Student Funding - Higher education regulator the Office for Students has awarded a £9.6m annual funding boost to 15 establishments across England that provide training in performing arts. The organisations include Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance, Leeds Conservatoire, Chickenshed Theatre Company and the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts. All will receive a portion of the funding to help improve teaching and access to training.
A total of £9.6m a year will be awarded over five financial years from 2022-23 to 2026-27. Six organisations will receive the maximum amount of £1m a year. LIPA has been awarded this amount in this financial year. Sean McNamara, LIPA principal and chief executive, said: “The funding recognises our enduring reputation for excellence and the significant costs associated with delivering the type of high-quality specialist professional vocational training that we provide.
"It also recognises the importance of developing our students as creative artists and cultural entrepreneurs of the future in the ever-evolving cultural and creative industries, which annually contribute £115bn to the UK economy. Following our decision to remove audition fees, the funding will also enable us to push forward with our ambitious plans to widen access to performing arts training, expand on our already extensive industry and cultural partnerships and invest in professional standard equipment to ensure we continue to reflect the latest industry developments and trends.”
Swift Return - It's been five years since Taylor Swift last went on tour, during which time she's released four albums, including the Grammy Award-winning Folklore. Her live absence - enforced by the pandemic - was clearly a source of frustration, because her first show back was a three-hour plus extravaganza, including 44 songs from across her career. "I can't even go into how much I've missed you," Swift told fans, as she took to the stage for the opening night of her Eras tour.
The star had promised the show would be "a journey through all of my musical eras" and the appetite for tickets was so great that it caused Ticketmaster's systems to crash. Despite that, the tour broke the record for the most concert tickets sold by an artist in a single day, at 2.4m. About 80,000 of those fans attended the first show at Arizona's State Farm Stadium, where they were treated to a trawl through Swift's back catalogue.
The show is a massive production, with 16 dancers, multiple set and costume changes and a long, illuminated catwalk leading to a second stage. At one point, she appeared to dive into the stage and swim to the middle of the stadium, before emerging on a rising platform to play her recent single, Lavender Haze.
In The Courts - Two musicians who sued The Weeknd claiming he'd stolen one of their songs say they have reached a settlement with the star to end the lawsuit. Suniel Fox and Henry Strange said the singer copied an "atmospheric and melancholic" track called Vibeking to create his 2018 song Call Out My Name. The two songs contained similar "lead guitar and vocal hooks" said their lawyer when the case was filed in 2021. The Weeknd denied the claims. Terms of the settlement have not been disclosed.
Flower Shower - More than 1,800 daffodils, one for every mile from Ukraine to Liverpool, were given out in the city to mark "the road to Eurovision" and "show solidarity" with the war-torn country. In a gesture to mark that move, 1,859 daffodils were handed out at the Royal Albert Dock on Mothering Sunday, near to where the event will be held.
(Jim Evans)
21 March 2023

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