Kaunas begins year as European Capital of Culture

20 Jan 2022

The Lithuanian city of Kaunas marks the start of its year as European Capital of Culture this weekend with an "awe-inspiring" artistic display.

City districts will host an opening ceremony in which 'circles of light' rituals, giant video projections and musical performances form part of a festival for awakening a mythical beast.

Participants are invited to track the beast in a puzzle game, with the first 1,000 winners receiving special prizes.

More than 40 festivals are planned over the coming year, as well as 60 exhibitions and more than 250 concerts.

UK misses out on €100m Creative Europe boost

18 Jan 2022

A bumper budget has been passed for 2022 - but the UK won't see hardly a penny.

Disabled creatives marginalised by lack of knowledge

performers from La Ribalta Theater take part in a production. four girls are on stage, one looking forward, three looking backwards, all wearing white dresses
17 Jan 2022

There’s better guidance in the UK, study suggests, but work remains to remove structural barriers across Europe. 

Belarus Free Theatre flees to London

06 Dec 2021

Belarus Free Theatre (BFT) has been forced to move its entire ensemble out of the country.

First formed in 2005, BFT says it faced violence, severe threats and repression in the wake of President Alexander Lukashenko’s re-election in August 2020. Five members have been arrested for peaceful protests and face substantial prison sentences if arrested again.

BFT is the only theatre in Europe banned by a Government on political grounds.

Co-Founder and Artistic Director Natalia Kalida, who sought political asylum in the UK 10 years ago, said the decision to move the 16-person ensemble and their family members was “an unprecedented reality”.

“The sheer existence of Belarus Free Theatre and our continued work, despite repression, is the greatest threat to dictatorship - the will of the people to continue telling the truth is the greatest show of power imaginable.”

BFT will now work from The Barbican in London.

Featured performances there will run from December 10, with rehearsals for a scheduled production next year ongoing.

EU scheme offers artists grants to explore misinformation

23 Nov 2021

UK artists can apply for up to €40,000 for projects exploring misnformation, data, technology and social media.

The EU-funded MediaFutures scheme aims to make awards of that size to collaborative work, and to give up to €30,000 for pure arts projects. Start-ups can apply for up to €65,000 to create new products, or €80,000 to work with artists.

Applicants should demonstrate how their work would "counteract the negative impact of misinformation and disinformation within society". 

Mentorship, legal support, networking opportunities and tech help are available to the successful candidates. 

Applications open on Thursday (November 25).

Ireland brings in vaccine passports

17 Nov 2021

People attending the theatre or cinemas in the Republic of Ireland must show proof of vaccination from Thursday (November 18).

Pubs, nightclubs and restaurants must close by midnight in a bid to curb rising Covid-19 case numbers.

Echoing his contemporaries in Scotland, Wales and more recently, Northern Ireland, Taioseach Michael Martin said vaccine passports are a "proportionate and effective" approach.

Northern Ireland Health Minister Robin Swann has proposed introducing the passports in cultural venues and other spaces with more than 500 attendees by mid-December.

England is still holding out, with no word on whether ministers will activate the country's Plan B for winter.

Ireland to pilot basic income scheme for artists

man painting
11 Nov 2021

None of the four UK nations plan to replicate the three-year initiative, though pressure is building.

Cross-party MPs launch inquiry into EU touring barriers

03 Nov 2021

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Music will hold a cross-party inquiry into the barriers and delays facing musicians touring in the European Union.

The announcement follows a letter to Boris Johnson, signed by APPG on Music Chair David Warbuton, demanding "urgent action" to address ongoing barriers.

The letter highlights the "lack of clarity" musicians looking to tour the EU are facing in the wake of recent DCMS annoucements.

"We need the Government to ramp up negotiations with nations like Spain where costly visas are still in place and to look for swift solutions to both the visa and transport issues facing musicians and crew," Conservative MP Warbuton said.

The APPG on Music will kick off its inqury with a first evidence session later this month.

The inquiry will focus on visas and work permits, carnets and instrument manufacturing materials, transport issues, the effect on the UK music industry, the effect on emerging artists and potential solutions. 

"This is a hugely welcome move by MPs from across the political divide," UK Music Chief Executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin said.

Printmakers to lead European refugee arts project

26 Oct 2021

A Europe-wide project for refugee artists has opened for applications.

In from the Margins offers artists from refugee and migrant backgrounds residencies at one of five print studios across Europe.

Funded by Creative Europe, the €178,000 project will support 30 artists and culminate in a group exhibition in Edinburgh in spring 2023.

Edinburgh Printmakers will lead the programme, helping artists network, engage with local communities and develop their practice.

“The emphasis of the project is to platform artists, bringing them from the margins to the heart of mainstream cultural programming,” Edinburgh Printmakers CEO Janet Archer said.

Applications are open until November 12, with residencies scheduled to start in January.

UK languishes on 'best country for creativity' list

18 Oct 2021

A new survey reviewing how financially advantaged creatives are in different countries has placed the UK near the bottom of the list.

The study considered what four creative occupations - a graphic designer, web developer, architect and photographer - take home each month on average after subtracting the cost of rent in 20 countries.

The UK placed 19th, with 44.8% of monthly wages left after deductions.

Germany was the best country for creative professionals, topping the list with 61.8% of a monthly wage left after rent costs. Sweden and Denmark placed second and third.

A spokeperson for Design Bundles, which conducted the survey, said it was interesting to see how the UK fared: "Although they pay reasonable salaries in comparison, the difference in the percentage of pocketable wage is significant."

Live venues await green light to reopen in Ireland

14 Oct 2021

Live entertainment is expected to fully reopen in Ireland next week despite concerns over rising Covid cases.

Capacity limits at indoor and outdoor events as well as social distancing are due to be relaxed on October 22, allowing nightclubs to reopen for the first time in over 18 months.

But Tanaiste Leo Varadkar has not ruled out the possibility of an extension: "The Delta wave swept across Europe, but you see countries in central Europe that are now yellow zones or green zones, and we’re still a red zone."

In contrast, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin believes nightclubs have been closed for "far too long".

Ireland's Institute of Public Health will meet next Monday (October 18) to advise the Government.

"We’ve got one of the highest rates of vaccination across the whole world and in Europe - I don’t know what more we as an industry can do," nightlife campaign group Give us the Night's Sunil Sharpe said.

UK strikes visa-free touring deal with Romania

12 Oct 2021

Romania has been added to the list of EU countries that UK performers can tour in sans visa.

As has become customary, DCMS concealed the actual size of the achievement, updating an August announcement to say visa-free touring is possible in 20 EU countries.

In fact, arrangements were already in place with 19 of those countries two months ago. Talks with Spain, Croatia, Greece, Portugal, Bulgaria, Malta and Cyprus are ongoing - and in some cases have been since the UK left the EU.

The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) said Tuesday's announcement gave "a misleading impression about the extent to which work in these countries will now be possible".

It called on Government to clarify what kinds of work are allowed for how long in each of the 20 countries.

DCMS says: "Discussions with these countries are ongoing, and we are also working with the sector to amplify each other’s lobbying efforts."

UK rejects call to repatriate Parthenon sculptures

11 Oct 2021

The UK Government has rejected UNESCO’s plea to return the Parthenon marbles to Greece.

A spokesperson said the collection was “acquired legally in accordance with the law at the time,” and any decisions relating to its ownership should be taken up with the British Museum.

The museum said the artefacts are “a vital element in [its] interconnected world collection”. 

"The museum is a unique resource for the world: the breadth and depth of its collection allow a global public to examine cultural identities and explore the complex network of interconnected human cultures."

Greek officials are yet to respond.

International partnerships fund 'not a replacement Creative Europe'

06 Oct 2021

The pilot responds to the UK's withdrawal from Creative Europe and prioritises European partners but is "not in the same ball park" as the EU scheme.

'Splitter vans' permitted for EU touring artists, DfT says

29 Sep 2021

British musicians touring the EU can now travel in the same vehicle as their equipment.

The Department of Transport has confirmed that so-called 'splitter vans' do not fall under the post-Brexit Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), meaning individual EU states make their own rules.

The Musicians' Union (MU) and Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM), which have been lobbying for this arrangement, are delighted.

The TCA said people and equipment could not be transported in the same vehicle - "a disaster for touring musicians, particularly at grassroots level", the MU says.

National Organiser for Live Performance Dave Webster, said this is a relief and "a major step forward".

“A ban on splitter vans would have made European touring almost impossible for small to medium scale bands, especially given the costs of carnets, visas, work permits and Covid testing they are already bearing."

ISM Chief Executive Deborah Annetts said a visa waiver agreement is needed to remove the red tape.

"It’s great that on this occasion the industries’ campaigning work has paid off, but there is much more the Government should be doing."

UK ranked second most artistic country in Europe

27 Sep 2021

A study comparing the cultural performance of different nations has named The Netherlands the most artistic country in Europe, beating the UK into second. 

The study, conducted by Design Bundles, scored nations on five factors: number of museums, arts institutions and arts students, government spending on culture and total cultural export.

The UK scored highly for its popular museums and total cultural exports but had the lowest score for government funding, which compared spending on culture against GDP.

Latvia, the nation with the highest concentration of arts institutions, placed third and Estonia, the nation with the highest government spending against GDP, fourth.

"Countries such as Italy and France, which have their own amazing artistic heritage, are outranked by nations such as Latvia and Estonia, which have committed more resources comparatively to art funding and education,” a Design Bundles spokesperson explained."

Festival visit sparks call for Irish capacity events

07 Sep 2021

Irish deputy prime minister Leo Varadkar has been criticised for attending a music festival in London whilst his government maintains restrictions on live events.

Ireland’s largest music festival Electric Picnic - cancelled this year due to capacity restrictions - was scheduled for the same weekend Varadkar was spotted at Mighty Hoopla.

The Event Industry Alliance (EIA) said it was “glad” to see Varadkar trust the UK’s safety measures and demanded a full reopening of Irish venues.

“It has been repeatedly stated and acknowledged by the Taoiseach (Prime Minister Micheál Martin) and the Tánaiste (Varadkar) that the commercial event sector requires 100% capacity to be viable,” the EIA added.

Ireland authorised indoor events to resume at 60% capacity and outdoor events at 75% on Monday (September 6). A return to full capacity events has been earmarked for October 22.

Belgium prescribes culture for Covid stress

06 Sep 2021

Patients diagnosed with Covid-related stress in Brussels are being prescribed free visits to museums and galleries.

Doctors at Brugmman Hospital are offering visits to five publicly owned sites across the Belgian capital, including its centre for contemporary art, a fashion museum and a museum of the city's sewage system.

“It has been shown that art can be beneficial for health, both mental and physical,” Brussels' City Councillor for Tourism Delphine Houba said.

The idea forms part of a three-month pilot scheme designed to bolster mental health during the pandemic.

Inspiration has come from a similar programme in Quebec, Canada, where doctors prescribe up to 50 museum visits a year per patient.

City of Culture 2025 contest attracts explosion of interest

28 Jul 2021

Adding a seventh city to the longlist of bidders who will receive funding would allow more places to "complete their journey," an expert on the competition says.

Brexit Minister offers few answers, defends record on EU touring issues

30 Jun 2021

DCMS had to wait for a green light from Lord Frost to begin bilateral negotiations on touring, few of which have been agreed in the six months post-Brexit.


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