£850m budget boost for museums and galleries

£850m budget boost for museums and galleries

Museums and heritage sites are expected to be given an extra £850m in tomorrow’s budget, with £300m earmarked for the likes of the V&A, Tate Liverpool and IWM Duxford to cover maintenance costs.

THE WORD	Elitism - design’s forgotten pandemic

THE WORD Elitism - design’s forgotten pandemic

As the cultural sector works at recovering from the effects of the coronavirus emergency, we urgently need to address exclusion and inequality. However, interior design is falling behind the rest of the creative industries, says Stella Gittins, co-founder and group director of The Accouter Group of Companies interior design consultants, which the government as well as the industry itself needs to address

Gentlemen’s club becomes contemporary art showcase

Gentlemen’s club becomes contemporary art showcase

Founded in 1862 the Naval and Military is one of London’s oldest gentlemen’s clubs. Now it is better known as the In & Out and you no longer have to be naval or military to be a member, nor a gentleman - almost 25% of the 3,000 members are women.

Haitink dies aged 92

Haitink dies aged 92

Bernard Haitink, the former music director of the Royal Opera House, has died at his home in London. He was 92.

TAITMAIL  Abstracting the Greenberg

TAITMAIL Abstracting the Greenberg

In the unlikeliest of settings, the courtyard of a St James’s gentleman’s club, the most keenly argued issue of contemporary art of the last 70 years is being tackled full on: is abstract art really abstract?

Collins gets new No 2 role at Opera North

Collins gets new No 2 role at Opera North

David Collins, Opera North’s director of external affairs since 2016, has been promoted to the new role of executive director, answering to the CEO Richard Mantle.

Sarah Hopwood to step down as Glyndebourne’s MD

Sarah Hopwood to step down as Glyndebourne’s MD

After almost 25 years at Glyndebourne Sarah Hopwood is to retire next year as managing director.

‘Platinum’ festival gets a name and a shape for the future

‘Platinum’ festival gets a name and a shape for the future

The national arts festival for 2022, seen as a new version of the 1951 Festival of Britain and variously nicknamed Platinum, in recognition of next year being the 70th year of the Queen’s reign, and Brexit in accord with the Prime Minister’s alleged wishes, has an official name: UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK.

£150k award for civic arts

£150k award for civic arts

Invitations for applications were opened today for the second Award for Civic Arts Organisations, with £100,000 to the winner and £25,000 each to two runners up.

MY STORY	Blood and wonder of the gipsy opera

MY STORY Blood and wonder of the gipsy opera

Carlo Rizzi, artistic director, Opera Rara

Opera Rara, the company that rediscovers, restores, records and performs lost operatic masterpieces, is reviving Ruggero Leoncavallo’s second most popular opera (after Pagliacci), Zingari, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Cadogan Hall in December. It will be conducted by Carlo Rizzi, the former music director of Welsh National Opera and Opera Rara’s artistic director since 2019.

Oldest astronomy map on show for the first time

Oldest astronomy map on show for the first time

 The 3,600 year old Nebra Sky Disc, the world’s oldest map of the stars, is to go on display in Britain for the first time next year.

Royal Docks to be London’s £5bn new cultural quarter

Royal Docks to be London’s £5bn new cultural quarter

The mayors of London and Newham have declared the Royal Docks a new cultural quarter for the capital that could generate £5bn in investment over the next 20 years, as a new festival, Royal Docks Originals, opens.

Lost Tiepolo drawing turns up in Sitwells’ attic

Lost Tiepolo drawing turns up in Sitwells’ attic

An exquisite drawing by Tiepolo, one of the masters of Venice’s 18th century golden age, has been found in an attic, covered in bubble-wrap.

Anne Seymour Damer: the forgotten ‘female genius’

Anne Seymour Damer: the forgotten ‘female genius’

Horace Walpole described the sculptor Anne Seymour Damer as “a female genius”, yet her work is barely known now, almost 200 years after her death.

Rail boost for regional theatres

Rail boost for regional theatres

A railway company has teamed up with a group of regional theatres to boost their audiences following the Covid emergency.

Tiny Alnwick museum is UK's most friendly

Tiny Alnwick museum is UK's most friendly

The tiny Bailffgate Museum & Gallery in Alnwick, Northumberland, is the winner of this year’s Family Friendly Museum Award.

Cornwall and Durham longlisted for City of Culture 2025

Cornwall and Durham longlisted for City of Culture 2025

The government has announced the eight cities and conurbations that will vie to be City of Culture 2025, in succession to Coventry this year.

GOOD PRACTICE GUIDE    Borough culture power versus Covid

GOOD PRACTICE GUIDE Borough culture power versus Covid

In 2019 Waltham Forest was the first of mayor Sadiq Khan’s London Boroughs of Culture. Lorna Lee, assistant director of culture at Waltham Forest Council, shows how the structure built then helped its communities through the pandemic

Ex-director quits Science Museum board over sponsorship

Ex-director quits Science Museum board over sponsorship

Chris Rapley, the former director of the Science Museum, has resigned from its advisory board in the escalating row over its sponsorship by Shell.

£1m to give the world new British films

£1m to give the world new British films

The UK Global Screen Fund is to give £1m to help 18 new productions to get international showings.

MIMA offers first curating apprenticeship degrees

MIMA offers first curating apprenticeship degrees

In a ground-breaking move for careers in museums and galleries Middlesbrough’s MIMA School of Art and Design is offering the UK’s first combined masters and higher degree apprenticeship (HAD) in curating.

New £2m fund to help museums make ‘miracles on a shoestring’

New £2m fund to help museums make ‘miracles on a shoestring’

Art Fund today announces the first round of a new £2m grant stream, Reimagine, to enable museums, galleries and historic houses to connect with their communities better.

THE ART OF PHOTOJOURNALISM Image of the month

THE ART OF PHOTOJOURNALISM Image of the month

Into the Twilight Zone, 6.45pm, 25th September 2018, by Roger Jackson

Alan Sparrow with an image of St Paul’s and the City a sunset

Museum of Childhood’s £13m transformation – to Young V&A

Museum of Childhood’s £13m transformation – to Young V&A

Work has begun on the £13m transformation of the V&A’s Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green, East London. It is due to reopen in 2023.

Re-entering the stage

Patrick Kelly reports on the reopening of one of the UK’s most venerable theatres

 The title of Britain’s oldest theatre is a contested one – but there’s no doubt that the Theatre Royal in York, which has been around since 1744, occupies a special place in the city’s heart. How else could you explain the way in which regular bulletins on the the- atre’s year-long refurbishment were awaited by theatregoers like anxious relatives at a hospital bedside? Will it reopen in time for the Christmas panto? What will be discovered un- derneath the Georgian façade or the Victorian stage? Will the £6m resto- ration project do justice to this iconic part of the city’s historical landscape?

In the end, the saga carried on for 406 days, reported the local paper, which was keeping count, and on April 22, York’s much loved theatre reopened officially with a clever adaptation of Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited. And the building looks fabulous.

The redevelopment, paid for by grants from Arts Council England, York City Council and a host of other donors, stemmed from an urgent need for repairs to a building which had largely been untouched for 50 years. Major changes were needed to the roof, to the auditorium and to the backstage facilities. But there was also a need, says YTR chair Ann Green, to create a building which helps boost the commercial income of the theatre at a time when public finances were constrained. This required a refur- bishment which would match the “audacity and ambition” of the playhouses which had occupied the site for nearly 300 years.

Help came in the form of the York Conservation Trust (see box) which negotiated a £1 handover of the building from a cash-strapped city council and provided the £2m needed for the completely new roof, and a third of the £6m budget.

Access throughout has been im- proved, with a spacious open plan foyer replacing the cramped box office, a new modular stage, better sightlines in the auditorium and much improved disabled facilities, from toilets to seats, throughout the building. A brand new roof makes the best use of the lightwells that had been constructed in 1967 when the theatre added a new entrance area. That concrete and glass extension, award-winning and now Grade II* listed like the Victorian audito- rium, now has a new lift giving full disabled access, a new restaurant, doubled cafe and bar space, many new toilets, restored rooflights and a colour changing lighting scheme. Much of the extra space has come from enclosing the Victorian gothic colonnade with glass, and creating an intimate café/bistro layout.

Inevitably, in a city where his- tory pokes through on every street corner, on a site which originally housed a medieval hospital, archae- ology was going to be built into the timetable. But the discovery of an ancient cobbled street and medieval well beneath the main stage meant that even the best laid plans were upended.

As a team from York Archaeo- logical Trust dug in for the long haul, the money-spinning Christmas panto had to be hastily rescheduled in the National Railway Museum. In York, this is no easy matter as traditional audiences, not to mention panto producer and veteran dame, Berwick Kaler, believe their antics are as embedded in the proscenium stage as the plasterwork in the boxes. But like the hardened profession- als they are, Wilson, artistic director Damian Cruden and Kaler moved Dick Whittington and his Meerkat to the 1,000 seater temporary theatre originally built for a touring production of The Railway Children, a move which prompted a handful of people to cancel, but ended up selling more seats than ever.

“When you shut a theatre that hasn’t been closed in 270 years you know that there is a lot at stake” said lead architect Angus Morrogh-Ryan, from De Matos Ryan Architects. “When you’re dealing with a building which is part medieval, part Georgian, part Victorian and part 1960s there is even more that could go wrong.

Theatre Royal chief executive Liz Wilson admits that the discovery of an original floor surface which had sur- vived for more than 800 years was not the best news for a theatre executive attempting to ensure a programme got started on time, but it demonstrated just how much the theatre’s story was part of York’s. “The Theatre Royal is much more than a theatre” she said. “It’s a place where people meet, learn and explore.”

Changes to the stage to a modular form will improve flexibility, enabling traps and level changes to be provided with ease. It will also allow YTR to attract dance companies which were turned off by the previous raked stage. “This season will see a performance from Birmingham Royal Ballet and, in future, will give us more options for the programme”.

The medieval well remains intact and parts of the street have been incor- porated into the terrazzo floor of the café, while the stone arch and tower built into the back wall of the stage, the remains of a Georgian garden folly, will feature in backstage tours. But for £25 tickets theatregoers can get a seat- ing either in the wings or from high above the stage on the fly floor – easily the best vantage point to see not only the show, but the remarkable building in which it’s taking place.

 

THE YORK CONSERVATION TRUST

The York Conservation Trust is a charity dedicated to preserving the built heritage of the city. It was formed by former city mayor Dr John Bowes Morrell and his brother Cuthbert in 1945. The trust buys and restores significant historical buildings in the city and then makes them available to rent. it now owns and runs over 85 buildings, consisting of 79 residential and 66 commercial lets. “Restoration and conservation has to be balanced with the need to put the building to its best use, both from the point of view of its tenants and in the life of the city” says the trust’s chair Philip Thake.

 

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