The Week in Light & Sound
Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Onerous Restrictions - Theatres have criticised new restrictions planned for December, claiming they are “more onerous” than previous ones and will have major financial ramifications for the sector. Prime minister Boris Johnson announced a new three-tier system that will come into play when lockdown ends on 2 December, and the system will be "made tougher" than before. This includes a requirement for indoor entertainment venues to close in Tier 3, meaning theatres in these areas will be prevented from reopening to audiences next week.
In Tiers 1 and 2, public attendance at performances is limited to whichever is lower, 50% capacity or 1,000 people indoors. The London Palladium is due to start performances of Pantoland in December. LW Theatres chief executive Rebecca Kane Burton said the new measures are more “onerous than they were before” and demanded to see the evidence driving the latest decision.
“Operating with a wide range of safety and social distancing measures, many of which exceeded the government guidance at that point, the London Palladium was open from September until the start of the current national lockdown. During this period, and since, we have not been contacted by NHS Test and Trace, or any of our customers, to suggest that a single coronavirus case might be linked back to our theatre,” she said, adding: “Now the government is set to make the restrictions on theatres more onerous than they were before, we look forward to understanding the evidence which will have informed this decision.”
Live in Level One - What has been described as Scotland's first indoor live music gig since lockdown in March has taken place at a venue in the Highlands. The performance by folk rock band Torridon at the Ironworks in Inverness was allowed under level one rules. But the audience was restricted to a maximum of 100 people, who had to be seated and adhere to social distancing.
Ironworks director Caroline Campbell said the gig was the start of their "new normal" for Saturday nights. Before the performance, she said: "We are all excited and just delighted we are going to be able to host live music again. It is going to be different. It is not going to be what people are used." Inverness is in a level one area, meaning The Ironworks is allowed to seat up to 100 people with social distancing in place.
Gender Balance - When festivals finally resume in 2021, the line-ups could be more gender balanced than ever before, thanks to a new database of female artists. The F-list provides details of more than 4,500 musicians in all genres of music, and is free to use. It was compiled by equality campaigner Vick Bain. It aims to improve representation of women at all levels of the industry - from session musicians and arrangers, to producers and festival headliners.
"The problem for women in the UK music industry is they are still in the minority when it comes to professional work," Bain told BBC Radio 4's Today. "Only 20% of musicians signed to record labels are women and about 15% of festival headliners are women. So they don't have much presence, professionally, even though they consist of nearly half of all music degree students."
The launch of the F-list website aims to correct that problem, while a concurrent community interest company will champion equality and diversity in the industry. "We are going to raise awareness, we're going to create initiatives to help facilitate training and development, we are going to increase knowledge about gender inequality," said Bain. "We want to be a major authority for promoting women in music."
Dance On - Blackpool Tower Ballroom has been awarded £764,000 from the government's £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund. The grant will be used to restore the ceiling of the home of British ballroom dancing, which opened in 1894. Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said the grant would "help restore this beautiful ballroom so that it can be enjoyed for generations to come".
The funding was announced as Strictly Come Dancing celebrated the landmark venue in Saturday's episode. At the halfway point in the series, the show was due to be broadcast from the ballroom but the programme will instead host a special from the studios in Elstree due to the pandemic.
Gruffalo on Line - Tall Stories has announced it is to live-stream its stage adaptation of The Gruffalo from the company’s new studio in London. The live broadcast version of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s book will feature additional audience interaction and a free printable activity pack to accompany the show. The Gruffalo will run from December 11 to 13, with the performance on December 11 for schools only.
It will be the second show to be broadcast from the new Tall Stories Studio in Islington Central library, which is the company’s first permanent home. The first show the company streamed from the space was The Snail and the Whale in October.
Fairytale - An edited version of Fairytale Of New York will be played on BBC Radio 1 over the Christmas period this year to avoid offending younger listeners. The festive hit by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl is a seasonal staple, but in recent years has been at the centre of debate over its lyrics.
(Jim Evans)
24 November 2020

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