Arise, Sir Michael - Glastonbury Festival founder Michael Eavis was among those recognised in the 2024 New Year Honours list. Eavis, 88, who founded the Glastonbury Festival on his Somerset farm in 1970, is awarded a knighthood for services to music and charity. Each festival contributes more than £2m to charity. "We started with 500 people and we've finished up with millions wanting to come every year," he says. "That's quite extraordinary, isn't it?"
BBC Radio 2 DJ Steve Wright dedicated his MBE "to all the people in broadcasting who gave comfort and public service during the pandemic". Fellow broadcaster Tony Blackburn says his OBE is "the icing on a very lovely cake" after almost 60 years in the "best job" on BBC and commercial radio stations. Dame Shirley Bassey, 86, who has sold 135m records, says she is "truly humbled" to become the 64th living member of the Order of the Companion of Honour, which only has 65 members at one time.
National Figures - The National Theatre’s annual report has revealed it continues to face "significant challenges" after emerging from the pandemic. The organisation, which endured 15 months of closure during the Covid-19 lockdowns, cited the cost-of-living crisis and working-from-home revolution as factors impacting an approximately 10% decrease in box office income and associated audience spending.
In a report supplied to the Charity Commission, the National set out its ambition to cease running a deficit budget and mentioned the "urgent need" for investment in its Grade II-listed home on London’s South Bank. It comes after its 2022-23 year recorded an income of £89m and expenditure of £90.9m - meaning the theatre spent £1.9m more than it made.
Writing in the report, Damon Buffini, the organisation’s chair, said "hard work" was required to achieve a "balanced, future-facing business model" in light of a "reduction in funding from Arts Council England" as well as "inflationary pressures".
Vinyl Countdown - UK sales of vinyl LPs have hit their highest level since 1990 as the revival of the physical music market continues. Sales rose by 11.7% to 5.9m units, increasing for the 16th year in a row, according to the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) trade group. Taylor Swift's 1989 (Taylor's Version) was the best-selling LP, followed by the Rolling Stones' Hackney Diamonds. Cassette sales also did well, topping 100,000 for a fourth consecutive year.
While more than four-fifths of recorded music is consumed via streaming, vinyl has made a huge comeback, with fans seeing it as more collectible and having better sound quality. The BPI said the popularity of independent record stores and the rebirth of specialist music chain HMV had also helped.
New releases dominated the list of best-selling vinyl albums, with Ed Sheeran, Lewis Capaldi and Lana Del Rey also in the top 10. However, classic albums and reissues were also among the top performers, including Fleetwood Mac's Rumours and Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon (Live At Wembley 1974).
Extended Break - Lewis Capaldi has confirmed he will be extending his break from touring after a six-month hiatus improved his health. In June he announced that he would halt his performing schedule "for the foreseeable future". The announcement came after the singer-songwriter struggled with his voice during a Glastonbury set.
In a post on social media, he said he was working with professionals to help manage his Tourette's Syndrome and anxiety. He added: "I'm really happy to say I've noticed a marked improvement in both since I decided to take some time off back in June. For now I'm going to continue taking some time to carry on looking after myself, maybe writing some music and taking a moment to reflect on some of the most incredible years of my life.”
Farewell - Laura Lynch - a founding member of the US country music band the Dixie Chicks - has died in a car crash. She was 65. The Texas Department of Public Safety said she died after being involved in a collision between two vehicles near the city of El Paso. RIP.
(Jim Evans)
2 January 2024

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