So what are you and your team at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport doing to reassure the arts community and provide a concrete plan of action? Well so far you have come up with a five-phase roadmap for the performing arts that is worse than useless. Sam Goldwyn said that “a verbal agreement isn’t worth the paper it’s written on” and a roadmap that offers no clue as to how to get to one’s destination is positively insulting. What’s most alarming is that it reveals a total incomprehension as to how the arts actually work. A Phase 1 stage of “rehearsal and training” supposedly leads to a Phase 4 and 5 stage of outdoor and indoor performance. But how can any theatre start rehearsing a production when it has no guarantee of financial support nor any idea whether it will even exist in a few weeks’ time? Wouldn’t that be the height of irresponsibility? … [Read more...] about Dear Oliver Dowden, have you even begun to grasp the scale of our arts crisis?
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In a battle-torn landscape governed by zeroes and ones, nuance, compromise and empathy are the first casualties. If I were to sum up the online culture war in one word it would be “diaphobia”, a term coined by the psychiatrist RD Laing meaning “fear of being influenced by other people”, the opposite of dialogue. Our ever-present underlying historical and enculturated emotions will nudge us to cherrypick and polish the nuggets of information that support a stance that may have been in our bodies from childhood. Once we have taken sides, the algorithms will supply us with a stream of content to entrench and confirm our beliefs. … [Read more...] about Be it on God, guns or Greta, social media offers neat solutions for our messy feelings
Economic constraints and Covid safety measures have meant that many of England’s theatres have reopened with monologues or two-handers. However, Regents Park Open Air theatre is presenting a concert version of Jesus Christ Superstar – with the actors socially distanced – and a new musical adaptation of the romcom Sleepless in Seattle recently opened at the Troubadour Wembley Park theatre. But Six’s producers warned that remounting musicals “remains impossible for most producers for reasons of scale, finance and lack of cancellation insurance”. They added: “We continue to look forward to the day when social distancing is removed and theatre can play to 100% capacity.” … [Read more...] about Tudor girl-band concert Six set to be first musical to reopen in West End
Mendes calls the Covid-19 pandemic “the biggest challenge to Britain’s cultural life since the outbreak of the second world war” and stresses that the arts are “a giant economic growth engine”, with theatre launching the careers of thousands who go on to work in the film and TV industries. Mendes started out as a theatre director and launched his film career with the Oscar-winning American Beauty after he had spent several years at the Donmar Warehouse in London. … [Read more...] about Sam Mendes calls on Netflix and Amazon to share ‘Covid-19 windfall’ with theatre
Fourth, theatres need to be at the centre of civic regeneration as post-lockdown Britain becomes more community-minded. Local councils should be incentivised to support ways in which theatre can bring benefits to education, community trusts, hospitals and prisons. Broadcasters should be galvanised to showcase more work from the theatre which supplies them with so much of their talent. The Department for Education could be encouraged to restore creative subjects to every school curriculum. … [Read more...] about The government’s plan for UK theatre is vague and demoralising – here’s what we need