TAITMAIL  Arts centres: investing in the bottom line

TAITMAIL Arts centres: investing in the bottom line

There was a poignant throwaway line on Front Row’s edition devoted to Rethink last week when the panel was lamenting any meaningful suggestions from the government about how to avoid the black hole our cultural infrastructure is heading headlong for. “In the absence of large art” said the equality campaigner Amanda Parker “people found local”.

‘Get your own house in order’ Tom Watson tells arts

‘Get your own house in order’ Tom Watson tells arts

Former Labour deputy leader and ex-shadow culture secretary Tom Watson has warned the arts that the sector needs internal reform as well as government commitment to ensure its future post-Covid.

Northern Ireland gets extra £4m arts cash

Northern Ireland gets extra £4m arts cash

Minister promises move on ‘creative future’

Lottery is back

Lottery is back

Arts Council England is bringing back the National Lottery Project Grants from later this month, with easier access than before.

THE ART OF PHOTOJOURNALISM    Image of the month

THE ART OF PHOTOJOURNALISM Image of the month

Neville Chamberlain at Heston Aerodrome, 30th September 1938, by Fred Ramage, Keystone Picture Agency

Alan Sparrow introduces this month’s image

‘Put arts centres at heart of Covid recovery’

‘Put arts centres at heart of Covid recovery’

A network of 100 arts centres across the UK has put together proposals for local and regional arts centres to be at the heart of a culture revival after the Covid lockdown.

Museums and galleries set to reopen - with caution

Museums and galleries set to reopen - with caution

Following the further relaxing of lockdown restrictions from July 4, England’s museums and galleries are preparing to reopen with strict distancing rules, timed visits and in some cases booking only, with the National Gallery the first of the major institutions to welcome visitors again on July 8.

Leading artists give to lockdown cancer auction

Leading artists give to lockdown cancer auction

Forty-eight of the world’s leading artists, architects and designers have given works of art to be auctioned in aid of Maggie’s Cancer Care Centres.

Making a living

Making a living

Founded in London in 2015, Mayku and its Formbox technology has been helping artists and craftspeople during lockdown realise their imagination and create at home, objects from plant pots to bath bombs with production growing at a rate of 100% a month through March and April. Here its co-founder and CEO Alex Smilansky explains how and what.

Perth set to make venues' staff redundant

Perth set to make venues' staff redundant

Horsecross Arts, the charity that runs Perth Concert Hall and Perth Theatre for Perth and Kinross Council which have been closed since mid-March in the Covid lockdown, is preparing to make redundancies.

Dowden publishes roadmap for theatres

Dowden publishes roadmap for theatres

But phased re-opening is missing dates and cash

Rocca to be LPO’s artistic director

Rocca to be LPO’s artistic director

Cristina Rocca is to be the artistic director of the London Philharmonic Orchestra in the new management set up at the ensemble.

Theatre stars ‘heartbroken’ over threat to Plymouth theatre

Theatre stars ‘heartbroken’ over threat to Plymouth theatre

Actors James Corden and Sue Perkins and the playwright James Graham have spoken of their alarm at news the Theatre Royal Plymouth may not be able to reopen after the Covid-19 shutdown.

Ironbridge first museum to reopen

Ironbridge first museum to reopen

The open air Ironbridge Gorge Museum in Shropshire is the first museum to announce its partial reopening following the relaxation of lockdown rules announced by Boris Johnson earlier today.

Johnson confirms, museums can reopen from July 4

Johnson confirms, museums can reopen from July 4

The Prime Minister’s confirmation today of a new relaxation of the lockdown allowing museums, galleries and cinemas it reopen from July 4 has been welcomed by national museums directors, but with caution and a warning from the union Prospect.

Black opera stars join campaign with ‘Make Them Hear You’ anthem

Black opera stars join campaign with ‘Make Them Hear You’ anthem

Twenty-six black opera singers from around the world have been brought together digitally from around the world to create an anthem for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Hackney commissions Windrush sculptures

Hackney commissions Windrush sculptures

Two permanent sculptures, one of them nine feet tall, are to stand outside Hackney Town Hall to honour the Windrush generation, it was announced today, officially National Windrush Day.

‘Shed’ auction raises £18k for Florence Nightingale Museum

‘Shed’ auction raises £18k for Florence Nightingale Museum

TV auctioneer Charles Hanson’s online auction from his garden shed on Friday raised more than £18,000 towards the survival fund of the Florence Nightingale Museum.

Glyndebourne reopens – with garden festival

Glyndebourne reopens – with garden festival

The Glyndebourne opera festival is to open on July 1 – as an open air event of £10 tickets in a “newly imagined” summer season.

Amazon boss to head Natural History Museum

Amazon boss to head Natural History Museum

Doug Gurr, the head of Amazon in the UK, is to be the next director of the Natural History Museum, taking over later this year from Sir Michael Dixon who has been director since 2005.

Googling into the Royal Academy

Googling into the Royal Academy

The Royal Academy, currently closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic, is opening as it never has before.

Shed auction to save Nightingale museum

Shed auction to save Nightingale museum

Television auctioneer Charles Hanson is to hold an online sale to help save the Florence Nightingale Museum from closure – taking bids in his Derbyshire garden shed.

‘Cultural catastrophe’ forecast with 400k jobs and £74bn revenue lost

‘Cultural catastrophe’ forecast with 400k jobs and £74bn revenue lost

Urgent call for government sponsored Cultural Renewal Fund follows bombshell report

Art Fund’s £2m lever to reopen museums

Art Fund’s £2m lever to reopen museums

Art Fund has today announced a £2m programme to help museums and galleries work towards reopening, including an innovative exhibition sharing scheme.

Grey paper

Wikipedia says a White Paper is “an authoritative report or guide that informs readers concisely about a complex issue and presents the issuing body's philosophy on the matter”. Infopedia says White Papers are “sales and marketing documents used to entice or persuade potential customers to learn more about or purchase a particular product, service, technology or methodology”. In the case of the Culture White Paper launched today, Jude Kelly calls it simply “a statement of belief”. So what is it?

It would be churlish not to recognize the achievement of producing such a document, and what it does is set out in black and, particularly, white that the government believes the arts and culture are fundamental to not just the economy but our collective well-being, so there’s philosophy; what it might be selling is the government’s cultural credibility. But Ed Vaizey, whose baby it is, has encapsulated the essence of change that is shoving our artistic endeavours around at the moment, a change he chooses not to credit to the funding storms that the government has assailed the arts with since 2010. There’s a new mood of enterprise, of philanthropy, of self-reliance that needs to be formally harnessed. 

So he is taking a lead by telling the arts to talk among themselves more, to co-operate, to get the ridiculous inconsistencies of what is called primly “diversity” – not enough black/female/young/homosexual leaders or even participants – corrected, to ensure that kids from poor backgrounds can have a chance of inspiration. He is standing up with the government and saying “This is what should be happening”, and he did well to get it out now given the extreme tightness of government schedules which meant that if he hadn’t managed it before Easter we might have had to wait until the autumn, or later. One very big arts panjandrum there this morning said in its favour that it was better to have had it than not to have had it.

What the White Paper does not do, and Vaizey might say isn’t supposed to do, is present either a stick or a carrot: no sanction for those that don’t adhere to this statement of belief, no financial encouragement either. As we kept being told today, this is the first White Paper since the very first in 1965 but brief as that was (ten pages, 200 paragraphs, Vaizey reminded us) it was accompanied by a considerable hike in arts subsidy and a new national brief for the Arts Council: there’s no new cash in these 68 pages. 

There is plenty in the White Paper that we already know about – the Great Exhibition of the North, City of Culture, £20m for doing up cathedrals – because they are Treasury initiatives already announced by George Osborne. The fact is that the kind of arts that happen in communities and tend to be run by local authorities make almost £6bn a year for this country, and Vaizey is having to find ways of relieving the local authority arts funding crisis without cash. So show willing, not your wallet.

Politics, I’m afraid. Another panjandrum pointed out to me that there is one British institution that more than any other commissions, produces, sells, exports the best of our culture, and in the course of it entertains and informs the entire nation, and it gets no mention anywhere in this document. It is, of course, the BBC. Now why ever would that be?

 

 

 

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