The Week in Light & Sound
Tuesday, 29 August 2017
Record Breakers - The Edinburgh Festival Fringe and the International Festival have both had record breaking box offices in their 70th anniversary year. By Monday afternoon an estimated 2,696,884 tickets had been issued for Fringe shows, an increase of 9% on last year. The event saw 53,232 performances of 3,398 shows at about 300 venues. Edinburgh International Festival's sales topped £4.3m and audiences surpassed 450,000. The Edinburgh Book Festival also had a good year with a record footfall of more than 250,000 into Charlotte Square Gardens, the largest audience in its 34-year history.
The venues for this year's Fringe included a swimming pool, a bathroom, a football ground, a tunnel and a racecourse with themes ranging from identity and grief to Brexit, Trump and the Syrian conflict.
Shona McCarthy, chief executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, said: "This has been a very special year for the Fringe as we celebrated 70 years of defying the norm, 70 years of the greatest melting pot of arts and culture anywhere on the planet, and 70 years of Edinburgh as an internationally renowned festival city. The Fringe continues to play an essential role in the worldwide arts community, enabling artists to showcase their work, reach new audiences and make new connections."I hope that everyone that has attended a show, watched a street performance, or spent time in one of the hundreds of venues around the city has enjoyed their Fringe experience."
Pop & Politics - The MTV Video Music Awards are always a big night for pop music, but were also dominated by political statements at a fiery show in Los Angeles. Artists spoke out against white supremacy and urged suicide awareness during the awards on Sunday night. Transgender military personnel attended, days after President Donald Trump signed a directive to ban them.
Kendrick Lamar was the night's big winner, picking up six awards including video of the year for HUMBLE. Ed Sheeran was named Artist of the Year and Fifth Harmony got the Best Pop Video award for Down.
Pay Talks - Entertainment union BECTU is seeking a 9% pay rise for West End theatre workers. The body is also asking for employers covered by its West End pay agreement to commit to paying the London Living Wage of £9.75 an hour as a minimum rate for all staff including box-office workers and ushers. Workers who are already being paid this rate should receive a 9% rise to “maintain differentiation” across the different levels of staff, BECTU has said.
The union, which represents non-performing theatre workers including front-of-house and backstage staff, said the 9% pay claim is justified by "the steady increase in the cost of living”. BECTU also cited high transport and housing costs in the capital as real cost pressures for the workforce that employers need to consider. Talks between the union and the Society of London Theatre, which represents all West End theatres, are due to begin on August 31 to negotiate a new pay agreement.

Opera News - Glyndebourne has unveiled plans for a major new production centre that will bring all of its production departments under one roof for the first time. It will be the opera organisation’s biggest capital development since the rebuilding of its opera house in 1994.
The building, for which planning permission is sought, will house the technical workspace needed to mount its productions as well as providing extra rehearsal space and three new music practice rooms. It will house Glyndebourne's props and carpentry departments as well as its costume department, design studio and make-up and wigs workrooms. There will also be a public-facing element to the building, with plans to offer backstage tours.
Glyndebourne said the new building would help attract and retain creative staff as well as providing state-of-the-art facilities for its work. It will also be built to improve the organisation’s environmental footprint.
(Jim Evans)
29 August 2017

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