The Week in Light & Sound
Tuesday, 18 August 2020
Financial Guidance - Guidance has been published on how arts organisations can apply for the government’s £270m repayable finance scheme. The repayable finance was announced as part of the government’s £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund, which also includes £622m of grants.
Theatres can either apply for grants of up to £3m or for loans for larger amounts. With the repayable finance package, which is geared towards larger organisations, the government aims to "stabilise cultural organisations until they can return to sustainable operations". Applications will be "assessed against rigorous cultural and economic criteria" including efficiencies made to date and ongoing viability for the future.
Organisations will also be asked to demonstrate national or international significance and outline opportunities to engage local communities through education and outreach. Arts Council England will review applications, with input from other bodies including the British Film Institute, Historic England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Decisions will be taken by the independent Culture Recovery Board.
Applications will open on 21 August, with a deadline of 9 September. Arts Council England aims to notify applicants of the outcome of their application in the week beginning October 19, and says that funding is anticipated to reach organisations by this December.
Employment Crisis - Job opportunities in the arts have disappeared faster than any other sector of the UK economy as a result of the pandemic, new data has revealed, with vacancies dropping by 87% compared with this time last year. The figures have stoked fears of a major employment crisis in the arts, a sector already “on its knees”, as redundancies increase, the freelance workforce struggles and venues face uncertainty about when they will be able to reopen fully.
In the three months between May and July, the Office for National Statistics said there were just 3,000 vacancies in the arts, entertainment and recreation industry, down 87% on the same period last year, when there were 23,000. The dramatic decline of available arts roles is coupled with rapidly escalating redundancies, with more than 5,000 people already out of a job in theatre alone.
Head of entertainment union BECTU Philippa Childs said the dramatic drop in vacancies “only further underlines that our cultural workforce needs ongoing support until the sector can stabilise”, while Julian Bird, chief executive of the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre, said the downturn in opportunities had left many people working in theatre “in the midst of a real crisis”.
Live Again - Bristol Old Vic has announced it is to reopen for indoor live performance. Poet Vanessa Kisuule will perform a show on 20 August, followed by a live version of comedy panel show Who Said That?. Artistic director Tom Morris said: "Our aim is to re-grow our programme gradually, ensuring that the audience experience is safe and the creative process properly protected, too. There will be pioneering experiments in hybrid live/streamed performance to give those who prefer to stay at home a front seat experience alongside the growing audiences we are able to entertain live."
Liverpool Blues - The Cavern Club - which helped launch The Beatles - is facing closure due to the coronavirus lockdown. The club's director said the venue was facing financial ruin after losing £30,000 a week since mass gatherings were banned in March. Bill Heckle, director for the past 28 years, said 20 members of staff have been made redundant - and another 20 may have to be made redundant soon. The Beatles first performed at The Cavern in 1961, quickly becoming its signature act, and the club has played host to artists from The Rolling Stones and Elton John to Stevie Wonder and Adele.
Farewell - Classical guitarist and lute player Julian Bream has died at his home in Wiltshire at the age of 87. The virtuoso musician performed globally during his heyday, and was renowned for his recordings of new compositions and masterclasses. He won four Grammy Awards and received 20 nominations between 1960 and 85. A self-taught musician, Bream learned playing to radio dance bands with the lute his father bought from a sailor on London's Charing Cross Road in 1947. As a child prodigy, his early recitals led to him being "acknowledged as one of the most remarkable artists of the post-war era", according to the Royal Academy of Music.
(Jim Evans)
18 August 2020

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