The Week in Light & Sound
Tuesday, 13 July 2021
Turning Point - Most COVID safety measures will remain in theatres from next week, including a "strong recommendation" for the continued use of face masks, the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre have announced. As the government confirms that Step 4 of the reopening roadmap will go ahead on 19 July, SOLT and UK Theatre said that, despite key measures such as social distancing being relaxed, theatres in England will maintain many of the mitigations brought in to limit the spread of COVID-19. These include face coverings, enhanced cleaning and restricted stage-door interactions.
UK Theatre president Fiona Allan said the body was "relieved" at the news of full reopening, describing it as a "turning point on the road to recovery", while SOLT and UK Theatre chief executive Julian Bird stressed the importance of preserving audience confidence as theatregoers return.
"The thousands of people who have already come back to the theatre since 17 May have been overwhelmingly positive about their experience and how safe and comfortable they felt. As we increase capacity, we want to ensure that this positive audience sentiment remains. For this reason, we hope audience members show respect for fellow theatregoers and staff by continuing to wear face coverings when coming into our venues and moving around them," he said.
South Bank Blues - The UK economy lost £330m in the last financial year as a result of the closure of five cultural institutions on London’s South Bank due to the pandemic, according to a new report. Entitled Engine of Recovery: Culture on the South Bank and Waterloo, the report assesses the contribution of the National Theatre, Rambert, the Southbank Centre, the Old Vic and the Young Vic. It is commissioned by the London Borough of Lambeth and South Bank BID, with the research conducted by Hatch.
The research found that in addition to a loss of £330m of gross value added for the UK economy, there were also 5,500 job losses usually generated by the cluster. Other key findings: Visits dropped from 5.6m to 50,000 during the 2020/21 financial year; Only 1% of visits came from overseas, compared to 43% pre-Covid; The cluster secured £35.8m of emergency funding through the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund, £30.6m of which was in the form of loans. According to the report, the five institutions generated £510m per year in gross value added to the UK economy pre-COVID.
Recovery Position - Arts Council England has released details of how organisations can apply for emergency funding totalling £20m as part of round three of the Cultural Recovery Fund. This is the first part of the Cultural Recovery Fund’s third round, with a continuity support funding strand to be announced later in the year. Organisations can apply for grants ranging from £25,000 to £3m - or a maximum of £1m for commercially run organisations.
Applicants must be able to demonstrate that they are “culturally significant” organisations that were financially stable before Covid-19 but are now at risk of failure within the next 12 weeks and “have exhausted all other reasonable options for increasing their resilience”.
Reading Rocks - Reading Festival is one step closer to going ahead this summer after the local council granted its event licence. It comes after the government confirmed COVID-19 restrictions would end on 19 July, meaning large events like festivals could run. Reading Borough Council said there would need to be "detailed consideration" on how to minimise the risk of coronavirus. The festival is expected to take place from 27 to 29 August this year.
Off The Shelf - Supermarket giant Sainsbury's says it has decided to stop selling CDs and DVDs as streaming services take their toll on sales of the products. A spokesperson said Sainsbury's customers increasingly went for music and films online instead of buying the shiny silver discs. The firm said sales were being phased out, although it would continue to sell vinyl records in some stores.
Other big supermarkets show no sign of following Sainsbury's lead, with larger branches of Tesco, Asda and Morrisons still stocking a range of CDs and DVDs. "Our customers increasingly go online for entertainment, so earlier this year we took the decision to gradually phase out the sale of DVDs and CDs, so that we can dedicate extra space to food and popular products like clothing and homewares," Sainsbury's said.
Sweet Charity - Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline, a song written for his wife more than 50 years ago and inspired by the daughter of a former US president, became the unofficial anthem of the England team at Euro 2020.
On first release, the song reached number four in the US chart and number eight in the UK and became a staple of Diamond's live shows. But the first hint of its potential as a sporting crowd-pleaser came in the late 1990s when it was played during a Boston Red Sox baseball game for an employee who had named her newborn Caroline. The Red Sox decided it was good luck and started playing it every week from 2003. In 2013, the singer pledged all future royalties from the tune to a charity supporting victims of the Boston Marathon bombing.
(Jim Evans)
13 July 2021

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