January 2021

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31 January - ‘It would be a crime’: Why the Government must not scrap the performing arts BTEC

A proposed education policy change would narrow theatre’s talent pipeline and severely disadvantage young people.

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29 January - Freelancer support tops leaders’ demands on government to aid sector’s recovery

Leading arts figures including Tamara Rojo, Rufus Norris and Athena Stevens have outlined measures they want the government to take to aid the sector’s post Covid-recovery, with a particular emphasis on supporting freelancers.

Their demands include sending paid creative freelancers into every local authority to engage with communities and requiring publicly funded arts organisations to include freelancers in their leadership models, as well as expanding tax reliefs in the creative industries.

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29 January - Funding delay in Northern Ireland as emergency grant announcement pushed back

Arts organisations in Northern Ireland will have to wait another week before finding out whether they have been allocated coronavirus recovery grants due to the complexity of the application process, the country’s arts council has said.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland also warned that more than £24 million had been requested by organisations struggling with the effects of the pandemic, but the fund only has £7.75 million to hand out.

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28 January - Future of Scottish theatre at risk post-pandemic, committee hears

Scottish theatre will not be revived after the pandemic unless more measures – including additional funding and a government-backed insurance scheme – are put in place to help it, the Scottish parliament’s culture committee has been warned.

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28 January - Industry figures pen letter to government warning of 'devastating consequences' for touring after Brexit

Theatre industry figures and MPs have warned of the ‘devastating’ impact on European touring after Brexit.

In a letter released today, the government was told of the “devastating consequences of (and possible solutions to) the lack of clarification on provisions of the Brexit deal for the performing arts across the UK.”

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28 January - MPs and arts leaders call for funding to mitigate cost of Brexit on touring

MPs and leading arts figures have jointly written to the government calling for urgent financial support to “mitigate additional costs and lost work” caused by Brexit rules on touring.

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28 January - The Vertical Theatre Group Announces New Era Of Performance Venues With 'The Vertical Theatre'

The newly established The Vertical Theatre Group today announced the launch of The Vertical Theatre, a vision for a ‘future-proof’ live performance venue. This new innovative, tourable, free-standing venue is designed to help guarantee the new future of live entertainment.

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28 January - English National Opera lessons for long Covid sufferers

Mum of two, Sheeba, is one of the early participants of a joint venture between English National Opera and Imperial College London to help those feeling the effects of long Covid.

With great results, the pilot programme is now being extended to another 1,000 long Covid patients.

Read more here

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28 January - All the world’s a stage – how theatre keeps going in a global pandemic

While venues are closed in some countries, live performance continues in others where Covid is under control. Theatremakers from around the world tell Nick Awde how they are adapting to local restrictions and keeping creative whether their audiences can attend in person or online

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28 January - List of theatres at risk in 2021 revealed in new Theatres Trust register

The Theatres Trust has unveiled its 2021 register, highlighting venues that are in need of refurbishment but could be of great value to communities across the UK, if given the right level of support.

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28 January - We must protect and nurture talent to rebuild our industry

Now is the time to develop a sector that topples structural inequality and truly serves everyone in it, says artistic director Natalie Ibu. Only then will we hold on to our talent and be able to invite new artists to take a seat at the table

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27 January - COVID-19 crisis will have ‘massive and lasting’ impact on Europe’s culture sector, says report

The study on the state of the cultural and creative industries (CCIs) in Europe also says that the industry can be “one of the drivers to help boost and revamp” the EU economy.

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27 January - UK government to unveil 'roadmap' to reopening society in week commencing 22 February

The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that the government will unveil plans for reopening the country in the week commencing 22 February.

Speaking to the public tonight, Johnson said that: “With every jab that goes in we become more confident that we will reach our target of giving a vaccine to those in the top four groups”.

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27 January - Hardship fund established for Manchester's arts freelancers

Manchester City Council has set up a hardship fund for freelancers working in the city’s creative sector, to help alleviate financial difficulty caused by loss of work

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27 January - Supporting freelancers would be 'relatively cheap'

A year’s worth of income support payments for arts sector freelancers would cost an estimated £880m – less than 1% of the subsidy bill to date.

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26 January - ‘Brexit draws a massive line through cross-border work’: can theatre tours go on?

Unless visa requirements and border delays are solved, UK theatre-makers will lose their global market – and that affects work at home too

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26 January - Arts workers still 'in serious need of help', Equity tells government

Arts union Equity has written to the chancellor and culture secretary to say most of its members are still “in serious need of financial help”.

Government schemes so far have proved “inadequate and patchy at best”, its general secretary and president said.

“Creative workers need action now,” they wrote, adding that many were “struggling to stay afloat”.

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26 January - Equity demands 'urgent financial support' for creative workers

Equity is calling on the government to urgently increase financial support for creative workers, who it argues have endured almost “a year of devastating blows” since theatres first closed due to Covid-19.

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26 January - EU’s creative sector ‘faces economic devastation from Covid’

Europe’s cultural and creative sector has been hit harder by the coronavirus crisis than every other industry except aviation, according to a study that calls for major public and private investment to avert possibly irreparable long-term damage.

According to the report, revenues in the sector – which includes TV, cinema, radio, music, publishing, video games, the performing and visual arts – plunged by 31.2% last year compared with 2019. It was hit even harder than tourism, which lost 27% of its income.

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25 January - HMRC waives penalty for late filing of self-assessments

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has announced that it will waive fines for self-assessments that miss the 31 January deadline, as long as they are filed online by 28 February.

Typically, not meeting the deadline would result in an automatic £100 penalty.

The tax agency said more than 8.9 million customers have already filed their tax returns.

However, taxpayers are still required to pay their tax bills by 31 January.

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25 January - NT’s Rufus Norris calls for next CRF round to be ‘ring-fenced’ for productions

National Theatre director Rufus Norris has called for money awarded in the next round of the Culture Recovery Fund to be “ring-fenced” for productions, claiming this will help support freelancers who have so far not been eligible for support.

Speaking to the BBC’s Newsnight programme, he addressed the timelines for CRF grants, particularly in the next round – in which the money is to be used by the end June.

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25 January - Scots musicians ‘need exchange scheme’

Writing in The Times, he called for an initiative such as a new Erasmus Scotland scheme, adding that the conservatoire would be “all the poorer if European and Scottish students cannot trade experiences and ideas”.

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25 January - American theater may not survive the coronavirus. We need help now Jeremy O'Harris

Recently, I was in a taxi and the driver asked me what I did. When I told him I’m a playwright, he looked back at me with true pity. “I feel for you people. I’m real poor on money right now, like most cab drivers, but at least I can work … for hospitality and the arts it’s like the light just got turned off. It ain’t right.”

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25 January - UK government working on 'realistic return date' and exploring insurance 'challenge'

Responding to The Times over the weekend, the UK government issued a statement of intent for the reopening of venues.

Rather than a firm schedule, the government pledged that it was looking for a “realistic return date” – which may be in line with the current tier restrictions currently in place and the ongoing vaccination process.

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25 January - This year’s tax return is salt in the wound for struggling freelancers

There’s one conversation theatre freelancers hate. I’ve noticed it in dressing rooms, pubs and in the chatrooms for the Green Room feature – mention tax returns and you’ll instantly be shut down.

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25 January - Roll up, roll up: why circus owners want to help with the vaccine effort

With capacity for social distancing and experience travelling up and down the country, the Circus’s use in the vaccine roll-out is no joke

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25 January - We all want theatres to reopen, but responsible producers know patience is a virtue

I admire the stance of Kenny Wax, producer of Six and The Play That Goes Wrong, who said he won’t necessarily reopen West End shows as soon as all over-50s have been vaccinated because “I have a responsibility to my cast”. He said: “Even if the over-50s have been vaccinated by May, most of our cast members and a high percentage of our audience are under 50, so how can we put them all at risk? I would need a great deal of reassurance from the scientists.”

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25 January - Lloyd-Webber battles to bring Broadway-style bailout to West End

Theatre producers will prioritise reopening shows on Broadway before the West End as Joe Biden’s government launches generous support packages for productions in America, British impresarios fear.

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22 January - 44% drop in BME female arts workers branded ‘highly alarming’ by unions

The number of black and minority ethnic women working in the entertainment sector has dropped by 44% over the past year, according to new data.

Entertainment unions Equity and BECTU have described the findings as highly alarming, and said they confirmed fears that the pandemic has disproportionately affected the arts’ minority ethnic workforce.

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22 January - 44% drop in BME female arts workers branded ‘highly alarming’ by unions

The number of black and minority ethnic women working in the entertainment sector has dropped by 44% over the past year, according to new data.

Entertainment unions Equity and BECTU have described the findings as highly alarming, and said they confirmed fears that the pandemic has disproportionately affected the arts’ minority ethnic workforce.

Read more here

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22 January - Government stalls on insurance scheme for UK music festivals

Culture minister claims getting start date for events is first step, but organisers say festival planning is impossible without cover, as offered to the film and TV sector

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21 January - New horizons: has Covid helped to spark positive change in the industry?

During the first lockdown, some felt this seismic shock offered a chance for the industry to rethink and reset, but how true has that proved? Theatremakers speak to Natasha Tripney about the developments that give them hope

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21 January - 'The total confusion about post-Brexit rules adds to the distress': classical musicians speak out

“Fuck business,” Boris Johnson is alleged to have said while Foreign Secretary. (He didn’t deny it). We have seen enough over the past three weeks of the impact of Brexit on fishermen, hauliers, wine merchants and a host of business people to know that he wasn’t joking.

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21 January - Brexit will leave UK theatremakers stranded from the world unless ministers act now

Desperate for a vibrant re-emergence in 2021, UK theatre could yet be scuppered by another crisis, this time imposed by the government’s flawed EU deal. Selladoor Worldwide chief David Hutchinson says cross-border artist exchange must be protected

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21 January - As the cancellations mount, so do the fears about theatre's likely return

From Les Misérables to Disney’s Frozen, cancellations are piling up in the West End. The vaccine isn’t enough to rescue the arts just yet

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21 January - The West End is facing its most radical shake-up in decades

Throughout its history, the West End has leant heavily on its long-running shows: those durable bankers that are Theatreland’s economic backbone, whose brands are as strong a sales pitch to audiences as a star actor.

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20 January - #LoveDanceScotland announces recipients of £70k award

Recipients of a new £70,000 award to help sustain Scottish-based independent dance artists during the pandemic have been announced.

Dance Base Scotland, Dundee Rep Theatre, Scottish Dance Theatre and Tramway in Glasgow have partnered for the first time to award the #LoveDanceScotland Commissions.

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20 January - MPs demand answers over lack of Covid support for self-employed

Parliament’s spending watchdog has called on the government to explain and fix issues with the tax system that have denied whole groups of freelancers and self-employed workers financial support during the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more here

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