ADF’s shadowing arts boards opportunity closes soon

Applications close on Monday November 15th for an award-winning new initiative from Artistic Directors of the Future

The ADF Board Shadowing Programme is a first of its kind programme taking place in arts organisations across the UK. This unique programme offers our ADF Members the exclusive opportunity to shadow a consortium of arts boards. This programme won ADF the Innovation Award for The Stage Awards 2020.

ADF said: “The ADF Board Shadowing programme is designed to demystify the roles and responsibilities of the board, broker relationships with aspiring trustees and create an even playing field for near-future opportunities. “

“We recognise that every board varies in capacity, operation and style, therefore, our nine-month programme provides up to10 Black, Asian, or Ethnically Diverse ADF members with tangible experience at up to 6 arts venues/organisations to examine what type of board is right for them. “

To apply, see here

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Music Hall entertainer Fred Barnes finally gets a blue plaque

On 18th October, a very special Blue Plaque unveiling ceremony occurred . Even rock star Chrissie Hynde turned up!

Organised by The British Music Hall Society, the event honoured Fred Barnes, an unjustly-forgotten star of Music Hall. In honour of the event, actor Christopher Green, who has played Fred Barnes in a recent tribute, sang a few songs connected with Barnes.

You can still listen to a lovely tribute to Barnes, HOW SUCCESS RUINED ME, with Christopher Green and the late Roy Hudd , here and read my earlier piece about it here .

The BHMS event information is listed below, needing no titivation from me. Enjoy!

L to R, Alison Young, Paul O’Grady, Christopher Green, Adam Borzone, John Orchard

“The British Music Hall Society is delighted to announce that today at 12 noon a blue plaque commemorating Fred Barnes, the music hall singer, was unveiled at 22 Clifton Villas, Maida Vale, London W9 2PH by President of the Society Mr Paul O’Grady.

This event was organised by Alison Young & John Orchard.

Fred Barnes was hugely popular on the Music Hall stage and was known as ‘the wavy haired, blue-eyed Adonis’, lauded for his looks, talent and charm. He is chiefly remembered for his signature song, ‘The Black Sheep of the Family’ which he first performed in 1907 and made him an overnight success. He composed the music and wrote the lyrics for this song, a rarity at the time as music hall performers usually employed songwriters to write for them.

The son of a butcher, Frederick Jester Barnes was born in 1885 in Saltley, a working class area of Birmingham. He became interested in performance when at the age of 10, he saw the male impersonator Vesta Tilley on stage and thereafter was determined not to join the family meat business. His phenomenal success with ‘The Black Sheep of the Family,’ led to top billing at all of the major music halls (including the London Palladium). He also played principal boy roles in pantomime every Christmas, an unusual step for the time as these roles were generally taken by popular female music hall stars. Barnes’ other hit songs included ‘Give Me the Moonlight’ and ‘On Mother Kelly’s Doorstep,’ later popularised by Frankie Vaughan and Danny La Rue.

Considerable wealth followed for Barnes and he became renowned for his lavish spending and lifestyle as much as for his songs. He was openly gay at a time when homosexuality was a criminal offence and his family found this difficult to digest. Barnes’ father committed suicide in 1913 possibly connected to the shame he felt about his son’s lifestyle choices.

Alcohol proved to be Barnes’ undoing and he became increasingly reliant on it. Having squandered his wealth, he died in Southend-on-Sea in 1938.

Barnes lived in the grand house at 22 Clifton Villas, where the Blue Plaque was unveiled, during the years 1926-1930 when success and money were flowing and his popularity was undimmed.”

Sign the petition to stop cutting arts education for our young people

It seems ludicrous that we have to sign petitions to get anything done, but such is the corrupt, incompetent and disengaged government that that is our current reality. With that in mind, the Chancellor is trying to starve your kids education. Let’s tell him to lay off our kids – please sign the petition- details below. Thank You.

Secondary schools are missing £90 million of pledged Government funding for arts programmes and activities this academic year. 

Chancellor Rishi Sunak promised the Arts Premium in March 2020, “to fund enriching activities for all pupils”[1]. It was due to reach schools last month at a crucial moment in young people’s recovery from the pandemic.

Instead the schools minister said “the Arts Premium is now subject to this year’s Spending Review”[2], which Rishi Sunak is conducting now and concluding on 27th October. The Department for Education could not confirm whether the Arts Premium will be scrapped.[3]

Meanwhile youth centres and services, which face mounting financial pressures to keep delivering extra-curricular activities, are still waiting to receive any of the £500 million Youth Investment Fund they were promised by the Government in 2019.[4]

Young people have suffered enough during the pandemic, which has taken a devastating toll on mental health and educational inequality.[5] Now more than ever, every child must have the opportunity to express and develop their creativity, inside and outside school.

[1]Conservative Manifesto 2019, p13; Budget 2020[2]Written reply, Nick Gibb MP[3]Arts Professional[4]Civil Society News[5]Inequalities in education, skills, and incomes in the UK: The implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, IFS

We urge the Chancellor Rishi Sunak to:

  1. Keep the Government’s manifesto promise to deliver an Arts Premium of at least £90 million a year to secondary schools, distributing this much-needed funding as soon as possible.
  2. Keep the Government’s manifesto promise to deliver a £500m Youth Investment Fund to support youth centres and services, including the extra-curricular arts activities they provide.
  3. Increase national investment in the arts, and revenue funding of local and combined authorities, so everybody can benefit from high-quality arts and cultural services in their local community at this crucial time of recovery

Please sign the petition to help give our kids a better chance at better futures. We can afford it – we need to remind the Chancellor that it’s OUR money he’s playing with!

Find more information and sign the petition here

Are the Ardent8 stars of the future – and what is RETHINK?

Theatre is a profession with massive inequalities of access. These inequalities – of location, class and financial background – cause many aspiring young actors to fall at the very first hurdle. One company is challenging this shocking betrayal of talent- and doing something practical about it.

Ardent Theatre Company, formed in 2014 by co-Creative Directors Mark Sands and Andrew Muir, focused on this, with their stated aim of “Bringing Outsiders In”.

The Ardent8 project was launched in Dorset in 2016 and the inaugural group’s production SACRIFICE was staged to acclaim at the Soho Theatre, London and the Jellicoe Theatre, Poole in 2018. From this promising beginning, the programme is now being expanded across the country with partners currently including Manchester Metropolitan University and Leicester De Montfort University.

The aim of Ardent8 is to provide eight creatives a taste of life as an actor in London and benefit from opportunities within the industry from which they have otherwise been alienated but which Ardent Theatre Company believe is no more than an equal opportunity. In doing so, they will develop their skills further in a professional context that also introduces them to key industry practitioners. The programme includes acting workshops led by industry professionals, ongoing advice and mentorship, a week’s professional performance at a London theatre (paid at Equity rates), and all travel, subsistence and accommodation costs. A new intake of 8 creatives will benefit from this programme each year.

To finance this huge undertaking, finance expert Mark Sands is actively engaged in fundraising and grant-applying all year round, culminating with a spot in the prestigious Big Give Xmas fundraising project, where public donations are doubled by philanthropic gifts.

One of the great things about the project is that the play they feature in is written especially for them by co-Creative Director Andrew Muir, who is also an award-winning playwright. Muir also directs the work.

This week the Ardent8 appear at London’s Union Theatre in RETHINK, a timely piece about the inequality of opportunities to breaking into a career in theatre, exacerbated and magnified by the disruption to the arts of the global pandemic.

RETHINK is set in the aftermath of that sunny July 2020, when six graduates from a performing arts course on the south coast of England are encouraged to reconsider their careers, in the wake of theatre closures and lack of opportunity. According to a government-backed advertising campaign, their next job could be in cyber, they just don’t know if yet. What choice do they have?

RETHINK opens today, 26th October and runs until Saturday October 30th at 7.30 each evening with matinees on Thursday and Saturday at 3.00pm. Do get along and support this chance to see potential stars of the future if you can. And it’s even cheaper with the discount code below!

SPECIAL DISCOUNT CODE – Quote ARDENT5 at checkout to get your tickets for just £5 (£4 plus £1 booking fee). Subject to availability.

To book your tickets, click here

You’re invited to the Polish SIBMAS conference on 28th October

Here’s a free online event you may be interested in on Thursday 28th October.

Prior to its 33rd Conference, SIBMAS is delighted to invite theatre-lovers, in conjunction with the Polish Theatre Institute, to their autumn online short symposium, which will be held on 28th October 2021, at 3 pm (CEST)/ 2pm (BST) . The online event is titled:

Global Disconnections: Performing Arts Collections in the time of a Pandemic.

The description is as follows

“In these still difficult times, we would like to focus on the influence the pandemic has had on the functioning of member organizations of SIBMAS and other cultural institutions. We would like to also discuss the new solutions and practices developed during the lockdown.
During the first two-hour section of the conference, three speakers will be highlighted: Maria Babicka from the Polish Theatre Institute, Eric Colleary – Cline Curator of Theatre and Performing Arts from Harry Ransom Centre, The University of Texas at Austin, and Ramona Riedzewski – the former Head of Collections Management of the recently dissolved dedicated Department of Performing Arts at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.”

There is free access online for everybody + Coffee Roulette on registration, as well as live coverage on social media. Please join them if you can for what sounds like a fascinating analysis of arts in the time of Covid.

For more information and registration, visit