Tag Archives: Development

“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!

Masterful Masterclass

Sixty five thousand places on free workshops and apprenticeships have been given to young performers and theatre makers by the Theatre Royal Haymarket’s Masterclass charity. Masterclass has been offering impressive opportunities in the industry for over 15 years, working towards making theatre accessible in a costly climate through workshops with industry professionals, performance opportunities and apprenticeships to people between the ages of 14 and 30.

The Royal Haymarket says it “never sleeps”. During the day, the theatre opens its doors, for free, to young performers to give the best advice, support and guidance that London has to offer in a theatre land of rising costs. This brilliant initiative is run by Masterclass, a small charity that relies on the support of businesses, organisations and generous individuals to stay on stage. The Haymarket, of course, is the charity’s long-time partner, alongside other well-known industry organisations such as The Royal Central School of Speech & Drama and the English National Opera, while patrons include David Hare and Judi Dench. Judi Dench appeared recently in the news, quietly suggesting that young actors’ fears that working-class talent is being pushed out of the profession by costly training are well-founded. Dench was quoted by the Guardian as saying “Anyone who’s in the theatre gets letters countless times a week asking for help to get through drama school. You can do so much, but you can’t do an endless thing. It is very expensive.”Clearly, Dame Judy is endeavouring to change this in some small way through her involvement with Masterclass.

The professional involvement doesn’t end with Dame Judy however. Each of the initiative’s workshops is taken by a high-level industry professional, with names including Ewan McGregor, Elaine Paige, Idris Elba and recently, award-winning director Blanche McIntyre. These industry professionals take time out of their own schedules to help and support young actors who might not be able to afford workshops offered elsewhere. Masterclass also offers highly discounted tickets for numerous theatre performances around London. Dench told the Guardian in September “I always say to young students, ‘Go and see as much as you possibly can’, which is what we used to do. But then we paid a pittance for sitting in the gods”. With theatre tickets often costing upwards of £50, this contribution is clearly just as significant to young, training actors. Masterclass also offers training in the long-term with their Apprenticeship Scheme launched in 2007, offering paid internships to those who want to work in theatre.

“I think the workshops are popular because they give access to the West End stage and the best masters of the industry” a Anoushka Warden at Masterclass commented. “They also motivate emerging actors who maybe haven’t had a job for a while”. Masterclass believes that their initiatives build “confidence for roles in the industry”, as stage craft and directing opportunities are also offered. The Theatre Royal Haymarket’s ability, as a private theatre, to set up and continue support for Masterclass makes it “quite unique”.

Certainly, the career-enhancing programs run by Masterclass are impressive in their diversity, accessibility and professional quality. Amidst the growing discussion of theatrical careers becoming “elitist” due to extortionate training fees, Masterclass is able to confidently tread the boards of the Haymarket with the knowledge that they are delivering an unparalleled service to young theatre-makers across the Capital.

Older actors, directors and craftspeople who are outside the eligibility age bracket are also able to take part for the small fee of £10 per workshop.

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.

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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