Going Underground - Ukraine has chosen pop duo Tvorchi as its act for next year's Eurovision Song Contest in a live broadcast from a Kyiv bomb shelter. Tvorchi's entry Heart of Steel is the first song to be confirmed for the 2023 competition in Liverpool. Band member Andrew Hutsuliak said: "We will try to do everything to present Ukraine with dignity."
Ukraine's Kalush Orchestra won this year's contest, but the UK will host in 2023 because of the war. A metro station in Kyiv was transformed into a TV studio for Saturday's selection show. The underground stop has been in use as a bomb shelter since Russia invaded in February.
War Child Support - Andrew Lloyd Webber’s LW Theatres has launched a partnership with charity War Child to support children caught up in or affected by conflict zones. It marks the charity’s first partnership with a theatre company. The theatre company said it would support the charity with concerts at the London Palladium and other venues.
"Audiences can expect to see A-list talent in both large and intimate settings, similar to War Child’s Bastille Reorchestrated at the London Palladium in 2020 for BRITs Week," LW Theatres said. As part of the partnership, LW Theatres will also be working with War Child to provide training for their staff as well as engagement sessions and new-starter introductions.
The first event in the partnership is The Four Days of Christmas, which is in association with Crossroads Pantomime – a digital advent calendar campaign on LW Theatres’ social media channels, which aims to bring awareness to the charity and give audiences a chance to win pantomime-themed prizes, including watching the London Palladium’s Jack and the Beanstalk pantomime, currently running until 15 January 2023. Madeleine Lloyd Webber said: "As we approach Christmas, we are reminded, as we have been too many times in recent years, of the impact of war on children.
The Ticket Bank - Thousands of unsold tickets to cultural events including theatre, comedy and dance, will be made freely available to people struggling with the cost of living. The scheme, called The Ticket Bank, will see arts organisations work with charities to distribute tickets. One charity said it could "completely change" people's lives. It will launch in January 2023 for a year. So far, seven organisations have joined the scheme.
The idea was the brainchild of Chris Sonnex, the artistic director of Cardboard Citizens, which makes theatre for people with lived experience of poverty. He said experiencing arts and culture has a "massive effect" on health and wellbeing, but that "whole rafts of people are being excluded from that because of ticket prices". Tickets will be made available to those who may not otherwise be able to afford them, such as those who use food banks. The Almeida Theatre, Barbican, Bush Theatre, Gate Theatre, The National Theatre, Roundhouse and Tara Theatre have signed up to the The Ticket Bank. It's expected that more venues will join in 2023, meaning an estimated 56,000 tickets will be made available over the year.
Masterplan - The film studios behind Harry Potter and House of the Dragon has moved a step closer to expansion. A "masterplan" put forward by Warner Bros Studios in Leavesden, Hertfordshire, has been approved Three Rivers District Council. It includes 11 new permanent sound stages, four office buildings, and three new workshops. Emily Stillman, the studios' senior vice president, told the committee the expansion would meet "a huge demand for high-quality TV shows as well as film".
Inclusive Move - Arts festivals are being urged to factor in rest time for delegates and provide transport options for those with invisible disabilities to make events more inclusive. Disabled-led dance company Second Hand Dance has released a report called Invisible Disabilities: Festivals and Showcases on International Day of People with Disability to show the barriers that artists and delegates face while attending arts festivals.
The company has urged organisations to use the research as a tool to improve access needs. The research incorporated responses from arts festivals including Imaginate in Scotland and Unlimited at the South Bank Centre. There were 29 recommendations suggested that covered select panels, scheduling and before, during and after events.
Farewell - Terry Hall, the frontman of socially conscious ska band The Specials, has died at the age of 63. Known for his dour image and sharp wit, the singer found fame in the 1970s and 80s with hits like Ghost Town, Gangsters and Too Much Too Young. He left The Specials in 1981 to form Fun Boy Three with fellow-bandmates Neville Staple and Lynval Golding, scoring another run of hits. The singer died after a brief illness, The Specials said in a statement. "Terry was a wonderful husband and father and one of the kindest, funniest, and most genuine of souls," they wrote. "His music and his performances encapsulated the very essence of life… the joy, the pain, the humour, the fight for justice, but mostly the love.” RIP.
(Jim Evans)
20 December 2022

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