Insurance Fears - Further guidance about the government’s recently announced insurance scheme for live events has been released, which experts have warned “confirms all the worst fears producers had”. The scheme, which will run until September next year, has been criticised for being too narrow in scope to apply to most theatre productions as well as prohibitively expensive.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has published an outline of the rules for the £750m scheme, prompting concerns that it will not help most theatre producers, who face ongoing risks of disruption, cancellation and closure. The guidance confirms that productions are protected only when they have been forced to cancel, abandon, relocate or postpone as a "direct result" of the introduction of new or amended COVID-19 laws.
This means that cancellations caused by self-isolation requirements among a show’s cast and crew or losses caused by any reintroduction of social distancing will not be covered. The guidance also confirms that the scheme covers both single and one-off events, as well as a run of events. However, for multiple performances, producers must specify which dates are being insured.
Redevelopment - The Barbican Centre is planning a £150m redevelopment project to make urgent changes to its London building to cater for contemporary artists and audiences. The City of London Corporation, which owns the Barbican estate, has published a design brief for its renewal plans, opening submissions for architects’ proposals to transform the 40-year-old building. It has given an indicative budget of between £50m and £150m.
Barbican chair Tom Sleigh acknowledged the building had “begun to show its age” and that it must become more a more inclusive, community-focused environment in response to “radical changes in arts practice” that have taken place since the brutalist building opened in 1982. The organisation said the project would coincide with a “period of significant change” at the Barbican, and it is looking for a team to propose “radical and original solutions to reimagine the possibilities of an arts and learning centre for a new generation”.
Health Warning - Isle of Wight Festival goers are being urged to "look after each other" by the island's health boss. The festival was cancelled in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic but is going ahead this year from 16 to 19 September. Island public health boss Simon Bryant asked people not to attend if they have symptoms and for ticket holders to take regular tests on site. The advice comes as the island faces more than 2,000 new Covid cases.
The increase in cases was recorded over the six-week summer holiday period, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service. Mr Bryant is now asking people to help minimise further spread of Covid-19 and reduce the impact on the island's NHS.j
Alternative Prom - Accordion player Ksenija Sidorova stole the show at the Last Night of The Proms. The Latvian musician's performance of Astor Piazzolla's Libertango brought a packed Royal Albert Hall to its feet. It came halfway through a diverse concert that also paid tribute to the victims of the 9/11 terror attacks. Conductor Sakari Oramo said the night reflected the "healing power of music". He added, "Due to the worldwide COVID pandemic, live music-making was stopped across the world for many months - and in some places it still is. Music that is core to human expression went silent. The bond between audiences and performers was broken."
Reunion - The Spice Girls will reunite for a tour in 2023, Mel B has said. The singer said the Spice Girls' plans to do another tour were interrupted by the pandemic. Mel B said she would "make sure" a tour happens in a couple of years. While the group previously reunited in 2019, Victoria Beckham did not join them. “We did our last tour and Victoria respectfully ducked out, and you have to respect when someone doesn't want to go on tour,” Mel B added. “I'm always pushing to have a Spice Girls reunion and we were in talks last year but then COVID hit so it pushed everyone's plans.”
Farewell - María Mendiola, who sang the disco anthem Yes Sir, I Can Boogie, has died at the age of 69. The singer, who was one half of the Spanish duo Baccara, died in Madrid on Saturday morning. Mendiola formed Baccara with another singer, Mayte Mateos, in 1977 when they were both flamenco dancers entertaining tourists on the island of Fuerteventura. The duo were talent-spotted by a record label executive, who signed them to RCA Records in the UK. A disco classic, Yes Sir, I Can Boogie topped the charts in 10 European countries, including the UK. It went on to sell more than 16m copies - more than any girl group had ever achieved at the time. Subsequently covered by Sophie Ellis-Bextor, The Fratellis and Goldfrapp, the song gained a new lease of life earlier this summer, after being adopted as Scotland's unofficial anthem at the Euro 2020 football tournament. RIP
(Jim Evans)
14 September 2021

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