Budget Reaction - The theatre sector’s challenges, including the impact of increased energy bills, have not been addressed by the government’s ‘mini-budget’, industry bodies have warned. The mini-budget was the first delivered with Liz Truss as prime minister and Kwasi Kwarteng as chancellor of the exchequer. Points outlined in brief included an energy package costing £60bn for the six months from October this year, VAT-free shopping for tourists, and duty rates for beer, cider, wine, and spirits axed.
The theatre sector had been hoping that the current rates of Theatre Tax Relief - 50% for touring productions and 45% for non-touring shows - would be maintained for at least another year. However, an official statement from the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre said it was concerned that "specific challenges" had been overlooked.
It said: "The UK’s world-leading creative and cultural sector, of which theatre is a significant part, grew four times the rate of the UK economy before Covid-19. SOLT and UK Theatre are concerned that the specific challenges faced by the sector were not addressed during the chancellor’s statement, and the opportunity to commit to supply-side incentives, such as maintaining the higher rate of Theatre Tax Relief, was missed.
"Independent economic modelling undertaken in 2021 revealed that, with the right fiscal incentives, by 2025, the UK’s creative and cultural industries could contribute £132.1 billion in gross value added – more than the financial services, insurance and pension industries combined."
MVT Support - Ed Sheeran has thrown his weight behind the campaign by the Music Venue Trust (MVT) to make a radical intervention into the ownership of the UK’s grassroots music venues. Own Our Venues was launched by the Music Venue Trust in June. It is the first step in a long-term campaign to take control of the freeholds of music venue premises and bring them under a protected status of benevolent ownership.
The Own Our Venues concept is built on the Community Share model that has been successful in saving and protecting local pubs, post offices and even sports grounds. MVT is seeking to raise £3.5m in initial investments to acquire nine venues.
Ed Sheeran, who is a longstanding supporter of grassroots music venues, said: “Own Our Venues is an initiative I’m really passionate about getting behind. Small, independent venues are so, so important to the music community, and I’ve played some of my favourite gigs of my career in these rooms. We’ve got to do all we can to protect these beautiful venues that we’ve all come to love for years to come.”
In The Ring - Circuses are calling on the government to cut the value added tax they pay on ticket sales, as they warn many companies are "struggling to survive" amid rising costs, including fuel. They have cautioned that circuses have been disproportionately impacted by increasing fuel costs, as they use fuel to generate their own electricity and heating as well as to travel between locations.
While the government has announced an initiative to support businesses with energy costs, circus leaders have said it was not yet entirely clear how this would help them, as the scheme only initially lasts for six months and would not mitigate against other rising costs. They have argued that reduced VAT on ticket sales would enable circuses to keep their ticket prices affordable to all.
Director and owner of Circus Extreme, Anthony Anderson, said that one of the reasons the company left England to tour in Ireland this season was because it was the "safer option" due to that country having 0% VAT on circus ticket sales. He said that added fuel costs had been a "massive additional burden" on the sector.
Collaboration - Cirque du Soleil and the Royal Albert Hall have collaborated to transform the London venue so all future Cirque du Soleil shows can be "bigger and better". The Royal Albert Hall is the only historic venue worldwide to have installed permanent technology to accommodate Cirque du Soleil shows and is near the end of a nine-month project to fit additional steelwork beneath the stalls to strengthen the venue in specific locations. The works began in January and are set to be completed this week.
The first Cirque du Soleil show to try out the new and improved facilities will be the European premiere of Kurios - Cabinet of Curiosities. The production will also, for the first time, require the floor to be elevated to accommodate the unusual set design, transforming the venue’s ground level.
Secret Cinema - Immersive company Secret Cinema has been acquired by theatrical ticketing platform TodayTix. The new deal will allow Secret Cinema, which has previously created immersive productions of Dirty Dancing, Moulin Rouge!, and Stranger Things, to expand internationally and create open-ended theatrical runs. Merritt Baer, co-founder and president of TodayTix Group, said: "We could not be more pleased that Secret Cinema is joining our growing portfolio of brands, and we are thrilled to bring the Secret Cinema experience more broadly to the US in 2023.”
Headliner - Rihanna will headline the half-time show at February's Super Bowl in Arizona, the NFL has announced. The nine-time Grammy winner broke the news by posting a photo of an NFL branded football to Twitter. Organisers called the 34-year-old a "generational talent" in a press release issued on Sunday night. The show is one of the most coveted slots in music, with this year's 14-minute spectacle drawing in more than 120 million viewers, the NFL said. "Rihanna is a once in a generation artist who has been a cultural force throughout her career," the NFL's head of music Seth Dudowsky said.
(Jim Evans)
27 September 2022

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