Further Action - Labour is calling on the government to urgently take further action to support the arts sector - including widening eligibility for the Culture Recovery Fund - warning many “treasured theatres” face collapse without support. The call on the government follows an announcement from chancellor Rishi Sunak that £30m has been added to the CRF.
However, Labour said more needs to be done to ensure the “support is effective” and reaches “those most in need”. The party’s demands include: widening the scope of the Culture Recovery Fund Emergency Resource Grant so that previous recipients, commercial productions, and individuals can apply; speeding up payment through the Culture Recovery Fund so that the self-employed, and freelancers in the culture sector can have their contracts honoured, and an urgent review of the Live Events Reinsurance Scheme, which sector leaders have previously warned does not meet theatre’s needs.
Freelance Aid - Creative Scotland has released details of an £8m fund for creative freelancers as part of a £21m package of emergency COVID relief. The fund is the £20m that was announced in Holyrood last week, as part of a wider £100m package, with an additional £1m from existing events sector funds. Creative Scotland will administer the £8m Cancellation Fund for Creative Freelancers and a £10.2m fund for organisations and venues. The remaining funds will go towards the wider events supply chain and will be administered by EventScotland.
Creative freelancers will be able to apply for between £500 and £2,000 from the cancellation fund when it opens at 2pm on 6 January 2022. It will remain open until the initial tranche of £4 million is run out, with the remaining money becoming available at a later date. Details of the fund for cultural organisations and venues will be announced in January 2022.
Vinyl Sales - Albums by Adele, Abba and Ed Sheeran helped vinyl sales in the UK top five million for the first time since 1991. Almost a quarter of the albums bought this year (23%) were on vinyl, with Abba's Voyage the biggest-seller. It marks the format's 14th consecutive year of growth, with sales up by 8% on 2020.
The vinyl resurgence continued in 2021 despite serious delays in manufacturing, caused by a combination of Covid, supply-chain issues and labour shortages, as well as a scarcity of raw materials like PVC and paper products.
Sales of CDs continued to fall. Just 14m discs were bought - the lowest figure since 1988, six years after the format was introduced in the UK. However, the drop-off in CD sales was smaller than in recent years, with sales decreasing by 12%, compared to nearly a third in 2020. That's partly because artists like Abba and Adele appeal to older listeners, who still prefer the format. Music industry body the BPI said it hoped that the reduced demand for CDs was "bottoming out" after years of decline.
Selected - The lead singer of 2-Tone band The Selecter has praised her home city of Coventry after being appointed an OBE in the New Year Honours. Pauline Black said the city "made me who I am today" and it was "wonderful" to be recognised during Coventry's UK City of Culture 2021 year. The 68-year-old helped launch the cultural programme after the start date was delayed to May due to the pandemic.
Having lived in Coventry for more than 50 years, she said the city had given her the chance to study, work and "ultimately find my creative voice within the 2-Tone movement, which has spearheaded the musical conversation about racism and sexism for the past 42 years".
In The Saleroom - A prototype guitar created for Ed Sheeran to mark his latest album has raised £52,765 in a charity raffle. The singer worked with guitar-maker George Lowden to create a special instrument to tie in with his album =. It was raffled by charity GeeWizz with proceeds going towards a music pod and disabled facilities at a school in his hometown of Framlingham, Suffolk. Hospital worker Kellie Myers won after buying a £5 raffle ticket. Remaining funds will be distributed to other projects for learning disabled and neurodivergent children across Suffolk.
Farewell - Janice Long, best known as a presenter on BBC Radio 1, Radio 2 and Top of the Pops, has died aged 66 after a short illness. She was also one of the main presenters of the Live Aid charity concert in 1985. Long, host of BBC Radio Wales' evening show since 2017, died at home with her family by her side on Christmas Day. RIP.
(Jim Evans)
4 January 2022

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