The Week in Light & Sound
Tuesday, 26 May 2020
Royal Patronage - The Prince of Wales has raised concerns about how orchestras and theatres will survive the coronavirus crisis. He said it was important to “find a way of keeping these orchestras and other arts bodies going”. The prince, who is patron of dozens of arts institutions, noted they were of “enormous importance” to the economy. “It's absolutely crucial that they can come back twice as enthusiastic as before,” he said in an interview with Classic FM.
The heads of the National Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company and the Southbank Centre have all warned they are facing financial collapse without additional government assistance due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Royal Opera House, of which Prince Charles is a patron, says it has seen 60% of house income fall away since the start of the crisis. “They're in terrible difficulties, of course, because how are they going to be able to restart?” said the prince. “It is a very expensive art form, but it is crucial because it has such a worldwide impact... and so we have to find a way to make sure these marvellous people and organisations are going to survive through all this.”
“I was completely inspired by that... Which is why it's so important, I think, for grandparents and other relations to take children at about the age of seven to experience some form of the arts in performance.”
Southbank Warning - The UK’s largest arts and cultural organisation, the Southbank Centre, has warned that it will have used up its financial reserves by September, forcing its closure until April 2021 unless it gets further government support. The centre, which puts on more than 3,500 events every year and is home to eight orchestras, revealed details of the crippling financial pressures it is facing as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
It said it was forecasting a best-case scenario of a £5m loss by the end of the 2020/21 financial year. In getting there, it will have used up all its reserves, taken £4m from the government’s furlough scheme, and spent its £19.2m annual grant from Arts Council England “to effectively mothball the buildings”. The centre said: “There will be hardly any artistic activity throughout 2020/21, as to present anything like a normal range of events would have seen the losses rise to around £11m.” The venue would be able to host events with only a limited number of guests because of the restrictions necessitated by physical distancing.
Leicester Liquidation - Leicester’s Haymarket Theatre has gone into liquidation, a victim of the coronavirus lockdown. As actors and theatre managers across the UK warned that it would be virtually impossible to reopen venues while meeting social distance guidelines, the directors at the Leicester theatre decided to hand the lease back to the city council.
Leicester City Council invested around £3m installing new seats and fittings in the 1970s-built theatre three years ago, after it had been stripped out and mothballed back in 2007. A group called the Haymarket Consortium was set up to run the venue, which reopened for live music, shows, conferences and corporate events in 2018. Since then it has hosted events for Leicester Comedy Festival, circus shows, tribute acts and musicals and Leicester Beer Festival.
Performances due to take place prior to the lockdown had included In The Night Garden Live, Bee Gees Fever, The Music of the Moody Blues and Leicester Amateur Operatic Society performing the rock musical Rent.
Drive In Cinema - The Drive In, a new contact-free way to experience film, pre-recorded theatre and live events is to run from July at Troubadour Meridian Water, Enfield. “Sound will be played direct to vehicles’ speakers, and thanks to our top-of-the-range screen, you’ll have a great view wherever you park up. Snacks and drinks are available to order through our mobile app and will be safely delivered to your car by our team of 1950s drive in attendants,” say the organisers.
“With vehicles spaced two metres apart, tickets will be scanned through your closed car window - and we’ll be putting extra measures in place to ensure all our shows can be enjoyed in line with the latest government advice.”
Tickets for the first film screenings are on sale now, including showings of hit films La La Land, Bad Boys for Life, Dirty Dancing and The Terminator. More screenings and performances, including live comedy, music and family entertainment will go on sale soon.
Laura Elmes, producer for The Drive In, said: “After the events of the last few months the appetite to experience live entertainment but in a safe and socially distant way is growing. The safety and enjoyment of our customers will be our first priority, so I can think of no better way to start to enjoy cinema and live entertainment than by doing it in a completely contact free way.”
Farewell - The singer Mory Kanté, who helped bring African music to world audiences has died aged 70, in Guinea. Born in a famous family of ‘griots’ - West African musicians and storytellers - he had been nicknamed ‘the electronic griot’, and was known as a distinguished player of kora - a West African harp. His song Yéké Yéké became a major hit in the late 1980s and was widely remixed.
(Jim Evans)
26 May 2020

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