Arts News!

Perfect Forth Debuts :

Captivating Acapella Magic:

Normally at this time of year Edinburgh based Captivate Theatre Company would be mid rehearsals for there annual Edinburgh Fringe programme. In 2019 that programme saw over ten productions take to the stage ranging from Children’s Shakespeare shows, to dramatic plays and of course there renowned repertoire of full scale musicals.

Sadly, the ongoing pandemic as seen the closure of the entire theatrical industry, however some of those talented onstage performers from Captivate have joined with Acapella graduates to form a new wing of Captivate. Perfect forth is now officially entering the musical landscape and have released there first song and video.

The vocal group have chosen “If I could turn back time” the 1989 Cher classic taken from heart of Stone album. The song with lyrics and music by Diane Warren revived Cher’s career and sent into the stratosphere and in a twist of fate Cher herself did not like the song when she was first introduced to it.

Perfect Forth bring a rich vocal harmony to there take on the song thanks to the moving and inspired musical arrangement by Colum Findlay and warm and emotional lead vocal from Jess Nolan this is truly a fresh take on a modern classic.

The company have confirmed that this release forms part of a 21-song collection so there are many more videos and performances to come. Hopefully when restrictions allow the company will take to the stage. A company spokesperson said “ Here it is! Our debut release and only the first in a twenty-one-song project we are have been working for the past few months. We hope you enjoy this video and the many other exciting releases heading your way soon.”

perfect forth 2

The current Perfect forth company consists of: Soprano’s  Nadya Albertsson, Iona Thomson, Mezzo-Soprano’s Ailish Barry, Jess Nolan and Sasha Wood, Alto’s Emma Laing, Laura Preston and Erin Bowden, Tenor’s Oliver Payne, Colum Findlay, Baritone’s Lewis Kerr, Robbie Small, Bass David Ragg. The company is joined by George Stokes Vocal Percussionist.

With a debut as strong as this one, the only way is up for Perfect Forth so be sure to keep in touch with them as more performances come online hopefully they wont have to turn back time to long before they make there stage debut.

Perfect Forth can be found on Facebook, Instagram and via Youtube.  

Arts News!

Utilita and The Queen’s Cancel Drive In Tour:

Six the Musical at the Drive in and other shows cancel:

It has been confirmed by the individual productions including “Dinosaur World” and “The Tiger who came to Tea” that this summer’s planned Drive in tour promoted by Live Nation in collaboration with Utilita energy.

The tour was to feature the smash hit pop musical “SIX” their official statement from producers Kenny Wax, Wendy and Andy Barnes and George Stilies confirms: “This devastating news has come out of the blue and hit us all for six. We are so sorry to disappoint the thousands of fans who have booked tickets and sold out many dates on the tour. It is also a sad day for our West End and UK Tour Queens, who had already started rehearsals and our entire team of over 60 people who were all working so very hard to deliver a spectacular show  Despite the UK Government announcing Stage 3 of Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden’s road map permitting performances outdoors with an audience, the planned tour was due to visit 12 cities, several of which have since been identified as emerging Covid infection hot spots. We know that ultimately there is nothing more important than the safety and wellbeing of our company and the Six Queendom. We look forward to better times.”

Live Nation Entertainment have taken down all links to the productions from there ticket booking system as has Ticketmaster, However Live Nation did release a short statement “The latest developments regarding localised lockdowns means it has become impossible for us to continue with the series with any confidence”.

“SIX” did confirm that there combined UK and West End cast were in rehearsals for the tour when the plug was pulled, but fans of the Queens need not worry, The UK tour will return in 2021 and West End production at the Arts Theatre will return although it remains closed until the 27th September.

Whilst safety over both cast, crew and audiences must be top priority, it’s frustrating that producers were able to announce this tour without having the guidance from the government and while the industry welcomed the cash injection of £1.57 billion the guidance and route map came too late, that combined with the ongoing pandemic means this tour can’t be saved.

Ticketmaster confirms refunds will be issued directly to all ticket holders for productions within the next 7 days.

Arts News!

Theatre Vs Covid-19: Relief Funding.

Theatre Vs Covid-19: Relief Funding.

Where are we at now:

In our last Arts News Item published on June 21st we looked at the industry across Scotland and further field as it continues to struggle with the complete shut down of venues due to Covid-19. In the few weeks since the publication of that article there has been a seismic shift in emergency funding being injected into the industry. It seems that Government’s of  both Scotland and the UK have finally listened and taken the first steps in pulling the arts back from the cliff edge. So, let’s look at those developments a little closer.

Edinburgh Fringe receives a £1.25 Million lifeline:

edin festivals

On June 16th it was announced that the Edinburgh Fringe Society, the charity which oversees the annual extravaganza that is the Fringe was awarded Grants from Pivotal Enterprise Resilience fund for £149,00 and £100,000 from the City of Edinburgh Council. These grants were supplemented by the Scottish Government with a 6-year, interest free loan of £1million.

The Fringe Society confirmed that the money will be used to mitigate the significant losses incurred as a result of this year’s festival not going ahead as planned due to Covid-19.

The Society estimates the Fringe is worth around £200 million annually to the wider Scottish and UK economy, adding that thousands of artists and cultural entrepreneurs across the UK rely on the Fringe annually as a key milestone for employment.

Chief Executive Shona McCarthy said: “This funding is a life raft to the Fringe Society, enabling us to properly support the extensive ecosystem of artists, venues and businesses who rely on the Fringe. This festival is about much more than three weeks in August. It’s an embodiment of how culture and creativity unites us. In this incredibly difficult time, we are grateful to be working so closely with our partners at Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise and City of Edinburgh Council on this common goal.”

Scottish Government £10million cash injection for the Arts:

Scottish parliment

On July 3rd the Scottish Government announced the creation of a targeted performing arts venues relief fund which will see £10 million injected into the Scottish arts industry. The fund is to be administered by Creative Scotland as its available to regularly funded organisations and Non RFO’s.

Announced by culture secretary Fiona Hyslop during that days First Minister’s press briefing, giving a real terms cash back up to her pledge she made a week previously.  The Secretary also made a strong point that £10M is nowhere near enough, although she described the fund as a “vital lifeline” that will help performing arts venues to continue beyond Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. The Secretary went on to say: “we don’t have the same powers as the UK Government to borrow billions to ensure that there is fiscal stimulus for the economy or indeed to support key sectors.”

In an pointed and well delivered opinion to the Culture Secretary at Westminster, Oliver Dowden, she went onto say “I think that there is a real responsibility now, if the UK Government really cares about culture and creativity, that they step up to the mark and help provide support.” She confirmed that if it did then the Scottish government would distribute its share of the Barnett Consequentials to “help this vital part of our society but also our economy”.

First Minister for Scotland Nicola Sturgeon commenting on the same press briefing went on to say: “We know this will not solve every problem facing our culture sector, and that more support is needed. But I hope this £10m will be a lifeline for theatres – and also send a signal of how important we believe arts and culture are, not just to our economy, but to our wellbeing too.”

UK Government £1.57 Billion investment for Britain’s Cultural, arts and Heritage institutions.

westminster

On July 6th the UK Government announced the biggest single financial investment in Britain’s Arts Industry in its history. Following the over whelming pressure brought to bear on Secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden this announcement which is an investment to protect Britain’s cultural, arts and heritage institutions

The break down of the funding is as follows

The £1.57 billion UK-wide funding will provide:
• £1.15 billion for cultural organisations in England, made up of £270 million of repayable finance and £880 million grants.
• £100 million of targeted support for the national cultural institutions in England and the English Heritage Trust.
• £120 million to restart construction on cultural infrastructure and for heritage construction projects in England which was paused due to the coronavirus pandemic.
• £188 million for the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland (£33 million), Wales (£59 million) and Scotland will receive £97 million due to the Consequentials of the Barnett Formula.

The £97 million is in addition to the £10 million previously announced by the Scottish Government.

The finer details of how the emergency grants and loans will be allocated have yet to be announced. However according to Dowden, they will be available to organisations “across a range of sectors including the performing arts and theatres, heritage, historic palaces, museums, galleries, live music and independent cinema.

The devolved administrations are responsible for the allocation of their respective share of the funding, However given that the English element is aimed across the entire swathe of the cultural sector, perhaps the Scottish allocation will follow in a similar spirit.

The previous Friday, Scottish Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop promised that if the UK government gave a support package to culture, the Scottish government would distribute its share of the Barnett Consequentials to “help this vital part of our society but also our economy” and this was further supported at the first minister press briefing on the 6th July when Sturgeon gave further assurances that the funding would support the arts “in every corner of our country”

Irrespective of how much of the funds will go to theatre, the bigger issue is how and indeed if  money will be delivered to those in the theatre industry who have already lost out. Namely the plethora of freelance workers, who make up 72% of culture workers, who were ineligible for either the furlough schemes, nor the Self Employed Income Support Scheme

Now the fund has been announced and its at the higher end of what was expected now is the time to deliver the fine detail as to how that cash will be distributed and we at Scotsgay Arts hope it will reach those most in need of it and its balanced and fair across the Scottish Cultural Landscape.

Theatre Artist Fund: £500,000 of help for Freelancers.

theatre artist fund

A new Theatre Artists Fund will provide emergency support for theatre workers and freelancers across the UK in need of financial support due to the impact of Covid-19 on the theatre sector. The fund has been developed by director and film maker Sam Mendes and is being administered by SOLT, (The Society of London Theatres) and UK Theatre. The Fund has been made possible due a £500,000 donation from streaming service Netflix.

The focus of the fund is to: “provide short-term relief to hundreds of theatre workers and freelancers across the UK, and particularly those from underrepresented groups disproportionately affected by the crisis.” And for theatre professionals who need urgent and critical financial support

Sam Mendes himself said: “We have created a fund to which the most vulnerable freelance theatre practitioners can now apply. It is specifically designed for theatre workers who find themselves at breaking point, for those unable to put food on the table or to pay bills, or for those considering leaving the profession altogether.”

Initially the fund is offering a £1,000 one-off emergency grant which can be used towards living costs. The First application period is for a week beginning Monday 6 to Monday 13 July 2020. Applications open and close at 12 noon. The fund will then confirm the outcome of the application by no later than Monday 27th July

The grant  scheme is open to theatre professionals who have worked in one or many role/s (within the qualifying sector) totalling at least 8 weeks between January 1 2019 and March 31 2020. They must be self-employed or unemployed and not furloughed.

The funders have a non-exhaustive list of 27 different job titles of those who qualify as eligible for support, ranging from onstage, to backstage, production admin and even front of house jobs provided they meet the other criteria.

Full details of the fund and how to apply go to:  https://theatreartists.fund

And Finally!

So, there we have it, an incredible change in the theatre industry landscape since our news item June 21st. Focusing on Scotland there is now in excessive of £108 million being injected into the industry, with artists and freelancers also having access to an additional £500,00 fund. The first critical step of saving the industry has been met. We fully except this didn’t come soon enough for many  and the casualties of the delay are clear for all to see. There is also many who feel that cash value is not high enough. We at Scotsgay arts feel its far than was to be expected and use wisely and above all else fairly. It should see the industry survive the Covid crisis.

It is however just the first step, what we need now is a detailed timeline and route map to reopening our cultural venues and Theatres. Interestingly there are already plans for London’s longest running play “The Mousetrap” to open in October in a Covid secure socially distant format but even this is only for a short period as it’s not sustainable financially. We need to know how we make theatres available without social distancing very much as has been proven in South Korea.

Lets hope that information is with us in the coming weeks and certainly with us soon enough to allow Pantomime season to take place and truly give our theatres the fighting change to survive.

Arts News!

SIX The Musical Drive In Edition

The Queens Head for the Drive In!

The smash hit pop musical “Six” is the first major production in the UK to announce its comeback in a very clever way! Both the London Productions (At the Arts Theatre, West End) and the UK tour where brought to an abrupt halt due to Covid-19 and with no date yet announced for the London show and the UK tour rescheduled into 2021 the Queens are headed for the Drive In!

sixdrivein

Producers Kenny Wax, Wendy & Andy Barnes and George Stiles have confirmed that SIX will play at 12 open-air drive-in concert venues in London and then embark on a UK tour Bristol to Edinburgh as part of Live Nation Entertainment’s Utilita Live From The Drive-In summer season.

Designed to comply with all official guidelines, Utilita Live From The Drive-In will deliver the UK’s ultimate drive-in experience, boasting concert quality sound from a live stage with a full state of the art sound system, lighting rig and high definition LED screens, creating an arena or stadium concert feel in a safe Drive-In setting adhering to the Government’s current social distancing rules to protect fans, artists, crews and staff at all times.

The tour visited Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre in February of this year and enjoyed a sell out five star run and is booked again for another run in spring 2021, you can check out our review at the link below:

https://scotsgayarts.com/2020/02/05/six-festival-theatre-edinburgh-review/

The Drive in tour commences on Tuesday 4th August in Milton Keynes at the National Bowl, before visiting Liverpool (Central Docks), Leeds (Leeds East Airport), Bolton (Bolton University Stadium), Teeside (Teeside International Airport), Lincoln (Lincolnshire Showgrounds), Cheltenham (Cheltenham Racecourse), Bristol (Filton Airfield), Edinburgh (The Royal Highland Showground), Newmarket (Newmarket Racecourse) Birmingham (Resorts World Arena) and London (Colesdale Farm)

The Drive in tour will feature both the UK and West End casts working in rotation and rehearsals are already underway! and Tickets go on sale at 8am on 3rd of July! be sure to snap them up for a unique experience!

Six The Musical – Drive In Edition, The Royal Highland Showground, Tuesday 1st – Sunday 6th September 2020. Tickets on sale from 3rd july at 8am from:

https://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/utilita-live-from-the-drive-in/six-the-musical/

Arts News!

Theatre Vs Covid-19

Theatre Vs Covid-19:

Where are we at now:

On the 20th March Prime Minister Boris Johnston informed all Theatres and Performances venues to close their doors to support the fight against Covid-19 just a few days later on the 23rd March the country then entered lockdown. We are now over 13 weeks into that lockdown and restrictions are starting to ease as the “R” number holds steady below 1 and deaths thankfully continue a downward trajectory. The arts world is now looking for answers, how do we reopen the industry safely? If we can’t how do we support the performers, technicians, house staff, musicians and creatives? There are no answers from the UK Government or indeed Fiona Hyslop the Scottish Minister for Culture all we can do is hope the arts come onto the agenda urgently before here is no industry to save.

For now, we Scotsgay arts though we would take a look around the country at what the latest from some our best loved venues are saying in respect of there programmes and when they hope to welcome audiences back.

South of the Border:

the london palladium

Things look difficult right across England, the heartland of the theatre, London’s west end remains shuttered, with acclaimed producer Sir Cameron Macintosh confirming that Hamilton (At the Victoria Palace), Phantom of the Opera (Her Majesty’s Theatre), Les Misérables (The Sondheim Theatre) and Mary Poppins (Prince Edward Theatre) will not reopen until early 2021. This is driven by the time he believes it would take to secure the theatres for Covid safe performances as well as remounting the shows themselves as there respective casts are drawn from across the world. The Theatre Royal Newcastle along with the Mayflower Theatre Southampton and the Birmingham Hippodrome have all extended closure until well into November but all have stated they aim to reopen in time for Pantomime Season. The good news is all these venues and in fact every single theatre across the country are all hard at work rescheduling as many productions as possible so check their individual websites for full details.

There is a glimmer of hope as Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber is preparing to run a Covid Secure venue test at the famed London Palladium, using technology already in use at the reopened South Korean production of Phantom of the Opera. If this proves successful it could be the key to reopening theatres across the west end and beyond for those that are able to afford the technology needed.

Across Scotland:

Back home in Scotland every single theatre continues to remain closed but what’s the news coming from each venue? We take a look at a selection from across Scotland:

Edinburgh:

Edinburgh has paid a heavy price with the complete cancellation of the Edinburgh Festival season, the annual melting point of creativity and arts will not happen this year but plans are already under way to bring the annual extravaganza back in 2021 and word is also coming from the Edinburgh Fringe Society of a online programme if we hear more we will bring that to you. What about the year-round Venues?

The Festival Theatre, Edinburgh King’s Theatre and The Studio:

the edinburgh kings night

The Capital Theatre’s trust operates three venues in the capital and its latest statement as of the 14th April states that all three venues will remain closed with there respective programmes cancelled until Sunday 21st June, that date approaches this weekend and it seems more than likely that closure will go on until at least the autumn. The King’s hopefully will be open for Pantomime which this year is Sleeping Beauty which is so apropos but sadly after a run of 60 years unbroken the Edinburgh Gang Show wont take place due to the complications of rehearsing the show under Covid conditions even if the theatre were available. In the meantime, the Trust have developed a fascinating online platform of behind the scenes videos and content and community engagement all this while moving as many productions from this year into 2021 and 2022 as possible.

The Edinburgh Playhouse:

edinburgh playhouse night

The Playhouse closed just as it was approaching the end of marathon run of Disney’s The Lion King and the Front of the venue remains decked out in the Lion King Artwork. The Playhouse is a part of The Ambassador Theatre Group and their latest statement from 3rd June confirms closure of all their venues until at least the 2nd of August. Interestingly the Statement goes on to say that they have rescheduled over 15,000 separate performances with that rescheduled programme set to kick off in November. Therefore, a further notice of closure will likely be forth coming to take all their venues, which include 7 west end theatres and 24 venues around the uk into the autumn. The Playhouse themselves have done a Stirling job via there social media of announcing when productions are rescheduled, and the vast majority have been, and tickets still stand valid. Do check their website for full details for each show.

The Royal Lyceum Theatre:

lyceum night

Scotland’s biggest and Edinburgh’s only producing theatre has now completely cancelled its entire 2020 season taking it up to January 2021 and The Theatre, Offices, Studios, and workshops have entered hibernation with most staff placed on furlough. Sadly, we will not be seeing the Lyceum building open in any way for the remainder of the year. However the team at the Lyceum have developed the simply wonderful Digital House Lights Up Programme which includes, Curtain up which will see over 1000 patchwork panels join together to form a new curtain which will be used to reopen the theatre when the time is right. This is accompanied by Lyceum Letters a programme that sees Artists and Public joining together to share their experiences of the great theatre from across the years. The Lyceum creative Learning programme continues online and its bolstered by “Working from home” a programme designed to support performers and creatives across the industry. The Lyceum is also engaging with BBC Scotland and Screen Scotland and delivering Shorts for the Scenes for Survival. A visit to the Lyceum website during lockdown is well worth it.!

The Traverse Theatre:

the traverse

The Trav may have closed its doors, and there updating  the ongoing closure information via there website but they also have put together a stellar online virtual world of creative opportunities. Head to there website for full details.

The Usher Hall:

usher hall night

The Usher Hall is run by the city council alongside the Churchill Theatre and the Assembly room their latest statement confirmed closure until 18th of June, which has passed so expect more information from them soon. Head to their Website.

The Brunton, Musselburgh.

the brunton evening

The Brunton is closed on a rolling basis and there updating the website with updates as and when they are able to. So, keep an eye on their website.

Glasgow:

Moving over to the west coast, which not only houses many theatres but all Scotland’s biggest live concerts venue, so let’s check out what they’re saying:

The Theatre Royal and King’s Theatre Glasgow:

glasgow kings

As with the Edinburgh Playhouse both these houses are operated by the Ambassador Theatre Company and their latest statement from 3rd June confirms closure of all their venues until at least the 2nd of August. Interestingly the Statement goes on to say that they have rescheduled over 15,000 separate performances with that rescheduled programme set to kick off in November. Therefore, a further notice of closure will likely be forth coming to take all their venues, which include 7 west end theatres and 24 venues around the uk into the autumn. Let hope they can open the King’s in time for this year’s magical Pantomime Cinderella.

The Pavilion Theatre,

pavilion glasgow

The Pavilion, Scotland largest independent theatre has been closed since lockdown began and sadly its not the first time in recent years it sustained a long closure following the great fire of Renfield street. The theatre has been first class in maintaining contact with its audiences. The team have been hard at work rescheduling as many performances as possible, and you should check the venues website and social media for full details. While you are at it be sure to check out the Pavilions brand new video season showcasing the very best of theatres work over the years.

The Glasgow Events Campus.

glasgow events campus

The Glasgow events campus houses the Scottish exhibition and Conference centre, The Clyde Auditorium (Glasgow Armadillo) and The SSE Hydro. All events have been cancelled the SEC has been converted into the NHS Louisa Jordan an incredible achievement that was delivered in record breaking time. Although the facility itself has not been used it remains on standby in case the NHS requires it.

All Concerts and events have been either cancelled outright or rescheduled with the bulk being in 2021. There are however plans to continue with Panto at the Clyde Auditorium.

Aberdeen and Inverness:

Looking northwards the virus has impacted every single venue from small community halls to the biggest theatres so let’s take a look at:

His Majesty’s Theatre Aberdeen:

His Majestys night

The Programme at His Majesty’s has been cancelled on rolling basis as they continue to wait for government advice which is very slow in coming, productions wise they are aiming to hopefully present there autumn season starting with Addams Family the musical in early September. This may well change, but fingers are crossed the theatre will be open in time for the panto which this year see’s it stage Beauty and the beast.

Eden Court Theatre Inverness:

Eden court night

Lastly but not least we look at the most northerly mainstream theatre in the UK. Eden court is mixed purpose venue that includes a Cinema as well as theatre. It latest statement confirms all venues are closed until 1st of August at the earliest. There is hope they can have there autumn and winter programme including the annual pantomime.

Given the venue also houses a cinema it may be possible to open that section of the building earlier than the theatre, but this is dependent on the government guidance. Let’s Hope it comes soon.

And Finally!

So, there we have it, a snapshot of where the theatrical world is in Scotland and further afield currently stands. One thing is for sure we have never seen this effect on the arts in its history and we all need to do everything we can to support our venues as and when they open. Its going to be a sad reality that we must Accept not every venue, production or UK tour will re-open in the world we are being told will be the “New Normal”. What ever that Normal transpires to be one thing rings true, Theatre in all its creative glory has survived, Plagues, recessions, and world wars. The curtains will rise again, the bigger questions are, When? And what will the inside of those auditoriums look like? We can but await the answers.