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The Week August 11th - August 15th

published on Friday, 15 August, 2014 | Comments | Make A Comment


Welcome dear readers to another weekly round up of the arts in the news from the barbed fingers of our elite link gathering team.

Running Scared

We can't remember a week when we didn't report on people in the arts targeting other people in the arts because of their associations with Israel.

This week (as reported by the Guardian) it's the Tricycle Theatre in London "banning" the 'Jewish Film Festival' thanks to a £1,400 donation from the Israeli Embassy.

So tainted is the money, in the eyes of the board of the Tricycle, that they couldn't bring themselves to be associated with an event that has been running for years.

"However, Indhu Rubasingham, artistic director of the Tricycle, said due to the sensitivity of the ongoing Israeli-Palestine conflict, the theatre's board had taken the decision not to host the festival under its current sponsorship arrangement.

She said: "The festival receives funding from the Israeli embassy and, given the current conflict in Israel and Gaza, we feel it is inappropriate to accept financial support from any government agency involved."

The obvious irony here is that the Tricycle theatre receives money from Arts Council England and the UK government is involved, at any one time, in about a dozen armed conflicts around the world in one way or another.

UK Inc™ also supplies weapons to the Israelis and as Nick Cohen from The Spectator points out;

"The grant did not come with political conditions attached, any more than an Arts Council grant from the British state comes with insistence that artists promote the policies of the British government. The organisers were not desperate for the money, particularly after the Tricycle offered to cover the loss. (Or rather offered to cover it with taxpayers' money from its £725,000 Arts Council grant.) The organisers refused to comply nevertheless."

You know things are getting rough in the wide world of the arts when Article19 is in agreement with a writer from The Spectator.

No word yet on whether or not the Tricycle will be banning Israeli citizens from their venue because, ultimately, they are the ones, through their taxes, who fund the Israeli government and given the "sensitivity" of the current situation letting them through the door would probably not be appropriate... right?

Arts Council England, in a statement, said they were not going to do anything about such a blatantly political decision on the part of the Tricycle, stating;

"If the question arises as to whether the Arts Council should intervene in funded organisations we consider three things: whether the organisation is in breach of their funding agreement with the Arts Council, whether it is clear that they have broken the law, and whether they are in breach of the regulations monitored and enforced by the Charity Commission. In this case we are confident that the Tricycle is not in breach of these tests."

Nick Cohen again however disagrees;

"If it were an honourable organisation, the Arts Council would resolve the double standard by withdrawing funding. Its policy documents state: 'Our definition of diversity encompasses responding to issues around race, ethnicity, faith, disability, age, gender, sexuality, class and economic disadvantage and any social and institutional barriers that prevent people from creating, participating or enjoying the arts.' The closure of Britain's leading Jewish film festival surely prevents 'people from creating, participating or enjoying the arts.' "

This blatantly prejudicial nonsense should remind us all the the arts institutions of this country, the publicly funded ones at least, are not the play things of those in charge of them. Arts leaders in the UK are mostly silent on the internal politics and policies that effect millions of people in the UK and damage the UK's cultural landscape.

When it comes to bullying student dance companies, Israeli theatre companies or the Jewish Film Festival though too many are willing to give voice to their small minded and thoroughly subjective thinking with little or no consequence to their privileged positions.

[ Source: The Guardian ]
[ Source: The Spectator ]

Ramp it Up

There's trouble in the north reports the Yorkshire Post as local artists gear up to protest an exhibition by Greyson Perry not because of the content but because of the lack of accessibility of the venue to disabled people.

"Turner Prize-winning Perry, who is also famed for cross-dressing, will have a series of contemporary tapestries displayed in the South Wing of Temple Newsam House, in east Leeds, in his exhibition 'The Vanity of Small Differences' from August 23 to December 7 but the main exhibition space is accessible only by stairs."

Apparently the bitter north has not discovered the wonder of the ramp or expanded their technological horizons to the discovery of the lift (a device apparently invented in 287 BC, all hail Wikipedia for that one).

A spokesman fro Leeds City Council, who may or may not have been eating a pie at the time, said;

"...the level of accessibility at the Perry exhibition is "not what we would wish it to be", adding that one tapestry will be on show in a fully accessible area and a virtual tour and interactive downloadable app has been created."

So they can do "apps" but they can't do ramps or lifts... got it!

Here in TheLab™ we feel sure there is some sort of law about making buildings accessible to people with disabilities so the "leaders" [cough] of Leeds City Council will surely be hauled in for questioning by end of business today.

[ Source: Yorkshire Post ]
[ Via: Arts Professional ]

The Week In Tweets

On The Twitter a discussion developed about how best the illustrate our very own EvilImp™ in a dance piece. To which we responded with a video clip.

Have a nice weekend and if you feel so inclined please donate to our Kickstarter campaign.

[ Direct Link To This Entry ]

The Week August 4th - August 8th

published on Friday, 8 August, 2014 | Comments | Make A Comment

Welcome dear readers to the latest week in the arts. Summer time is normally quiet time but this week saw dancers revolting and selective reasoning stifling free expression at the EFF.

Out of Flanders

Flanders Today is reporting (no, seriously) that the Royal Ballet of Flanders has parted company with their new(ish) artistic director Assiss Carriero, the former head of Dance East in Ipswich.

After just two years in the post Ms Carriero was apparently shown the door after the company started to fall apart at the seams, literally.

"Over the last two years, the company has toured far less, giving dancers fewer opportunities to perform, and the level of physical condition decreased. That meant that the injuries suffered routinely by dancers took longer to heal. A dossier was put together containing "dozens" of complaints to be submitted to the committee charged with accident prevention and protection in the workplace."

When the company you work for is starting to compile "dossiers" of things that are going wrong then the writing is very much on the wall. Ms Carriero's appointment was baffling, to say the least, given that she was never a dancer or a choreographer in any capacity, ever. We, here in TheLab™, are not aware of any dance company in the UK where the AD is not a current or former professional dancer.

It's like asking the TheImp™ to manage Manchester United football team. It would be entertaining for sure but ultimately disastrous.

"She had little dance experience, unions complained, and mainly worked in co-ordinating roles. "She let it be known that she will not be attending rehearsals or auditions herself, but will bring in assistants and consultants to support her in those activities,"

Any choreographers or company AD's reading this will, at the time of reading, be cleaning coffee from their computer screens. How do you run a dance company, manage repertoire and hire dancers without being "in the room"?

Things apparently got worse at the Antwerp based ensemble when the dancers started revolting against the leadership with no confidence votes and by, literally, walking out in search of pastures new.

"Dancers wrote a letter to the organisation's board late last year citing that 69% of them had voted no confidence in the artistic director. Eventually, one-third of the company left - 15 dancers out of 45, including some of the more prominent names."

Royal Ballet of Flanders never did fully explain what they were thinking when they hired the former AD of Dance East to begin with. Dance companies need artistic directors to, you know, direct the art. You can't just sit in an office and run the whole show from afar using "consultants".

No word yet on a replacement but Filip van Huffel is "in country" and could possibly be persuaded to right the ship. We feel sure he would want to attend rehearsals, and auditions, and classes and performances.

[ Source: Flanders Today ]


Another success for childish fist thumping as The Scotsman reports on the withdrawal of Pola, an Israeli student dance company, from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival currently underway in the Scottish capital.

"The troupe, targeted by pro-Palestine campaigners because it is attached to the state-funded Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, were warned by the venue's producers last week of the risk of large-scale protests outside if their visit went ahead."

This follows the story from last week about the show by Israeli theatre company Incubator being forced to cancel their month long run because of the disruption caused by the protestors at their venue.

"Doubts over the group's visit to Edinburgh emerged on Friday hours after the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign vowed to step up its campaigning by trying to have Pola's show, La Karina, called as part of a "cultural boycott." However both the council and the venue insisted the decision to cancel the shows had been taken by the university company."

The protestors take issue with pretty much anything that is funded by the Israeli public (although they use phrases like "state sponsored").

What the protestors don't take issue with is any other publicly funded arts company from other countries that could be linked to the ongoing chaos in the Middle East.

The UK supplies weapon systems to the Israeli Defence Force for example so these guys should also be demonstrating outside any show funded by Arts Council England or Creative Scotland.

Perhaps the main difference is that the UK government is not run by Israelis? Make of that what you will.

[ Source: The Scotsman ]

The Week In Tweets

At Article19 we launched our first ever fundraising campaign for £3,000 so we can keep this whole thing on the internets and make more stuff for you, our dear readers.

And with that massively obvious piece of self promotion we wish you all a great weekend.

[ Direct Link To This Entry ]

Kickstarting Article19

published on Monday, 4 August, 2014 | Comments | Make A Comment


The fund raising game is not something we, here in TheLab™, ever imaged entering into. We've survived this long on very little, as do many working in the wide world of dance, but at this moment in time needs must.

So, we have put our plans on hold for a fundraising campaign to harness the power of the sun to give free energy to everybody in the world because A: we don't know science and B: it would probably cost $46Trillion, which is more money than is currently in existence.

Apart from one occasion three years ago Article19 does not receive any public funding and nobody gets paid to do this but it does cost a lot of money to produce all of the content. So we are kickstarting (you see what we did there?) the next year and beyond on Article19 with a fundraising push. The money will be used to create video features, the written content and pay for all of the services that keep Article19 online.

We have set a target of £3,000 but the more money we raise the more content we can produce. The more money we raise the more work we can film created and performed by new and existing dance companies across the UK and possibly beyond.

On average a video feature can cost £200 to create and that's just the logistical costs. We will also be able to create more features, blogs, editorials and deliver more auditions and other notices to our readers, new and old alike.

Our fund raising video from the Kickstarter campaign.

Article19 is fundraising to, essentially, keep Article19 online, produce a lot more content for our readers and, with a little luck, make it an even stronger voice in the wide and often wacky world of dance, both online and offline.

If you can help then that would be great. If you can't then we understand, but do mention our campaign to others who might be interested. We promise to get back to our free energy for all idea as soon as we pass "Introduction to Quantum Physics".

[ Article19's Kickstarter Campaign ]

[ Direct Link To This Entry ]

The Week July 28th - August 1st

published on Friday, 1 August, 2014 | Comments | Make A Comment

Welcome dear readers to the return, once again, of the week that was in the arts where we churn through the big stories from the week, add a touch of blistering sarcasm and maybe a few jokes all for your reading pleasure!

Bad Actors

We commented last week on the protests being orchestrated against an Israeli theatre company that was set to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year. The protesters, many of whom are artists, wanted the show cancelled.

Incubator Theatre, who combine opera with hip-hop apparently, were on at the Underbelly venue that combines a large number of performance spaces around one complex. According to the Independent the protestors have gotten their way if only temporarily.

"An Israeli show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe has been cancelled following disruptions from pro-Palestinian demonstrators over the situation in Gaza, with another production set to face similar protests when it arrives next week."

Not only were the protestors disrupting Incubator Theatre's piece but a lot of other shows as well;

"Dozens of members of the Scottish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign showed up to picket the performance, demonstrating against Israel's policies in Gaza. It is understood that up to 15 other shows were affected by the noise from the protests with some forced to offer refunds"

The theatre company have some hope though as the organisers and promoters of the show try to find an alternative venue for the show to take place;

"The City was due to run until 25 August. The organisers are searching for another location to stage the show where there will not be a similar level of disruption to other venues, but are set to refund tickets to the forthcoming performances of the show."

It was widely reported in the media, following the shows cancellation, that the current problems in the middle east immediately evaporated into thin air for no other reason than a small theatre company had been hounded out of a performance venue.

We might be making that up though.

[ Source: The Independent ]
[ "Reductio ad Absurdum" on Article19 ]

Bad Teacher

The Stage is reporting (stop laughing at the back) that the National Association of Dance Teachers (NADT) is not at all happy about the way the dance GCSE will be assessed in the future.

Apparently there will be a significant drop in the amount of practical work being done. As you can imagine dance is almost 100% practical, at this level at least.

"Currently, a maximum of 80% of assessment for dance and music GCSEs can be through non-examination. The government has proposed to reduce this to 60%.
Similarly, for AS and A Level qualifications, the government plans to decrease practical assessment for dance - from 60% to 50% - and for music, from 70% to 60%.
The National Dance Teachers Association said the reforms would force teachers to spend a larger amount of time preparing students for theoretical examination."

So instead of learning to dance, learning technique, learning choreography, learning to work with others the young folk of this country will be literally "learning" about dance in the academic sense but not so much the practical sense.

Hats off to the Department of Education (DfE), they really know how to educate... or not as the case may be.

Instead of storming the barricades with pitch forks and torches and setting about those responsible the NADT is going to write a "response" and then give the DfE some detention or make them sit on the naughty step, whichever is more appropriate.

Nothing says "we're serious" like a strongly worded letter.

[ Source: The Stage ]

Dance Not So United

A tale of woe from the dance sector as London based Dance United is set to close its doors to the masses as reported in this very publication in this very paragraph on this very day.

Dance United specialises in working with young people on various kinds of dance projects. Think of them as a special forces unit for dance in education.

In a statement on their website the group said;

"It is with great regret that on Wednesday 24 July 2014, the Trustees of London-based operation, Dance United - generally acknowledged to be one the most innovative and successful contemporary dance companies working with young people in Britain - found they had no alternative but to decide to cease trading as the company, in its current form, cannot any longer create enough funds to meet its liabilities."

There is no ACE funding logo on their website so it's not clear if they ever applied for funding but given some of the inexplicable funding boosts given to companies like Akram Khan and Random in the latest NPO round you have to wonder if £100,000 per year wasn't available to support what they do.

We should point out once again that the National Youth Dance Company is in receipt of £400,000 a year from ACE and the DfE for no particular reason that we can think of.

Hope remains though since Dance United Yorkshire, which has become a, sort of, splinter group, is a recently anointed NPO in the wide world of dance so northern young folk will have somebody fighting their corner.

They just have to hang on until April next year.

[ Source: Dance United ]

The Week in Tweets

Most dance company Twitter feeds need a serious injection of personality and a big reduction on the marketing. We've long argued for handing over the reigns to the dancers and Luka Owen, dancer from Motionhouse Dance Theatre (who deal with social media better than most), shows us why!

Have a nice weekend.

[ Direct Link To This Entry ]

Working The Core™

published on Tuesday, 3 June, 2014 | Comments | Make A Comment


Finding out the most basic information on dance companies, agencies and venues can be a complete pain and we attempted to alleviate some of that discomfort with TheCore™ website. So-called because it provides you with core information about those three areas of the wide world of dance.

Today we are bringing TheCore™ back into the fold featuring a brand new look and with all the information completely updated with fixed links, phone numbers and a whole lot more. As before you can break down the information by the relative size of each individual organisation so you can target your communication and enquiries to suit.

If your company, agency or venue is not in the system and you think it should be then just drop us a quick email and we will get right on it.

It does help if you have a website with contact information on it otherwise there is not a lot of point being in the database to begin with. If you want people to find you then you have to let them know where to find you.

The maps pages have been removed because they took too much time to update but they may make a re-appearance in the future if we can come up with a simple way to keep the things current.

Until then, hit up the link below or at the top of the page in the main navigation bar and enjoy hard, pragmatic information as much as it is possible to enjoy such a thing.

[ TheCore™ on Article19 ]

[ Direct Link To This Entry ]

The Week April 28th - May 2nd

published on Friday, 2 May, 2014 | Comments | Make A Comment


It would appear that Ms Minogue likes paying dancers even less than our very own Royal Opera House does.

For some dancing folk the holy grail in terms of a dance job is working on a big music video for an A-list music star or going on tour with them to exotic foreign locations and Birmingham (yeah, take that Birmingham! Ed!)

It's not unreasonable to expect, given the huge amounts of money floating around in the music industry, that such jobs would be well paid or, at the very least, just paid.

Not so if you were an Australian dancer and you got a casting call to appear in a new music video for one Kylie Minogue reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

"One agency sent out a text message to dancers that read: "Full-day shoot for Kylie Minogue video clip, unpaid but great opportunity and fun!" Actors Equity Australia director Sue McCreadie says dancers were told that the lack of pay was due to the shoot's "limited budget". McCreadie said it was unacceptable not to pay dancers, who would usually earn a minimum of $550AUS (£301GBP) from a full-day commercial shoot."

In 2014 a company claiming that "limited budgets" and the joy of the experience is enough to explain the lack of money is akin to the chancers who come up to you in the street claiming they need £1 to get the bus home because they've lost all their money.

After the unexpected press coverage emerged some union folk stepped in and the dancers did get paid some money for being in the video. However, an interview piece created by Australian dance website 'Dance Chat' produced a video (below) with interviews claiming that the full amount the production company claimed they were going to pay the dancers never emerged.

A tweet from Ms Minogue herself (or at least one of her PR flacks) claimed that the dancers did get paid although it didn't specify how much.

Whatever the final outcome it's clear that the music industry is not the source of gold some might think it is and multi-millionaire pop stars can be just as cheap as anybody else.

[ Source: Sydney Morning Herald ]

Grease is the Word

The BBC is reporting that the English National Opera is going to do less 5 hour epics from Wagner to woo the punters and do a little bit more commercial theatre to woo the punters.

What this means is the national opera company will be taking on some "modern musicals" in an attempt to remain financially viable. So screw creativity and imagination because 'Jersey Boys' here we come. Here in TheLab™ we are pretty sure that's the name of a real musical.

"The plans are part of a number of new measures announced by ENO aimed at generating extra revenue. The ENO, which receives £17m annually from the taxpayer, reported a loss of more than £2m two years ago. However, it has said it will end this year with a small surplus following better than anticipated box office sales."
The London based opera company is famous for being very tight fisted when it comes to paying dancers who appear in their productions. Ok, they are probably famous for other things we feel sure but do you know how long it take to research that kind of stuff? This is a news round up for crying out loud.

No news as yet about what the first musical will be (come on live action version of 'Frozen') but if War Horse from the National Theatre is anything to by then the musicians at the ENO should probably fear for their jobs.

It does need to be pointed out that ENO lost £2Million a couple of years ago but are now back in the black just doing regular old opera so it's not at all clear why they are having a massive freak out.

[ Source: The BBC ]

The Week in Tweets

Following the debacle over Kylie Minogue and her ilk not paying dancers very well, if at all, our very own Royal Opera House stepped into a dancer's pay debacle of their own.

When we asked them if their over paid music director would still stay in his job for a measly £10 per hour they went quiet.

Have a nice weekend.

[ Direct Link To This Entry ]

The Week April 14th - April 18th

published on Friday, 18 April, 2014 | Comments | Make A Comment

WEEK.jpgWe have only had our new Culture Secretary for about a week but it's already become clear that he's a bit of an idiot, reports The Independent.

Sajid Javid, a former merchant banker who worked for Chase Manhattan and Deutsche Bank, was caught out a few years ago sticking up for ticket touts (an illegal activity here in the UK). While speaking as an MP in the House of Commons he said;

"Ticket resellers act like classic entrepreneurs, because they fill a gap in the market that they have identified. They provide a service that can help people who did not obtain a supply of tickets in the original sale to purchase them for sporting and cultural events..."

Mr Javid seemed to have missed the point that ticket touts are not so much entrepreneurial and more exploitative crooks, snapping up reasonably priced tickets and selling them at a huge mark-up.

He doubled down however with this;

"..chattering middle classes and champagne socialists, who have no interest in helping the common working man earn a decent living by acting as a middleman in the sale of a proper service."

When you read comments like that it becomes less of a mystery about why the banking system almost ended the world.

Mr Javid is completely oblivious to the fact that touts sell tickets for a lot more than their face value, it's the whole point of touting, and as such the "working man" on minimum wage has even less of a chance of being able to afford said tickets.

It would appear that an ability to do simple arithmetic and a basic understanding of economics is not required when you work at Deutsche Bank. If you have any money with them we recommend moving it to the nearest available mattress.

[ Source: The Independent ]

Hedging Your Bets

Over at the Guardian it was time for more slack reporting with the news that Arts Council England will be investing £3Million at Channel 4 television to make some "radical" arts programming. For non UK folk Channel 4 is a semi commercial/publicly funded TV station that makes [cough] television programmes.

The programmes will be called 'Random Acts', named for the, usually tedious, short film project that went to air when everybody was asleep.

"New arts commissioning editor John Hay said he wanted the broadcaster to provide a "more radical alternative" to the BBC's focus on more "establishment" arts."

That comment is probably a reference to the recently announced BBC arts push that will see lots of Shakespeare and other "posh" art going out through the BBC's main channels over the coming years.

ACE's involvement is rather weird and completely contradictory though because they are also heavily invested, to the tune of millions of pounds, with the BBC on the massively crap Space project.

There is no word when 'Random Acts' will kick off or who will be on it but if the history of Channel4 and television in general is anything to go by expect lots of over made documentaries and uber-pretentious short films.

The big problem with the arts on television is that television people are really not good at covering the arts, no matter how much money they spend.

[ Source: The Guardian ]

Heads Will Not Roll

Staying with the Guardian for this next story as an art critic goes rogue and demands the sacking of a gallery director.

The gallery director in question is Penelope Curtis from Tate Britain and the critic is Waldemar Januszczak, an art critic for The Sunday Times (stop laughing at the back).

Mr Januszczak is apparently very unhappy not only about the 10% drop in attendance to Tate Britain over the last year but also the curating prowess of Ms Curtis;

"I first noticed what an appalling exhibition-maker she was when she co-curated the Modern British Sculpture show at the Royal Academy in 2011," Januszczak wrote. "It was, quite simply, one of the worst exhibitions I have ever seen. Subsequent shows at Tate Britain have continued the trend."

Here in TheLab™ we have no knowledge of what goes on at Tate Britain and, to be frank, we couldn't care less. What Mr Januszczak is missing with all of this is the fact that people in the arts don't get fired, ever!

The chief bottle washer at Tate is Nicholas Serota, an entrenched insider if ever there was one, and he is highly unlikely to sack anyone, unless they are an unpaid volunteer, probably.

In the arts the chosen ones simply move on to other positions with a tip of the hat and a sly wink from their friends in the right places, no matter how bad at their jobs they prove to be.

[ Source: The Guardian ]

Flogging a Dead Horse


Do you know we can see you? War horse from the National Theatre

The BBC reported on the strange case of the well subsidised goings on at The National Theatre after they sacked the musicians who played the music for 'War Horse', the show about puppet horses that won the war or something.

Five musicians in total have been shown the door;

"The five, who had been with the hit show since 2009, had their roles cut back in March 2013 to just a few minutes per performance, until live music was cut altogether in March this year.
Lawyers for the five - Neyire Ashworth, Andrew Callard, Jonathan Eddie, David Holt and Colin Rae - told the court they were given 11 days notice of the contract termination but had continued to arrive on time for daily shows."

Curiously the five string pluckers have continued showing up at the theatre to do the show despite no longer being employed.

For their part the NT said that real life musicians cost a fortune and why the hell would they pay real people when they can just plug in an iPod and be done with it?

Ok, they didn't say that but it would have been funny if they did;

"The National Theatre contests that it was bringing the London production in line with War Horse stage shows around the world, which do not use live music."

The legal case drags on with things looking good for the musicians at this point in time because the NT are acting like complete tools.

[ Source: BBC News ]

The Week in Tweets

When we reached out the ACE Chairman and National Theatre cheerleader Peter Bazalgette about the story above he said.......... nothing at all.

Well, why would he?

Have a nice weekend.

[ Direct Link To This Entry ]

The Week April 7th - April 11th

published on Friday, 11 April, 2014 | Comments | Make A Comment

WEEK.jpgWelcome dear readers to what was a tumultuous week in the wide world of culture, sort of, and the media was on hand to cover it all.

Gone and Forgotten

The biggest news of the week was the resignation of the UK's Culture Secretary Delores Umbridge Maria Miller from the Department for Culture Media and Sport.

Ms Miller resigned not because the government she is a part of engineered massive cuts to culture and pretty much anything else in the country but because of some phoney outrage over expenses claims.

It's not what you do that matters it's what you do that people can relate to doing themselves that matters and claiming more on your expenses than is due is something everybody can relate to.

They just love it when other people get caught doing it and they can rant about it in the comment thread on a Daily Mail story.

Her replacement is Sajid Javid a guy nobody has ever heard of but apparently he worked in the banking industry so he probably knows a great deal about fraud and corruption..... from an enforcement point of view that is, probably.

"Conservative MP Sajid Javid has been named as the new culture secretary.The MP for Bromsgrove has been promoted from his current role as Financial Secretary to the Treasury."

What this means for the arts in general is almost certainly nothing. Mr Javid will be in post for about a year and all previous culture secretaries have managed to do during the tenure of the current government is cut funding and not reform anything at all.

So why would this guy be any different?

As for Ms Miller? Well if the government returns for another stint in charge of everything she will probably be back doing nothing much at all in some other government department. Sans getting re-elected though we shall never hear from her again.

Alas, we barley knew her...

[ Source: BBC News ]

Really, This Guy?

The Chairman of Arts Council England, Peter Bazalgette, is also, apparently, a "media consultant" and it was in this guise he was sounding off about how technology helps creative people do something or other.

Writing in "Campaign", a god awful industry publication of no consequence, Mr Bazalgette waxed lyrical about having some sort of weird relationship with a TV screen in his office;

"I have a computer display screen mounted on my wall like a picture; it is called Fiona. She is currently blinking at me. Now she has raised her eyebrows - and, if I play my cards right, she might just smile... ah, she's smiled. If you look at it only for a short while, you get the impression that she is reacting to you."

Well, ok then....

Voldermort (as we affectionately refer to him here in TheLab™) also brought up the tired old line about the National Theatre broadcasting their work into cinemas but forgets to mention, as ever, how much money it costs to do that. A pertinent piece of information if ever there was one.

He finishes of his missive with this completely bizarre statement;

"If you simply ask the audience what sort of shows they want, you end up with Snakes on a Plane. Danny Boyle was needed to create a vision for a great show for the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony."

It's some sort of defence of public funding for the arts but we have no idea what that has to do with a film from 2006 that the vast majority of people never saw.

[ Source "Campaign" ]

Attention Span

Hull, a city in the North of England that is commonly referred to as 'Ull by locals and people making jokes, is the City of Culture for 2017.

In order to prepare the residents and anybody who cares about phoney government lanyards proclaiming one thing or another the city council has launched a 1000 days to go countdown until the big day finally arrives.

"Today (Monday, April 7) marks 1,000 days to go until the first day of Hull's spectacular City of Culture year. With events scheduled to take place every single day throughout 2017, this is a major milestone in the journey that will change the way the world sees Hull forever."

We don't know about you, but here in theLab™ we have trouble remembering what's coming up next week, never mind 1000 days from now (or 995 days at the time of writing).

It's not clear if there is some giant clock somewhere in 'Ull counting down the numbers in minutes and seconds but we certainly hope there isn't. When such counters finally reach their zero number people tend be underwhelmed when nothing at all of any interest happens.

[ Source: 'Ull City Council ]

The Week in Tweets

Arts Professional magazine tweeted that Creative Scotland, the tartan and shortbread version of ACE, has pledged to support arts organisations....

We responded as only we could.

Have a nice weekend.

[ Direct Link To This Entry ]

The Week March 24th - March 28th

published on Friday, 28 March, 2014 | Comments | Make A Comment

WEEK.jpgWelcome dear readers to another roundup of the interesting (and only the interesting) snippets of news from the week in culture and maybe a little bit from last week because we had to do another thing at the time, so, you know, there's that....

Chicken Switch

Last week the AD of Retina Dance Company (Filip Van Huffel), it was announced, was stepping away from the company he founded back in 1995 with Sacha Lee. Mr Huffell has been the driving creative force behind the company now as a solo AD for a long time.

Retina has always been that little bit different because the company essentially has two bases of operation, one in the UK and one in Belgium. The company also produced plenty of innovative work along the lines of 'Layers of Skin' that worked with a new set of local professional dancers and community dancers combined with the company's own dancers at each individual touring venue.

In a statement on the Retina website Mr Huffel said this much;

"The Board of Directors decided on a new direction for the company, and it is a direction that I do not support, and therefore there is no longer a role for myself or the company dancers and artistic team. I made this decision because it is the only way that I can keep my personal and artistic health and integrity. I have always believed that dance companies must be viable businesses, but the art form must be the priority."

If we read between the lines we can probably break things down like this. All of the regularly funded dance companies had to re-submit their applications to Arts Council England to remain regularly funded.

The board of Retina started panicking, thinking they may not get "re-upped", so hit the chicken switch with the whole "focusing on education" thing that the bean counters in ACE and the DCMS love so much and side lined the actual creative aspect of the company that creates the work that, in-turn, feeds the extensive education work done by the dance company anyway. (and breathe, Ed!)

Run-on sentence not withstanding, that's probably how it went down.

In the future we will have the slightly odd situation of having two Retinas, one in the UK and one in Belgium. No word yet on who will be running the UK version of Retina but Mr Huffel has promised to keep making his own brand of dance work over in Belgium, which isn't too far away and we can probably still go see it.

We, here in TheLab™, will be keeping a close eye on the UK version of Retina to see just what they become, if anything, over the next few months or years.

[ Source: Retina Dance Company ]

Tartan Trouble

When it comes to being completely oblivious to the world around you it seems it's not just Arts Council England that has that ability in spades. North of the border Creative Scotland has been raising hackles with the announcement of a £5Million grant to the V&A Museum in Dundee reports The Scotsman;

"ARTS agency Creative Scotland has admitted breaching its own funding guidelines by handing the new V&A museum in Dundee a grant of £5 million.
The award is more than double the quango's funding limit for major capital projects and dwarfs anything else it has funded since it was formed in 2010.
The grant, believed to be a crucial part of the funding package for the project to create an international centre of design, is over and above £18 million worth of support from the Scottish Government, which has been in place for more than two years,

When asked to explain why the big museum gets special treatment the Shortbread Funding Monolith explained to nosey journalists that they could do whatever they wanted and nobody was going to stop them so pffffffft!

Ok, they didn't say that but it would have been funny if they did, right? What they actually said was this;

"A spokesman for Creative Scotland said the talks with the V&A team pre-dated the launch of its capital funding schemes, which have a £2 million limit for major projects, such as Scotland's proposed film studio complex, the extensions to the Theatre Royal and Royal Concert Hall buildings in Glasgow, a revamp and extension of Perth Theatre, and a relocation of Edinburgh's Collective Gallery to the top of Calton Hill."

Essentially, timing is everything and they can do whatever they want as long as the dates are right or, you know, whatever!

[ Source: The Scotsman ]

The Week in Tweets

Some people don't like us, and that's fine because we don't like them either but there are other folks that like us a lot, maybe too much!

Loving us, here in TheLab™, is a simple, straightforward decision because as we always say, we're adorable!

Have a nice weekend.

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The Week March 17 - March 21

published on Friday, 21 March, 2014 | Comment | Make A Comment

WEEK.jpgIt wouldn't be a week in culture without just a little bit of crazy so welcome to another roundup of the few stories that make the cut.

Yorkshire Puddings

Ok, there is actually only one story this week and it comes in the form of a Storify™

Yorkshire Dance, a National Dance Agency (NDA) based in Leeds, announced the results of their "Respond" project funded by the Arts Council England fronted Digital R&D project.

Several dance projects made proposals then a "public" vote decided who won. The NDA didn't seem to understand that such voting is little more than a test of who has the most Facebook friends.

"Respond" is supposed to be about innovating in the arts using technology. Yorkshire Dance responds by coming up with an idea that they think will get funding, choreographers respond by coming up with ideas that fit the funding profile and then, understandably, get all their friends to vote for it because they need the funding.

It's a classic example of funding leading creative ideas when it should be the other way around.

It remains to be seen if Yorkshire Dance will be interviewed on camera about this latest debacle in the wide world of dance.

Have a nice weekend.

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