The Week in Light & Sound
Tuesday, 7 April 2020
Grant Support Plea - Two fifths of creative organisations estimate their income has dropped by 100% since the coronavirus outbreak, new data from the Creative Industries Federation has revealed. The data comes alongside an open letter to the government from CIF, calling for urgent grant support for creative businesses and charities that “fall between the gaps” for existing financial support, to “ensure the UK doesn’t become a cultural wasteland post-Covid-19”.
According to the survey of 2,000 creative businesses and individuals, 42% of organisations estimated their income has decreased by 100% since the outbreak. One in seven creative organisations believe they can last less than four weeks on existing reserves, while 63% of creative organisations predict a decrease in annual turnover of more than 50% by the end of 2020.
Among creative organisations, 45% said they did not understand the government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, which offers loans of up to £5m to small and medium-sized companies.
After Lockdown - Artistic directors have expressed fears that theatre audiences may be hesitant to return to public gatherings once lockdown rules are relaxed. Venues have been thrown into uncertainty after last month’s closure orders forced theatres to shut their doors and immediately suspend performances with no idea when they may be able to reopen.
Theatre leaders Daniel Evans of Chichester Festival Theatre and Theatr Clwyd’s Tamara Harvey told The Stage their organisations’ priorities now lay in serving their communities’ immediate needs during lockdown, but also expressed apprehension over the potential impact on future audiences.
“One of the big things is worrying that when the dust settles a bit, maybe when we’re over the worst, we still won’t know how audiences will behave – they might not want to come and sit next to strangers in the dark for two hours,” said Evans. “People don’t like coughing at the best of times in theatre, but it’s going to take on a whole new meaning.”
Harvey believes: “There is going to be fear around gathering together, but there is also going to be such a need for it. We want people to feel comfortable and safe, and that we’ve given proper thought to the enormity of that experience, and so hopefully we’ll be ready for that.”
Fleabag Live - The live production of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag is to be made available online to raise money for charity, as the writer and actor launches a dedicated fund for theatre freelances affected by Covid-19.
The show, which Waller-Bridge brought to the West End last year following the success of its television adaptation, has been added to Soho Theatre’s on-demand service for two weeks, with UK and Ireland audiences now able to download the performance.
All proceeds will be distributed among charities including the National Emergencies Trust, NHS Charities Together and Acting for Others, as well as a newly-launched fund dedicated to freelances working in the UK theatre industry who have been impacted by the coronavirus crisis.
Dub Sounds - A DJ aiming to cheer up his neighbours during the coronavirus lockdown has had his performances watched around the world. Howard Purse, known as Lord Dubs, takes his decks onto the roof of his house in Bristol every Saturday to give people within earshot something to dance to. After going live on Facebook, he started getting comments from places as far away as Malaysia and Mexico.
Lord Dubs said he would continue as long as restrictions remain in place. "It's gone mad. It seems to have really hit a chord with people," he said. "I can see people on their roofs and leaning out of their windows, waving to each other and dancing. It's funny that in a way this separation has brought us together. People now really want to know who their neighbours are. "I've got no illusions it's about me being a fantastic DJ but rather people are picking up on this effort to communicate."
Farewell - Bill Withers, the 1970s soul singer behind hits Ain't No Sunshine and Lean On Me has died from heart complications aged 81. His family described him in a statement as a "solitary man with a heart driven to connect to the world". "He spoke honestly to people and connected them to each other," a statement said.
Known for his smooth baritone vocals and sumptuous soul arrangements, he wrote some of the 70s best-remembered songs, including Just The Two Of Us, Lovely Day and Use Me. On Lovely Day, he set the record for the longest sustained note on a US chart hit, holding a high E for 18 seconds. Although he stopped recording in 1985, his songs remained a major influence on R&B and hip-hop. RIP.
(Jim Evans)
7 April 2020

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