In defence of trigger warnings

Sign saying: Trigger Warning - Explicit Content
12 Feb 2024

The colossal efforts to advance and champion diversity and accessibility in the sector are undermined by negative press criticising the use trigger warnings before shows. But, as Fiona Moon argues, they should be viewed no differently from accessible seats or toilets. 

Education in need of a radical rethink 

First Encounters with Shakespeare production photograph
15 Sep 2022

Industry complains of a chronic skills shortage in areas such as communication and creativity. Yet our education system places little value on subjects that hone those skills, says Jacqui O'Hanlon.

Training the next generation: filming performance bootcamp

31 Aug 2022

Natalie Woolman explains how a bootcamp to develop a talent pipeline for the multicamera teams of the future will address a serious gap in skills training.

Theatre launches £4 tickets for low income households

12 Apr 2024

Bolton Octagon has announced that it will offer £4 tickets to local residents on Universal Credit, Pension Credit or living in low-income households who want to attend the theatre.

Launching this month, the scheme will see 1,000 tickets each year made available at £4, in addition to the venue's existing offer of £15 tickets on 10% of seats for Octagon shows.

“Our audiences tell us what fantastic value for money the Octagon is, but we know that for some people, the price can still be a barrier and especially during the cost-of-living crisis,” said Octagon Chief Executive Roddy Gauld.

“With this new scheme, fantastic seats will be available for just £4. We want as many people as possible to enjoy the magic of live theatre, and this is just one of the many ways we’re working to enrich our communities with fun, creativity and excitement.”

Community volunteers take over theatre

08 Apr 2024

A group of 250 community volunteers has taken over a Worcestershire theatre after its operator collapsed in 2020.

In the intervening years, the Artrix in Bromsgrove became a Covid vaccination centre and then the temporary home of the Solihull Core Theatre. However, it is now run by Bromsgrove Community Arts Group, a charitable incorporated organisation created specifically to manage the theatre.

After Solihull Core Theatre did not renew its lease on the Artrix, the community group sought a short-term lease of the venue to gauge a community-led model’s viability.

Chairman of Bromsgrove Community Arts and Worcestershire County Council Kyle Daisley told the BBC: "It's all about providing a place for the community and providing opportunities for members of the community.”

"Some volunteers are so thankful we've given them a chance and a purpose in life - that's absolutely what we're all about.

"It's not just a theatre; it's a community hub for everybody. It makes the stress and the sleepless nights all worthwhile."

Irish arts councils award €400k for theatre in the Irish language

04 Apr 2024

The Irish Arts Council and Arts Council Northern Ireland have announced a one-off €400,000 (£342,500) award for “an exceptional theatre production” in the Irish language, the single largest grant from either funding body. 

The successful applicant will work closely with an evaluator which will assess the scheme's outcomes to "refine the approach in the long term". 

Applications will open on 7 May and close on 6 June 2024. The award will run for at least three years and applications will be invited again in 2025 and 2026.

Roisín McDonough, Chief Executive of Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said the "ground-breaking initiative" demonstrated the two councils' commitment to "supporting artistic endeavours that transcend borders, uniting communities through the universal language of the arts".

Maureen Kennelly, Director of the Irish Arts Council, added: "This initiative underscores our firm commitment to nurturing artistic expression in the Irish language, fostering creativity and providing rich cultural experiences for all.”

Theatres Trust awards £57k to ‘theatres at risk’

04 Apr 2024

Theatres Trust has announced the second round of grant recipients for its Resilient Theatres: Resilient Communities programme. 

The grants, funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Pilgrim Trust and the Swire Charitable Trust, can be used to help restore, reopen or revitalise venues on the Theatres at Risk Register, published by Theatres Trust.

Seven venues will share the £57,850 fund, including Amulet Theatre in Shepton Mallet, The Groundlings Theatre Trust in Portsmouth, Hulme Hippodrome, Leith Theatre, Netherton Arts Centre in Dudley, Ramsbottom Co-op Hall and Spilsby Sessions House.

Recipients of this round have pledged to put the money toward fundraising and business planning strategies, community engagement and outreach, conditions surveys and an oral history project.

Raft of universities propose cuts to arts subjects

University of Kent
27 Mar 2024

Seven UK universities have announced job cuts affecting arts courses in recent weeks with performing arts courses particularly at risk.

Theatre workshop warns of skills shortages

21 Mar 2024

TR2, the workshop base for Theatre Royal Plymouth, is struggling to find staff to construct sets because of a skills shortage.

The Head of TR2 Brendan Cusack told the BBC that the Covid pandemic had taken its toll, with people with the right skills moving to other jobs post-lockdown such as in film, TV or the building trade.

"When lockdown happened a lot of people went over to other areas," he said. "Film and TV in this country now is absolutely massive. A lot of people went across to those areas and transferred into the building trade too.

"Finding the right level skill in carpentry and steel fabrication, even before starting to think about scenic art and prop making, is now quite tricky."

The Watermill: Life outside the National Portfolio

Watermill theatre
18 Mar 2024

A year after losing ACE funding, Berkshire's Watermill Theatre has had some sweet successes. Executive Director and Joint Chief Executive Claire Murray charts the downs and ups of a rollercoaster year. 

Protesters occupy Barbican

Protesters inside the Barbican Centre
18 Mar 2024

'Guerilla' festival of Palestinian art and culture staged by protesters inside London's Barbican Centre.

University and theatre partner on skills initiative 

18 Mar 2024

Staffordshire University has teamed up with the Gatehouse Theatre in Stafford to give students a chance to get involved in productions on and off stage.

The BBC reports that under the scheme, drama students will be guaranteed an audition for the theatre's annual Shakespeare production.

In addition, students on other creative industry courses will be encouraged to try out backstage and technical roles.

Deborah Sanderson, Head of Strategic Marketing at Staffordshire University, said the scheme has the potential to "open doors" for students and graduates to get experience of the backstage environment and meet the people behind productions.

Another theatre to stage 'Black Out' nights

Exterior of Seven Dials Playhouse
11 Mar 2024

News that another theatre will stage performances  exclusively for Black, Indigenous and People of Color-identifying audience members follows criticism of the concept by Downing Street last month.

Theatre closes over ceiling concerns

11 Mar 2024

A theatre in Hartlepool has been temporarily closed after problems were discovered with its plaster ceiling.

The BBC reports that issues were found at Hartlepool Town Hall Theatre following an assessment of the ceilings last week.

Mike Young, leader of Hartlepool Borough Council, said: "Initial assessments undertaken by specialists took place over the last week or so and have assessed the current condition [of the plaster ceiling].

"As a result of this a number of issues found now require more detailed investigations.

"A temporary closure is our only option at the current time."

Vegan theatre to open in Kent

11 Mar 2024

A theatre that will only allow vegan food to be consumed on site is to open in Canterbury.

Kent Online reports that the performing arts building of a former Steiner school in the city has been transformed into the Garlinge Theatre which will welcome the public to its first production next month.

The school closed suddenly last year after Ofsted inspectors highlighted a range of failings.

Anything eaten or consumed in the 300-capacity venue must be vegan, a rule that applies to anyone renting the site, organisers have said.

“We need to reduce cruelty and industrial agriculture," Terry Thompson, a member of the collective running the venue said.

“What we should be moving towards is an organic and non-cruel system that would free up land for food production.

“I felt the entertainment industry, especially in a theatre, was not offering enough of that and getting on people’s radar.

“We are not going to have it on every production promotion, but it will be underlying so people can ask questions.”

Six theatres share £510,000 of eco-project funds

Storyhouse, Chester
06 Mar 2024

Funds to improve environmental sustainability have been awarded as part of the Theatre Improvement Scheme.

Blackburn in line for £20m revamp

05 Mar 2024

King George's Hall in Blackburn will undergo an £8m renovation, it has been announced.

The Lancashire Telegraph reports that the money will come from a Levelling-Up grant of £20m to Blackburn with Darwen Council from the government, with the work concentrating on the interior of the building.

The remainder of the new money will go on refurbishment of nearby Tony’s Ballroom, the redevelopment of Blackburn's historic town centre The Exchange building, and transforming the Imperial Mill for employment and cultural use .

Blackburn with Darwen Council Leader Phil Riley said: "The announcement comes after months of hard work between council and government officials, who have together developed a strong investment package to support town centre growth priorities.

"At the heart of the bid is an impressive £8m to renovate the ever-popular King George’s Hall - a key element of Blackburn’s new £50m Cultural Quarter.

"There’ll also be new investment for the likes of Tony’s Ballroom, The Exchange and Imperial Mill.

"I am delighted with the money for King George's Hall which is an vital part of the cultural, artistic and leisure life of the borough and wider area."

Midlands theatre with RAAC could reopen next year

05 Mar 2024

A theatre in Solihull which closed last September after the discovery of dangerous concrete in its roof could reopen in 2025, it has been suggested.

Solihull Council said that a survey of the roof of The Core Theatre had made "positive findings", suggesting that areas of vulnerable reinforced autoclaved concrete (RAAC) could be repaired by next year.

The local authority said it will give a more exact opening date soon after a final technical report is delivered.

While the main auditorium remains closed, the council has developed an "alternative programme of cultural activity" backed by  £307,000 of funding from the West Midlands Combined Authority.


Council extends rent-free period for Battersea Arts Centre

04 Mar 2024

Wandsworth Council has agreed to extend Battersea Arts Centre’s (BAC) rent-free period until 2035 saving it in the region of £270,000.

Operating since 1974, BAC is a charity based in Battersea's Old Town Hall. The venue is a key partner in Wandsworth’s bid to be named London Borough of Culture 2025. 

BAC’s Artistic Director and Chief Executive Officer Tarek Iskander said: “At a time when so many councils are cutting back on arts and culture funding, we’re exceptionally lucky to have such brilliant support from Wandsworth Borough Council. 

“2024 is an incredibly special year as we celebrate our 50th anniversary as an arts centre. BAC has always been part of a thriving arts community in Wandsworth, and that is in no small part due to the vital support we receive from the council, who continue to reaffirm their belief in the importance of arts and culture to public life.”

Council Deputy Leader and lead spokesperson on arts and culture Kemi Akinola added that she was delighted the council would “continue to offer such tangible and effective support” to BAC.

“BAC is not just Wandsworth’s but one of the UK’s leading cultural organisations, playing a vital role on the local, regional and national stage. 

“Not only does it bring significant footfall to the borough, over a third of their audiences have always been very local, appreciating the ground-breaking and unique work it provides on their doorsteps. 

“Most of their shows are offered as pay what you can, and with almost universal relaxed performances, making them more accessible to local underserved communities than any other London theatre.”

Downing Street labels Black Out theatre performances 'wrong'

Exterior of the Noel Coward Theatre in London's West End
29 Feb 2024

Spokesperson for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak says concept of restricting audiences based on race is ‘concerning and divisive’.


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