The Week in Light & Sound
Tuesday, 9 February 2021
Pay Freeze - Backstage theatre workers across the UK will have their pay frozen until April next year, under temporary contract changes aimed at helping the industry reopen following the pandemic. UK Theatre and BECTU have concluded a temporary COVID-19 Variation Agreement, which came into effect on 18 January and replaces the current UK Theatre/BECTU agreement until 2022.
Although BECTU members voted in favour of the amendments, the union said they were not happy with the changes. The changes will not impact separately negotiated house agreements with individual venues, but local negotiations can take place to vary house agreements in line with the temporary COVID-19 Variation Agreement.
The UK Theatre/BECTU agreement covers pay and working conditions for offstage roles in theatres across the UK in areas including box office, administration, technical, front of house, stage door, catering staff, cleaners, wigs and wardrobe.
Air Quality - London’s Arcola Theatre is working with scientists from Imperial College London to explore how the air quality in arts venues affects the spread of viruses. According to the theatre, the project will explore “how increased airflow can be used by venues and performance spaces to reduce viral transmission”, to increase the safety of theatregoers. As part of the project, the Arcola will work with scientists to explore ways it can increase airflow within its own indoor spaces and use the findings to facilitate conversations about airflow in other venues.
Executive director Ben Todd said: “Since the pandemic began, we have been trying to understand how the cultural sector can respond innovatively to the difficulties we have faced in bringing people together to enjoy culture in a safe way. We are delighted to be working with independent scientists from Imperial College London to understand how airflow affects viral transmission in theatres, which will turn the challenges of the past year into learning and ideas for both Arcola and the wider theatre sector.”
A statement from Imperial College said, “Ventilation and air quality have been identified as an important factor in reducing the risk of spread of COVID-19 through human activity in indoor spaces. Working with the Arcola Theatre, we hope to use emerging knowledge and data-driven approaches to address the continuous challenges faced by indoor theatres and venues during the pandemic.”
Super Bowl - The Super Bowl half-time show is traditionally built on grand gestures and eye-popping spectacle. This year was a little different. The Weeknd was the interval act and, for the first time in the game's 55-year history, he was largely forced to perform from the stands, rather than the pitch, in compliance with strict coronavirus protocols. His 12-minute show was "watched" by thousands of cardboard cut-outs, who bulked out the 25,000 socially-distanced fans at Florida's Raymond James Stadium.
West End Stream - Concerts featuring West End performers that were initially held as drive-in events are to be streamed online. The concerts, all initially performed as part of West End Musical Drive In last year, feature stars including Kerry Ellis, Alice Fearn and Jon Robyns. They will be available as a digital series from 19 February to 21 March through Stream.Theatre. A different concert will be available to stream every week.
(Jim Evans)
9 February 2021

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