The Week in Light & Sound
Tuesday, 9 June 2020
Arts Sector Exposed - A cut in public funding has left the arts sector more exposed to the threat of COVID-19, new figures suggest. The latest Arts Index, published annually, showed public investment in arts per head of the population fell by 35% in the last decade. However, earned income by arts organisations from things like box office ticket sales increased by 47%.
The Arts Index is published by The National Campaign for the Arts (NCA), and acts as a snapshot report of the health of England's arts and culture. It is published in partnership with the Creative Industries Federation and King's College London and compares year-on-year figures using 20 key indicators.
The latest index, published on Monday, puts the recent figures in the context of the last decade, which saw a UK recession prompt a shift in the income streams for arts organisations.
After the 2008 financial crash, the arts sector witnessed a significant drop in public funding, business support and philanthropic giving. The chair of the NCA, Samuel West, said: "Arts organisations rose to the challenge following the financial crash; we salute them for increasing earned income in response to a triple whammy of cuts to public funding, business sponsorship and philanthropic giving.
"It's bitterly ironic that the arts sector's resourceful response to the 2008 financial crash is now the very thing that makes it vulnerable to the COVID-19 crisis, with theatres closed and income from tickets and bars dropping off a cliff."
Providence Pays - Sky News reports that Providence Equity Partners has agreed to inject £50m in new equity into Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG) to help it survive the shutdown of its venues, which include London's Lyceum and Savoy theatres. The investment underlines the scale of the challenge facing entertainment businesses, with social distancing measures expected to remain in place for many months, drastically reducing the revenue potential of venue-owners with high fixed costs.
ATG was founded in the 1990s by the husband-and-wife team Sir Howard Panter and Dame Rosemary Squire, who have since gone on to set up a rival theatrical group. Providence bought ATG in 2013 in a £350m deal, and has since overseen a stellar increase in revenues and profits, with massive hit shows including Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
The US-based buyout firm had been preparing to run a sale process for the business during the course of the year, hiring the investment banks Goldman Sachs and Jefferies to oversee an auction. That process is expected to be delayed indefinitely because of the impact of the coronavirus crisis.
Side by Side - The government is being urged to ease social distancing for musicians, so more of them can get back performing and recording. Musicians' Union leader Horace Trubridge told the BBC they could play "side by side" to lessen the risk of spreading coronavirus. The 2m rule was "overkill" at a "bleak" time for his members, he added. The government said it welcomed "creative and innovative" ideas to help the UK's "brilliant" musicians.
Farewell - Producer and songwriter Rupert Hine has died, aged 72. With a career spanning over 50 years, Hine worked with artists including Tina Turner, Howard Jones, The Fixx, Rush and Underworld. His death was confirmed by the The Ivors Academy, on which he was a member of the board. No cause of death has yet been released. In a post on social media, The Ivors Academy wrote: “We are so saddened to post that our Board Director Rupert Hine has passed away. Rupert played an integral part in shaping the organisation, and his passion, wisdom, inspiration and his immense kindness will be hugely missed.” Hine is survived by his wife Fay and son Kingsley.
(Jim Evans)
9 June 2020

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