The shifting world of arts comms

Graphic showing the letters PR
08 Feb 2024

For the past two years, Mobius Industries has run a survey to take the temperature of arts PR. As Emma Berge reports, the results reveal widespread concern about the shrinkage of arts coverage. 

‘Apple doesn’t sell fruit’

Young man sitting in an office drinking from a bottle branded 'Prim
06 Jul 2023

What’s in a name? And how does an organisation go about changing its brand identity? Lauren James has some top tips.

Programming, price, people and the pendulum of power

Confetti party
20 Feb 2024

If price has lost its power, what does that mean for arts organisations who continue to face financial challenges with increased costs and reduced demand, asks David Reece.  

2024 set to be a groundbreaking year

Digital image of planet earth
23 Jan 2024

The speed of innovation in the digital world can be hard to keep pace with and, as Katie Moffat writes, this is going to be a rollercoaster year – so hold on to your hats.

AI: Understanding the implications of fast developing technology

Graphic of human hand and robot hand reaching to touch each other
02 Nov 2023

Artificial intelligence has been around for years but, as Katie Moffat writes, the new generation of AI tools can be used by anyone, and can provide support with many day-to-day tasks.

Communications in a time of crisis

18 Oct 2023

When the proverbial hits the fan, how prepared are you to handle the public messaging? Helen Palmer shares her experience of crisis communications planning and offers useful advice for yours.

National Theatre to pilot early evening performances

17 Oct 2023

The National Theatre will trial early evening performances in an effort to adapt to the "post-Covid lifestyles" of its patrons.

The theatre said the move, which will involve a selected number of early-evening performances starting at 6.30 pm, follows research it conducted to understand how the habits of audiences have changed since the pandemic.

The trial will begin with performances in February and will continue until mid-June. A total of 20 performances across five different productions have been scheduled.

"The early evening performances will offer more flexibility for audiences to make the most of their evening, whether that’s more time to grab a bite to eat, to discuss the show over a glass or two, or simply not having to rush off to catch the last train," the National theatre said.

Sage Gateshead renamed The Glasshouse

An exterior view of The Glasshouse venue, which opened in 2004
13 Sep 2023

Decision to change name of venue taken after announcement last year that an arena and conference centre to be built next door would be called The Sage.

Digital marketing for arts sector beginners

A person pointing at a whiteboard which reads 'digital marketing?'.
06 Sep 2023

Whether you’re new to digital marketing or have been bluffing your way through for a while, Lauren James has put together a beginners' guide to help you get stuck in.

Croydon Borough of Culture advertising 'confusing'

17 Aug 2023

Signage created to promote Croydon’s year as London Borough of Culture has been criticised for confusing rail passengers.

Marketing posters depicting the phrase ‘This is Croydon’ in the style of Transport for London roundels have been placed on other platform stations, including Norwood Junction, leading to concern passengers will mistake the advertisements for the name of the station.

According to reports from Inside Croydon, the Borough of Culture signage has, in some cases, been pasted over existing station roundels.

PR agency White Label, which landed a £132,000 contract to market and promote Croydon’s 12-month cultural programme, created the roundel design.

Comments on a Rail UK online forum discussing the advertisement branded the marketing campaign “staggeringly poor” and “shockingly bad”.

“[Transport for London] (TfL) usually has such clear signage and has very strict guidelines to keep signage effective, clear and consistent,” another comment said.

“Hence I’m rather staggered TfL would even contemplate doing this where it replaces its own basic and crucial signage for passengers.”

Edinburgh Fringe performers criticise 'poster censorship'

08 Aug 2023

Performers at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe claim posters advertising their shows are being censored or defaced as the rules surrounding promotional materials are more strictly enforced.

The Guardian reports that Out of Hand, the printers who produce the posters for shows at the fringe, are required to check all promotional images with Edinburgh city council before proceeding to print. 

Obscenity has always been banned, but this year’s performers say that attitudes to nudity, swearing and sexual content have become stricter. According to Out of Hand’s Commercial Director Nigel Muntz the rules have not changed, but are being “enforced with more rigour”.

Posters that have fallen prey to censorship include images of a line of bare buttocks and a large pair of breasts. A children’s drag performer and an American actress whose show title included a swear word have also had their promotional materials altered.

Producer Richard Lambert, who was asked to pixilate the five pairs of bare buttocks on one of his posters, said that the matter was resolved “amicably but after a minor battle”. He said that similar posters had been approved in previous years.

“We’re sanitising arts and culture,” he said.

Brand loyalty isn’t always the answer

Piccadilly circus billboards
19 Jul 2023

Thinking of rebranding? Rob Macpherson unpacks what you need to think about before embarking on a radical rethink of your image. 

DCMS outlines 'lessons learned' from UNBOXED festival

Live finale of GALWAD at Blaenau Ffestiniog, part of UNBOXED, Creativity in the UK.
04 Jul 2023

DCMS identifies lessons to be learned from the management of UNBOXED festival in letter to Public Accounts Committee.

Fund offers musicians advances of up to £50,000

26 Jun 2023

A new fund has been launched to support artists working in the independent music sector.

As part of Music Gateway's Ignite fund, eligible artists will be offered advances of up to £50,000 to help them cover recording costs and promote new releases in a variety of ways, including merchandise production, playlist promotion, radio and press campaigns, digital marketing strategies and sync optimisation and representation.

The fund is designed for artists and rights-holders who have an existing portfolio of released songs and a proven track record of income across a period of more than six months. 

Artists participating in the Ignite programme will work with the in-house team at Music Gateway on release strategies, royalty registrations and representation for sync licensing. 

They are not obligated to use the company’s promotional services during the Ignite term – which lasts a minimum of 12 months – but digital distribution and publishing admin has to go through Music Gateway.

The company will be responsible for registering and distributing music, running campaigns and pitching for sync. It will recoup the advance through royalty earnings. Artists will retain 100% of their rights.

“Our team have been fortunate enough to develop and support some incredible talent over the years,” said Sophie Small, CEO of Music Gateway. 

“This fund is designed for us to continue to do this in a way that increases the level of support we can provide outside of services for specific representation or campaigns and bring it all together in a way that still keeps the artists in control of their ownership, which is at the heart of what we do.”

BFI awards £2.1m through Global Screen Fund

18 May 2023

The British Film Institute (BFI) has awarded £2.1m in funding to 24 British companies working in independent film, TV, animation and video games in the latest round of the Global Screen Fund.

Financed through the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the awards of between £50,000 and £144,000 were granted to help companies achieve new international business partnerships, enhance their global reach and generate increased revenue through international expansion and export over the next three to five years.

“The ambition of these companies in developing truly global growth strategies, and in striving to reach new international audiences, is so exciting to see, demonstrating opportunities for further growth,” said Denitsa Yordanova, BFI Head of the UK Global Screen Fund.

“It is so important that we continue to build on the UK’s strength in the global content marketplace, investing to support the screen sector in reaching its full potential.”

BFI also announced that UK Global Screen Fund applications are now open for International Business Development, International Distribution Festival Launch Support and International Distribution Film Sales Support.

The next round of UK Global Screen Fund international co-production funding is due to open on 3 August.

Tixly to be partner with Trafalgar Tickets

02 May 2023

Event ticketing software company Tixly has been selected as ticketing partner for Trafalgar Tickets.

Trafalgar Tickets will begin using Tixly’s ticketing system later this year.

The company is the ticketing division of Trafalgar Entertainment, a theatre venue business founded in 2017.

Tixly currently provides services to over 100 venues and cultural organisations around the world, allowing customers to sell events, manage customers through advanced CRM and use enhanced segmentation tools to enable marketing.

“I am thrilled we have found a partner in Tixly whose approach to technology and product development is so aligned with our own,” said Trafalgar Tickets’ CEO Johan Oosterveld.

“We share a desire to reimagine how customers and producers interact with our venues. By leveraging Tixly’s advanced feature set within our technology stack, we will be able to unlock commercial opportunities and accelerate our growth ambitions in the UK and internationally”.

Liam Oakley, Trafalgar Tickets’ Director of Operations, described Tixly as “a feature-rich yet intuitive system” well-placed to meet the company’s evolving needs.

Most artists make a loss on music releases, research finds

02 May 2023

Most independent artists who promote their own music releases make a loss, according to new research.  

The research by, a global music studio hosting 350,000 artists worldwide, found that 75% of musicians who spend money on promoting releases don't make it back. 

Over 1,000 live musicians, producers, rappers and MCs from the UK and US were asked how they promote their music.

Of these, 91% said they did so without the support of a label or manager.

Of the musicians surveyed 54% said they use social media for self-promotion, with 56% of these using it everyday.

The research highlights the increasing need for musicians to create additional, visual content in order to promote their work.

More than half (56%) of music creators said they will make visuals for their next release.

Dan Davis, Head of Community at, said: "Making music in the social media age means constantly jumping on new promotional trends.

"However, making content is rarely free and new revenue sources for artists aren’t emerging at the same rate as new trends."

Partner Pod: Surviving permacrisis

On stage at Conway Hall, London, are Robin Cantrill-Fenwick, Iain Christie, Penny Hansen and Katie Moffat
15 Mar 2023

Are the arts locked in a permacrisis? How do we survive it if so? How long until we get back to 'normal'? Join Robin Cantrill-Fenwick and his panel of guests in Arts Professional's first Partner Pod.

How to get ahead in arts management

Orchestra on stage
28 Feb 2023

If you don’t have industry connections, trying to break into the sector can be overwhelming. So, courses that provide work experience are in high demand. Meet Karen Pimbley (course leader) and Annabel Atkins (student). 

Agency calls for increased diversity in arts marketing

03 Feb 2023

Efforts need to be taken to address a lack of diversity within arts marketing, a PR agency has said after almost all respondents to a survey on the industry were found to be white.

The research, conducted by Mobius Industries, found that 90% of respondents were either White, or White British.

Although only 40 people responded to the survey, Emma Berge, Head of Press at Mobius, said inclusivity is an issue that needs to be addressed.

Looking ahead, it’s crucial that we address that arts communications, like the communications sector more broadly, faces a lack of diversity," she said.

"As an industry that champions diverse voices, that lack of diversity in communications needs to be addressed to achieve a more inclusive industry."

The survey also found the majority of PRs feel valued in their role, with 62% saying they felt either very or extremely valued and 85% saying they felt that their role is meaningful. 

Only 5% saying they didn’t feel valued. Despite this, 62% said they had either considered or strongly considered leaving the arts industry over the past year.

"Working in arts PR is changing year on year, and landing coverage with shrinking space is proving more challenging now than ever," Berge said. 

"However, it’s clear that practitioners know how important it is, and it’s encouraging to see that PR is valued amongst their arts professional colleagues too. 

"Challenges over the coming year are going to be felt keenly across the industry, with cuts to regional press and the ongoing cost of living crisis putting pressure on PRs and performers alike."


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