The election will take place on 4 July (Photo: PublicDomainPictures -Pixabay)

On The Campaign Trail - Academics and campaigners have warned that a Conservative Party election pledge to close "rip-off" degrees could damage the creative sector and access to the arts. Their concerns follow Rishi Sunak’s recent pledge that the Conservatives would scrap university degrees deemed to equip graduates with "poor" job prospects if his party was re-elected on 4 July.

The Conservative Party said that closing the "worst-performing" degrees could save more than £900 million by 2030, with the money set to fund 100,000 apprenticeships per year instead.  Although the government has not said which courses are threatened, campaigners and university lecturers have expressed concern that Sunak’s commitment would further damage arts education and, as a result, weaken the arts sector as a whole and make it "the sole preserve of the privileged".

Academics have also called the proposal financially misguided. Mark Langley, the outgoing head of Bath Spa University’s school of music and performing arts, commented: "The notion that arts degrees are low value makes no sense, certainly not financial sense."

Langley, who was last week appointed principal of the Scottish Institute of Theatre, Dance, Film and Television, said, "Cutting arts degrees only has one effect: it prevents students who can’t afford to attend elite institutions the opportunity to train and develop the breadth of creative talent it needs to fuel the second largest part of the UK economy."

Enterprise Zones - The Liberal Democrats have pledged to establish a series of "creative enterprise zones" across the UK to regenerate the country’s cultural output. The party has also vowed to boost funding for cultural and creative projects by applying to re-establish links with Creative Europe post-Brexit. The programme, which enjoys a budget of €2.44bn for the 2021-2027 period, helps stoke creative and cultural industries across the continent – but the UK did not seek to participate in its most recent funding round after leaving the European Union.

Voting Time - London’s Royal Court will cancel performances on 4 July, to allow audiences, theatre workers and cast members to vote in the general election. The venue, which is run by artistic director David Byrne, said in a statement: "The Royal Court Theatre will be cancelling all performances on Thursday, 4 July to allow and encourage cast, companies, staff and audiences to vote in the general election."

It added: "As a theatre dedicated to providing a safe space for writers to confidently and creatively express their voices, we hope that we can encourage you to similarly have your voice heard on the 4 July by voting."

Summer Carnival - Pink will kick off the European leg of her Summer Carnival Tour tonight (Tuesday) in front of a sell-out crowd in Wales. The singer returns to the UK for the first time in five years for the show at Cardiff's Principality Stadium. The tour then rolls on to London, Dublin, Liverpool and Glasgow before nine gigs on mainland Europe.

Ballet High - Birmingham Royal Ballet (BRB) will make its debut at this year’s Glastonbury Festival. The performance of what BRB described as a "powerful and moving abstract ballet", Interlinked by Juliano Nunes, will take place on Sunday 30 June. Birmingham Royal Ballet’s director, Carlos Acosta said: "We are honoured to be bringing ballet to the Pyramid Stage at this year’s Glastonbury Festival. All of us at Birmingham Royal Ballet are ready and raring to bring Glastonbury festival-goers a performance to be remembered." The performance at Glastonbury follows on from the sell-out success of Black Sabbath - The Ballet in 2023.

Phantom News - Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera marked its 15,000th performance in the West End on 8 June, making it the third in history to reach this milestone. It follows The Mousetrap and Les Misérables in marking this occasion. The show premiered at Her Majesty’s Theatre (now His Majesty’s Theatre) on 9 October 1986 and is currently booking until March 2025.

(Jim Evans)

11 June 2024

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