Arts Education Funding - Youth dance and music schemes will benefit from an increased £109m in government spending in the coming year, after the Department for Education pledged its support for cultural education programmes. A number of projects - including the National Youth Dance Company and the BFI Film Academy - will be granted a share of £4m in the 2015/16 financial year. It was also revealed an extra £1.1m with be spent on In Harmony programmes - which aim to engage children in deprived areas with orchestral music - as well as National Youth Music organisations such as the National Youth Orchestra and Music for Youth's Schools Prom concerts.

The Music and Dance Scheme, which provides financial assistance to applicants for specialist arts schools, has also had its financial support bumped up by £1m - bringing its total funding to £29m. In addition, the Department for Education confirmed plans first announced last year that £75m of funding would be distributed to 123 music education hubs, which assist schools with music teaching.

Yellow Brick Road - Elton John is launching a theatre production company that will have a strong emphasis on the creation of original musicals, including a new family show that will feature songs from his back catalogue. Rocket Stage is a £10m joint venture between Old Vic Productions - the co-producer of Billy Elliot the musical, which features music by John - and Rocket Pictures, the entertainment company created by John, David Furnish and Steve Hamilton-Shaw.

OVP will invest 25% into the company, with the remaining 75% from Rocket Pictures. Under the joint venture, OVP will invest £2.5 million in cash over the next three years. Rocket Stage is currently working on five new musicals, one of which is a family show that will feature existing songs penned by John, alongside new material. The second is a brand new show that will feature an entirely new score from John.

Park Life - Kylie Minogue will headline the British Summer Time festival at Hyde Park in June. She will be joined by Grace Jones and Nile Rodgers, bringing a disco theme to the event on 21 June. The 10-day festival also features The Who and Taylor Swift as headliners on Friday 26 and Saturday 27 June respectively.

Dagenham Down - The musical Made in Dagenham is to close at the Adelphi theatre after a West End run of six months. The producers said they were "sad to have to say goodbye" at a time when new British musicals were "few and far between". Based on the 2010 film, the production tells the story of the Ford sewing machinists' strike of 1968 over equal pay for women.

The musical comedy - written by Richard Bean, with music by David Arnold and lyrics by Richard Thomas - began previews in October last year and will add a further two weeks to its booking period before the final performance on 11 April. The producers are said to be in discussions about a UK tour.

Auf Wiedersehen - Edgar Froese, founding member of the German electronic group Tangerine Dream, has died in Vienna, aged 70. Also, farewell to solo singer and Aphrodite's Child, Demis Roussos who quietly notched up impressive worldwide album sales of 60m.

(Jim Evans)


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