Arts and Cultural News: November

In the big world of work I’ve come to learn for any organisation, but particularly in the arts, it’s important to be very aware of the cultural environment you exist within. Trends, technologies, funding streams, regulations and policies seem to be on a near constant marathon of changes. I can imagine it’s very hard to keep up at times, let alone operate comfortably. Social, political and economic factors all influence the way in which any organisation operates (but again, particularly with the arts), which is why I think it’s important to keep up to date with cultural news and happenings!

A good portion of the articles in this post do relate to funding directly or indirectly; this is an interesting and omnipresent topic in the arts, and particularly for me as my previous and current internships have been based around development. Saying that, I am reasonably new to the fundraising scene and still have a lot to learn!

Firstly, a widely discussed and debated topic within arts fundraising –

“Art Not Oil”

FINANCIAL TIMES: Should Big Oil Back Big Art?

This article was written before the “actor-vist” theatre group BP or not BP staged their performance protest in the British Museum on Saturday (26 Nov) calling for an end to their sponsorship deal with the oil giant BP. The group have argued that with “climate-denier” Trump heading for the White House, it has become more important for recognised cultural organisations to stop promoting fossil fuel companies.

With BP ending their sponsorship deals with Tate and Edinburgh International Festival earlier this year, some thought the “domino effect” of this would ripple through the UK. However, it was later announced they would be renewing sponsorship of other major cultural institutions including the National Portrait Gallery, The Royal Opera House and the previously mentioned British Museum.

For me, this article raises interesting and justified points on both sides. But the quote I find most interesting is this snippet of conversation between Chris Garrard of BP or not BP, and the articles author, John Sunyer:

He cites BMW rather than BP being a sponsor at Tate Modern as progress. “See, museums and galleries can cope just fine without oil companies.” When I point out that BMWs use oil and pollute the environment, Garrard goes quiet. “At least it’s a step in the right direction,” he says eventually. “Yes, it’s a sliding scale, but moral relativism might render us inert.”

So, as Sunyer states, where do we draw the line?

Diversifying funding

The task of producing, commissioning and funding cutting-edge new works balanced with facilitating and celebrating traditional arts isn’t always easy.. or cheap. Generally, with government cuts to the arts on a national and local scale, arts organisations have had to diversify funding streams.

This brings me to the next article..

THE TELEGRAPH: Galleries and theatres should run B&Bs to earn money, Arts Council chairman suggests

The headline itself initially implies an unusual suggestion, but reading through properly, I think Bazalgette (Sir Peter Bazalgette, Chairman of the Arts Council) makes some really valid points.

I’ve heard Bazalgette speak last November at the Playable City Day hosted by the Watershed (Bristol), where he put forward his vision for arts within cities and urban areas. I found his passion for the regenerative purposes of arts and culture, and his eye-catching choice of socks, very refreshing.

Arts and Sustainability

The following is an interesting read on the increase of environmental consciousness and new sustainable practice within cultural organisations, with mention of the achievements of the ACE sustainability programme.. “the first national council in the world to introduce environmental reporting for its regularly funded organisations”.

EDIE: Arts and culture sector realises ‘intrinsic’ value of sustainability

Arts in the Jungle

Next, I saw this article as a glimmer of positivity amongst a sea of unsettling news 2016 has offered us.

EVENING STANDARD: Stephen Daldry on bringing theatre to the Calais ‘Jungle’ refugee camp

The article describes the Good Chance theatre, set up by young producers Joe Murphy and Joe Richardson (aka ‘The Joes’) in the Calais refugee camp. It revisits the performances by Jude Law and other notable contributors that engrossed audiences from a range of nationalities; language barriers softened by the physicality and emotion of their performances.

A particular quote I found really moving was this:

Of course, it’s easy to be cynical about a theatre setting up in Calais. And in a way, the cynics are absolutely right. Refugees need clean water and they need basic food and they need medical supplies — without that, there is nothing. But they also need a space to think, and they need to hope and they need to dream. To acknowledge their humanity felt as important to us as the basic needs of food, shelter, medical equipment and sanitation. To allow those people to live as animals feels immoral in a Western democracy.

As the article states, ‘The Joes’ have now been commissioned to write of play based on their experience in the Jungle by the National Theatre. I’m really interested to see how the unique insight they’ve gained will be shown through a live performance.

Salisbury Lantern Parade

Finally, my last article documents some lovely local news! The annual Lantern Parade took place on 1st December, bringing together all ages from the community. This year saw hundreds of endangered animals light up the way from the Cathedral Close to the Market Place, with the theme People vs Planet.

SALISBURY JOURNAL: Salisbury dazzles with 2016 Christmas Lantern Parade

This Salisbury Journey article has some really great pictures of the event. The Parade took place as part of the Salisbury Christmas Market events, with the market running until 18th December.

(Photo of Calais from Evening Standard article linked below.)


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