Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory stops production

18 Oct 2021

Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory has announced it will stop producing plays after 21 years.

Sited at Bristol's Tobacco Factory Theatres, the theatre company received £50,000 from the first round of DCMS' Culture Recovery Fund but says can no longer produce without further grants.

The grant enabled the theatre to present a new production of Shakespeare's Sonnets and develop a podcast, What Would Shakespeare Do in a Pandemic?

It will use its remaining funds to establish a small annual bursary for theatre students, expected to launch before the end of the year.

"Whilst it is with a heavy heart that we have taken this decision to bring our touring productions to a close, we are delighted that our new bursary will continue to support actors and creative practitioners in Bristol and its surrounds," Chair of Trustees Kerrie Hunt said.

"We are indebted to the talented and dedicated actors, freelancers and management teams with whom we have worked so closely during this time and proud to have helped to foster the next generation of Shakespearian theatre professionals."

Voice acting school joins LIPA

13 Oct 2021

A voice academy founded mid-pandemic has joined the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA).

Bristol Academy of Voice Acting (BRAVA) will work with LIPA students in the final year of the BA Acting programme to develop their skills not only in voice acting but in marketing and branding so they can make the most of what the commercial voiceover industry has to offer.

BRAVA Founder Melissa Thom has worked as a voice actor for clients including Google, Amazon, Unicef and Bauer and on several video games.

"The projected healthy recovery and growth of the UK ad market by the end of this year means there is an imminent demand for highly trained voice actors," Thom said.

"We look forward  to working with students at LIPA to help them add voice acting to their skillset."


Trainee scheme to be catalyst for theatre careers

11 Oct 2021

Donmar Warehouse plans to recruit 13 paid trainees under a new career development programme.

Catalyst trainees will work in either creative or administrative roles. Special focus will be given to talent currently underrepresented in the industry, such as working class and D/deaf and disabled artists.

Trainees will be mentored by leading creatives and members of the Donmar Warehouse team.

Director Nadia Latif said most theatre artists understand the importance of opening access to people "who look like us or share our backgrounds".

"Theatre making should be transparent, accessible, and our rehearsal rooms should bustle with a multitude of people with totally different life experiences feeding each other creatively and taking care of one another."

Royal Shakespeare Company becomes an official research body

11 Oct 2021

It is the first time a performing arts organisation has achieved the designation, opening opportunities to investigate issues of importance to the sector.

Safety inspectors shut down Manchester theatre

11 Oct 2021

Manchester’s Grange Theatre has been closed with immediate effect after safety inspectors found faulty electrics and wiring in the building.

A statement from the theatre says it will remain closed until it is deemed safe to reopen.

All events in October and November have been cancelled, with ticket holders set to be refunded.

Located on Oldham College campus, the theatre’s annual pantomime has been transferred to nearby Queen Elizabeth Halls.

Culture Secretary's comments on class resonate with the sector

07 Oct 2021

Nadine Dorries courted controversy by saying you have to come from privilege to make it in the arts. Is she right? 

Theatres split over return of digital pantos

actor performing on stage
30 Sep 2021

Research suggests audiences enjoyed watching Christmas performances online last year, but few may return as theatres focus on drawing crowds for in-person shows.

£18m Sunderland venue set to open

29 Sep 2021

Sunderland’s newest music and performance venue The Fire Station has released details of its opening programme.

Operated by Sunderland Culture, the £18m venue will open its auditorium on December 10, with events scheduled through June.

It expects to host up to 300 music and theatre events each year.

Music, Arts and Culture (MAC) Chair Paul Callaghan said the auditorium will not only feature established musicians, "it will also be the springboard to stardom for our own aspiring talent".

Sunderland Culture Chief Executive Rebecca Ball said the venue will be "a fantastic addition to the city’s cultural life" and thanked the MAC Trust for leading the building project.

Council criticised over mixed messages on theatre sale

29 Sep 2021

A £191,000 Culture Recovery Fund grant was meant to help the theatre reopen and reach new audiences. Now, locals can't get a clear answer on whether it will be sold.

Equity warns of hardship over Universal Credit cut

21 Sep 2021

Performers face financial hardship if the Government proceeds with plans to cut a £20 per week Universal Credit uplift.

53% of Equity members in a new survey said the policy would hurt them.

41% said they would be unable to meet essential costs, with a third unable to continue seeking work in the industry.

Equity believes the cut will have an even more pronounced impact on younger talent, underrepresented groups and those from working class backgrounds.

"These changes to Universal Credit will plunge thousands of Equity members into poverty or force them to leave the profession,” Equity’s Lead Tax and Welfare Rights Official Alan Lean said.

The union has called on the Government to abandon the proposed cut, scheduled to come into effect October 6.

Producers join forces on new company

14 Sep 2021

Two creative producers have officially launched an independent production and artist development company.

Charlie Bunker, who has worked for Kerpow and WildWorks, and Gabby Vautier, formerly of Young Vic, Barbican, Kneehigh and Punchdrunk, have been running workshops and retreats for imPOSSIBLE since May 2020.

Based in Cornwall, the company will support artists to create new work and get it made in front of audiences.

"We are challenging the rules about producing and articulating what creative producing might look like in the future," Bunker said.

"Our approach blurs the lines between production and artist development."

Vautier added: "We take time to talk with artists, working out what is possible and what might be blocking people from making their ideas a reality."

Dowden 'concerned' about 9/11 anniversary play

13 Sep 2021

A mock trial into the UK's role in Afghanistan has "concerned" the Culture Secretary and sparked an urgent investigation.

DCMS told The Jewish Chronicle that officals have been asked to "look into" the play at Camden People's Theatre.

People’s Tribunal on Crimes of Aggression: Afghanistan Sessions features Asim Qureshi and Moazzam Begg, directors of Muslim advocacy group Cage.

The men's previous public comments on 9/11 have caused some controversy and Secretary Dowden, upon becoming aware of the production, asked for an investigation.

Cross party MPs have condemned the yet-to-be-staged play as offensive.

Scottish theatre scraps 'risky' panto plans

13 Sep 2021

PACE Theatre Company will not produce a Christmas pantomime this year because it is too financially risky. 

The company's home of 30 years, Paisley Arts Centre, is experiencing delays to its £2.8m refurbishment and won't reopen in December as planned.

"Coupled with the ongoing impact of the pandemic and the uncertainty about any future restrictions, we feel the risks are too great to commit to staging a production this year."

READ MORE: Danger for small pantos as sales lag by £23m

It will not pursue an online panto either. Last year's production was only possible because of an emergency grant.

"Without this additional funding, the model is not sustainable," a statement from the company said.

PACE has produced the pantomime at Paisley Arts Centre since 1988.

The loss of the panto has left "a massive hole" in its funds and it is seeking donations.

Falkirk Council to vote on arts centre location

13 Sep 2021

Falkirk Council is set to vote on a site for its new arts centre and council headquarters.

The £45m arts centre, which has been given the go-ahead despite rising costs, will include a theatre, library and studio spaces alongside the council offices.

But the council is yet to agree on where it will be built. Council officers and the SNP want the arts centre and offices to be built together, whereas Labour have suggested splitting the projects across two sites.

Falkirk Business Improvement District Manager Elaine Grant says it is "critical" both the headquarters and arts centre are in built in the heart of the town.

"It will have a significant impact not just on local business but [also] through further investment."

The council will reconvene on September 24 to discuss further.

Scotland says yes to vaccine passports, U-turns on mask rule

10 Sep 2021

The Scottish Parliament has voted to make vaccine passports mandatory at nightclubs, concerts and other large events.

The nation's model is expected to provide the blueprint for an English certification system.

Negative testing will not be accepted in lieu of a vaccine passport, prompting criticism from some Scottish politicians and health officials who say the passport alone won't prove whether people are passing the virus on, but will adversely affect businesses.

However, Scotland has removed a rule that performers within one metre of each other must wear face masks or use protective screens.

First reported in ArtsProfessional, the restriction provoked alarm among theatres and Creative Scotland.

The Scottish Government changed the rule "in response to concerns about the performing arts sector’s ability to resume work".

New guidance says the exemption will only apply when there is a partition or distance of at least one metre between performers and the audience.

"Because of the continuing risk of transmitting the virus indoors, these exemptions from wearing face coverings without one-metre distancing or partitioning should be the exception rather than the norm."

Sensory and inclusive theatre

outdoor theatre production
07 Sep 2021

All cultural organisations are concerned with making their work more accessible. A new report by Maria Varvarigou on sensory and inclusive theatre for disabled children and young people provides a model for doing just that.

Partnership to rebuild a 'sense of workplace community'

07 Sep 2021

National Theatre has announced a new partnership to explore "the benefits of collaboration and creativity in working life".

The organisation will run a year-long programme of free creative workshops at three of British Land's residential-come-retail campuses: Paddington Central, Regent's Place and Broadgate, also the site of a new workspace for creative freelancers.

More than 40,000 people will have access to events to develop their movement, posture, speech and language and a series of thought leadership panel discussions on representation, inclusion and marrying corporate and cultural spaces post-pandemic.

British Land Head of Campuses David Lockyear said: "Partnerships such as this highlight that the return to the office is about more than just work; it represents our belief that London’s diverse and thriving culture should be part of that experience."


Crewe Lyceum celebrates 110 years

06 Sep 2021

Crewe Lyceum has reopened as it celebrates its 110th birthday.

It enjoyed a busy reopening last weekend, welcoming visitors for the first time in 17 months: "It reflects just how much the theatre is valued in the hearts of the local community."

A 12-month programme of projects and events will commemorate the theatre's heritage, beginning with five new shows this season.

Director Adam Knight said he grew up watching performances at the Lyceum and is proud to continue that legacy.

"Our re-opening and 110th birthday are the perfect opportunity to celebrate the stories and successes that place our theatre at the very heart of our community."

Danger for smaller pantos as sales lag by £23m

02 Sep 2021

A decline in group bookings - mostly from schools - is driving a loss in income that is expected to hit smaller producers hardest.

Trafalgar Entertainment extends its empire

01 Sep 2021

Trafalgar Entertainment has acquired Helen O'Grady Drama Academy, extending its empire further into children's drama.

Trafalgar will run the business alongside Stagecoach Performing Arts, which it already owns. The UK's largest network of performance schools for children has 350 franchises in eight countries.

Helen O'Grady has branches in 16 countries and provides extra-curricular tuition to some 100,000 students each week.

Trafalgar's Joint CEO Rosemary Squire said it hopes to add more franchises to the brand.

"Sadly, arts education funding is being squeezed from the national curriculum, so it is vitally important that a drama provision like this is made available to everyone."


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