The Week in Light & Sound
Tuesday, 8 June 2021
Prohibitive Pricing - Theatre companies are warning that prohibitively high prices and uncertainty over COVID-19 are hindering their efforts to stage outdoor work this summer, with reports that some venues are hesitant to hire their spaces to theatre producers while others have withdrawn entirely. Mid-scale companies are being especially hard hit, producers are warning, with a lack of available digs also making producing shows particularly difficult to stage.
Companies including Oxford-based Creation Theatre and touring theatre group Handlebards, as well as the Association of Circus Proprietors of Great Britain, have said the knock-on effects of the pandemic are generating new challenges to booking outdoor venues. Creation Theatre is planning to stage a production of The Wind in the Willows this summer, but told The Stage it was struggling to find a suitable space at an affordable rate.
Chief executive and creative producer Lucy Askew said councils and other managers of green spaces that are usually open to shows were deciding against hosting large events, or were prioritising conference hires over theatre productions because they generate more income.
"We’ve found that the local council is being really supportive and helpful, but council money is decimated from the pandemic, so it’s looking to charge what for us is a prohibitively high hire fee for a space, when historically it was able to offer spaces more or less for free or to come up with some in-kind ways to make it achievable," Askew said.
In The Stream - UK artists are calling on the government to reform the way musicians are paid when their songs are streamed online. The Rolling Stones and Sir Tom Jones are among the artists who have written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, saying the law "has not kept up with the pace of technological change" when calculating payments.
First published in April, the open letter now includes the signature of every modern British artist named by Johnson on Desert Island Discs. Among the 234 signatories are Sir Paul McCartney, Van Morrison and the estate of Joe Strummer. The current generation of pop stars has also put its weight behind the letter, including rapper Kano, rock band Wolf Alice and pop star Jessie Ware.
The thrust of their argument is that streaming services and record labels are making billions of pounds in revenue, without distributing it fairly to artists. "Today's musicians receive very little income from their performances - most featured artists receive tiny fractions of a US cent per stream and session musicians receive nothing at all," the letter reads.
Campaign Milestone - The Show Must Go On! campaign has now raised £1m to support theatre workers struggling financially because of the pandemic. The campaign, founded by the Theatre Support Fund+, has reached the £1m milestone just over a year after it was set up, and as it staged a series of West End concerts featuring musical theatre stars performing for live audiences at London’s Palace Theatre.
Money has been raised through the sale of The Show Must Go On! T-shirts and other merchandise and supports charities for the theatre workforce including Acting for Others and the Fleabag Support Fund, as well as the NHS COVID-19 Urgent Appeal. The Show Must Go On! Live took place 2-6 June at the Palace Theatre, and was also live streamed for free on YouTube. Performers included Trevor Dion Nicholas - who also hosted the show with Bonnie Langford - Aisha Jawando, Alice Fearn, John Owen-Jones, Lucy St Louis, Rhys Whitfield and Mazz Murray.
Euro Show - Ed Sheeran has announced he will perform a virtual gig from Ipswich Town's ground as part of Euro 2020. The concert will be staged at Portman Road on 25 June and streamed on the singer's TikTok channel. Sheeran, who will perform his forthcoming new single, announced the gig in a video featuring David Beckham. The Suffolk singer, who supports Ipswich and sponsors the team's shirts, said: "Can't wait to be live from Portman Road. It's a place I love." He added: "I'm looking forward to performing some fan faves as well as my new track for the first time. See you on the 25 June."
(Jim Evans)
8 June 2021

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