Why is a theatre company running a leadership academy?

People on a outdoor trek
08 May 2024

Introducing an ambitious initiative at a time when subsidised arts organisations are being asked to do less seems like madness. But for Slung Low it is a natural next step in their exploration of where civic responsibility meets cultural capital, writes Rachel Perry.

Open recruitment to creative roles

A group of people listening to a speaker
07 May 2024

Northcott Theatre in Exeter has said it will advertise at least one creative role on every production. Creative Director Martin Berry explains the thinking behind it.  

Nottingham NPO embeds citizens' assembly into leadership structure

Saad Eddine Said, CEO and Artistic Director of New Art Exchange, standing outside the building
04 Apr 2024

New Art Exchange says it is the first cultural institution in the world to integrate a permanent citizen assembly into its leadership structure.

Inside the minds of cultural leaders

Abstract art image of a head
14 Mar 2024

What do cultural leaders really think about the problems they, and the arts and cultural sector, face? Steven Hadley is the Editor of a new book on the subject. 

Is curiosity a leadership superpower?

06 Mar 2024

Curiosity has been described as a leadership superpower, but unfocused curiosity can be frustrating, confusing and ineffective for the people you work with, writes Ash Mann.

Norwich Theatre unveils community co-creation strategy

Young Cultural Leaders, first year cohort
20 Feb 2024

As part of a new creative leadership that encourages cooperative decision-making, Norwich Theatre will engage an associate company for two years to collaborate on research, skills-sharing and new work.

Actors’ charity reports voter fraud claims to police

01 Feb 2024

Police are investigating alleged electoral fraud at the Actors Benevolent Fund (ABF) following suspicions of voter irregularity at its board elections.

After completing an internal investigation, ABF said that it had disregarded 156 online votes cast during its January board elections when it emerged they had originated from only two digital mailboxes.

“This accounts for over 50% of online votes coming from just two IP addresses. It appears a crime may have been committed, and so this matter has been reported to the police and the Charity Commission,” it said in a statement.

ABF said it had “substantial reason” to doubt the votes’ veracity after some members confirmed they had not cast or approved the online votes made in their name. However, some critics questioned the robustness of the charity’s investigation, carried out by its own lawyers.

The charity, which has around £40m in assets and operates hardship funds to support actors and stagehands in England and Wales, has been embroiled in a leadership row since 2022 after a group of 10 trustees led by former ABF President for 32 years Dame Penelope Keith was ousted from the board.

A spokesperson for the Charity Commission, which has faced criticisms for permitting the 2022 board takeover, said: “The ABF has been subject to a long and damaging dispute, which has not served the interests of the charity or its beneficiaries.

"The commission had required that the charity hold free and fair trustee elections by the end of January, and we hope that, following the outcome announced today, the charity can now move forward in unity in delivering on its important charitable purpose.”

A spokesperson for former ABF trustees, members, and donors said: “We trust that the newly elected ABF council will seek to unify the membership and heal past divisions. We are sure that with the support of the hugely experienced and independent co-opted trustees, the council will ensure that the charity is in safe hands.”

After invalidating the suspected fraudulent votes, ABF said that 12 candidates endorsed by its nominations committee, including Simon Callow, Lesley Joseph, Rob Rinder, and President Eshwar Alladi, had been elected to the board.

Meanwhile, Miriam Margolyes and Robert Bathurst were among the six who failed to become board members due to the recount.

The ABF said: “These candidates will form our new board, and our priority now is to focus on the core purpose of the charity, which is to support the acting and stage management community in need.”

Former ENO leader among New Year Honours recipients

Clockwise from top left: Stuart Murphy, Ruth Hannant, Polly Payne, Dr Phil George and Elaine Bedell
02 Jan 2024

Cultural leaders, artistic directors and performers among those recognised in King's New Year Honours.

Artistic Director of Manchester's SICK! Festival stands down

I Am, commissioned by SICK! Festival is a public exhibition in St Peter's Square, Manchester.
21 Dec 2023

Move comes little more than two months after entire board of National Portfolio Organisation quit their positions.

Call for review of City of Culture governance arrangements

Caribbean reggae fever part of Coventry City of Culture 2021
13 Dec 2023

Coventry City Council says it wants to ensure future events do not suffer similar issues following the collapse of the trust that ran Coventry City of Culture 2021.

Royal Exchange drops Artistic Director role

26 Oct 2023

Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre will adopt a new leadership structure following the departure of its co-Artistic Directors earlier this year.

The Stage reports that rather than fill the roles vacated earlier this year by Roy Alexander Weise and Bryony Shanahan, Chief Executive Stephen Freeman intends to hire a Creative Director who will become one of three artistic leaders, alongside a new Associate Director and the theatre’s current Dramaturg, Suzanne Bell. 

The Creative Director will be responsible for programming but will not be expected to direct shows. They will also be Deputy Chief Executive, but not Joint Chief Executive with Freeman – as Weise and Shanahan had been. 

Freeman indicated that the new Creative Director will appoint five part-time Associates to represent “a collection of voices from different backgrounds and disciplines – artistic voices who will lead our programmes of work”.

Throughout its 47-year history, Royal Exchange has operated with a traditional Artistic Director model, though unusually, the role has been shared more often than not.

Entire board departs NPO arts producer

Exterior of The Sharp Project, Manchester.
09 Oct 2023

Arts Council England says it has been “made aware" of changes to the board at SICK! Productions.

British Museum launches webpage to recover stolen objects

28 Sep 2023

The British Museum has announced the launch of a webpage that aims to help recover some of the almost 2,000 antiquities that have been stolen from its collection over the past seven years.

The webpage does not record the exact details of individual stolen items. Instead, it describes “the types of objects that are missing” and displays illustrative photographs, so that the public will be better able to identify whether they have come into contact with items, the Art Newspaper reported.

The museum has so far recovered 60 items. A further 300 have been identified and are “due to be returned imminently”, it said it a statement. It did not give details about the items that have been recovered and identified so far. 

Around 1,600 objects from the Greek and Roman departments have yet to be tracked down, including gold jewellery and gems made from semi-precious stones and glass dating from the 15th Century BC and later. 

The museum has not disclosed how many of these artefacts have been identified. Records of some objects are reported to have been incomplete.

A spokesperson for the Art Loss Register, which is assisting the museum with its recovery operation, told the Art Newspaper that the museum has chosen not to reveal the exact details of items that remain missing because it might “enable those who are holding such pieces and are acting in bad faith to avoid detection”.

This might result in artefacts being sold “through channels where fewer questions are asked” or even being destroyed, the spokesperson said.

Experts from Art Loss Register are part of an international panel of 14 leading specialists assembled by the museum to aid in the identification and recovery of the lost artefacts.

The museum is also working with the Metropolitan Police and is actively monitoring the art market, including online.

British Museum: From looter to looted

Image of the Benin bronzes
07 Sep 2023

From the perspective of Greece or Nigeria, the word irony hardly does justice to the sad spectacle unfolding at the British Museum, writes Barnaby Phillips

Theatre’s model is broken

London tube station with Show Must Go On poster above
24 Aug 2023

In the face of increasing numbers of theatre leaders leaving their roles, David Micklem thinks it’s time the whole business model underwent a radical rethink.

Succession – without the drama

Karen Watson and Jon Wakeman, founder Directors of East Street Arts, Leeds. They stand in the doorway to a house, both smiling.
04 Jul 2023

Succession is often a challenging experience for both the outgoing leader and those left to pick up the reins, as Claire Antrobus and Sandeep Mahal have been finding out.

King’s Birthday Honours recognises arts leaders

London Symphony Orchestra Managing Director Kathryn McDowell. She is facing the camera, smiling, wearing a blue suit jacket
20 Jun 2023

Arts and culture professionals feature heavily in King Charles’ first Birthday Honours list, reinforcing his acknowledged appreciation of the sector.

Spotlight on new NPOs: Family Arts Campaign

Children in a library throwing newspapers into the air
05 Jun 2023

Connection, communities and collaboration are essential ingredients for working with families, writes Anna Dever, Director of a new Investment Principles Support Organisation within ACE’s National Portfolio.

Theatre apologises for ‘encouraging poor etiquette’

30 May 2023

Norwich Theatre has apologised for “inadvertently encouraging poor theatre etiquette” after sending a newsletter with the subject line “Something to sing along to”.

Subscribers to the theatre’s mailing list received the email this week as part of promotion efforts for the venue’s upcoming musicals, including Heathers, Blood Brothers and Annie.

After recipients expressed concerns that it might encourage people in the audience to belt out the songs themselves, the company sent a follow-up email apologising.

“In trying to emphasise the fun and joyous nature of the musicals, we inadvertently appeared to endorse poor theatre etiquette,” the email said.

“Of course we don’t mean for people to literally sing along while they are in the theatre (just when booking their tickets or in the car on the way home!).

“We’re really sorry for any misunderstanding, upset and the careless language.”

The apology coincides with an ongoing debate within the theatre sector about the appropriateness of live audiences singing along to musicals.

Last month police were called to a performance of The Bodyguard in Manchester last month when audience members refused to stop loudly singing and dancing, resulting in the show being stopped 10 minutes early.

Actor, playwright and director Ben Elton, who penned the script for Queen musical We Will Rock You, weighted in on the debate on BBC Breakfast, saying that audiences “should apply good taste and good manners”.

“Nobody’s paid to sit next to somebody [singing],” he said.

A musical career in three movements

Headshot of Kirsteen Davidson Kelly
30 May 2023

With a working life of more than 30 years, Kirsteen Davidson Kelly explores how her early career in performance has informed her present leadership role in the music world.  


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