Creative Scotland’s Archer resigns

Creative Scotland’s Archer resigns

Creative Scotland chief executive Janet Archer, is leaving after five years in the role.

Kampfner stands down from Fed

Kampfner stands down from Fed

John Kampfner has stood down as chief executive of the Creative Industries’ Federation, which he founded four years ago with Sir John Sorrell.

Audience agency in Scotland closes

Audience agency in Scotland closes

Axe falls after Creative Scotland grant cut

Site making its Steel City mark

Site making its Steel City mark

Sheffield’s Site Gallery is to reopen with three times the space, and a new mission with a new artistic director, it was announced today.

Ground rules set for Brexit culture deal

Ground rules set for Brexit culture deal

The government’s Brexit white paper has set out a basis to ensure artists’ mobility between the UK and Europe after Brexit.

Battersea Arts Centre heralds reopening with Trump protest

Battersea Arts Centre heralds reopening with Trump protest

Three years since Battersea Arts Centre’s great hall burnt down, it is pre-empting it autumn opening today with a defiant message for Donald Trump https://www.bac.org.uk.

TAITMAIL   What, me worry, when Mr Wright has come along?

TAITMAIL What, me worry, when Mr Wright has come along?

Who is Jeremy Wright, the headlines on Tuesday were asking.  For me, he bears an unnerving likeness to Mad Magazine’sAlfred E Neuman (a kind of 1960s Forrest Gump who only ever said “What, me worry?”), but he was the Attorney General and is now the seventh Secretary State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport since 2010.

Dulwich to get a Colour Palace

Dulwich to get a Colour Palace

Dulwich Picture Gallery in South London is to get a “Colour Palace” for its gardens next summer.

Shakespeare Schools wins Japanese arts prize

Shakespeare Schools wins Japanese arts prize

The Shakespeare Schools Foundation has won £33,000 in the Japan Art Association’s Praemium Imperiale 2018 awards.

Matthew Bourne’s tours to go green

Matthew Bourne’s tours to go green

Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures dance company is to collaborate with environmental sustainability agency Julie’s Bicycle to creative a creative green certificate for touring.

Arts centre plan for Reading Gaol

Arts centre plan for Reading Gaol

Councillors in Reading are backing a plan to turn the town’s famous jail into an arts centre.

New culture secretary appointed

New culture secretary appointed

Kenilworth MP and former Attorney General Jeremy Wright MP is the latest Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport .

New 'Netflix for the arts' to launch

A company has announced plans to to set up a vesrion of Netflix for the arts.

Creative Europe impact on UK bigger than €74m spend

Creative Europe impact on UK bigger than €74m spend

Two reports out today show that since 2014 the European art development fund, Creative Europe, has spent €74m on 334 UK-based organisations and companies and helped distribute 145 British films in other European countries, but the impact has been worth far more.

Historic London swings

Historic London swings

London’s landmarks have been put to music in the latest phase of the Musicity project, devised to bring a new dimension to familiar architecture.

Boom in book adaptation earnings

Boom in book adaptation earnings

The value to the economy of film, television and theatre adaptations of books is soaring, according to a new report from the Publishers Association – thanks to our copyright laws.

National gets rare Gentileschi self-portrait

National gets rare Gentileschi self-portrait

A self-portrait by Artemisia Gentileschi, who broke the glass ceiling for female artists in 17thcentury Florence, has been acquired by the National Gallery for £3.6m.

Horniman Museum goes greener

Horniman Museum goes greener

The Horniman Museum in South London has ditched its café’s plastic utensils for plant-based coffee cups to sandwich wrappers in an effort to go greener https://www.horniman.ac.uk.

VENUES Facing the music

Grassroots music and arts venues are threatened by ever encroaching residential development. Patrick Kelly reports

The redoubtable East End pub landlady may be a fictional trope beloved of casting directors everywhere, but at the George Tavern in Stepney they have a real live version. Not that Pauline Forster is anything like a stock character. A successful designer who gave up her business to study art and was hauled off by police for staging an artistic intervention at the open- ing of Tate Modern, she took over the George Tavern in 2006 and has turned it into an iconic music venue and performance art hub. A string of celebrity acts have appeared here, often at the beginning of their career.


Last month, Pauline won an important victory in what’s been a 10 year- long battle to save her pub from possible closure. A planning inspector has just thrown out an application to build a block of flats next door to the George, backing Pauline’s objections.

Why would a pub turn away potential local customers? Because she is certain her new neighbours would complain about noise and the 3am licence that keeps her business going would be lost.

This isn’t a case of paranoia. In Manchester major gig venue Night & Day, which has seen the likes of Elbow and the Arctic Monkeys play there in its 23 year history, is under threat after a noise complaint. Despite backing from Elbow’s Guy Garvey, The Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr and the Musicians Union, the venue has been served with an abatement notice and Manchester City council is reviewing the club’s licence.

The Blind Tiger and Freebutt in Brighton and the 200 Club in Newport, Gwent, have closed as a result of noise problems. Another Newport pub has been forced to launch a crowdfunding campaign to raise £10,000 to soundproof the roof after being served with a noise abatement notice.

And one of Bristol’s most famous venues, The Fleece, in business for 32 years, feared “a deluge of complaints” after developers decided to convert a neighbouring office block into flats. A joint campaign with Bristol City Council to insist that developers include sound insulation measures in their plans, has failed.

Not far away from the George, the Wapping Project, a creative arts project and café closed following a slew of complaints from nearby residents.

What’s more, a major report by the Mayor of London found that London
has lost 50% of its nightclubs and 40% of its live music venues over the last eight years, many as a result of plan- ning and noise issues.

“We need work and office space in this area, not flats next to a music venue,” Pauline told the East London Advertiser, fresh from a celebratory concert to mark her court victory. “But it’s been marketed as ‘residential’. Each resident would have the right to complain about our noise.”

Tension between local residents and successful (and usually, noisy) venues is nothing new, of course. But recent legislation and new planning rules have made the situation much worse, says the Music Venue Trust, which campaigns for grassroots venues. The shortage of housing has encouraged developers to build on former industrial sites, where many music venues, attracted in past decades by cheap rents and lack of neighbours, have grown up. City centre sites are also attractive to developers, and most of these sites lie close to night-time venues.

There’s also a problem of attitudes, says the Trusts strategic director, Beverley Whitrick. Local councils say they are legally bound to investigate the complaints of council taxpayers, but fail to take into account the interests of venues, who are ratepayers and who contribute to the economic and commercial health of cities and towns. “Music venues are not perceived as cultural institutions in the same way that theatres or arts centres are. They are put in the same bracket as much more pro table enterprises like nightclubs and bars”.

She added that many grassroots venues are run on a shoestring and have no access to the lawyers and consultants who represent local authorities or developers.

“Venues are suffering up and down the country. Most of them are small businesses and they don’t really have the finances to fight this kind of thing, and they end up losing their business” adds Beverley.

Small grassroots venues have played a crucial role in the development of British music over the last 40 years, nurturing local talent, providing a platform for artists to build their careers and develop their skills, she points out.

It’s this contribution to the cultural life of city centres which is under threat, says MVT. Small venues form “the entire bedrock of the whole British music scene”, according to MVT founder Mark Davyd, who co-owns the Forum in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. “Without these music venues we simply will not have any musical talent coming through” he says.

The Music Venue Trust wants the UK to adopt the “agent of change” principle, which would force de- velopers who build a block of flats next to a venue that is not otherwise causing a nuisance, to pay for sound- proofing.

The idea has been adopted in Melbourne, and both the Greater London Authority and the Welsh Assembly have agreed to pursue similar proposals. But so far, despite support from MPs of all parties, the UK Government maintains that current regulations on noise nuisance should be upheld, with no ifs or buts.

“This problem is very fixable” says Michael Dugher, chief executive of UK Music which is launching a major campaign to protect grassroots music venues this autumn. “All that you need is a sensible planning sys- tem in place which means that the conflict between residents and venues doesn’t lead to closures.”

He believes that there is now widespread acceptance that the “change agents” rule should be part of statute. It was part of the Labour Party’s manifesto in the June election and he is hopeful that MPs will support the campaign.

The venues’ case has an unlikely supporter in the Noise Abatement Society, which agrees that many problems would be nipped in the bud if developers installed good insulation. It wants stricter requirements on the developer at the planning stage.

Meanwhile, Pauline Forster faces another problem. Just weeks after her celebrations, she heard that other developers who have put in a planning bid to convert an empty office block in Jubilee Street at the back of her pub into, what else, but 40 luxury flats.

The Music Venues Trust is organising its annual Venues Day on October 17 at the Ministry of Sound in London. De- tails from www.musicvenuestrust.com

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