The Week in Light & Sound
Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Planning Ahead - Theatres in England will no longer be at risk of demolition without planning permission, thanks to new laws introduced this week by the government. Housing and communities secretary Robert Jenrick has confirmed that theatres, concert halls and live music venues will no longer be subject to permitted development rights, which allow certain buildings to be demolished without full planning permission to encourage growth and redevelopment.
The changes cover venues that are not listed buildings. Many theatres are listed, and require listed building consent before any alterations can be carried out. The government said it had put the new laws in place to protect the country’s arts venues, which it said "cannot easily be replaced and are an intrinsic part of our cultural heritage". As such, permitted development rights have been removed for performance venues, and planning permission will now be required to demolish any theatre.
The Show Goes On - The Theatre Support Fund, which created The Show Must Go On merchandise, has raised more than half a million pounds for performing arts charities during the pandemic. Set up six months ago by Chris Marcus and Damien Stanton to help theatre workers affected by Covid-19, the Theatre Support Fund has taken more than 40,000 orders for its The Show Must Go On! merchandise and raised more than £500,000.
Bonnie Langford and Christopher Biggins have also now launched a range of festive merchandise for the Theatre Support Fund, which will continue to raise money for the charities support by the fund: Acting for Others, the Fleabag Support Fund and the NHS Covid-19 Urgent Appeal.
NHS Benefits - Ambassador Theatre Group is gifting all tickets for the first performances of pantomimes in its theatres to NHS workers and their families. With pantomime producers Qdos Entertainment, ATG is staging pantomimes in Manchester, Bristol, Milton Keynes, Stoke-on-Trent and Birmingham, and has today announced that all tickets for the first performance in each location will be given for free to thank the NHS.
The productions are all being staged as part of a National Lottery scheme, which is supporting theatres to stage pantomimes to socially distanced audiences this year.
ATG chief executive Mark Cornell said: "The Ambassador Theatre Group is delighted to be showing pantomimes in five of our venues in Bristol, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Stoke and Birmingham this Christmas, thanks to the support of the National Lottery. "ATG and its staff are also inviting our magnificent NHS and their families to the first performance at each venue free of charge. We hope that this small gesture shows how incredibly grateful we all are for what the NHS has done for this country.”
Scottish Musicals - A hub for developing new Scottish musicals that could tour venues across the country has been backed by composer Howard Goodall, producer Kenny Wax and performer Barbara Dickson. The Musical Commissioning Hub is a joint initiative from Capital Theatres in Edinburgh and Pitlochry Festival Theatre. It forms part of a new strategy from Capital Theatres’ chief executive Fiona Gibson to use the company’s third theatre space, the Studio, to “develop and create exciting new Scottish musicals”.
The two companies, working under the direction of Gibson and Pitlochry’s artistic director Elizabeth Newman, will seek to collaborate with musicians, writers and artists to develop Scottish talent and cultural output. The aim is to create Scottish musicals year-on-year, which could ultimately be strong enough to go out on tour to venues across Scotland.
Zoom Service - Musicians from Guildhall School of Music & Drama are being partnered with dementia-sufferers in north London to provide them with music and chat during the lockdown. The school is working with Age UK Camden to create the Music Bank, which will see 12 students, staff and alumni matched with 12 Age UK Camden clients to play them music requests and have conversations over the phone or on Zoom.
Sean Gregory, the Guildhall's director of Innovation and Engagement, said: "Conversation and friendship sit at the heart of this important project, a collaboration that brings together an extraordinary programme of musical styles and influences".”
Golden Oldie - Kylie Minogue has become the first female artist to have a number one album in the UK across five decades. Mostly recorded at home during lockdown, Disco - her 15th studio album in which she revisits her dance music roots - notched up the best opening week for any UK release so far in 2020 with 55,000 chart sales.
It is the eighth time the singer has topped the Official Charts Company album rankings, surpassing Sir Elton John, Sir Cliff Richard and George Michael. "That sounds crazy to me. I'm 52 years old," Minogue said of the five-decade record - an accolade she now shares with Bruce Springsteen.
(Jim Evans)
17 November 2020

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