The Week in Light & Sound
Tuesday, 13 September 2022
Tribute - Theatre shows across the UK, including Hamilton and Mary Poppins in the West End, have begun taking performances on the day of the Queen’s funeral off sale. There has not yet been an official statement regarding the protocol for theatre performances on 19 September, when the funeral will take place, from the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre.
Official guidance from the government previously stated that theatres would not be under any obligation to close on the day of the ceremony. However, a number of shows across London have taken themselves off sale for that date. The Twitter account for Mary Poppins said the show would be paying tribute to the Queen’s "extraordinary reign". Tickets for Mamma Mia! are also no longer available on 19 September and the Royal Albert Hall has announced that it will close on that day and has postponed a performance by violinist Maxim Vengerov.
Income Support - A weekly income of €325 (£280) has begun to be paid to 2,000 artists, musicians, writers and performers by the Irish government. Plans for the Basic Income for the Arts scheme were originally announced by the Irish government in January. The minister for culture and arts is spending about €25m (£22m) on the scheme. Over 9,000 people applied to the scheme and the 2,000 receiving the income were selected anonymously and at random.
Musicians and artists make up the majority of those who will receive the payment for three years. The Basic Income Scheme for those working in the arts was originally recommended by a taskforce set up by the Irish Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sports and Media, Catherine Martin. The taskforce had been set up to suggest how the arts could recover from the "unprecedented damage" caused by the pandemic.
Mental Health - Sam Fender has announced he is to take a short break from touring to look after his mental health. The artist took to social media to tell fans he and his band were "burnt out". "My friends and colleagues have been worried about me for a while and it's not going to get better unless I take the time to do so," he wrote. Fender's upcoming US headline shows will be cancelled, as well as gigs with Florence and the Machine and the Life is Beautiful Festival.
"It seems completely hypocritical of me to advocate discussion on mental health and write songs about it, if I don't take the time to look after my own mental health," his statement read.
Help for Homeless - A restaurant owner says the nation has "come together" as a team of volunteers rushed to collect food from a cancelled event to feed 250 homeless people. The Mercury Prize awards show at the Hammersmith Apollo was scrapped after news of the Queen's death on Thursday. Shortlisted artist and singer Self Esteem appealed for help on Twitter and caught the attention of Amrit Maan, owner of Punjab Covent Garden. "It shows we can come together as a nation, we're one big tribe," he said.
After the cancellation of the west London ceremony recognising the best British album of the year, Mr Maan organised the 17 batches of food to be stored at his restaurant ahead of its distribution to homeless people over the weekend.
In The Ring - The new UK Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan has varied experience in the worlds of media, sport and entertainment, including a previous job with US wrestling franchise WWE. Now, she is gearing up for political combat over issues ranging from online regulation to the futures of Channel 4 and the BBC.
After going to state school in Cheshire and becoming the first in her family to go to university - studying history and politics at York - Ms Donelan began a media career as marketing assistant on Marie Claire and That's Life magazines. That was followed by marketing-executive jobs at the History Channel and World Wrestling Entertainment, and a spell as a marketing freelancer. She moved into politics in 2015, becoming the MP for Chippenham, Wiltshire, before being appointed as a government whip and a minister in the Department for Education.
Energy Crisis - Arts centres have warned they need to be supported beyond the six-month energy plan outlined by the government if they are to survive the next two years. Their warning comes after prime minister Liz Truss announced a plan to help businesses in the face of spiralling electricity costs, promising them "equivalent support" to that offered to domestic households. A typical UK household will pay no more than £2,500 a year on their energy bill for the next two years from October 1.
Exact details were not confirmed, prompting industry bodies to call for more clarity as a matter of urgency. They said theatre and the arts would need to be part of a government plan to provide targeted support to vulnerable sectors beyond the initial six-month period.
Now, Future Arts Centres – a campaigning and advocacy body representing arts centres across the UK – has added its voice to the calls, highlighting the impact electricity prices are having on its members, with some quoted tariffs eight times what they normally pay. Its members include Rich Mix and artsdepot in London, and the Brewhouse in Taunton.
(Jim Evans)
13 September 2022

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