‘Make it SO’

17 May 2022

In the last in our series profiling the shortlisted candidates for City of Culture 2025, Claire Whitaker says Southampton has been connecting the UK with people across the globe for thousands of years.

Local election manifesto 

a signpost signalling a polling station
27 Apr 2022

With many local councillors up for re-election next week, Chris Walker outlines his manifesto for increased local authority spending on theatre and the arts.

‘Our Time, Our Place’

Young people from Bradford send off for the district's official UK City of Culture 2025 bid
19 Apr 2022

In the second in our series profiling the shortlisted candidates for City of Culture 2025, Shanaz Gulzar shares how Bradford's young people shaped a bid that awakened a sleeping giant of a city.

‘The past we inherit, the future we build’

Durham miners' gala
06 Apr 2022

In the first in a series profiling the shortlisted candidates for UK City of Culture 2025, Alison Clark introduces the county whose bid is inspired by the Durham Miners Association.

How might culture engineer levelling up? 

Light installation
25 Jan 2022

DCMS is calling for evidence for its latest inquiry on the levelling up agenda. Jason Jones-Hall has been analysing initial data from place-based funding streams and shares his findings. 

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.”

Plans announced for new theatre in Derby

30 Jun 2022

Derby City Council has announced plans to build a new theatre on a city centre site.

The proposed theatre, known as Assemble, would be constructed in partnership with the University of Derby on the site of the Assembly Rooms, which was closed following a fire in 2014.

The council said it was proposing a £20m bid to the Levelling Up Fund to support the project, which would also require council borrowing.

The new theatre will form part of Derby's City of Culture 2029 bid. Council Leader Chris Poulter said: "We need to deliver a step change to create a successful and dynamic city centre."

The plans are subject to sign-off by the council's cabinet on 5 July.


Mayor of London expands Creative Enterprise Zones

28 Jun 2022

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has allocated £800,000 to be invested in nine zones across the capital to support jobs and training and to create affordable studio space as part of his Creative Enterprise Zones programme.

Hammersmith & Fulham and Ealing will become the newest Creative Enterprise Zones and London boroughs are invited to apply for funding to become the next three zones.

The £800,000 funding will be split between all the zones to help support 5,000 young people to enter the creative sector and create more than 25,000 square metres of permanent affordable workspace by 2025.

The new Hammersmith & Fulham zone will transform a vacant high street shop into a “Made in Hammersmith and Fulham” hub, designed to support and offer training to local creative entrepreneurs, makers and businesses. It also plans to offer 90 work placements and apprenticeships in the creative sector.

The Ealing zone will help increase creative employment opportunities though working with young people and local business and offer a small grants programme to 30 local creatives to support the development of community spaces through murals and public art installations. 

“We are delighted to be located in a new Creative Enterprise Zone, this is exactly the kind of support our sector needs,” said Angelique Schmitt, CEO and founder of Kindred Studios in Hammersmith. 

“It will help provide much needed artist studios in the borough, boost our profile and improve access to residents showcasing all the brilliant work of local artists and creatives.”

My Gurus: 'For when I need to be brave'

27 Jun 2022

Rebecca Ball has now been in post as Chief Executive of Sunderland Culture for a year. Here she reveals the people who have inspired, influenced and guided her career.

The birth of Shakespeare’s Northern home

22 Jun 2022

Shakespeare North Playhouse is a brand-new theatre modelled on a traditional Shakespearean era playhouse. Melanie Lewis shares the challenges of bringing this ambitious regeneration project to life. 

Greening the UK’s theatres

21 Jun 2022

The nation’s theatre buildings are in urgent need of upgrading to make them more sustainable and fit for purpose, argues Jon Morgan.

Chesterfield theatre closes for £17.5m renovation

20 Jun 2022

Chesterfield’s Pomegranate Theatre is closing at the end of the month as part of a £17.5m restoration project.

The plans will see work completed on the Stephenson Memorial Hall, home to both the theatre and Chesterfield Museum, which has already closed.

Chesterfield Borough Council says the theatre will be extended and the museum reconfigured, with a new gallery space and café bar. New educational and community facilities will also be created.

The project is part funded by the council, with £11m coming from the government’s levelling-up fund.

The Council’s service director for leisure, culture and community wellbeing Ian Waller says the plans will make the Stephen Memorial Hall “even more memorable and enjoyable, creating a modern visitor experience in the heart of our town”.

Vision for future of music libraries published

15 Jun 2022

A paper outlining a vision for the future of music libraries has been published by an alliance of music organisations.

The Music Libraries Trust, Making Music and the UK and Ireland branch of the International Association of Music Librarians hope Music libraries in the UK: a vision for the future can help protect access to and sustainability of music resources.

The public library network has been traditionally the largest and most cost-effective provider of sheet music, but they have been impacted by local authority budget cuts over the last 20 years.

The paper states that every music group should have access to printed music and recommends creating a national steering group, consisting of funders, operators and users, to explore how to integrate services and resources at a national level, and safeguard material when a local service closes.

Making Music CEO Barbara Eifler says work with local authorities and service provides has shown its is possible to “ensure a future for music libraries while relieving under-resourced local authorities of all or most of the financial burden”.

“We look forward to this vision opening up a conversation which will benefit all parties in the longer term and underpin the thriving community music scene for which the UK is rightly known.”

Ipswich Museum set for £8.7m refurb despite petition

14 Jun 2022

A £8.7m project to renovate Ipswich Museum is to go ahead despite an online petition against the proposals.

The planned works to the Grade II-listed building include “slight” modifications to the front entrance, modernised lighting, new toilet facilities and a coffee shop.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund awarded £4.3m to fund the project, backed by a £3.6m investment from museum operators Ipswich Borough Council.

An online petition, which argues an “irreplaceable example of cultural heritage will be lost” if plans go ahead, had received over 2,300 signatures by Tuesday (14 June).

“This is a beautiful museum of great historic significance and updates could be made in a much more sensitive, nuanced way,” one signatory wrote.

An Ipswich Council spokesperson said the refurbishment will create a “a more appealing and exciting museum experience to which people, particularly local Ipswich visitors, will want to keep returning to.”

The plans follow a “number of phases of consultation” including an online survey that engaged more than 1,000 local participants, they added.

The spokesperson concluded there is a “process for dealing with petitions,” and confirming “we have not received a petition about the museum and will follow this process if we do”.

The museum is due to close this autumn and expects to welcome visitors back in spring 2025.

Coventry City of Culture attracts more than a million

06 Jun 2022

More than one million people attended events in Coventry during the city’s stint as UK City of Culture, according to analysis from organisers.

Coventry’s year-long programme came to an end last Tuesday (31 May), after 709 events took place across the city, including Radio 1’s Big Weekend and the 2021 International Booker Prize.

More than 389,000 tickets were issued for live events, with a further 137,000 attending unticketed live events. The programme’s online audience, which pulled focus for events affected by lockdown, is estimated to have reached over 516,000.

The initial results do not include visitors to the public art programme, participation and workshop activity figures, or the creative programme funded by Coventry City of Culture Trust but delivered by partner organisations, which will be reported in the final evaluation.

Coventry secured more than £172m of direct investment to support its programme of events. City Council leader George Duggins says the calendar succeeded in bringing people together to help build a lasting legacy.

“The people, firms and organisations of Coventry will be feeling the benefits of our year as UK City of Culture for a long time to come – through improved prosperity, greater access to the arts, and a better quality of life.”

DCMS study moots major new data platform

25 May 2022

Report recommends new cultural sector data platform to help make the case for increased funding across the arts.

High priority areas yet to receive levelling up funding

Chesterfield's Stephenson Memorial Hall is being renovated after a successful Levelling Up Fund application
24 May 2022

Analysis finds 19 local authority areas deemed to be high priority for investment by both government and Arts Council England are yet to receive a slice of £4.8bn Levelling Up Fund.

MPs demand legislation to protect child performers

10 May 2022

DCMS Select Committee warns that regulatory gaps are leaving child performers at risk of exploitation.

Citizens’ assembly demands culture-filled future for Coventry

members of Coventry's citizens’ assembly
06 May 2022

Recommendations including more public artworks and neighbourhood creative hubs aim to contribute to the City of Culture's legacy.

Oxford arts venue seeks new home

25 Apr 2022

Community arts centre Fusion Arts is looking for a new home as its current premises faces demolition.

The East Oxford Community Centre is part of a £5.5m Oxford City Council redevelopment plan, which includes new flats on site.

Branding the plans “counterintuitive at best”, Fusion Arts says the temporary relocation venue proposed by the council is “inadequate as it does not meet [its] legal, safety or minimum requirements to serve the community”.

The venue took to Twitter to ask the local community for help finding alternative arrangements.

It plans to continue running creative community projects throughout the county during the works.


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