Virtual Fundraising - Musicians including Annie Lennox, Ed Sheeran and Sir Mick Jagger will join with Bollywood stars to raise funds for Covid relief work in India. A virtual fundraising event entitled We For India: Saving Lives will take place on Sunday 15 August, in both London and Mumbai.
The three-hour event, ran by social impact enterprise The World We Want, will be livestreamed over Facebook. It will feature more than 80 Indian performers such as composer AR Rahman. Nile Rodgers, Sister Sledge, Jay Shetty and Nancy Ajram will also take part in the event. Rajkummar Rao, star of Oscar and Bafta-nominated film The White Tiger, will host the event.
Prohibitively Expensive - Theatre heavyweights Cameron Mackintosh, Michael Harrison and Sonia Friedman have criticised the government’s recently announced insurance scheme, labelling it “prohibitively expensive” and warning that it does not cover shows forced to cancel due to enforced isolation. Producers have also warned that the expensive insurance would only be viable by increasing ticket prices, with leading pantomime producer Harrison adding that the scheme will be “prohibitive and unworkable for the pantomime season”.
The £750m scheme was announced by the government on 5 August, offering insurance cover for live events forced to close by Covid restrictions. Jointly announced by HM Treasury and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the Live Events Reinsurance Scheme is offered in partnership with insurance market Lloyd’s and will involve the government acting as a ’reinsurer’ to guarantee cover for events companies.
However, Mackintosh said the “commercial sector had once again been ignored” by the scheme, which he said was “unsuited to the way the theatre works”, with eight shows a week for 52 weeks a year. By contrast, he said music and business events are usually “one-offs lasting at most a few days”.
“The insurance on offer explicitly excludes some of the protection the theatre desperately needs, namely cancellation of performances caused by illness or enforced isolation and the negative effects of the reintroduction of limited capacities, which would make most shows financially unviable,” Mackintosh said. “There is also no contribution on offer to help mitigate the tens of thousands of pounds spent on Covid protection that the big shows are each spending every week to keep artists, staff and audiences safe.”
On The Fringe - The Edinburgh Fringe needs a new business model to replace one that was already “cracking at the seams”, chief executive Shona McCarthy has claimed. She said it needed to use its fallow year in 2020 and this current year of reduced activity to generate a conversation about how it becomes “the best version of itself” when it returns in full.
McCarthy was speaking to The Stage as theatres in Scotland were given the green light to open without social distancing from 9 August, and ahead of the start of the smallest fringe for more than 40 years, with just 779 productions listed on the fringe website over the event’s three weeks, a third of them exclusively online. However, she said she was not worried about the size of either element of the programme, saying that this year is about consolidating and looking to the future.
Name Change - UK indie band British Sea Power have announced they are changing their name to simply Sea Power, in a bid to separate themselves from the recent "wave of crass nationalism". The band used their old moniker for almost two decades, putting out albums, EPs and soundtracks in that time. The name-change, they noted online, had come "after much reflection and soul-searching".
Tour News - Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts is to miss the band's forthcoming US tour dates as he recovers from surgery. "For once my timing has been a little off," the 80-year-old said in a statement, revealing he had been told it would "take a while" for him to "get fully fit". Sir Mick Jagger said the band looked forward to welcoming Watts back "as soon as he is fully recovered". Steve Jordan will fill in when the Stones resume their No Filter Tour in September.
Farewell - Dennis Thomas, one of the founder members of 1970s and 80s soul-funk band Kool & the Gang, has died aged 70. He died "peacefully in his sleep" in New Jersey on Saturday, the band said in a Facebook statement. Described as the "cool cat" in the group, he was its sax player, flutist, percussionist as well as master of ceremonies at shows. The band became one of the era's most popular and influential with hits such as Celebration and Get Down On It. Their music also featured in several films including Saturday Night Fever, for which they received a Grammy in 1978, and Pulp Fiction.
(Jim Evans)
10 August 2021

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