The Week in Light & Sound
Tuesday, 3 March 2020
Security Measures - A new law proposed by the UK government will require venues to put measures in place to protect the public from a terrorist attack. Security minister James Brokenshire has announced plans for the new Protect Duty, following a manifesto commitment to improve the security of public spaces. The new law, which is to be consulted on this spring, would require owners and operators of venues and public spaces to consider the risk of a terrorist attack and take “reasonable measures” to protect the public from such an incident. Venues can include concert halls, stadiums and conference centres.
Measures could include increasing physical security, staff training and incident response plans in case of an attack. According to the Home Office, the Protect Duty “reflects lessons learned following the terrorist attacks in 2017, as well as more recent attacks”. Brokenshire said: “Our first priority is keeping the public safe and preventing more families from suffering the heartbreak of losing a loved one. The devastating attacks in 2017, and more recently at Fishmongers’ Hall and Streatham, are stark reminders of the current threat we face.
“We are in complete agreement with campaigners such as Figen Murray [whose son was killed in the 2017 Manchester Arena attack] on the importance of venues and public spaces having effective and proportionate protective security and preparedness measures to keep people safe. Of course, it is important that this new law is proportionate. This public consultation will ensure we put in place a law that will help protect the public while not putting undue pressure on businesses.”
The consultation will seek views from businesses, public authorities, the security industry and campaign groups. It will be used to determine which venues will be subject to the new law, with a spokesperson stating that the Home Office will not be proposing a “one-size-fits-all model of legislation”.
Cultural Strategy - The Scottish government will create an advisory group to ensure that ministers are informed on key issues affecting the arts, as part of a new cultural strategy for the country. A programme to bring professional arts experiences into schools and develop initiatives around health and well-being also feature in the document, announced by Scottish culture secretary Fiona Hyslop. She said a “key pillar” of the government’s strategy, the first in more than a decade, was the recognition that “we need to do more to nurture artistic talent and support artists and to add value, recognise and champion artistic excellence”.
The advisory group, called the National Partnership for Culture, is intended to take a “comprehensive view” of the cultural landscape, drawing on voices from across the sector and beyond to advise on how to support culture more effectively, Hyslop said. It will be led by Joanna Baker, a former managing director of the Edinburgh International Festival.
Rock on the Road - School of Rock - The Musical is to tour the UK in 2021, opening at the Birmingham Alexandra Theatre in February and also visiting venues in Aberdeen, Glasgow, Wales, Milton Keynes and Newcastle. The musical is currently scheduled to tour until January 2022, when it plays at the New Oxford Theatre. The production opened at the New London Theatre (now the Gillian Lynne Theatre) in November 2016 and won the Olivier Award for outstanding achievement in music.
East Wing - Alexandra Palace has opened a dedicated creative learning facility, the latest phase in a major restoration of its East Wing. Designed with input from local schools, health service providers, set designers and arts organisations, the Creativity Pavilion will offer workshops, exhibitions and performances, with a focus on skills development and boosting well-being. It has a flexible design to allow it to be adapted for a wide range of activities.
Louise Stewart, chief executive of the Alexandra Park and Palace Charitable Trust, said having a specially designed space for its learning activities meant the organisation “will be much better placed to deliver a creative programme to inspire people”.
The pavilion is the latest phase to be completed in Alexandra Palace’s East Wing restoration, which also includes a £26.7m redevelopment of its Victorian Theatre. The theatre reopened in 2018 for the first time in more than 80 years, and now stages a range of drama, musical theatre and music.
WhatsOnStage - The musical & Juliet - which features the songs of Britney Spears, Pink, Justin Timberlake and Katy Perry, took home the most prizes at the WhatsOnStage Awards, winning six of the 13 awards it was nominated for. Prizes for & Juliet included best actress in a musical for its lead, Miriam-Teak Lee, as well as technical categories, sound, lighting, costume and set design. The show imagines what would have happened if Romeo had died but Juliet had lived.
Best musical revival was won by Mary Poppins, which opened in the West End last year after a successful Hollywood film reboot.
(Jim Evans)
3 March 2020

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