Category Archives: News

66 Shaftesbury Avenue

It seems rather hard to believe, that there isn’t already a theatre themed cafe in theatre land. But it turns out, that gap in the market (that no one had particularly noticed) has just been filled.

It seems like Jill and Joe Davey (names that work so well together, you would think they’re from a musical themselves) are going for a Waterstones-for-the-Theatre meets Hard Rock cafe style with their new Theatre Cafe, opening on the West End on 12th January. The two owners, who also own the London Theatre Bookings ticket agency, are going for a comfortable, customer friendly approach. Somewhere to “sit in a comfortable environment, purchase refreshments and chat to the staff about the various shows on in London” Jill and Joe have commented. Items from shows such as Wicked and The Lion King are being leant to the establishment to be put on display.

However, unsurprisingly with the owners also owning a ticket sales company, it would appear that the cafe is also highly commercially driven. According to reports, iPads (other tablets are available) will be placed on the tables so customers can watch clips from shows and browse tickets. The head of sales at London Theatre Bookings says they’re working to “create exciting promotions using this new space”.

Sounds like a ticket queue with tables and coffee.

You will be able to find the Theatre Cafe at 66 Shaftesbury Avenue, London.

Do you plan on visiting the Theatre Cafe? Do you think you would enjoy sipping a mocha latte here?

“Decision Makers”

A recent report from a government backed initiative indicates that the arts have “zero” impact on the economy. 

What Works, a government supported project that brands itself “evidence for decision makers”, has released a report suggesting that arts and culture make no economic contribution to the country. This report follows a long-standing debate regarding the value of the arts in our society. The report shows that although the arts contribute human interest and value to society, the economic contribution made by the sector is relatively low.

Arts funding has been a battle ground with every government in the past twenty years, naysayers often being put in their place with claims that the arts offers not only cultural but also financial value to the community. What Works claim that this is inaccurate and “Given the significant cost of most major sport and culture projects they are unlikely to be cost-effective in terms of increasing local economic growth”. The benefits of tourism are also “short-lived” it reported.

This report comes in shocking opposition to that of the On with the Show: Supporting Local Arts and Culture‘s report in the summer of this year. Arts Council England found economic growth to be the number one reason for investment in the arts locally. Conversely, What Works report “We found no robust evidence on the economic impacts of smaller projects”, and project that it is likely to be even smaller than the impact made by the larger scale projects.

Is this a case of numbers trying to measure the creative immeasurable? Is this an illuminating revelation in data that should change the way we think about funding? Is this a case of 73.6% of all statistics are made up? Let me know what you think in the comments below!

RCSSD gets LGBT boost from BLF’s RC (phew)

An exciting funding boost has been announced for the Royal Central School of Speech & Drama’s LGBT initiative. 

Thanks to the Big Lottery Fund’s (BLF) Reaching Communities (RC) program, a sum of almost £95,000 has been awarded to the conservatoire’s initiative. RCSSD’s on-going project seeks to explore and expose the issues and problems faced by LGBT people, and to hear their stories. Through conversations and workshops with LGBT people of all ages, Central School seeks to allow the marginalised group to share and explore their experiences through the healing process of performance. Eight workshops will be held throughout the year to run this initiative.

Central is known for its outstanding research in theatrical fields. The conservatoire has a wide range of research projects that span across genres of theatre and performance, constantly exploring new ways to do drama, as well as new ways to use it.

Humanities, Schmanities, Arts, Farts

If you want a career, then study the STEM subjects… apparently.

In another obnoxiously ignorant move, government officials have lampooned the utility of arts subjects. Frighteningly, Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan has attacked arts subjects in a recent speech made at the opening of the ‘Your Life’ campaign, presumptuously suggesting them to be dead-ends. “…the subjects that keep young people’s options open and unlock the door to all sorts of careers are the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths)” Morgan said this week. The Secretary went on to say that young people are making decisions at 15 that will “hold them back” for the rest of their lives.

The message here seems to be that studying the humanities is a risk to your future career. I wonder if Nicky Morgan’s own degree held her back? Yes, indeed – Morgan’s own Jurisprudence degree happens to be one of the Humanities – the very fleet of faculties that she is attacking. Impressive that she has managed to make it all the way to the Secretary of Education with such a risky humanities degree. If only she had taken her own advice and studied science or maths; perhaps then we would have escaped her ignorance as Education Secretary.

It should be noted that Morgan’s comments may have been twisted out of context; while trying to promote the importance and benefits of studying a STEM subject, perhaps she has easily been misconstrued as bad-mouthing the arts. The Independent reports that “a source” at the Department of Education claimed that Morgan was not “downgrading the importance of arts subjects are all” but that “it makes sense” to keep studying STEM subjects if pupils are seeking to advance to a career in technology etc, etc.. It’s a stretch, but thank god we have a government to tell us that we should study technology if we want to work in IT. That one really would have stumped us. Phew.

Rob Warner, the Dean of Humanities at the University of Chichester says “Studying the Humanities made my careers possible, in commercial publishing, the voluntary sector and university teaching and research, management and leadership.” As a study of human experience, it seems like its a section of study that shouldn’t be discounted.

The stance rather unfortunately –  and likely inadvertently – adopted by our Secretary of Education is not a new one. Head teachers, including my own, have called subjects like drama and art “soft” for decades now. You can bet that they still go home and watch Game of Thrones though with a glass of wine and sense of superiority, mindless of the fact that George R. R. Martin, Shakespeare and Queen, Monet and Rowling were all a bit artistically inclined when it came down to it. This perception of the arts as a futile pursuit seems proliferated by common ignorance of its inherent power. Science and maths are undoubtedly what make the world, but art and literature are what create and change it. This view needs to change and change fast. In a world where education is being constantly reformed, discrimination against arts subjects is something that should be addressed. Theatre is being reformed, so are novels, so is art. Education needs to change too. This blog is about the renewal and reinventions of theatre, and if that is to continue, we need new students studying drama and re-imagining it in new forms. If there were no artists, it would be a very bland world and just like Einstein said (I’m pretty sure he studied science or something), if a fish forever judges its intelligence by how well it climbs a tree, it will forever think it is stupid.

What’s your opinion on Nicky Morgan’s comments? Have you ever experienced humanities bashing? Please let me know in your comments.

Beautiful artwork by kerbyrosanes

Digital Theatre Broadcasts Old Vic’s ‘The Crucible’

This summer’s production of ‘The Crucible’ at the Old Vic is being shown in cinemas across the UK by the Digital Theatre initiative.

This will be the first time that Digital Theatre has collaborated with the Old Vic. The recording will be distributed by Cinema Live to over 350 cinemas across the nation on the 4th and 7th of December, extending the reach of one of this year’s best productions.

Richard Armitage’s performance has been lauded as one of “London’s best” in his role as John Proctor. The production, which was performed in the round, will extend the reach of “the best British theatre” and allow Yaël Farber’s image of Arthur Miller’s great work be shown to thousands at cinema prices.

Digital Theatre works together with the best British theatrical companies to record and distribute top quality theatre to the UK and the rest of the world. Plays and performances can be rented or bought online for the same price as renting a movie. The company was launched in 2009 and has achieved incredible success in making theatre available to everyone. The company has made theatre on screen a creative and accessible reality.

Image courtesy of Tristram Kenton

Innovative “Neo-Ticketing” gets Funding Boost

A new ticketing system has been given over £100,000 to fund development by the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts. This pioneering technology has been spearheaded by the Firestation Centre in Windsor to allow more flexible ticket prices and improve audience outreach.

“Neo-Ticketing” has been designed and implemented by the Firestation Arts Centre in association with Monad Software Ltd and the Department of Economics at the Royal Holloway University of London, and will be used in the venue until September 2015. The technology utilises the same algorithms as airlines; raising and dropping tickets prices according to sales. The more tickets that are bought, the higher the price. The centre explains that there will also be regular “Price Crashes” to stimulate interest. The Firestation Arts Centre, which is in the heart of Windsor, hopes that these “flexing” prices will make their performances more accessible and perhaps more appealing to a wider audience, rather than tickets being stuck at a fixed price.

The Firestation explains that this will hopefully mean more full houses for their performers to play to, and hopefully more profit from each performance, while at the same time, giving theatre goers a better deal too. With rising claims that theatre is becoming “elite”, these innovations are a welcome attempt to make theatre a more communal and diverse place. arts_tech_graph

The Digital R&D Fund has outlined the importance of these new developments, and how the merging of technology and theatre is bringing new audiences and offering new possibilities to the world of theatre. The managing director of the Firestation Centre, Dan Eastmond comments that these new developments are the only way to survive as a traditional theatre in the modern technological age. “I would think every theatre, unless they have a slight death wish, is looking to see what new ideas are out there, and what they can do differently”.

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