French artistic residency programme opens

21 May 2024

The third edition of a UK-France programme that provides opportunities for visual artists from both countries has opened for applications.

Through the Magnetic 3 programme, administered by Arts Council England, five arts organisations in the UK will be paired with organisations in France.  

UK artists will be able to apply for a residency with the French organisation paired with the region where they are based, and vice versa.

Organisations taking part are Wysing Arts Centre in Cambridge, Gasworks in London, Aberystwith Arts Centre, Flax Art Studios in Belfast, and Cove Park in Scotland.

Artists selected for the programme will receive a monthly fee of £2,100 during their two-month residencies, along with accommodation, studio space and mentoring and development opportunities.

Simon Mellor, Deputy Chief Executive at Arts Council England, said: “International exchange is vital for helping our cultural sector to thrive and provides artists and organisations with the chance to develop their skills and expand their networks. 

"It also ensures that audiences in this country get the opportunity to experience the best of global culture.  

"Magnetic has already been successful in strengthening the relationship between the UK and French cultural sectors by supporting several brilliant artists, and we are delighted to build on that foundation by investing in the third year of the programme.”

The application process is open until 15 July.

 

Brexit losses

Senedd, Welsh Parliament, Cardiff Bay
13 May 2024

After a recent appearance before Wales’s Culture Committee, Charlotte Faucher has been rethinking our new relationship with Europe.

Charity launches appeal to send mobile library to Ukraine

15 Apr 2024

A crowdfunding appeal to buy and deliver a mobile library to Ukraine has been launched by the charity representing public libraries in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Libraries Connected hopes to raise £10,000 to purchase a decommissioned mobile library and deliver it to Ukraine. 

The charity said that with more than 600 public libraries and 2,000 school libraries damaged or destroyed by Russian forces, communities in the worst affected areas of Ukraine are unable to access a library at all. 

Isobel Hunter, Chief Executive of Libraries Connected, said: "When our Ukrainian colleagues asked if we could help source them a mobile library, we were only too happy to help. 

"We’ve heard such heartbreaking stories from Ukraine – of libraries destroyed, collections burned, and library workers killed. 

"This may be a relatively small gesture, but it will make a big difference to our partners in Ukraine and the communities they serve."

The crowdfunding appeal will run for eight weeks until 7 June.

UK-Germany arts partnerships get £300k

23 Feb 2024

A total of 20 new partnerships between UK- and Germany-based arts organisations have been awarded funding of £310,000 for 2024/25.

The money is being provided through the third annual programme of Cultural Bridge, a collaboration between the UK and Germany with investment from Arts Council England, Arts Council Northern Ireland, British Council, Creative Scotland, Arts Council of Wales/Wales Arts International, Fonds Soziokultur and Goethe-Institut London.

Projects receiving funding include Co-creating Across Borders: A tale of two cities, a collaboration between Brighton People's Theatre and English Theatre Leipzig, as well as work to develop sustainable models for artist-led spaces being conducted by Assembly House in Leeds and E-WERK in Luckenwalde, Germany.

“We're delighted to continue investing in Cultural Bridge with our partners across the UK and in Germany, and we are excited to see the impact of this next round of partnerships," Simon Mellor, Deputy Chief Executive Arts & Culture at Arts Council England, said.

"They will build on the work the programme has already done to create new connections between communities in England and Germany, giving artists and organisations a chance to develop ideas and projects in collaboration with their peers and to gain new insights by working across borders."

Ireland increases Arts Council funding to €134m

16 Oct 2023

Ireland’s Arts Council will receive €134m in government funding in 2024, an increase of €4m.

The allocation was confirmed as part of the Irish government’s budget for next year, published last week.

The €134m represents Ireland’s largest ever annual allocation to the Arts Council. In 2021, its budget was increased from €80m to €130m, the level at which it has remained since.

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin, also announced a €1m increase for Culture Ireland and a new €1.9m pilot for regional arts venues, which will provide building and equipment needs, artists workspaces, and adapting facilities to reduce energy needs.

“The sectors overseen by my department have great impact across society and they have shown extraordinary resilience in the face of, first, the Covid-19 crisis, and then increases in the cost of living,” Martin said.

“It has been a priority throughout my term as Minister to ensure that we can respond to these, and other, challenges in a robust and sustainable manner.”

Chair of Ireland’s Arts Council, Professor Kevin Rafter, said Ireland’s increase in public investment in the arts in recent years is “hugely welcomed”.

“When I was appointed Chair in 2019, the Arts Council’s budget was €75m and following today’s budget it will be €134m next year,” Rafter said.

“While the figure for 2024 is at the lower end of what had been sought to address increased costs in the arts sector, it is still a positive acknowledgement of the work of artists, arts workers and arts organisations throughout the country.”

Group protests Brexit during Last Night of the Proms

11 Sep 2023

A music group arranged an anti-Brexit demonstration during the Last Night of the BBC Proms on Saturday (9 September).

The group in question, Thank EU For the Music, handed thousands of EU flags outside the Albert Hall on Saturday (9 September), which were waved by audience members throughout the evening, including during a performance of Rule Britannia.

An open letter shared on their Facebook page and addressed to BBC Director General Tim Davie said audience members took the European flags inside “in solidarity with musicians who feel (like countless others) the destructive impact of Britain's recent isolation from Europe”.

“We appreciate that the BBC strives to avoid controversy at all costs, but would gently point out that in doing so you might on occasion have chosen reticence rather than objectivity with regards editorial policy on Brexit matters,” the letter continues.

“I'm sure it cannot have escaped your attention that the artistic endeavours on stage now happen despite, not because of, the limitations that Britain's departure from the European Union have imposed on the creative industries.”

The display provoked backlash from Brexiters and Eurosceptics. Former Conservative MP Harvey Proctor led calls for an inquiry by the BBC.

“Disgraceful & misguided BBC messing up a British tradition; a political gesture which would make Sir Henry Wood turn in his grave. Utterly vulgar & wrong. Rule Britannia, not Rule EU!” he posted on Twitter/X.

EU research project 'will boost creative industries'

07 Sep 2023

The UK Government's decision to rejoin a European Union research programme will help drive growth in the creative industries by providing access to grant funding opportunities, Creative UK has said.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has confirmed that from this week British researchers can apply once again for grants from the £85bn Horizon programme.

In total the UK will contribute about £2.6bn on average a year to Horizon and Copernicus, an Earth observation satellite programme, with the UK’s contributions due to start from January.

Creative UK Chief Executive Caroline Norbury said the Horizon deal has “transformative potential” to increase investment in the creative industries for start-ups and innovation.

"Cross border collaboration through research and development is crucial to fuelling the power of creativity to drive innovation, and access to the Horizon Europe programme promises to turbo charge this potential," she said.

"In unlocking access to Horizon Europe funds, the UK’s creative sector will now be able to benefit from €170m made available by the new European Knowledge and Innovation Community, which Creative UK co-founded. 

"This initial investment seeks to increase the innovation capacity and competitiveness of Europe’s Cultural and Creative Industries, and is expected to leverage a further €700m for start-ups and innovation.

“The transformative potential of investments such as these are precisely why Creative UK is working tirelessly to ensure the UK’s cultural sector and creative industries continues to play a leading role in global collaboration. 

"As Horizon Europe opens its doors to the UK once more, we will be equally determined in ensuring our creative economy makes the very best of the opportunity today’s agreement represents.”

‘Extremely alarming’ pay gap in Ireland’s creative industries

23 Aug 2023

Creatives in Ireland’s music and performing arts sectors are earning less than two-thirds of their counterparts in other industries, according to the findings of a new survey.

Labour commits to resolving visa issues for performers

Image of Lucy Powell and Anas Sarwar
10 Aug 2023

Shadow Culture Secretary says government “could have done a lot more” to support internationally touring performers and commits Labour to not resting “until we’ve got a solution”.

It’s time we moved to Denmark

Exterior of Musikkens Hus (House of Music) in Aalborg, Denmark.
04 Jul 2023

What can the UK learn about cultural policy from its tiny Nordic neighbour? Robin Cantrill-Fenwick finds out - stopping off at Naples along the way. 

Irish arts council incorrectly offers over 100 artists grants 

30 Jun 2023

The Arts Council of Ireland (An Chomhairle Ealalíon) incorrectly issued grant letters to 141 applicants earlier this week following an administrative error.

The grant in question, Next Generation Artists Award, offers up to €25,000 funding to artists across all disciplines at early but pivotal stages of their careers to a total of 20 artists.

Following the error, the arts council sent an email to those affected stating: “Please accept our apologies, an administrative error which resulted in an incorrect decision email being sent to you on our recent Next Generation application. Please disregard this email, the correct email will be sent after 4.30pm today”.

A statement issued online followed: “Our mistake has understandably caused upset and disappointment and, for this, we are truly sorry,”  the arts council said.

“We have now put in place additional checks for the issue of decision letters to prevent a repeat of this error.”

Those affected have shared their distress online. Writer and poet Trudie Gorman, who has since arranged two gatherings in Dublin for artists affected, wrote: “I had been awarded €25k through the Next Gen award. They then emailed to say 'ignore that, it was an error.' I am beyond heartbroken”. 

Praxis Union, the artist’s union of Ireland, says the level of distress caused “highlights the financial precarity we face”.

“As artists we know arts council awards like this are a primary source of income. We can only imagine the sense of relief these artists felt when they thought they were funded.

The union’s comments were echoed by National Campaign for the Arts Ireland, who said that Irish artists’ average earnings have been on the decline over the last year.

“We offer our heartfelt solidarity to the artists involved and we hope that due support is provided to them,” the campaign group wrote on Twitter.

“While this was a human error, it has caused widespread disruption. We hope that robust safeguards are put in place to prevent this error being repeated.”

Italy hikes museum prices to repair flood damage

30 May 2023

Italy is raising the price of museum tickets by €1, with proceeds going towards saving cultural heritage damaged by floods in the Emilia-Romagna region.

The measure was announced by the Italian government as part of a €2 billion aid package.

Proposed by Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano, the price hike will apply to all state-run museums from 15 June for a two-month period.

The decision has split opinion in Italy. While some have supported the government’s decisiveness, others have raised concern it will deter the public from visiting museums.

According to ISTAT statistics agency, fewer than a quarter of Italians visited a museum in 2022.

Also last week, Italian Culture Ministry Undersecretary Lucia Borgonzoni said the Culture Ministry has made €2.5m available to help protect cultural heritage, and will further invest another €6m.
 

Culture for health?

Graphic image illustrating research collaborations
07 Dec 2022

A new EU report – Culture for Health – reviews cultural interventions in health and wellbeing and makes policy recommendations. But a group of academics led by Stephen Clift has serious concerns about its credibility.

Liverpool to host pre-Eurovision cultural festival

24 Nov 2022

Liverpool will host a cultural festival in the lead up to next year’s Eurovision Song Contest in May.

Culture Liverpool has put out a call for artists, creatives, makers, musicians and performers for ideas towards “creating an inclusive, thought-provoking, entertaining and diverse cultural festival in the lead up to May’s main event”.

Liverpool is hosting next year’s Eurovision in place of Ukraine which won last year’s competition but is unable to host due to Russia’s ongoing invasion.

The lead-up festival will “act as a platform for modern Ukraine,” Culture Liverpool has said.

Prospective commissions should either look to bring together UK and Ukrainian artists to showcase modern Ukrainian culture, celebrate the power of music to bring communities together, or draw on the history of Eurovision and its relationship with Liverpool.

Up to £125,000 is available for large scale projects and up to £25,000 for medium scale projects.

Those interested in being involved in the festival are being asked to submit expressions of interest by 12 December, with further information available on Culture Liverpool’s website.
 

Mentoring scheme launches to support Ukrainian students

17 Nov 2022

A new mentoring and financial aid scheme will support Ukrainian art students and universities.

The UAx Platform, launched at the Tate Modern, is a partnership between the European League of Institutes of the Arts (ELIA), the Abakanowicz Arts and Culture Foundation and an international network of 280 higher arts education institutions.

It will offer war-affected students and staff wishing to stay in Ukraine a network of mentor schemes and institutional partnerships with European universities, as well as an emergency bursary fund for students in severe need.

ELIA has put its largest ever financial grant towards the programme.

The platform will include a "Sister School" network, which in its first year will consist of partnerships between five Ukrainian universities and five institutions in Germany, Estonia, Poland, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic. 

By year three, 15 Ukrainian institutions will become partnered and fully subsidised ELIA members for three years, with access to its networks, resources, programming and other opportunities.

“The need of the higher arts education sector in Ukraine was clear. They did not need an evacuation. They needed support to keep the institutions alive. Support to allow students to keep studying and support to help these young artists keep making art,” ELIA Executive Director Maria Hansen said.

Germany to launch culture pass for young adults

16 Nov 2022

The German government is introducing cultural vouchers for young people early next year.

A pilot of the KulturPass, expected to cost the German government €100m, will see everyone who turns 18 in Germany next year receive a €200 voucher to spend on culture.

Recipients will be able to use the voucher over a two-year period. It will be managed through an app and website that advertises cultural offers ranging from books and records to concerts, theatre and museum visits.

Online and international platforms, including Amazon and Spotify, have been excluded from the scheme, to make sure recipients support local cultural providers.

According to the Germany Embassy in London, the scheme aims “to expose young people to the arts and provide a financial boost to the cultural sector”.

Germany’s Culture Minister Claudia Roth and Finance Minister Christian Lindner said the scheme would be extended to a wider age group if the pilot is successful.

Several European countries already administer cultural vouchers for young adults, including France, Italy and Spain.

Kyiv cultural sites damaged in latest airstrike

12 Oct 2022

A number of cultural buildings in Kyiv were damaged by Russian shelling on Monday (10 October).

Russia launched more than 80 missiles in what is thought to be the largest attack on the Ukrainian capital since the invasion started in February, killing at least 11 people.

Ukrainian Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko said impacted cultural sites include Khanenko Art Museum, Kyiv Art Gallery, Taras Shevchenko Museum, the National Natural Science Museum of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine and the Museum of the History of the City of Kyiv. 

Writing on Facebook, Tkachenko said immediate ground efforts were made “to minimise the negative consequences of the damage” and urgent “negotiations with international partners” were held.

Ukraine’s cultural heritage has been targeted since the start of Russia’s invasion, in an apparent attempt to erase the country’s cultural identity. Over 50 cultural sites have been damaged, more than 40 museums have been looted, and arts buildings have been attacked nationwide.

Tkachenko’s website reports he is now calling for a meeting between culture ministers of G7 countries to “strengthen sanctions against Russia and the strengthening of support for Ukraine”.

Opera gaining traction

‘O Tempo (Somos Nós)' 4 June 2022
05 Oct 2022

Far from the elitist artform he once thought it was, François Matarasso has discovered opera offers possibilities for co-creation in the unlikeliest of settings.

European theatres collaborate on inclusive programme

04 Oct 2022

Eight theatres around Europe are participating in a new project that will create texts on diverse and inclusive topics for young theatre audiences across the continent.

Young Europe IV is the fourth edition of European Theatre Convention’s Young Europe project, which has been running since 2008.

It will see the Belarus Free Theatre, which is currently based at London’s Barbican Centre, work alongside theatres in Germany, Cyprus, Slovakia, Slovenia, Malta and the Netherlands.

The new, diverse plays will cover issues from mental health to sexuality to the Israel-Palestine conflict and will be performed in school classrooms across Europe.

A separate strand of Young Europe IV, the Forgotten Plays Committee, will select and revive dramatic work by writers from non-dominant backgrounds that have been overlooked, either because of the background of the playwright or theme of the play.

Artistic Lead on Young Europe IV Paulien Geerlings says the European theatre world currently remains the white, heterosexual, male gaze that determines our experiences.

“Women, BIPOC, the LGBTQIA+ community…everyone needs to see themselves represented in the stories that are told. If there is hardly any representation, and the representation that does exist always confirms the same (often problematic) stereotype, as a person or child belonging to a marginalised group you cannot relate to the multitude of possibilities your counterparts are provided with. 

“That is why it is time for a new repertoire – to stop people from being reduced to the ‘single story’ that they have heard all of their lives.”

An online launch event is scheduled for Thursday (6 October) evening.

Ireland’s Basic Income for the Arts pilot gets underway

08 Sep 2022

The Irish Government has chosen 2,000 artists and creative arts workers to participate in its Basic Income for the Arts pilot scheme.

The chosen creatives will each receive €325 per week over the three year research programme, to assess the impact of a basic-income style payment on the arts sector.

Over 9,000 applications were made to the scheme, with over 8,200 assessed as eligible and included in a randomised anonymous selection process. 

The selected group of 2,000 includes 707 visual artists, 584 musicians, 204 artists working in film, 184 writers, 173 actors and artists working in theatre, 32 dancers and choreographers, 13 circus artists and 10 architects. 

Of those selected, 84% identified as practising artists, 9% identified as Creative Arts Workers and 7% as Recently Trained Applicants, with 3% working through the Irish language.

Participants will be required to engage in an ongoing data collection programme to assess the impact of a basic income style payment on artists and their creative practice. 

From those who were not selected to receive the payment, 1,000 were selected to participate in a control group to facilitate the evaluation of the pilot.

A basic income for the arts was the top recommendation from the Irish Government's Arts and Culture Recovery Taskforce report, which examined how the sector could adapt and recover from the pandemic.

Ireland’s Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and the Media Catherine Martin called the scheme the pilot scheme “a once-in-a-generation initiative”.

“It makes a strong statement about the value Ireland places on the arts and artistic practice, both for its intrinsic value and in terms of our personal and collective wellbeing, and also in terms of its importance to our identity and cultural distinctiveness on the global stage.”

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