Pay Offer - West End backstage and front-of-house workers have voted to accept a revised pay offer from the Society of London Theatre – which includes a 10% increase to minimum pay rates. The accepted pay offer will see a number of other revisions implemented in the SOLT/BECTU Collective Bargaining Agreement, which covers pay and working conditions for front-of-house and backstage staff in roles including wardrobe, sound, box office and stage door.
These include the removal of a ‘force majeure’ clause - allowing for lay-offs in the event of further Covid restrictions - which was among a series of variations to the agreement that were negotiated to get the industry back on its feet after the pandemic lockdowns, from 31 March, 2023. The new rates of pay will apply from August 22, with other arrangements in the variation agreement to also end on this date. These include the ability to pay workers pro rata based on the number of performances if there is a reduced show schedule due to Covid-19.
Covid Effect - Covid is continuing to have an "enormous, but largely silent" impact on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2022, artists have warned. The warning comes amid a number of cancellations of shows at venues across the fringe due to sickness among cast members and venue staff.
Among these is The Stones at Assembly Roxy, which is written and directed by Kit Brookman and performed by Luke Mullins. "We lost a tech session and our first three performances. While this might not seem like a lot, in terms of building momentum at the fringe it’s a massive blow,” says Mullins. “We lost all the performances where we had reviewers booked in, and so we still haven’t had a review. So along with the loss of box office, there’s a flow-on through the whole season because of the loss of reviews and word of mouth."
He added: "Everyone’s arriving here with their resources incredibly depleted after the last two years. Then there’s the stress about catching it and potentially putting your show at risk. Finally, the decision to come to the fringe is already made on fine margins, financially. So having to cancel shows can quickly make it an unsustainable proposition."
Strictly’s Back - Strictly Come Dancing is to return to Blackpool after a two-year break, the BBC has confirmed. The dance competition has missed its traditional trip to the resort's Tower Ballroom in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Executive producer Sarah James said the return to the "iconic" venue was the "icing on the cake" of the 20th series. The show, which starts on 17 September, will also see themed weeks, including one about the BBC's 100th anniversary.
Backlog - The backlog in the vinyl industry since the pandemic began means that artists and some music fans are having to wait around a year to receive their records. Global demand for albums is at its highest in 30 years, while most factories are still using the same pressing methods deployed in the 1980s. But a Dutch firm is offering, what it says is, a more sustainable - but more expensive - solution to the backlog.
And it is doing so without the material that gave vinyl its name. Harm Theunisse, owner of Green Vinyl Records, in Eindhoven, believes it is the "new standard" for the industry. His team has spent the past seven years developing a new large-scale pressing machine that uses up to 90% less energy than typical vinyl production, and which can be monitored in real time rather than retrospectively. "This machine can do almost 40% more capacity than the traditional plants, too," said Theunisse. "The pressing here is both faster and better for our planet."
The machine in Eindhoven avoids using PVC (polyvinyl chloride - which gave vinyl its name) - the most environmentally damaging of plastics, according to Greenpeace. Instead, it uses polyethylene terephthalate (Pet) - a more durable plastic which is easier to recycle.
In The Sale Room - A guitar used by Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl is expected to fetch up to £30,000 at auction. Grohl played the Gretsch White Falcon guitar in the 1997 video for Monkey Wrench. It was originally owned by the band's rhythm guitarist Pat Smear and was used on their second album The Colour And The Shape. The guitar is being sold - by a private collector - at auctioneers Gardiner Houlgate, in Corsham, Wiltshire, on 7 September. It is being sold along with a Polaroid photograph taken by Smear of actress Drew Barrymore playing it. it is being sold by a private collector.
Farewell - Musician Jerry Allison, who played alongside Buddy Holly in American rock band The Crickets, has died. The drummer, who is credited with co-writing hits including That’ll Be the Day and Peggy Sue, died on Monday aged 82. His death was announced on the official Buddy Holly Facebook page, with a statement paying tribute to Allison as a “musician ahead of his time”. The statement read, “Our sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Jerry ‘JI’ Allison, drummer in the Crickets, one of Buddy’s very closest friends, and the inspiration to drummers for decades since, who passed away today at the age of 82.”
(Jim Evans)
23 August 2022

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