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The Federation of Entertainment Unions (FEU) has launched a campaign to counter the problem of bullying in the arts industry across the UK. Entitled 'Creating Without Conflict' the campaign kicks off with a survey via all of the major arts related unions including BECTU and Equity.
Initially the campaign aims to find out just how wide spread the problem is across the industry from dance companies to television stations (looking at you BBC). The FEU suggest that bullying arises, in many cases, because of the lack of job security in the industry as a whole.
"There are always others who can take your place if you complain. Unpaid internships are widespread which puts young people in a vulnerable position. Many workers are self-employed or freelance and are denied the protection that being on staff can afford,"
The campaign information thus far does not make it clear what the unions intend to do about the problem once the survey is complete.
In October of last year we interviewed Anne Marie-Quigg, a freelance arts consultant, who has written a book specifically about bullying in the arts; "Bullying in the Arts: Vocation, Exploitation and Abuse of Power". Ms Quigg explained at the time that getting the larger arts organisations to address the problem of bullying was an uphill struggle.
When dealing with Arts Council England Ms Quigg told us;
"When I got to the Arts Council my first email was directly to Alan Davey (ACE CEO) to ask him if he was able to make a statement and I got no reply. A month later I sent another email to Alan Davey and this time I got a reply from someone in his organisation who said that he was unable to reply to me at this time.
That person trotted out a few of the things about the Arts Council's policies, which I already knew, which was that they themselves have an internal policy, a dignity at work policy, but that it is not their business to interfere in the internal management practices of the organisations that they fund."
Discovering the extent of the problem would appear to be the logical first step but without widespread reforms and protections for those that come forward the research itself may be of little practical use.
You can find out more about the project on the BECTU website.
The BBC is reporting that Arts Council England will receive a 5% cut to its funding for the year 2015/2016 after the Department for Culture Media and Sport agreed to an 8% cut in their funding as part of the next government spending review.
ACE had drawn up scenarios for progressively worse cuts predicting that hundreds of National Portfolio Organisations would have to be de-funded.
Various talking heads are calling the 5% drop a win for the arts following the 30% cut in the last spending review in 2010. Given ACE's tiny budget, relatively speaking, then the 5% reduction in funding will do little or nothing to support the coalition government's claims of making "tough" decisions to reduce the deficit and save the world, or something.
Starting from today Article19 will be introducing "closed captioning" to our video interviews to make them more accessible to folks with hearing issues.
Closed captioning is a method of placing subtitles and other information into a video that can be made visible on request by the user. The captions have been available on TV shows and DVD movies for years but, until now, making them available on web videos has been a bit of a nightmare to implement.
Article19 uses an HTML5, cloud based video player called Sublime from Jillion that allows us to deliver video material to our readers no matter what browser, operating system or mobile device they are using.
The player doesn't require any plugins or other software and is constantly updated by Jillion while users don't have to lift a finger to take advantage of those updates.
Last week Jillion announced an upgrade to the player that includes support for closed captioning (CC).
Sadly, the captions don't just magically appear on the videos. We have to create the transcriptions, format them correctly and put them online to make the CC option work. This is going to take some time to do because we have rather a lot of video material.
Thus far we have created transcriptions on the four most recent features. You will know when a feature has been upgraded to include captions because you will see a little "CC" logo in the corner. The captions themselves can be turned on using the "CC" option button on the player itself for all enabled videos.
If you would like to help us create the captions for our video material then doing so couldn't be easier.
We use an online service called Amara.org, sort of the "wikipedia" for captions and subtitles. The website basically enables anybody to crowdsource captions for online video material. Actually captioning a video is very easy and, depending on how fast you can type, doesn't take a great deal of time.
If you would like to help us out then drop us an email to email@example.com and we will get you started. You can do as little or as much as you like.
We can also incorporate multiple language subtitles so if want to create subtitles for languages other than English then that would be great.
For now check out the captioning feature on our latest features.
Welcome dear readers to the roundup of culture news culled from the assorted media covering the business that we call show.
No idea who took this image because Wired couldn't be bothered to caption it.
We start with news from Wired magazine of a gentleman in Holland, Thor ter Kulve, a designer, who has taken to vandalism that most folks would consider nice!
Instead of spraying buildings with random "tags" or unreadable writing Mr ter Kulve installs unauthorised improvements to various bits of street furniture in his home country of Holland.
These adornments include swing sets on lamps posts, water spray systems on fire hydrants and large transparent balloons on top of street lights.
"In the Netherlands it is forbidden to attach anything to public trees, not even a birdhouse, let alone a swing," he says. "But this is also an issue I like to address -- why do we use this common field in this way? And aren't the rules preventing joyfulness to happen?"
None of the art works are permanent. He leaves them in place for a few hours and removes them, almost like he was never there to begin with.
If, like us, you think "Banksy" is a bit of git who should be thrown onto the counterclockwise ring of the M25 along with his spray cans then we encourage you to support the far better and much more interesting work of Thor ter Kulve.
If you think the problems we have with arts funding in this country are bad spare a thought for the citizens of California in the United States.
The LA Times reports that the local government types suspended a vote on increasing the states dreadful arts budget until some point later in the year.
"The arts council's budget, now $5.5 million, peaked at $32 million in mid-2000. It was cut nearly in half over the next two years, then all but eliminated in 2003 as the economy fell into a recession. Since then the arts council has received $1 million a year from state tax coffers."
To give you a little perspective. California has a population just over half that of the UK (38 million) and government contribution to the arts per-annum is just £3.5Million. That's about 10 times less than Arts Council England's budget for..... England.
Previous budget cuts have also been attributed to politicians within the State Assembly not liking whomever happens to be in charge of the Arts Council. At one point the Council had a budget of $75Million.
We also note that California is the home of Hollywood and the largest commercial film economy in the world. A group of people that just spent about $130Million making 'After Earth', a large-scale vanity project for "actor" Will Smith and his son Jaden that has been universally mauled by critics and ignored by the public.
There's an argument right there for massive public spending on culture because in many ways, the commercial sector is dropping the ball so hard it could punch a hole in the earth all the way to China.
Pretty sure that script is in development for Mr Smith and his rather annoying offspring for their next movie.
More DCMS doom and gloom news as The Telegraph reports that UK Culture Secretary Maria Miller may be for the chop along with her entire department.
Apparently the Chancellor, George "Can't Count" Osborne is displeased with Ms Miller's inability to do anything at all, ever!
"Mrs Miller is regarded as one of the Cabinet's weakest performers and her department's failure to swiftly roll out a high-speed broadband network has angered the Chancellor.
She is also under investigation for abusing her expenses and has recently refused to brief the Telegraph on forthcoming Government policies in apparent revenge for this newspaper exposing her claims."
To be fair to Ms Miller, her predecessor Jeremy "Not James" Hunt, was in the job a lot longer and he couldn't roll out this mythical high-speed broadband network either.
We imagine the reasons for this are that neither of them are telecommunications engineers and they have limited access to massive amounts of fiber-optic cable and a screwdriver. Also, the UK's government doesn't own a large scale communications company because the last time they were in power they sold it. Looking at you BT.
The DCMS has denied that it is under threat of any kind. The dance world at large reacted to this news by being completely unaware that the news even existed at all.
This Week In Tweets
The Stage reported, for want of a better word, that an organisation called Crystal Ballet will be releasing some filmed ballet/dance work on iTunes at the beginning of next month.
The company was quoted thus;
Given our strong views on how dance needs to be filmed to make it usable on the small screen then the folks at Crystal Ballet might have thought again about their response.
Have a nice weekend.
Welcome dear readers to our weekly roundup of stories from the wide world of culture some all or none of which might have something to do with dance. So spin the wheel and take your chances.
What with all the doom and gloom these days about cuts, criminals and terrorism it's time for a little hope, a little bit of inspiration.
The BBC World Service programme "Outlook" featured the story of one Adrianne Haslet-Davis a ballroom dancer from Boston in the United States. Ms Haslet-Davis lost part of her leg in the bombing attacks at the Boston Marathon a just a few weeks ago. She took time out from recovery/life to join the BBC show to tell her story.
Despite her injuries Ms Haslet-Davis is keen to return to dancing and explains how she will be making an appearance on the US network television show "Dancing with the Stars" later in the year.
Also joining her on the programme, from Brighton in the UK, was one Welly O'Brien. Ms O'Brien also lost one of her legs in an accident while travelling in India 20 years ago but went on to become a professional dancer touring with Candoco Dance Company for several years.
Unlike most BBC output the interviews with the two dancers are fairly extensive and in-depth. The interview begins right at the start of the show.
Less Guns More Painting.
Previous story not inspiring enough for you? Then let's move to the United States and NBC news who reported this week on a school in Roxbury Massachusetts that turned failure into success using the arts.
Gun control and school security was thrown into sharp focus in the United States following the school shooting at Sandyhook elementary school in Newton, Connecticut late last year.
The National Rifle Association (also know as Bat Sh*t Crazy Incorporated) put forward a plan for armed guards, bullet proof glass and guns for teachers as a way to stop the madness. Banning the actual guns, as far as the NRA (BSCI) was concerned was out of the question.
School principal Andrew Bott had other ideas though when he took over the job at Orchard Gardens Elementary School. Following huge problems over many years the school and its students had been consistently failing and falling behind on test scores.
Mr Bott decided to fire all the security guards and dismantle the security infrastructure and instead spend all that money on arts programmes for the students, with dramatic positive effects.
"A lot of my colleagues really questioned the decision," he said. "A lot of people actually would say to me, 'You realize that Orchard Gardens is a career killer? You know, you don't want to go to Orchard Gardens.'"
But now, three years later, the school is almost unrecognizable. Brightly colored paintings, essays of achievement, and motivational posters line the halls. The dance studio has been resurrected, along with the band room, and an artists' studio.
Remember this story the next time your in a discussion with a politician about the billions spent on "security" vs the pittance spent on the arts.
Speaking of Bat Sh*t Crazy
The Guardian reports that a somewhat controversial version of the Wagner Opera 'Tannhäuser' at the Rheinoper in Düsseldorf has been cancelled because the "Nazi themed" opera managed to offend and disgust almost everybody who saw it. Some people actually needed medical treatment after watching the show.
"The production, which opened last Saturday and was expected to be one of the highlights of the celebrations for the bicentenary of Wagner's birth later this month, has a Nazi storyline, and includes scenes of people dying in gas chambers, being shot and raped, and of members of a family having their heads shaved before their execution."
Wagner was much admired by Adolf Hitler although that wasn't really Mr Wagner's fault since he died in 1883 (Hitler was born in 1889) although he was thought be more than a little antisemitic. Given the history of the composer it's not too difficult to understand why many people would get upset and more than a little bit outraged over the content.
The opera's director Burkhard C Kosminski refused to change any of the content for "artistic reasons" or because he's a massive, attention seeking muppet. Take your pick.
The Week in Tweets
In every generation there is a chosen one RT @sanj0yr0y: launch date for my website Mon 20 May 2013. 10th anniversary of last Buffy episode— Tim Wood (@timcwood) May 6, 2013
Here in TheLab™ we are not sure what's more distressing. The fact that a critic is launching a website or the fact that Tim Wood, press flack from ThePlace, chose to join in on the painful Buffy The Vampire Slayer themed promo.
Let's get one thing straight. Buffy The Vampire Saved World (a lot apparently! Ed!), these two on the other make the world wish she had failed. Now that's comedy!
Have a nice weekend.
Welcome dear readers to our weekly round up of news from the wide world of culture. Hard news is hard to find, seriously, take a look at the arts on Twitter if you don't believe us, but here's what we have.
The Female Choreographer's Collective got things underway with an "experiment" in London late last month at the Laban Theatre. They showed six pieces of work and refused to tell the audience who choreographed what to see if people could tell the difference between work created by men and work created by women.
Some folks reacted with outright, and somewhat ham fisted, hostility toward the whole thing and the most amazing thing about that? ..... It wasn't us!
At the time of writing the results are not yet in but if you want to join the
fight discussion then you can do just that via the FCC's website. Sign up for an account and get involved in the debate about why there is so much rampant sexism in the wacky world of dance. They may frame the discussion with more subtlety mind you.
If you want to know more about the FCC then look no further than our interview with the founders Holly Noble and Jane Coulson.
Delores Takes Umbridge
The current Secretary of State for Culture, Maria Miller, who bares more than a passing resemblance to Delores Umbridge from the Harry Potter movies, was taken out to the woodshed this week by Scotsman writer Tiffany Jenkins.
Ms Miller gave a speech somewhere or other and started singing the coalition government's tune about "difficult times", "austerity", "clown cars", "broken spreadsheets" and "inbred stupidity". We might be making some of that up.
Clown cars aside, Ms Miller was trying to make the point that the arts needs to make "economic" sense not "artistic" sense because, in the world at large, unless you can sell something for money then it's not actually worth anything at all apparently.
"Miller forcefully argued that the arts sector must make the case for public funding in the age of austerity by focusing on the economic - not artistic - value of culture. She told arts executives that they need to "hammer home the value of culture to our economy". And in case anyone missed the point, she underlined: "Culture does not simply have a role to play in bringing about a return to growth ... rather, it should be central to these efforts."
This is the first policy speech the Minister has given since she took over the job from Jeremy Hunt months ago. Ms Jenkins retorted;
"If we were to nurture only that which contributed to the economy it is likely that the safe, the tried and the tested would be funded. It is likely that the new, the risky and experimental would be avoided because the question would not be is it interesting, or good, but what is the expected return?"
As if to prove the point the BBC announced a 42 season pickup for Doctor Who, possibly the worst thing in the world ever and not just on television!
This Week in Tweets
note to the wacky world of dance: it's not our job to say "you're awesome" and then bat our eyelids and giggle......— Article19 (@Article19) May 2, 2013
We sent out that message in response to a conversation we had with the press office at Rambert Dance Company concerning their catastrophically bad videos on The Space. You can read more about that here.
Questions we had asked them went unanswered. Such is their professionalism, they chose the "la la la la we are not listening to you" approach.
They also took offence at out persistent attempts to get them to explain why an arts organisation wasn't open to a free exchange of ideas about their work and their use of public money to create that work.
If every journalist just gave up when somebody said "we have nothing to say" the papers would be empty, TV news would be empty, everything would be empty.
So deal with it!
Have a nice weekend.
Welcome dear readers to our weekly round-up of the news from the wide world of culture where most of the stories, for reasons unknown, never seem to be about dance. Onward however.
The Scottish folk among you may or may not be familiar with the debacle that is Creative Scotland. What used to be know as the Scottish Arts Council (think ACE in a kilt) was changed into something else, just because, and the art folk in Scotland didn't like the idea of changing something "just because" and they kicked up a bit of ruckus about it.
Scholars of both Scottish and English history will know that when the tartan folk kick up a fuss, you and the whole world are gonna know about it.
After the dust had settled there were many casualties and one of them was Andrew Dixon the Chief Executive of the newly formed arts funding body.
The Scotsman newspaper reports that an email released to The Herald newspaper (stay with us on this), written by Andrew Dixon, says that Mr Dixon feared he was the victim of a subversive plot that opposed the creation of Creative Scotland
and they thought the moon landings were a fraud.
"Dixon said in the email: "I was warned in the press on my appointment of 'back biting' arts community and a previous 'loss of trust' through the birth of Creative Scotland but what you can see here, and will get from Ewan Brown [former chairman of Creative Scotland's transition board] is the history of over 400 artists, many of them on the list yesterday who fundamentally opposed the creation of Creative Scotland."
Here in TheLab™ we think people didn't like Creative Scotland because it was a bit of a basket case and wanted to make all funding project funding. It was also a complete basket case.
But, you live and learn.
You're Covered in Bees
This week saw the launch of the Culture Hive by the Arts Marketing Association. The "Hive" is some sort of resource that will give the folks in arts marketing something to do when they are not updating their Facebook page, or whatever.
Anyway, the launch event played host to the most boring presentation this and every other universe has ever seen (including, and we are not making this up, the world's first demonstration of an Empathy Graph!)
The website itself did throw up an interesting bit of information courtesy of Kingsley Jayasekera Director of Communications and Digital Strategy at Sadler's Well in London.
First of all, totally made up job title or what? Secondly he has a piece of writing on this website that "reveals" how The Wells uses "digital" technology for something or other and how awesome their website is.
"This approach, plus a strict discipline over email use (just two emails per month; no, you can't approve our copy; no, we won't send out a solus email about your dying show at another venue) created a decent playing field where digital could work at its best."
Considering the whole purpose of the website is to help other people out what Mr Jayasekera is basically saying is this.
"If your show is dying at some other venue then **** *** because we aint ******* helping you out *** ******* ****".
This is why dance is doing so well in the wider world because heavily subsidised venues like Sadler's **** *** Wells and their over paid staff are more than happy to help other people out. By telling them to go **** themselves apparently.
Ironically, The Wells' website is a dark, gloomy, boring mess and the venue itself would be much improved aesthetically if it were reduced to rubble by a massive Transformers™ attack. But we digress.
The Week in Tweets
The above mentioned launch conference was broadcast live on the internet and that gave our very own EvilImp™ the chance to do one of his famous/notorious live tweeting sessions.
Over at the Arts Marketing Association they did a Storify of the CultureHive hashtag but neglected to include any of TheImp™'s musings.
To correct this airbrushing of history read our own highlights below.
Have a nice weekend.
Welcome dear readers to our weekly roundup of news some, none or all of which may or may not be connected to the wide world of dance.
Blowing Off Steam
The BBC reports that an Arts Council funded project to blow hot, wet air into the atmosphere has been shelved because it was either completely stupid or totally impossible or perhaps both.
We know what you're thinking, the project had something to do with Alan Davey, ACE's CEO, standing on the fourth plinth in London and giving a speech but we wouldn't make a joke that is so obvious!
Artist Anthony McCall had designed a work called "Column" that was going to blow a column of steam into the air so people could look at it and go; "hey, look at that big column of steam" before going about their day.
The project apparently ran into problems because the Civil Aviation Authority had some concerns that massive columns of hot steam being blown into the atmosphere might cause planes to crash or at least make them very very clean on route to their final destination.
No word on whether or not the CAA thought the whole sting was "completely stupid".
ACE takes a hit because they thought it was a good idea to spend £535,000 on this but were apparently non-plussed that the project is never going to happen.
"It is a project that was visionary and testing new approaches and new technical equipment. We did monitor that appropriately along the way but in the end it wasn't able to deliver the vision of the artist."
Said a man from ACE who is apparently more stupid than the people who think gay marriage causes hurricanes.
If you want to see a demo of "column" then just go into your kitchen and turn the kettle on and pretend you're a tiny little person.
More Storms Brewing
The never-ending debacle of the Brewhouse Theatre in Taunton continues with the revelation that people who are owed money by the theatre will not be getting paid.
People in the arts not getting paid? What else is new?
The BBC reports that £80,000 is owed to people who booked tickets for shows that will not be going ahead, what with the theatre being shut down and all.
Additionally, the companies that were set to perform at the venue are owed a collective £130,000 from lost fees and ticket sales.
"Jill Venn, chairman of the [Taunton Amateur Operatic Society], said: "I would say I was fairly angry about it all. To take £12,000 worth of advance ticket sales, our shows cost us well over £30,000 to put on, it's a lot of money, it's a huge chunk."
"Fairly angry" about losing £12,000? If we, here in TheLab™, were owed £12,000 we would be a bit more than "fairly angry" about it. If fact we would probably get very Reservoir Dogs about the whole situation or at the very least angrier than a Care Bear caught in a washing machine on spin cycle!
Perhaps that sums up the arts in general in this weird little country of ours.
Somebody does you wrong, you get "fairly angry" about it then have a cup of tea, a nice lie down and do a Bargain Hunters marathon on DVD. Problem solved.
This Week In Tweets
Our video of Northern School of Contemporary Dance rose rapidly to the top of our internal charts thanks, in part, to the students and staff and lots of others sharing the link to the video across social media.
If this happened for all the stuff we published then we fell sure the world would be a happier place. Sharing is good, so do it people!
Have a great weekend.
Welcome to our weekly take on some, all or none of the news covering the wide world of dance, the arts and culture that you may or may not be completely uninterested in.
Sometimes, here in TheLab™, we get the feeling that we're fighting the good fight all on our own, especially when it comes to the Big Bad (Arts Council England). On occasion though somebody comes out of the woodwork and puts the boot in where it desperately needs to be put.
Step forward David Lister, journo for The Independent, taking a hefty swing at ACE and their new Chairman Peter Bazalgette. When covering the anointed ones debut speech in front of a not at all hostile audience in London Mr Lister says;
"But let us not completely ignore such an important event. My appetite for the lecture was whetted by the fact that, only a few days before, a story broke in the press of how the Council, while cutting grants to hard-pressed arts organisations, was giving some of its own staff taking redundancy six-month paid sabbaticals to sweeten the pill. I'd have been interested to learn how Mr Bazalgette defended such a seemingly outrageous use of public money. But curiously he failed even to mention it."
He goes on to call out ACE for being too secretive, completely inept and a little bit corrupt. They also may be in league with the devil, but that's just our opinion.
More of this we say, more more more!
For those of you paying attention the tale of the Brewhouse Theatre in Taunton is a long story of indifference, stupidity and bad policy. It has also become completely ridiculous.
The one remaining public body that wants to see the theatre survive, backing up that determination with money, is Taunton Borough Council in........... Taunton, which is in Somerset.
For the latest twist in this long tale The Stage brings us news that the council is seeking to "safeguard" the theatre from something or other.
Sadly this does not mean they are shipping the whole thing off to Helms Deep and the fortress Aglarond where they can fight to the death with thousands of Orcs in a bloody, but very well filmed and edited, battle to the end. (that's a pop culture reference, stop watching Doctor "who" Who already!)
No, what they are going to do is this;
"The council currently owns the freehold for the site and is looking to secure the remaining 61-year lease."
Securing a lease? That's some sexy stuff right there, this is why we work in the arts ladies and gentleman!
So there you have it. Tune in next week to find out if the theatre will be saved and will Melissa really end up with Trey or will she stab him in the back (literally) and take off with Shep and who is the father of baby Drax, is it Trax or Flax McGruder the Portuguese shipping magnet who really should attract tin cans more than women? (I think you mean "magnate"! Ed!)
Finally we have a tale from The Twitter. This week saw the launch of the new(ish) funding scheme by the National Funding Scheme called "Donate".
The arts folk, ever quick to be mesmerised by anything with a logo, proclaimed it to be the most awesome thing ever. This includes Stephen Fry, writer and alleged comedian, who, given the opportunity, would comment on the opening of a can of soup.
As we pointed out however the more you use "Donate" to give money to the arts, the less money they will actually get compared to rival online donation services that have been doing this type of thing for years!
Even more hilariously, depending on your point of view, is an uncredited piece in the Economist that mentions the NFS as an "innovator" in the field without bothering to look at any of the numbers
Just another week in the arts people.
Have a good weekend.
As everybody tries to avoid freezing to death in the current ridiculous weather in the UK it's time for our roundup of culture that this week features just one story.
Wayne McGregor, a man with more jobs than most in the wide world of dance, gave a TED talk a few months ago to explain his choreographic theory to an audience of, er........ people that go to TED talks.
At this talk Mr McGregor describes a choreographic technique that bears more than a passing resemblance to William Forsythe's technique known as "room writing".
That particular technique involves using imaginary objects as focal points for crafting specific movements and artificially manipulating the intent of the dancer in terms of their balance, their level and so on based on the location or type of imaginary objects in a given space. Mr Forsythe detailed his techniques in a CD-Rom entitled "Improvisation Technologies" that was released more than 13 years ago.
You can see an example from the CD-Rom below.
A few people are less than impressed with Mr McGregor's apparent lack of acknowledgement of Mr Forsythe during this talk including Anthony Rizzi who worked alongside Mr Forsythe for many years at Frankfurt Ballet.
Mr Rizzi commented on the Dance-Tech website;
"I am not sure if I am upset or honoured. I helped to create this style of movement with William Forsythe in 1985. it is kind of hard to hear this as if he has invented it. He should respect William Forsythe and mention him."
You can watch Mr McGregor's talk in full in the video below and make up your own mind but the methods are very similar. He begins actually demonstrating a couple of minutes into the video.
It's not completely beyond the realms of comprehension that two dance makers would come up with a similar methodology for crafting movement but given Mr McGregor's experience is it really believable that he had no knowledge of "Improvisation Technologies" or William Forsyth's techniques?
Have a good weekend.