Five of the best video talks on theatre
Lyn Gardner, The Guardian
How can the performing arts compete against technology? And does creativity always lead to anguish? Just a few of the subjects raised in these talks from TED and beyond
To see the videos (well worth a look!):
Flexible funding to help raise a culture of excellence
Matthew Westwood, The Australian
LABOR will boost funding for young artists, overhaul the Australia Council and launch an "excellence pool", in a long-awaited cultural policy that aims to set the nation's creativity agenda for the next decade.
Arts Minister Simon Crean will announce funds of $20.8 million (a 30 per cent increase) to six elite training organisations today, including the national youth orchestra and circus school.
Every federal MP will get $23,500 to help support "creative young stars" in their electorates.
The federal government will also boost six arts companies in NSW, Victoria and Western Australia where those states have agreed to extra funding for touring and education programs.
The funding package will come from a combination of budget savings and new money committed over forward estimates.
Mr Crean will link Labor's cultural spending to economic and social "dividends", including social inclusion and increased productivity. He said the policy would reflect the diversity of society and outline a vision for the arts, cultural heritage and creative industries.
As flagged in The Australian yesterday, the policy will also focus on the Australia Council, with reforms likely to follow from a top-down review of the agency released last year. The review found that the arts-funding body had become inflexible to the needs of modern art-making and needed more rigour at board level.
Six training organisations will share the $20.8m funding injection: the National Institute of Dramatic Art, the Australian Ballet School, Australian Youth Orchestra, Flying Fruit Fly Circus School, NAISDA indigenous dance college and the National Institute of Circus Arts. About 1200 young artists collectively attend these organisations each year.
Can unions save the creative class?
Scott Timberg, Salon.com
Being a musician is a good job, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to go broke doing it. –David Byrne
They’re just for hard hats. They peaked around the time Elvis was getting big. They killed Detroit. They’ve got nothing to do with you or me. They’re a special interest – and they hate our freedom.
That’s the kind of noise you pick up in 21st century America – in politics and popular culture alike – when you tune your station to the issue of trade unions. Union membership, and ensuing muscle, have been in steep decline in both the public and private sectors. Just look at Wisconsin’s “right to work” push, the anti-teachers union “reform” movement, corporate union-busting, P.R. “messaging” firms hired by management to smear striking workers, hostility from the Republican right and indifference from a Democratic Party that’s reoriented itself around professionals and Silicon Valley.
Also in decline: America’s creative class — artists, writers, musicians, architects, those part of the media, the fine arts, publishing, TV and other fields — faced with an unstable landscape marked by technological shifts, a corporate culture of downsizing, and high unemployment.
So is it time for artists to strap on a hard hat? Maybe unions or artists’ guilds can serve and protect an embattled creative class. With musicians typically operating without record labels, journalists increasingly working as freelancers as newspapers shed staff, and book publishing beginning what looks like a period of compression, unions might take some of the risk and sting out of our current state of creative destruction.
“Musicians are trying to negotiate this changing landscape,” says Kristin Thomson, once a guitarist for the band Tsunami and an owner of indie label Simple Machines, now a director of the Future of Music Coalition. Many musicians ask the group how to deal with today’s complicated mix of outlets and platforms, or what to expect from label support. “Others saw their mechanical royalties falling off a cliff. There are revenue steams out there, but they’re all changing so fast. This is a difficult time for artists trying to understand it all. And there’s a lot more competition because the barriers to entry are a lot lower.”
To read the full article: http://www.salon.com/2013/03/18/can_unions_save_the_creative_class/
Westminster cuts arts funding 100%
Alistair Smith, The Stage
Westminster City Council has confirmed that it will cut all arts funding in the London borough by 2014/15.
Soho Theatre and English National Ballet are among the groups set to lose funding under the plans, which will see the £350,000 the council currently spends on ‘commissioned community arts projects’ reduced to £192,00 in 2013/14 and cut completely in 2014/15.
Soho Theatre’s young people’s programmes, English National Ballet’s older people’s schemes and community and youth arts services from Paddington Arts, Dream Arts and Streetwise Opera will all be affected, along with around ten other initiatives led by arts groups.
Melvyn Caplan, Westminster Council’s cabinet member for finance and customer services, said: “In an ideal world we would continue commissioning our community arts projects, but the reality of the financial picture for councils means that tough decisions are unavoidable.
“We are literally choosing between arts projects and keeping a library open, or retaining gangs workers on our estates, or running our meals on wheels service. There is no easy answer for the savings that are required, but we have chosen to protect services that are most vital to the vulnerable in our society.
“Those criticising the proposal need to offer realistic alternatives as to which public services they feel should be reduced in place of arts projects – because the fact is we must save £100 million over the next four years and maintaining the status quo is not an option.”
To read the full article: http://www.thestage.co.uk/news/2013/03/westminster-cuts-arts-funding-by-100/
Belfast City Council increases arts funding 27%
Michael Quinn, The Stage
Belfast City Council is to increase its spending on the arts by 27% after agreeing a £4.1 million funding package for more than 50 companies and venues as part of a new three-year support plan.
Almost £1.4 million will be distributed annually from 2013-16 – compared to just over £930,000 per year in 2010 to 2012 – through the council’s Core Multi-Annual Funding scheme which will also see the number of organisations receiving core funding increasing more than threefold from 16 in previous years to 52.
The move is being seen as crucial to realising Belfast’s newly published Cultural Framework plan and is intended to complement a wider £150 million investment programme in the city over the same period. The council says the increased funding will help support more than 400 jobs and 4,000 arts workers in the city.
Targets in the Cultural Framework include increasing audiences and growing visitor numbers by 10% each and generating £8 in income for every £1 invested in the sector.
Alderman Christopher Stalford, chairman of the council’s development committee, said: “The Council is very proud of the contribution arts and culture makes to the city’s quality of life and economy, and that is why we committed to investing £4.1 million in the sector over the next three years.
To read the full article: http://www.thestage.co.uk/news/2013/03/belfast-city-council-increases-arts-funding-27/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=belfast-city-council-increases-arts-funding-27
Peter Herrndorf plans to manage costs, dream big
Peter Robb, The Ottawa Citizen
Peter Herrndorf likes to dream big about the National Arts Centre. Recently reconfirmed in his post as CEO for two years, he is setting out perhaps the most ambitious schedule the centre that will hit the Big 50 in 2019 has seen in many long years.
“We want to be an organization that is left brain, right brain,” he said in a recent interview over lunch in Le Café. “One side is very conscious of keeping a tight lid on costs and living with the constraints of tough times. The other side is the side that says, ‘let’s dream big.’ ”
That means big statements, and one of the most visible to the people of Ottawa will involve the building itself.
After almost five decades, it is breaking down and in need of repair.
“By 2019 this building will be 50 years old, the production equipment and the facilities will be 50 years old. It was a building that was absolutely state-of-the-art when it opened in 1969, and now you don’t have to look very closely to see (it fraying at the edges). We are looking at all of that to see what we may be able to do to improve that as part of 2017 (the 150th birthday of the country) or as part of 2019.”
As previously reported in the Citizen, this will mean a major statement on Elgin Street, where Herrndorf is determined have the NAC “embrace the national capital and not have its back to the national capital.
“The second thing is that the National Arts Centre simply does not have the visibility that it should have downtown. And the third thing is after almost 50 years a building gets tired. And (a bold architectural statement) has a way of refreshing. You get the best with the old and the new.”
The planning process is advancing, he says, adding that he expects to be able to start bringing a proposal to the City of Ottawa, the National Capital Commission and the federal government this year.
Spain's microtheatres provide lifeline for actors as public subsidies dry up
Giles Tremlettt, The Guardian
On a rainy night, two dozen people lurk in the doorways of the Chinese rag trade wholesalers that line a narrow street in the centre of Madrid, awaiting the signal that will allow them into one of the Spanish capital's tiniest, and most successful, theatres.
Housed in a ground-floor flat once occupied by the apartment block's doorwoman, the Casa de La Portera is part of a cultural revolution as Spanish theatre, like other arts, finds ways to survive a recession that has seen it sucked dry of what used to be its lifeblood – public subsidies.
Those lucky enough to get one of the 25 tickets on sale are ushered into the front parlour, lined with uncomfortable high-backed dining room chairs that occupy much of the tiny space. The two actors – including Barbara Lennie, recently in Oscar-winning director Pedro Almodóvar's The Skin I Live In – performing an adaptation of Tennessee Williams are within arm's reach.
The actor and director José Martret said he founded the theatre to produce a version of Anton Chekhov's Ivanov that more conservative theatres did not want. "This time I didn't even give them the opportunity to say 'no'," he said. It now plays to full houses – even if there are only two dozen people there.
Across town, queues form for the €4-a-show tickets on sale at another miniature theatre, housed in a former butcher's shop, which calls itself Microtheatre for Money. Five tiny spaces, fitting a dozen people, run back-to-back 15-minute experimental shows – with not a subsidy in sight after a group of 21 actors and directors banded together and set up on their own.
"The overall offer is good," said El País critic Marcos Ordóñez, who said the shows were good to average. "The only problem is a lack of air-conditioning."
Complex laws governing the running of theatres are circumvented by calling the new spaces "cultural clubs" and selling theatregoers "temporary membership" rather than formal tickets.
To read the full story: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/feb/28/spain-austerity-arts-funding-microtheatres
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