The Week in Light & Sound
Tuesday, 8 September 2020
Furlough Extension - The chancellor is facing renewed calls to extend the furlough scheme specifically for the arts and leisure sectors, with the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee warning that the entire industry’s future is at risk without it. Julian Knight, chair of the cross-party committee, has written to Rishi Sunak claiming that the government’s current approach - whereby the job retention scheme will be wound down next month - renders its support for culture "highly inflexible".
"Moreover, ending the scheme for all industries alike in October does not reflect the unique situation faced by the arts and leisure sectors. These high-value sectors have become hostages to fortune; they are among the hardest hit by the COVID crisis, with 51% of workers still reliant on furlough, compared with 13% across all industries. However, while restrictions on activity and audiences remain, employees of empty theatres and closed leisure centres face no immediate prospect of returning to work," Knight said.
He claims the government must take responsibility for supporting sectors such as the arts, on which it has imposed restrictions, until they are able to reopen. The letter argues that without an extension to the furlough scheme, "we can expect large-scale redundancies in the creative industries over late-2020 and into 2021".
Careers Boost - Liverpool John Moores University is opening a new faculty for media students at a forthcoming film and television studios in the city. Twickenham Studios is opening a base at the former Littlewoods headquarters. The university said its new Entertainment Technology Centre would be designed to equip young people for jobs in the film and TV sector. It said it would provide a "direct link between academia and industry". A new range of courses is to be announced soon in conjunction with Hugh Baird College.
Personalised Productions - West End creatives have set up a new company to create musical theatre performances for weddings, birthdays and anniversaries. The Musical Theatre Factory will write personalised musicals for customers, using their favourite songs to tell their stories. It aims to provide employment opportunities for actors and creatives who are out of work due to COVID-19. Writer Michael Gyngell, whose credits include Summer Holiday and Club Tropicana, is the founder and director of the company. Gyngell said: "I’m passionate about the power of music to recall a significant moment from our lives and the nature of musicals to enhance and intensify any emotion. Putting real life experiences, and the soundtrack to that life, together will make any special occasion even more memorable and unique. Our company of skilled professionals is dedicated to bringing each celebration to musical life."
Inside Out - The Southbank Centre has announced plans for a three-month arts programme that will be streamed from its London home, beginning later this month. Inside Out will comprise more than 40 individual events, spanning music, literature and comedy, with 30 orchestral concerts, some of which will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3. Events include talks with figures such as BLM co-founder Alicia Garza, Dawn French, John Cleese, Angela Davis and Kae Tempest, and performances by musicians Tamsin Little, Vikingur Olafsson and Roderick Williams.
The arts centre said the plans provide a welcome return for artistic programming to its venues for the first time since March, however all of the events will be streamed online "while social distancing measures remain in place and while the Southbank continues to respond to challenges presented by COVID-19".
Ballet Returns - For the first time in six months, dancers from the Royal Ballet were back on stage this weekend for a socially distanced charity gala which organisers hope will be "a catalyst" to get more shows up and running again. The event - held in the grounds of Athelhampton House in Dorset - was organised by professional dancer Meaghan Grace Hinkis, who hopes others will follow her lead. "I think there needs to be some amount of leadership in terms of saying 'okay let's do this, it's okay, it's safe, we can proceed'."
(Jim Evans)
8 September 2020

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