Theatre company announces venue closure

The exterior of Nonsuch Studios in Nottingham
02 Oct 2023

Artistic Director of Nottingham's Nonsuch Studios warns that costs faced by smaller venues cannot be sustained "without some level of core support or public subsidy".

My Gurus: Working with intuition

Headshot of Jake Smith
28 Sep 2023

Jake Smith is the incoming Artistic Director and CEO of Eastern Angles, the touring company that has been blazing a trail across East Anglia for nearly 40 years. Here he pays tribute to the people who gave him opportunities as a young man.

Labour commits to resolving visa issues for performers

Image of Lucy Powell and Anas Sarwar
10 Aug 2023

Shadow Culture Secretary says government “could have done a lot more” to support internationally touring performers and commits Labour to not resting “until we’ve got a solution”.

Lifeline for touring artists as US suspends visa price hike

Stock photo of cheering audience at rock music concert. Audience are in front of bright stage lights and smoke.
26 Jul 2023

Music industry bodies react to the decision to delay a rise in visa costs for touring artists with cautious optimism, but warn the reprieve may be temporary.

International matchmaking

Artists and delegates networking. Image depicts three people stood together at a work event laughing.
17 Jul 2023

With a showcase of performance work headed for the Edinburgh festivals next month, Horizon’s Hannah Slimmon shares how matchmaking helps catalyse international working.

Creative Scotland reopens fund for theatre and dance touring

27 Jun 2023

New funding is available for Scotland-based artists, producers and venues planning to tour live theatre and dance work in 2024.

Creative Scotland’s Touring Fund for Theatre and Dance, supported by the National Lottery, has opened its seventh application round, which will remain active until September.

The fund has disbursed over £8m since its inception in 2018, funding new and restaged productions spanning modern adaptations of classic works, new autobiographical pieces, physical theatre, circus, street dance and spoken word performances.

This round has an overall budget of £2m and there are no upper or lower limits on the amount applicants can apply for. Work of all scales, presented indoors, outdoors or as site-specific pieces, is eligible for funding.

“Building on previous rounds, we expect applications from a broad range of artists ready to take the brightest and boldest of ideas and stories out on the road,” said Laura Mackenzie Stuart, Head of Theatre at Creative Scotland.  

“We anticipate being able to support a mix of new and familiar names who will share their magic with first time and seasoned audiences in a whole host of settings.”

Arena operator pledges support to grassroots music venues

The band Enter Shikari performing on stage
22 Jun 2023

ASM Global to support grassroots music venues with donations, training and marketing support.

MVT Chief asks Coldplay for funding commitment

Coldplay performing in 2021
13 Jun 2023

Music Venue Trust head says £1 from each of the band’s tickets to arena and stadium concerts could help safeguard the future of grassroots music venues.

Equity secures trial of five-day rehearsal week

15 May 2023

A new five-day rehearsal week is to be trialled across the subsidised and commercial theatre sector as part of new agreements secured by performers' union Equity.

A working party has been established between Society of London Theatres (SOLT)/UK Theatre and Equity to develop plans.

The trial will begin across six organisations in the subsidised sector: Northern Stage in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Curve Theatre in Leicester, Hull Truck Theatre, Sheffield Theatres, Chichester Festival Theatre and the New Vic in Newcastle-under-Lyme.

The initial trial will finish by Christmas 2023, with Equity hoping to roll it out more widely afterwards.

Equity Industrial Official Charlotte Bence said the trial "will incorporate lots of different types of production – including children’s shows and pantomimes – so we can unpick what that way of working will look like across different scales of shows".

The five-day week is part of a raft of new agreements on pay and conditions brokered by Equity, that also includes the sector's first code of conduct for digs.

The quality of accommodation has become a big issue for theatre workers, with Equity members regularly reporting unsafe accommodation.

Equity general secretary Paul W Fleming said the negotiations had also delivered "strong percentage increases in minimum rates of pay, the payment of touring and subsistence allowance four weeks in advance, and good increases to swing and understudy payments".

Funding secured for exhibition touring network

12 May 2023

An exhibition touring network will be established to develop and tour exhibitions across a dozen sites in England after securing funding from Arts Council England (ACE) and Art Fund.

The Museums and Galleries Network for Exhibition Touring (MAGNET) brings together 12 partners across England, plus the Touring Exhibitions Group (TEG), to co-develop new exhibitions which will tour between partner venues.

It has been awarded a £336,000 Touring Projects grant from ACE to enable it to develop and tour three new exhibitions, opening in 2025. 

Meanwhile, £75,000 from Art Fund will help fund a three-year full-time MAGNET Coordinator post, to ensure smooth running of the network. 

The new network aims to allow exhibitions to be seen by many more people, as well as addressing the unsustainability of "single use" exhibitions. The three-year funding deal will also see MAGNET develop a sustainable business model to allow future touring to other partner venues and the creation of further exhibitions.

Nick Merriman, Chief Executive of the Horniman Museum and Gardens and MAGNET lead, said: "There is now real momentum and a nationwide movement to support touring exhibitions. 

"We know that, by pooling our resources, we can offer high-quality, co-curated exhibitions that make the collections of the whole network accessible to the public in a meaningful way. 

"Thanks to Arts Council England and Art Fund we can now continue MAGNET’s reach beyond the walls and vaults of any one museum and into local communities around the country."

Evidence call as price hike to US touring visas proposed

28 Feb 2023

The Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) and Music Managers Forum (MMF) are asking music industry professionals to submit evidence in response to proposed increases to touring visa costs in the United States.

Earlier this month, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced its intention to raise the price of touring visas for foreign artists by more than 250%.

Under the proposals, processing costs for short-term P visas would increase from $460 to $1,615 and processing for longer-term O visas would increase from $460 to $1,655.

Musicians and sector leaders have said the increases, which the DHS says is due to high demand and insufficient staff in its citizenship and immigration department, would make touring in the United States impossible for many.

In response, FAC and MMF have reignited their #LetTheMusicMove campaign and have published a survey asking artists, producers, songwriters and managers to provide feedback on how the proposals would affect UK-based musicians.

The two bodies say they will use the data to inform its collective response, adding they will then urge the UK government to lobby the DHS.

The DHS is accepting feedback from US citizens on its proposals until 6 March, before it considers any adjustments to the proposals.

Musicians’ Union backs artist merchandise campaign

16 Feb 2023

A campaign to ensure artists get 100% of merchandise income at gigs has received the backing of the Musicians’ Union.

Featured Artists Coalition’s 100% Venues initiative is encouraging venues not to take any commission fees from the sale of band t-shirts and other merchandise.

This revenue has become increasingly important for artists, as the costs of touring continue to rise.

The 100% Venues initiative is developing a directory of venues that pledge not to take any commission on sales.

Musicians’ Union National Organiser Kelly Wood said the growing number of venues that have signed up to the initiative “sends a very strong and positive message to artists”.

She added: “We hope that this leads to more pressure for other venues to improve their terms and get behind the campaign.”   

FAC CEO David Martin said that many performers “are facing an almost impossible task to keep the show on the road”.

“That is why the issue of merchandise commission has become so pronounced and why we will continue to fight for a fairer settlement for artists.” 

Bectu recommends new rates for touring theatre professionals 

26 Jan 2023

Bectu has published new pay guidance for professionals working on UK touring theatre productions.

The union guidance outlines new recommended rates agreed in consultation with its theatre touring branch. It follows the launch of Bectu's Guide to good practices on touring productions, published last October.

The rates apply to professionals working in all posts and grades – excluding those recognised by Equity or the Musicians’ Union – covering roles in lighting, sound, wardrobe, wigs, props, puppetry, chaperones, automaton and stage. 

Many of the union’s members have their minimum rates determined by Bectu’s agreements with the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre, but staff on touring productions have increasingly been employed on buyout contracts, which don’t offer additional payments for overtime and Sunday shifts.

In the absence of agreed minimum rates with UK Theatre or other employers, the new guidance is designed to provide confidence and clarity to Bectu members negotiating rates for touring productions.

Employers do not have to pay the recommended rates, but Bectu is encouraging members to use them as a basis for negotiation.

“It’s no secret that low pay is one of the core issues driving the chronic skills shortage in the UK theatre sector. We cannot expect people to remain for ‘the love of the job’ when there are better pay and conditions elsewhere,” said Helen Ryan, Assistant National Secretary of Bectu.

“Our members working in touring theatre are highly skilled professionals and it is right that they are compensated fairly for their time and talents.”

The new rates do not apply to work done in the Commercial West End theatre sector, where Equity is currently supporting performers and stage managers demanding a 17% pay rise.

Glyndebourne cancels opera tour following ACE cut

06 Jan 2023

East Sussex opera house cancels scheduled 2023 tour saying cuts to annual funding it receives from Arts Council England have rendered it 'financially unsustainable'.

ACE National Portfolio 2023-26: Transfer Programme explained

12 Oct 2022

What's the plan for London-based arts organisations earmarked for relocation once Arts Council England announces its next National Portfolio later this month?

Dance's unique place in the arts touring ecology

Dance consortium
21 Sep 2022

Dance Consortium has just embarked on its 50th tour. Its Chief Executive Joe Bates shares how the universal language of dance engages international audiences.

Creative Scotland reopens touring fund

31 Aug 2022

Creative Scotland’s Touring Fund for Theatre and Dance has opened for a seventh round, inviting applications from companies, producers and venues touring from September 2023 onwards.

The £1m fund supported by the National Lottery is open for applications until the end of October this year.

Works of all sizes are eligible to apply for funding but to offset gaps in provision from previous rounds of funding, priority will be given to works that will tour to mid-scale venues with an audience capacity of 150 to 350 and/or large-scale venues with a capacity of over 350. 

“This funding will provide vital employment opportunities for artists, producers, companies, venues and all the talented people who work hard behind the scenes to make the theatre a magical experience for audiences, after what has been an incredibly challenging and disrupted period,” said Laura Mackenzie Stuart, Head of Theatre at Creative Scotland.

The fund will support artists and producers to tour “innovative, quality work” and “encourage more audiences to re-engage with their local venues”, she added. 

“Supporting work through this fund allows more artists to share their work and gives audiences greater choice."

Accommodation costs pose 'major threat' to the Fringe

30 Aug 2022

Eight of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe’s biggest producing venues have issued a collective statement decrying soaring accommodation costs as the biggest risk to the festival’s future.

Assembly, Dance Base, Gilded Balloon, Just the Tonic, Pleasance, Summerhall, Underbelly and ZOO – the venues behind – collectively sold 1,965,961 tickets in 2019, the last edition of the festival before the pandemic. This year’s combined sales are forecast to reach fewer than than 1,500,00.

“The forecast number of tickets we’ve collectively sold is down 25% compared to 2019, which is a major threat for everyone involved in the festival”, a spokesperson for said.

The ticket sales were achieved “despite the very real continuing challenges to our industry, including the cost-of-living crisis, the lingering effects of coronavirus, the cost and uncertainty of international travel, the recent train strikes and more,” the spokesperson continued. 

“Chief among these, however, is the soaring cost of accommodation in Edinburgh in August – audiences and artists alike are being priced out of town, out of experiences.”

The spokesperson said that the lack of safe, affordable housing is a year-round problem that affects the artists, staff and audiences who live in Edinburgh, as well as visitors to the city. 

It is “imperative that local and national government, landlords, the universities, Fringe venues and the Fringe Society all come together to find a lasting solution for this issue, or the future of the Fringe is in very real danger”, the spokesperson added, anticipating that restoring the event to normality may take several years and require public support.

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society released figures showing that Edinburgh residents accounted for 39% of all ticket sales, up 4% from 2019. Overseas audience attendance also increased, accounting for 10% of all tickets, up 2% from 2019.

Organisers acknowledged that “audience patterns have changed, industrial action caused significant disruption to rail travel and refuse collection and affordable accommodation in Edinburgh was at crisis point”.

“This year’s festival is the first step in what will be a long road to recovery and renewal,” said Shona McCarthy, CEO of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society. 

“We recognise the significant amount of work that is still required to support the long-term sustainability of this phenomenal Festival… Collectively we will work to advocate for greater support for those at the heart of the Fringe – our artists.”  

Drop in British artists booked for European festivals 

15 Aug 2022

The number of UK musicians booked to play festivals in Europe has fallen, according to analysis by Best for Britain.

The campaign group calculated the average number of British bands playing three major European festivals - Benicassim in Spain, Sziget in Hungary, and Lollapalooza in Germany – between 2017 and 2019, and compared it to the number booked to play the same festivals in 2022.

The analysis found a decrease of 45%. While noting the small sample size, Best for Britain said the statistics remain “sobering” and enough to raise “concerns on the impact that Brexit might be having on the next generation of British musicians”.

The analysis follows calls from across the music industry for the UK government to do more to support UK musicians touring the EU post-Brexit.

Government urged to increase support for EU tours

image of two musicians performing
20 Jul 2022

A cross-party group of MPs and peers set out a roadmap for making EU touring simpler and more financially viable for musicians and crew.


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