Review Programme - Arts Council England’s future is to be considered as part of a government review into all arm’s length bodies, which could see some bodies scrapped and significant savings demanded from those that remain. The newly launched Reviews of Public Bodies programme, run by the Cabinet Office, will examine the operations of all arm’s length bodies in England and assess whether "they should be abolished or retained", as well as whether money allocated to them is spent effectively. Savings of at least 5% per organisation should be identified as part of the review process.
The department will lead reviews in charge of each public body, meaning the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport will be asked to review the public bodies it sponsors, including the Arts Council, the BFI, the National Lottery Community Fund and Historic England.
At present, arm’s length bodies in England spend more than £220bn each year and employ more than 300,000 people. The review programme, launched by Jacob Rees-Mogg, minister for Brexit opportunities and government efficiency - will seek to ensure public bodies are both a “necessity” and “accountable, efficient and effective”. Rees-Mogg said: “Reviews will consider whether the body should be abolished or retained; whether it should continue to deliver all of its functions; and whether it has an effective relationship with its department.”
Supper Songs - A diner featuring singing waiting staff who will serenade customers with musical theatre songs is to open in the West End this summer. Operating in a similar way to Ellen’s Stardust Diner in New York, the dining experience is being brought to London by the team behind the Theatre Cafe on St Martin’s Lane and has been labelled a UK first.
The Theatre Cafe Diner will operate across two floors at 154 Shaftesbury Avenue and offer "a full theatrical dining experience like no other”, according to its team. A troupe of singers will make up the waiting team, who will perform musical theatre numbers around the diner while people eat.
Hackers Blocked - Pro-Russian hackers attempted to disrupt voting for the Eurovision Song Contest, Italian police have said. Ukraine won the competition thanks to huge support in the public vote whilst Russia was banned following its invasion in Ukraine. Police in Turin, where this year's contest was staged, said the Killnet hacker group targeted the first semi-final - in which Ukraine performed - as well as Saturday's grand final.
But they said their cybersecurity division blocked the attacks. “Various computer attacks of a DDOS [distributed denial-of-service] nature aimed at network infrastructures during voting operations and singing performances were mitigated,” a police statement said.
Ukraine's Kalush Orchestra won the contest with their song Stefania, which was the runaway winner in the public vote. It topped the overall points tally after votes from the viewers were combined with the results from the national juries.
Black Country Beats - A new art exhibition celebrating the music of the West Midlands has gone on display. Black Country Beats celebrates the music and artists that emerged from the Black Country between the 1970s and 2000s. Slade, Beverley Knight, Robert Plant, The Wonderstuff, Goldie and others are among those featured. The exhibition at Wolverhampton Art Gallery runs until 4 September.
The gallery said the exhibition highlights artists whose styles were influenced by the heritage of the region and by the social and political change that happened here during their formative years.
(Jim Evans)
17 May 2022

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