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British Theatre Is Facing A Covid Tragedy

July 2021. UK Theatres are in limbo. By now, of course, you know the latest facts, because you live in them. 

In no particular order, over 62% of British adults are now fully vaccinated. And 84% have had one dose.

A new production of Jersey Boys is set to begin at the Trafalgar theatre next month

But the Indian or Delta variant (which is ultra-infectious, so infectious that one person may infect up to six others) has resulted in the UK having the highest infection rate in Europe. New research suggests ‘scarily fleeting’ contact could infect, and that places with high jab rates are susceptible.

Fortunately, we now have one of the lowest death rates because of the astounding vaccine programme. Indeed, now stadiums, shopping centres and theatres have joined the “grab a jab” campaign in England in a bid to boost vaccine uptake.

However, even by late August, only 39 per cent of under-40s are set to have been fully vaccinated, opening a generational divide and zero chance of foreign summer travel should vaccine passports become a thing. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock may have resigned but his successor Sajid Javid has his hands full with an NHS struggling to cope with a vast backlog of operations, treatment and surging cases.

Either way, according to the latest official figures, more arts, entertainment and recreation businesses were still suffering last month than in any other industry.

Felicity Kendall & Sutton Foster in Anything Goes rehearsals

But the show must go on, right? Major West End shows including Anything Goes and The Lion King have started rehearsals, with more set to follow; contracts have been signed, audiences have rebooked tickets (as many as four times) and the consequences of another delay beyond July 19 are unthinkable.

The pandemic has exposed the Tory government’s insulting attitude to theatre: a mixture of apathy and hostility. Despite generating billions pre-pandemic, London theatre owners and impresarios for example, claim regularly they are now “on the brink of ruin”.

Speaking to the Telegraph, Howard Panter – owner of the second-largest operator, Trafalgar Entertainment, said the situation in the West End was “intolerable”.

In the meantime, tempers (and sanity) are fraying; Andrew Lloyd Webber, Cameron Mackintosh and Sonia Friedman launched legal action to force government to publish Events Research Programme pilot results.

A masked usher awaits The Mousetrap audiences

A stretch of the imagination that might have dumbfounded me pre-pandemic, but Lloyd Webber certainly seemed to be speaking from the heart when he went on LBC recently: “Public Health England officials don’t have a clue about theatre and how they’re operated. We’ve somehow been made a sacrificial lamb.”

Alas, the long awaited report – which was released promptly after a Court order – said there were “no substantial outbreaks” identified by public health teams and their surveillance systems around any of the events.

Unfortunately, it also demonstrated that the testing regime of the Events Research Programme was pointless and incompetent, meaning it clear the government is repeating their own mistakes at a colossal cost to everyone else.

But weary theatres still need insurance to safeguard against the possibility of Covid-based cancellation, however the pandemic means that the private market will not provide it. This would help thousands of freelancers return to the industry and reassure producers, venues and artists alike.


The major issue for theatres from the West End to Liverpool Everyman is that rehearsals, preparation and planning take months not weeks and often costs thousands and thousands of pounds, and the current question marks hanging around hospitality and entertainment venues are making such work impossible or loss-making. Regional theatres dependent on income from tours will lose the very shows that might help them survive.

Temperature checks outside a west end theatre

Of course, Slytherin Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden would refer to the generous £1.5bn culture recovery fund, even if the rescue funds left the actual freelance workforce – musicians, photographers, actors, artists, dancers, choreographers, designers out in the cold. In fact hundreds of cultural organisations have still not received promised funds leaving some worse off than when they applied.  

The delaying of Step Four of the road map is a final straw for many: confidence in reopening has been shattered, despite the vast sums invested in venues to restrict Covid transmission. The creative sector must now be allowed to cautiously trade their way – at full capacity – out of difficulties and contribute to our national recovery.

It is completely stupefying that we have spent 66 weeks being told to “take responsibility” and “use common sense” by a government religiously incapable of either.

Anyway, July 19 is yet another ‘not before date’ and this week came rumblings of future winter lockdowns amid warnings from scientists. So, don’t rule out another delay to the ‘cautious but irreversible’ easing of lockdown restrictions. In fact, don’t rule out restrictions being completely ditched before a murderous third wave, subsequent U-turn and more mutant strains.

Frankly I’m not sure we will ever reconcile the impact that Covid, Brexit and the ‘streaming economy’ are having on the sector in my lifetime.

Continuing to allow galleries, art centres, opera, communities, theatres and independent cinemas to wither away is an act of profound cultural vandalism.

A socially distanced audience at the London Palladium

Hell, if a whole generation of talent goes to the wall, no one wins, the whole country will be poorer for it.

Something’s got to change. Fast.

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Manchester International Festival 2021 programme announced

Manchester International Festival (MIF), returns from 1-18 July with a vibrant programme of original new work from across the spectrum of visual and performing arts and music by artists from over 20 countries.

The reasonably amazing lineup includes Angélique Kidjo, Akram Khan, Arlo Parks, Aaron and Bryce Dessner, Boris Charmatz, Cerys Matthews, Christine Sun Kim, Cillian Murphy, Deborah Warner, Forensic Architecture, Ibrahim Mahama, Kemang Wa Lehulere, Laure Prouvost, Marta Minujín, Lemn Sissay and Patti Smith

  • Events will take place safely in indoor and outdoor locations across Greater Manchester, including the first ever work on the construction site of The Factory, the landmark cultural space that will be MIF’s future home
  • A rich online offer will provide a window into the Festival wherever audiences are, including livestreams and work created especially for the digital realm
  • With almost all the work created in the past year, MIF21 provides a unique snapshot of these unprecedented times. Artists have reflected on ideas such as love and human connections, the way we play, division and togetherness, equality and social change, and the relationship between the urban and the rural
  • For the first time, the curation of the Festival’s talks and discussions programme has been handed over to local people, building on MIF’s work involving the community as artistic collaborators and participants in work shaped by them
  • Festival Square returns in new location Cathedral Gardens with a packed programme of food, drink and free live music, DJs and more
  • As one of the first major public events in the city, MIF21 will play a key role in the safe reopening of the city’s economy and provide employment for hundreds of freelancers and artists
  • Much of the programme will be free to attend, with more work than ever in public spaces around the city

People sitting outside in the sunshine at tables in MIF's pop-up Festival Square in Manchester

Headshot of John McGrath

John McGrath, the Artistic Director and Chief Executive of MIF.

Manchester International Festival Artistic Director & Chief Executive, John McGrath says: “MIF has always been a Festival like no other – with almost all the work being created especially for us in the months and years leading up to each Festival edition.  But who would have guessed two years ago what a changed world the artists making work for our 2021 Festival would be working in?”

“I am thrilled to be revealing the projects that we will be presenting from 1-18 July this year – a truly international programme of work made in the heat of the past year and a vibrant response to our times. Created with safety and wellbeing at the heart of everything, it is flexible to ever-changing circumstances, and boldly explores both real and digital space.

“We hope MIF21 will provide a time and place to reflect on our world now, to celebrate the differing ways we can be together, and to emphasise, despite all that has happened, the importance of our creative connections – locally and globally.”

Hop along to the MIF official website from from Thurs 20 May 2021 if you’re interested

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From staplers to potatoes – it’s monster producer Scott Rudin

To Kill a Mockingbird focuses on that gut instinct of right and wrong, it is a timeless classic.

By way of a recap, Broadway producer Scott Rudin is accused of assaulting employees in a devastating new Hollywood Reporter exposé.

One of the most harrowing accounts involved Rudin, 62, smashing an Apple computer monitor on an assistant’s hand. Yup.

Scott Rudin

Scott Rudin

Meanwhile, to the audible shock of those who work in theatre, Rudin is also accused of throwing a glass bowl at someone from his HR department. It missed and shattered against the wall. Thank goodness.

For context, Rudin’s theatre projects extend into Broadway reopening, with a revival of The Music Man starring Hugh Jackman.

Along with co-producers Sonia Friedman and Barry Diller, Rudin is due to bring To Kill a Mockingbird to the Gielgud Theatre in the West End in March 2022.

Admittedly, Rudin joins the long list of high profile industry figures who believe it is their right to abuse their power.

Some revelations to the story, though, have really bothered me.

Worse was to come: one of those who has spoken out is the brother of a former assistant to Rudin who tragically committed suicide. 

Just awful.

“Every day was exhausting and horrific,” a former assistant, who worked for Rudin from 2018–2019, recalled.

“Not even the way he abused me, but watching the way he abused the people around me who started to become my very close friends. You’re spending 14 hours a day with the same people, enduring the same abuse. It became this collective bond with these people.”

Bullying is a repeated pattern of abuse of power designed to dominate those perceived as inferior, as weaker. Side affects include depression, anxiety, panic attacks – it’s a major risk factor for mental health.

Also, a former assistant claims that Rudin “relished in the cruelty” and “hundreds and hundreds of people have suffered” from his behaviour.

Other details? He fired someone for having diabetes, threw potatoes at someone’s head and reportedly assaulted staff, sending colleagues to the hospital twice.

Needless to say, leading figures are betraying their status by not making a stronger stand against these shocking revelations.

Ultimately, this is not restricted or confined to Scott. This happens everywhere.

I have been through this kind of experience myself; as a child, I was assaulted, and it is one of the things that motivated me to speak out when things are not right. Unfortunately, my own career has never been short of abusers, monsters and egomaniacs.

As for the wider implications of this scandal for Broadway and beyond, it would be easy to get carried away. On the other hand, you certainly wouldn’t rule him out making some sort of return in due course.

In 2014, Page Six ran an article about Rudin: “The Man Known as Hollywood’s Biggest A-hole,”that alleged that Rudin had pushed assistants out of moving cars and fired assistants for bringing him the wrong muffin, mispronouncing names, and, at least in one instance, having to attend a funeral.

Unfortunately, Rudin is still today boosted by enablers who looked the other way or ignored these rumours, allowing accusations to remain an “open secret” for years.

In 2018, he was making history with Aaron Sorkin’s To Kill A Mocking Bird, which shattered an 118 year record by earning more than $1.5 million in one week.

For those wondering when things will die down, I spoke to a made-up theatre scientist who calculated that moment will come at the precise second that anti-Rudin coverage stops grossing more than Rudin productions in 2022.

To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird

Like Kevin Spacey before him, it will be hard to believe the frightful bollocks about those “not knowing” spouted by rich and powerful colleagues. 

The industry silence about this alleged physical abuse and personality faults of Rudin are unforgivable, yet easily explained. They depend on him for their income. 

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Good Friday? Culture Recovery Fund – Round 2

God, I miss theatre.

Today, more than 2,700 arts organisations have been supported in the latest tranche of Culture Recovery Fund money, totalling £400 million.

Indeed, in his Budget in March, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a further £300m for the fund, which is yet to be allocated.

The government said 70% of today’s funding was being distributed outside London.  The big plus point here was that more than 1,200 organisations received support from the emergency arts funding scheme for the first time.

The funding includes £81m in loans including £4.25m to Saddler’s Wells and £7.3m to The Lowry in Salford.

I hope you have been paying attention. Because the thing about this government is that it moved with the same speed and grace rescuing the cultural sector in 2020 as that container ship which got wedged in the Suez Canal.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said thousands of organisations had had help to “survive the biggest crisis they’ve ever faced.”

He added: “Now we’re staying by their side as they prepare to welcome the public back – helping our cultural gems plan for reopening and thrive in better times ahead.”

Of course, it is still sinister that the government is forcing arts venues across the country to publicly sing its praises once again.

Slytherin Oliver Dowden at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

Slytherin Oliver Dowden at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

I’m also obsessed with the fact that Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG) which runs more than 30 UK venues, will receive almost £1m. 

Bizarrely, a number of organisations owned by extremely wealthy individuals will receive taxpayer handouts.

And last month five cases of fraud were discovered among Culture Recovery Fund applications that led to a number of award offers being withdrawn, a report by the National Audit Office claimed; some applicants were awarded funding “significantly in excess” of their income the previous year.

Anyway, let us not forget that theatres played an important role in communities everywhere pre-2020. More than 34 million people attend theatres in the UK each year, generating £1.28 billion in ticket revenue.

And lo. Theatres are allowed to reopen on May 17  for socially distanced performances – this will be a hugely welcome first step.

All eyes are on June 21 as set out in the UK Government’s roadmap, later this summer for all restrictions being dropped.  Let’s see.

But there is still the small issue of ongoing mutations, vaccine passports and testing. This will be key to reopening all of society.

However…

The idea of forcing people to show vaccine passports to enter theatres and concerts is likely to be counterproductive and is literally not a good idea.

Dowden said on Andrew Marr recently that more pilots would begin from the middle of April to look at things like ventilation, one-way systems and tests on how the virus spreads at indoor and outdoors.

PILOTS?!

At best, then, the success of the vaccine rollout and the better weather in the summer months will be vital factors.

The big institutions may today be safe, but the talented freelance workforce who set the stage alight are largely self-employed and have been hung out to dry.

Thanks, Oliver. Thanks for everything.

Full list of performing arts organisations given CRF money in round two

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Stop Charging Students For Virtual Drama School Auditions

WELL that didn’t take long, did it? Twelve days, 20 hours and a couple of minutes into the New Year and I think we already have a strong contender for the most absurd theatre related thing of the month.

It is ten months since theatres across Britain closed their doors – and most are still completely dark. Last year, final-year drama school students were unable to graduate.

Back in the dystopian present, I was disappointed to learn on Twitter that nearly all of our drama schools are still charging £35.00 for a zoom audition or self-tape, and some are charging as much as £55 in total.

A pox on everyone involved.

This puts unnecessary financial strain on young people from working-class backgrounds. In the last decade – and during this pandemic in particular – young people have been let down or forgotten. While many students acknowledge their institutions efforts to continue delivering their education, others are angry they are not getting the vocational experience they were promised.

Writer Ben Weatherill touched on this class divide in his terrific blog highlighting how these audition fees are shutting those with low-incomes out of the profession.

Like so much else in this current crisis, all UK drama schools had to migrate auditions online overnight. Reinventing entire courses that relied on physical contact was a significant challenge. Drama schools including Mountview and Guilford School of Acting responded by creating online showcases.

This week, PPA Academy’s spring term, which had been due to start on 11 January, will now run from February 15 to May 7 for BA acting and musical theatre courses,  to give their students as much face-to-face learning as possible, which is great and the right thing to do.

Now, I am not disputing that Drama Schools still have to pay for buildings, for teachers, insurance and accreditation and more.  I am also very well aware that many offer fee waivers for those from low-socio economic backgrounds.

But listen, young people have suffered enough during the COVID-19 crisis – the deepest recession in 300 years – and we are all aware that pandemic-hit businesses are scaling back graduate recruitment, leading to fears of a lost generation.

Added to this pressure are the anti-immigration messages coming from the wider debates around Brexit; the government allegedly recently dismissed an exemption for performers because it had not wanted to offer reciprocal benefits for EU artists working in the UK. Well done everyone.

Will there be jobs for drama school graduates when they graduate? Maybe. This is the same answer before the pandemic. Some will enter the industry and others will pursue other careers.

There has been a huge rise in online theatre and we have seen that theatre doesn’t have to be confined to the kind of people who can afford to go to see shows in the West End.

Now, though, UK Drama Schools must help show the way that the industry must operate in the 21st century not just for the benefit of a few but the many.

Scrap these colossal and unnecessary audition fees, or at least radically lower the cost of auditioning immediately to ensure those poorer students have an equal chance of success.

If these institutions don’t, we risk losing the next generation of talented performers and technicians and all that they contribute to our society and sector.

In fact, if performing arts schools do get rid of these financial barriers during this third lockdown, they can build a better and fairer future as we all recover from this crisis.

Update: I have set up a ‘Drama School Covid Relief Fund’ Crowdfunder for those in the sector who are able to pay it forward to those who are in need.  Every donation will help. Cheers!

 

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Time to Act photographer Simon Annand: “This country’s main strength is culture.”

The cast of Hairspray, Shaftesbury Theatre, 2009

Theatre photographer Simon Annand has been capturing actors backstage for almost forty years. His latest book, Time to Act, is a collection of 234 portrait photographs, taken over the last 10 years, of some of the world’s greatest performers.

All the emotions from the theatre are captured within these pages and remind us what we have all been missing.

Annand’s point of view remains constant, his camera capturing the slightest shifts in mood and expression from dressing room to dressing room.

Speaking on Zoom from his home Annand tells me where the idea for Time To Act came from. “This book is out there to support artists and to encourage people to remember what it was like, and what we hope it will continue to be like again in the future,” he says.

Cate Blanchett, The Present, Ethel Barrymore theater, New York, 2017

He is chatty and philosophical company, some of these photos make up a virtual exhibition. This will be re-hung to show a changing selection of photographs from the collection together with a commentary on the images.

“I have three strands of my work, one is production photography, one is dressing room stuff and the other is headshots,” he says.

“The headshots are very different as they are a tool to give the actor to get the attention of casting directors, which reflect the allowance of key scenes and good scripts. So, they have to have the authority in their face to tell the story.”

With Time to Act, Annand explores the fascinating notion of vulnerability. An intimate and meditative, but never intrusive series of portraits of stars backstage.

“Each actor has their own unique way of spending time before curtain-up. It varies from inhabiting the character at all times, to the opposite, holding the fictional character back and releasing it at the last minute before entering the stage.”

A deceptively simple photobook that comprises of over 200 performers, Annand’s portraits have a sense of suspended time, as if the subtext of the subjects remain somehow elusive despite the deep fascination, he feels for them.

James Earl Jones, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Novello Theatre, 2010

“I’m not trying to catch them out. A photographer only finds what he or she is looking for,” Annand explains.

One close-up snap in Time to Act sees James Earl Jones before taking to the stage in the 2010 revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the Novello Theatre.

“I walked into that dressing room and that is what he was doing. He has size 16 feet, so when I came through the door, all I saw was those feet and he was flat out with a big fat cigar between his teeth and he said to me, “Whatever you do, don’t tell my doctor.”

In another close-up picture, David Suchet checks the mirror as he prepares to mesmerise audiences as Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest at the Vaudeville Theatre in 2015.

“You know, it was a bold and brave choice for David to go from Poirot to Lady Bracknell,” he says, smiling.

David Suchet, The Importance of Being Earnest, Vaudeville Theatre, 2015

“That role was completely on his level. The photo really conveys him in his own terms; it is his agenda – I waited until he had his makeup and costume almost complete but he’s still in the dressing room so there’s still this unique element of him being David Suchet.”

“I suppose I am looking for the relationship that performers have with themselves, and their fictional characters,” Annand says.

Theatres from Shetland to the West End closed in March to slow the spread of Covid-19 with no date set for when venues can fully reopen as England continues to endure a second national lockdown.

“This country’s main strength is culture,” he says, exasperated.

Simon Annand, (credit: Snežana Popović)

“The problem is that the government is not sufficiently helping the thousands and thousands of freelance workers that our precious creative culture depends on,” says Annand, who is making a donation from the sale of every book in the UK to The Theatre Artists Fund.

What does he feel makes a great photograph? “It goes back to being strong and open – what I’m trying to avoid is fancy lenses or a fancy composition. A good photograph allows the viewer to hang their own story onto it.”

Time to Act is out now and the Time to Act: a virtual exhibition will run until Christmas. 

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Theatre will bounce back – hope can take us a long way

Emilia

I am in shock as to what has happened to my industry and wondering what the future holds.

This week, Entertainment venues in England were forced to close again, as the UK moved back into tougher national measures to stop the spread of Covid-19. Dozens of theatres have abandoned plans to reopen and venues are now closed till at least December 2.

We are currently at Level 2 on the government’s road map to reopening live performance venues. Thankfully, performers and performances are permitted to rehearse, record and film “behind closed doors” but not play to a live audience.

A spokesperson for DCMS said that the government is “committed to getting the curtain up at venues across the country as soon as it is safe to do so.

I read all this with sinking despair.

There has, though, been a wealth of innovation exploring the potential of online streaming. Productions with the budget and capability have proven that streaming can provide a cash boost as well as reach wider audiences.

Money can be made out of streaming ambitious new and archive productions: The Old Vic plans to live-stream A Christmas Carol from the theatre’s empty auditorium. A recording of Morgan Lloyd Malcom’s Emilia is available to stream from next week on a pay-what-you-decide basis, which is terrific.

Theatres have had the £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund. The majority of this summer was spent Covid-proofing premises and welcoming back audiences safely with invention.

For the first time, we have had to draw on energy that we never knew we had, if we had given up at any hurdles then nothing would have happened. But, not even the scientists or the government know how things will pan out – theatres need a reopening date.

#WeMakeEvents demo at Parliament Square

#WeMakeEvents demo at Parliament Square

The government has been urged to do more to support performers and other arts freelancers; many are still excluded. The National Audit Office reported last month that up to 2.9 million people had fallen through the cracks of furlough and SEISS schemes.

This week, Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed further extensions of the furlough and self-employed support schemes. But this followed thousands of unnecessary redundancies in the arts. The government’s handling of this pandemic has revealed how woefully incompetent they are.

There has been no real time for reflection throughout the devastation of both lockdowns, the rules of theatre have been rewritten on a daily basis. Unfortunately, we can’t set our calendars to a vaccine or testing.

We must be patient, and find ways to stay sane and creative.

Now, the time has come to stop living on past glories, theatres have been around before us and they will be there long after we are gone. The pandemic has given us all the short sharp shock we perhaps needed to develop a proper perspective on life.

So, how long is this going to go on for?  And more to the point, where are we headed?

Crave

Personal highlights for me have been Nottingham Playhouse’s wonderful Unlocked season, Crave streaming from Chichester Festival Theatre (I know!)

In Leeds, Slung Low continue to deliver their invaluable Cultural Community College and food bank service.

Special mention must also go to Sonia Friedman, who reunited a Covid-dispersed Uncle Vanya cast for cinemas.

Many, many people are continuing to create brilliant work and have revealed a readiness to respond to these troubling times.

As we head into a long and uncertain winter, now might be the time to rethink how to share out dwindling resources to benefit all. Building greater resilience, capacity and sustainability is key.

2020 has been the most dramatic, life-changing and traumatic years in modern history.

Personally, I have never been more exhausted.

As I write, it is early November. Joe Biden has won the US presidency by clinching Pennsylvania after days of painstaking vote counting.

We can have an understanding of yesterday, a plan for today and we can have hope for forever, and that’s it.

Hope can take us a long way.

 

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Shakespeare’s Globe, Royal Exchange in Manchester, the Lady Boys of Bangkok are among the latest recipients of emergency government arts funding.

The Royal Exchange theatre in Manchester, The Mayflower in Southampton and Fabric nightclub in London are among the cultural institutions to receive at least £1m in the latest round of grants from the government’s £1.57bn cultural recovery fund.

In total, £75m will be given to 35 organisations, including theatres, museums, music venues and dance companies, among them Rambert (£1.28m), Sadler’s Wells (£2.9m) and the English National Ballet (£3m).

The arts sector has suffered significantly due to COVID-19 restrictions, with many venues closed and many creatives unable to work.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said the “vital funding” would secure the recipients’ futures and “protect jobs right away”.

“These places and organisations are irreplaceable parts of our heritage and what make us the cultural superpower we are,” he said.

The culture secretary visited the Design Museum, another recipient, earlier this week

The government said the grants were being awarded “to places that define culture in all corners of the country”.

Grant recipients in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be announced separately by their devolved administrations.

More than £500m has now been allocated from the Culture Recovery Fund to almost 2,500 cultural organisations and venues.

But the £1.57bn emergency arts fund has come too late to save hundreds of talented people from losing their jobs.

Full list of performing arts organisations 

Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre Trust – £3,000,000
English National Ballet – £3,000,000
Newcastle Theatre Royal Trust – £3,000,000
Norwich Theatre – £3,000,000
The Mayflower Theatre Trust – £3,000,000
The Old Vic Theatre Trust – £3,000,000
Shakespeare’s Globe – £2,985,707
Sadler’s Wells – £2,975,000
The ACC Liverpool Group Limited – £2,972,659
Royal Exchange Theatre Company Ltd – £2,854,444
Performances Birmingham Limited – £2,534,675
BH Live – £2,499,531
Leeds Theatre Trust Limited (Playhouse) – £2,381,547
Sheffield Theatres Trust Ltd – £2,246,000
Northampton Theatres Trust (Royal and Derngate) – £2,112,891
Theatre Royal (Plymouth) Ltd – £1,896,000
North Music Trust (Sage Gateshead) – £1,800,000
Adlib Audio Limited – £1,650,356
Hull City Council – £1,615,725
Leeds Grand Theatre and Opera House Ltd – £1,545,163
Bill Kenwright Limited – £1,526,028
Fabric Life Ltd – £1,514,262
Birmingham Repertory Theatre – £1,380,023
Rambert – £1,283,835
Wolverhampton Grand Theatre 1982 Ltd – £1,187,530
Exchange Events Ltd (Gandey Productions) – £1,092,503
Lights Control Rigging Productions Ltd – £1,076,179
The Octagon Theatre Trust – £620,232

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More than 1,000 arts organisations thrown lifeline as Culture Recovery Funds confirmed

Park Theatre, Bristol Old Vic, the Young Vic, The Dukes Theatre in Lancaster and Hope Mill in Manchester are among venues that will be awarded a share of £257 million, in the first allocation of money from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund.

Park Theatre’s Artistic Director Jez Bond said, “
We are delighted and relieved to receive the Cultural Recovery Grant of £250,000 from the government. The very essence of theatre is gathering people together in the same room for a live, shared experience – and the economics of venues at our scale, mean that it’s not financially viable to produce shows with social distancing in place.” 


The tranche of cash is part of the government’s £1.6bn Culture Recovery Fund, and will “protect these special places” which “form the soul of our nation”, said culture secretary Oliver Dowden.

Today’s recipients are venues and organisations who applied for less than £1m, with future releases of up to £3m going to larger organisations in the future.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden at Bristol Old Vic

Speaking today, Bristol Old Vic’s Artistic Director, Tom Morris said: “This is fantastic news for many arts organisations all over the country. For Bristol Old Vic it is transformative. Immediately, it keeps us open and prevents another devastating round of redundancies. Beyond that, it gives us a solid platform from which we can contribute to the economic and social recovery which must follow the pandemic over the next two years.”

Thankfully, people are beginning to understand just how valuable culture is, and how much in danger it is. And how historically important it is.

But while theatre buildings fight for their survival, it is the freelance workforce that brings them to life and they are endangered too. The pandemic has raised awareness of the significant precariousness that self-employed freelancers find themselves in compared with those who are employed by national portfolio organisations.

Interestingly, there were 1,385 CRF grants awarded – with 428 in London and 96 in the West Midlands.

This lifeline will come too late for some organisations who have already been forced to close their doors for good or made valued employees redundant.

Last week hundreds of freelance musicians played outside parliament to highlight the plight of self-employed artists.

The government argued that reopening venues creates work for those freelancers.

Time will tell. 

Full list of successful Culture Recovery Fund applicants 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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London Palladium Panto 2020: Pantoland at the Palladium:

Christmas isn’t cancelled: The London Palladium Panto, produced by Qdos Pantomimes, will happen this Christmas for a 5th year and in These Uncertain Times that’s something to hold onto.

Pantoland At The Palladium

Pantoland At The Palladium

Pantoland at the Palladium will star Julian Clary, Ashley Banjo and Diversity, Beverley Knight, Jac Yarrow, Nigel Havers & more.

Capacity at the Palladium has been reduced to 640 socially distanced seats to comply with Covid-19 guidelines. In addition to hand sanitation, face coverings and track and trace, other measures will include contactless tickets, temperature testing and deep cleaning of the iconic theatre between shows.

Now you know.

Pantoland at the Palladium will run from Dec 12- Jan 3 and tickets go on sale at 10.00am tomorrow.

www.palladiumpantomime.com