerned”. 

ACE added that as a distributor of public money, “we make clear that we expect our investment to support cultural experiences and job opportunities to be available for everyone in England, irrespective of where they live, their background or how much money they have in their pocket”.

Jude Kelly, former Artistic Director of Southbank Centre and founder of the Women of the World Foundation, said senior figures in the arts should resign their membership.

“It behoves people who are leaders in the arts to not frequent it any longer. I don’t understand why anybody would think that it’s still OK to join a men-only members’ club,” she said.

The club, founded in 1831 as a meeting place for actors, previously held a formal vote on admitting women in 2015, with 50.5% supporting a rule change, failing to meet the required two-thirds majority. 

Garrick club members, including leading lawyers, the head of the civil service and King Charles, are expected to vote on the matter again in June. 

Female-led contemporary art gallery to open in Birmingham

26 Mar 2024

A non-profit arts organisation is launching a commercial contemporary gallery next month in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, with support from Arts Council England and Birmingham City Council.

Stryx Gallery will be a new venture from Stryx, a female-led arts residency, studios and exhibition space in Digbeth.

The organisation's co-directors, Anna Katarzyna Domejko and Karolina Korupczynska, say the new space will allow people to invest in affordable art while supporting emerging and mid-career artists.

The initial exhibition, opening on 13 April, will feature 10 artists from the West Midlands, with prices of art works ranging from £30 to £1,000.

Class barriers persist in the creative industries

20 Mar 2024

Research from Creative Access has found class discrimination remains an issue in creative workspaces.

Almost three-quarters (74%) of 392 employees in the creative industries and Creative Access members, agreed it is harder for working-class people to land a role in the creative industries, while 70% of respondents said class affects how you’re seen by your peers.

The research also found there is a disparity between different classes regarding perceptions of social mobility, equal reward and senior representation across the sectors. In Creative Access’ research, 73% of working-class individuals and 46% of upper/upper middle class individuals agreed working class representation is lacking most at senior level.

Unpaid internships are still commonplace, the research found, with those who identify as working or middle or lower-middle class saying those from upper-class backgrounds benefit the most. 

The research also shed light on barriers to career progression including discrimination - where 88% agreed class discrimination was an issue in the UK workplace - and unequal reward. One in three working-class respondents thought they were rewarded equally for their work and contributions, compared with 67% of upper-class respondents.

Bibi Hilton, CEO of Creative Access said class is “the one area where we really aren’t making progress in the creative industries”.

“The research proves that access to this space is largely still based on contacts and networks which tend to be in close reach for the privileged,” Hilton added.

“It’s worrying that soft social identifiers are still influencing class prejudice and biases. But as the creative world evolves, we’re urging employers to commit to breaking down these barriers, whether it be levelling up their inclusive hiring or supporting working class staff with access to career support and mentors.”

Tate Britain seeks to contextualise 'offensive' mural

13 Mar 2024

Tate Britain has unveiled a new video work made in response to a 1927 mural that has been closed to the public since 2020 due to its offensive imagery.

‘Vive Voce’, a two-screen 20-minute video by Keith Piper, is installed next to the Rex Whistler painting, ‘The Expedition in Pursuit of Rare Meats’, in what was formerly the London gallery’s restaurant.

The film depicts an academic challenging Whistler about the mural, which includes offensive depictions of black slaves on a leash and caricatures of Chinese people.

Tate said the film explores "the social and political context of 1920s Britain”. It includes archive footage of black soldiers in World War One and the ‘Races in Residence’ pavilion at the 1924 British Empire Exhibition.

Piper said he wanted "to give a sense of how and why the mural exists” and defended Tate Britain’s decision to keep the work rather than remove it.

He said: "I know there is an argument among young people now that these images re-traumatise, but I think we either look or forget.

"We are very good at forgetting nowadays and things that are out of sight go out of mind. To keep a clear sense of history we need to see these things.”

Another theatre to stage 'Black Out' nights

Exterior of Seven Dials Playhouse
11 Mar 2024

News that another theatre will stage performances  exclusively for Black, Indigenous and People of Color-identifying audience members follows criticism of the concept by Downing Street last month.

Starmer: Working class children 'denied arts opportunities'

11 Mar 2024

Working class children are being denied the same opportunities to become actors or musicians that private school pupils are afforded, Labour Leader Keir Starmer has said.

The Independent reports that analysis conducted by the Labour Party found that although 94% of children go to state schools, just 60% of British actors, directors and musicians nominated in the last decade for major film, TV and music awards were state-educated.

“It is short-sighted and frankly immoral, to allow arts and culture to become the domain of a few privileged pupils," Starmer said.

“Britain is a world leader in music and film, but we are holding back masses of potential because the Conservatives’ creativity crisis is shutting kids out.”

Starmer's comments follow on from a speech made by Shadow Culture Secretary Thangam Debbonaire last week in which she said creative education would be at the heart of the school curriculum under a Labour government.

Soho Theatre apologises for anti-Israel ‘incident’ 

15 Feb 2024

Soho Theatre, London, has issued a statement apologising for an “incident” on 10 February that is understood to have involved a comedian directing chants of "free Palestine" toward an Israeli man.

The National Portfolio Organisation said it was “sorry and saddened” by the incident that took place at a performance of Paul Currie: Shtoom on Saturday, 10 February, which “caused upset and hurt to members of the audience attending and others".

“We take this very seriously and are looking into the details of what happened as thoroughly, as sensitively, and as quickly as we can. It is important to us that Soho Theatre is a welcoming and inclusive place for all,” the theatre said.

According to a witness who shared their experience with the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA), Currie became involved in a verbal altercation with an Israeli audience member who did not join in with a standing ovation, citing the comedian’s use of the Palestinian flag as a prop.

The witness claims Currie led the audience in chants of “free Palestine” and “get out”.

Soho Theatre later confirmed on social media that: "Jewish members of the audience were subjected to verbal abuse and the performer aggressively demanding they leave the theatre."

The venue said it had launched an investigation discussing the incident with that evening's audience and consulting with the police.

Soho Theatre said: "Such appalling actions are unacceptable and have no place on our stages, now or ever. We will not be inviting Paul Currie back to perform at our venue.

"Whilst we robustly support the right of artists to express a wide range of views in their shows, intimidation of audience members, acts of antisemitism or any other forms of racism will not be tolerated at Soho Theatre."

Bristol council set to vote on de-listing Colston statue

13 Feb 2024

Plans to de-list a statue of the transatlantic slave trader Edward Colston so it can be permanently housed in a museum are set for approval by Bristol council.

The Grade II-listed statue was toppled by protesters in 2020 before being plunged into Bristol Harbour. It was included in a temporary exhibition at the city's M Shed Museum but has been out of public view since January 2022.

Bristol City Council's development control committee will vote on 21 February on a proposal to delist the statue.

If approved, the statue will be part of an exhibition on protest that due to open next month.

The move follows a public consultation by the We Are Bristol History Commission, which found 80% of Bristolians agreed it should be placed in a museum.

According to a council report, Bristol City Council Conservation said a statue of Colston returning to its plinth was "not a reasonable expectation" due to the possibility of "civil unrest".

Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees said: "I remain in support of the view that the best place for the statue is in a museum where its context, and that of what it represents to many communities, can be appropriately shared with diverse audiences."

Music licensing organisation to fund East London arts school

Year 12 students on ELAM's music course
13 Feb 2024

Phonographic Performance Limited will financially support programmes at East London Arts & Music that ensure equal access to the school's specialist education.

MPs urge action to tackle ’endemic’ misogyny in music industry

A woman in a green t-shirt working a a studio mixing desk
29 Jan 2024

Parliamentary inquiry finds women working in music have had their 'lives ruined' by men who have never been held to account, including 'household names'.

Power in partnerships

Image of a man using a video camera
06 Dec 2023

In their latest collaborative research project, Euella Jackson and Jess Bunyan of Rising Arts Agency have been exploring the unequal balance of power inherent in partnership working. 

Badenoch criticises 'unreliable' Museum of London research

27 Nov 2023

Business and Equalities Secretary Kemi Badenoch has dubbed research from the Museum of London “unreliable”, accusing the organisation of using statistics to “whip up tensions around history and racism”.

Posting on X, Badenoch said that by publishing a study that suggests black women were more likely to have died during an outbreak of plague in the 14th Century, the museum was “undermining social cohesion in our country”.

Badenoch criticised the sample size and methods used by researchers, as well as comparisons made between the Black Death and the Covid pandemic. 

In a letter to the museum seen by The Times, she said: “It is imperative that ethnic minorities feel able to trust our healthcare institutions and that they are given accurate information about health outcomes based on robust evidence.

It is also important that evidence, be it historical or current, is not presented in a way that is misleading or that implies that the information is reliable when it is not.”

ACE commits £1.2m to young people's initiative in Sunderland

A Creative You crafts workshop for young people at Arts Centre Washington
20 Nov 2023

A multi-year programme providing free arts and culture activities to young people in Sunderland has been backed by a £1.196m grant from Arts Council England.

Study of Black music and record stores awarded over £240k

06 Nov 2023

Research that aims to compile a history of record shops specialising in Black music from the 1950s onwards has received a £247,494 grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Led by Leicester-based organisation 2Funky Arts, the project called 'The Record Store and Black Music, A UK History' will produce a film, publication, podcast series and educational resource using collected interviews with artists, DJs, store owners and customers as well as documentation.

Describing the work as “groundbreaking”, 2Funky Arts said: “For the Windrush generation and Black diaspora, the early independent UK record store was a music-fuelled vehicle for resistance against systemic racism. 

“Such sites became fertile ground for new music, and cultural eco-systems that shaped society’s relationship with Black music.”

New body seeks to tackle 'cancel culture' in the arts

Headshot of Denise Fahmy, October 2017
01 Nov 2023

Freedom in the Arts, co-founded by former Arts Council England employee Denise Fahmy, says it wants to 'tackle the culture of fear and intimidation facing artists'.


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