Diving in at the deep end

Shonagh Manson
30 Jan 2023

Initially unsure about how to put her art degree to good use, Shonagh Manson has forged a career centred on ensuring artists and creatives are well supported.

Richard Herring: elitism of Fringe 'makes me sick'

Richard Herring performing on stage
29 Jan 2023

Acclaimed comedian announces decision not to perform at Edinburgh Fringe this year saying it has evolved into an event that only wealthy participants and audiences can attend.

Musicians' census aims to 'kickstart industry change'

A man playing music on a turntable
23 Jan 2023

Musicians urged to take part in first ever Musicians’ Census in order to map the total population of musicians and build a picture of the issues they face.

Southbank Centre and Apple unveil plans to support Black creatives

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook visiting London's Southbank Centre
23 Jan 2023

Initiative to improve access to the arts for emerging Black creatives has announced details of residencies in London, Manchester, and Birmingham and plans to work with local schools.

Theatre industry backs new regulatory body for creative sector

19 Jan 2023

A new organisation being formed to prevent and tackle bullying and harassment across the creative industries has received support from the Society of London Theatre (SOLT) and UK Theatre.

The Creative Industries Independent Standards Authority (CIISA) will work to uphold and improve standards of behaviour across the creative industries by providing services, insight, research, policy, influence and advocacy.

CIISA’s work providing services is expected to include mediation, investigation, early dispute resolution and immediate advice, while its work on influence and advocacy is likely to include lobbying for a legal definition of bullying, preventing misuse of NDAs, advocating for better advice and protections for freelancers, and promoting inclusivity.

SOLT and UK Theatres backing for CIISA follows support from the film and TV sectors, with music expected to follow suit in the coming months.

Co-Chief Executives of the two theatre trade associations, Claire Walker and Hannah Essex, said the “theatre sector welcomes this opportunity to show its commitment to tackling bullying and harassment once and for all. 

“We look forward to working with our members to support the development of this much-needed organisation in the coming months.”

CIISA Interim Chief Executive Jennifer Smith added: “The purpose of CIISA is prevention from harm and to ensure there are consistently safe workplaces for our talented workforce to thrive in. 

“We are delighted to be working very closely with the theatre sector’s leading performing arts trade bodies alongside the film and TV industries and thank them for their commitment and support for CIISA as we continue to develop our proposals over the coming months.”

Music leaders call for rethink on BBC Introducing cuts

Florence + The Machine performing at a music concert
19 Jan 2023

Proposed shake-up of BBC radio programmes will see a reduction in music shows that have provided a platform for emerging artists such as Florence + The Machine, Ed Sheeran, Little Simz and Lewis Capaldi.

U-turn on plans to cut funding for music charity

A performance by Laura Mvula
18 Jan 2023

Plans to cut funding to music charity that has supported Mercury-nominated acts such as Floating Points, Ghostpoet, and Laura Mvula, are reversed.

MPs criticise government's 'scatter gun' culture policy

A guitarist and drummer play music on stage
13 Jan 2023

Report into government progress on issues related to music streaming highlights lack of joined-up cultural strategy as a problem that needs to be addressed.

Equity secures pay rises for performers and creatives

A theatre director watches an actor and actress rehearse lines on a theatre stage
12 Jan 2023

Pay rises and improved terms are on the cards for performers working with members of the Independent Theatre Council after it agreed a deal with union Equity.

Fringe issues accommodation warning to performers

A performer on the streets of Edinburgh during the Fringe Festival
11 Jan 2023

Organisers of the Edinburgh Fringe urge prospective performers to 'scope out' accommodation early amid concerns around availability and cost.

Bursary scheme for emerging migrant producers launches

11 Jan 2023

A new bursary scheme has been launched to support and develop the career of a first-generation migrant theatre producer.

PROJEKT EUROPA and Chris Grady Org (CGO) will award one aspiring producer a fully funded place on the CGO Diploma in Creative Producing and a 16-week paid work placement with PROJEKT EUROPA.

“The world needs more producers, especially producers who reflect the communities that artists wish to serve, and the stories that need to be told,” said Chris Grady, Director of CGO.

He added that CGO aims “to make connections for, and develop the skills of, those who will change the world one show at a time”.

Maria Aberg, Artistic Director of PROJEKT EUROPA, said the theatre company “is committed to internationalising the UK theatre industry by championing  and platforming migrant talent, creating a more diverse and international sector”.

The diploma course runs from February to June 2023 and the placement will run from April onwards.

Candidates can be based anywhere in the UK. Applications close on 18 January.

Low-cost counselling service for arts workers launches

11 Jan 2023

A low-cost counselling service for people working in the arts sector has been launched by non-profit organisation Wellbeing in the Arts.

The service offers to connect individuals working in the sector with a range of more than 150 registered counsellors across the UK with knowledge of the challenges that come with working in the arts, with session costs starting from £15.

“There has long been a huge demand in the arts for affordable mental health support, which we can now provide,” said Adam Bambrough, Founder and Chief Executive of Wellbeing in the Arts.

“The fact that we have had over 350 people come forward to use our service within 72 hours shows just how much need there is.”

The service is also open to employers, who can sign up to help their staff and freelancers access mental health support by subsidising the costs of sessions, with contributions starting from £2.50 per person.

Employers can access additional benefits including site visits and mental health and wellbeing packs for eligible employees, as well as help with funding applications and joint marketing campaigns.

“For a small amount, an employer – be it a large organisation, small company, independent producer, or agent – can help their staff, including freelancers, to access the support they need and show that they care about the mental health and wellbeing of their team, which will inevitably lead to better outcomes for everyone,” Bambrough said.

Support offered by the organisation is 100% confidential, he added, meaning that employers will not be informed if staff and freelancers register for counselling sessions. 

Not all actors have to go to drama school

National Youth Theatre's production shot from 'GONE TOO FAR!'. There are two young men sitting in a trolley and a young women standing behind; they are all looking into the camera. Corner shop in the background.
11 Jan 2023

As the National Youth Theatre Rep Company approaches its 10th anniversary, its co-founder and Artistic Director Paul Roseby shares the joys and challenges of the last decade.

Gateshead’s Trinity Centre to undergo £1.4m redesign

10 Jan 2023

A former church in Gateshead is set to become a community and arts hub after restoration plans secured funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Gateway Studio, a dance and related arts charity, has received £1.4m in funding. The money will be used to acquire and restore the Trinity Centre, a Grade I-listed former church located on Gateshead High Street, one of town’s oldest sites.

Plans for the development of the building include the creation of studio perfromance space for open mic nights, acoustic sets and art exhibitions to showcase local talent, as well as office accommodation and a café.

Renovations are scheduled to be completed by September 2024.

“Dance and the arts are powerful tools in transforming individuals and communities,” Martin Hylton, Founder and Chief Executive of Gateway Studio, told the BBC.

“This new development will not only put Gateshead firmly on the map, in terms of developing and supporting professional artists, but will also help to transform the local community.”

Angela Douglas, Gateshead Council's Cabinet Member for Culture, Sport and Leisure, said the new arts space was “an exciting and ambitious project”.

“As one of our only dedicated dance spaces in the borough, I'm sure the regeneration of the Trinity Centre will unlock their full potential,” she said.

ACE relaunches support fund for creative practitioners 

15 Dec 2022

An Arts Council England (ACE) funding stream aimed at individuals working in the cultural sector has opened for its 16th edition.

The Developing your Creative Practice (DYCP) fund provides independent cultural and creative practitioners with grants available to “take a dedicated period of time to focus on their own cultural and creative development, to take them to the next stage in their practice”.

The fund covers all of ACE’s supported artforms for activities including creating new work, research periods, travel for national or international work, training, mentoring or networking.

Grants of between £2,000 and £10,000 are available, with prospective applicants advised to identify a clear development opportunity in their application.

ACE says it received more 19,000 applications to the DYCP fund between rounds eight and 15. The 15th round received 1,261 requests for funding before sharing over £3.5m between 377 individuals.

In light of this high demand, anyone that has made one successful or two unsuccessful applications to the DYCP fund since 10 January 2021 is not eligible for Round 16.

Applications are open until 17 January 2023, with decisions announced by 28 March 2023.

Support programme for Northern Ireland artists massively oversubscribed

12 Dec 2022

Nearly three quarters of applicants for a support programme for artists in Northern Ireland have been rejected.

The BBC reports that about 920 eligible applications were received for the 2022/23 Siap General Arts Award fund run by Arts Council of Northern Ireland requesting a combined total of £4.3m in funding.

However, the funding pot of £985,000 was awarded to 262 individual artists received. Three years ago, the total number of eligible applicants was 280.

The fund aims to help artists purchase new equipment and develop new projects.

A spokesperson for the Arts Council of Northern Ireland said: "The 228.6% increase in applications to Siap's General Arts Award scheme this year, compared to those in 2019/20, has placed new pressures on the funding available for individual artists."

They added that a further £16.6m of funding would be needed to properly support and develop artists and organisations.

Fringe performers ‘likely to return’ to festival

07 Dec 2022

A survey commissioned by the Edinburgh Fringe Society has found 70% of performers at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe are likely to bring a show to the festival again in the future. 

The finding forms part of an evaluation survey into this year’s edition, which received more than 10,000 responses including audiences and performers. For performers, the biggest barrier to future participation appears to be accommodation, with 87% of artists agreeing that affordability of accommodation and living costs will be a barrier to future participation in the Fringe.

Concerns were raised around soaring accomodation costs at the time of this year’s festival, with a coalition of Edinburgh's producing venues calling the issue a threat to the festival’s future.

Despite the concerns, 81% of all survey respondents -  including artists, audience members, arts industry professionals, residents and other participants - said they were likely to come to next year’s festival.

Two thirds of visitors would like to see discounted tickets available at next year’s edition, with 91% agreeing a discount should be available for Edinburgh residents.

The festival says the call for discounted tickets is a result of the cost of living crisis, which it says is “likely to extend into 2023”.

Over 2.2million tickets were issued by the end of this year’s edition, with artists from 63 countries performing more than 3,400 shows across the Scottish capital.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society Chief Executive Shona McCarthy said that in a tumultuous year, “it feels miraculous the Fringe happened at all”.

“Improvements can always be made, and the insights and data gained from our recent listening exercise are already being taken forward”, she added.

“We recognise that there are ongoing challenges, and our team are working hard behind the scenes to continue to advocate for our artists, and to support audiences as they plan for Fringe 2023.”

Leeds 2023 signs fair pay union agreement

05 Dec 2022

Leeds Culture Trust has agreed that all creatives working on the LEEDS 2023 cultural programme will be paid fair wages and have safe and secure working conditions.

The agreement forms part of a Memorandum of Understanding between Leeds Culture Trust and trade unions TUC Yorkshire and Humber, Equity, Artists’ Union England, BECTU and Musicians' Union.

The trust says it will encourage partners and stakeholders to also “engage with appropriate unions to create agreements for the creative sector workers they employ”.

A similar agreement was signed ahead of Coventry’s stint as City of Culture 2021 and in Birmingham for the cultural programme that coincided with this year’s Commonwealth Games.

“At a time when precarious engagements and poor pay are threatening to overshadow the UK’s cultural strength, again Leeds is leading the way by putting the terms and conditions of the creative workforce at the heart of what it means to have a year of culture,” Equity General Secretary Paul Fleming said.

“Great art thrives when artists have dignity at and in their work, which is exactly what this Memorandum of Understanding aims to assure.”

My Gurus: Sowing the seeds of possibility

Image of Shanaz Gulnar
01 Dec 2022

Shanaz Gulzar led Bradford's successful bid to become City of Culture 2025. Having now taken up the reins as its Creative Director, she reflects on the people who have inspired her career and will inform her choices for the festival.

Grassroots call for radical change

Artists in covid masks painting
28 Nov 2022

New research that identifies how the pandemic heightened artists’ precarity highlights radically different perspectives for healthy arts ecologies in the future, writes Susan Jones


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