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London’s Royal Docks to become cultural quarter

Giverny masso

Plans have been revealed for the Royal Docks in east London to become a new cultural quarter, generating thousands of jobs.

London mayor Sadiq Khan and mayor of Newham Rokhsana Fiaz outlined their vision earlier this month for the Royal Docks to become a place where “creative work is made, new ideas are formed and cultural participation is open to all”.

According to Khan, the new cultural quarter has the potential to deliver 35,000 jobs, 4,000 new homes and more than £5 billion of local investment within the next 20 years.

Work has already begun on a range of creative spaces, including the Factory Project, which will transform former Tate and Lyle Sugar warehouses into an event space, community workspaces and music and film studios.

Planning permission has also been granted for a rotating theatre, which will house Dutch musical Soldier of Orange.

The Royal Docks is also establishing a Creative Partners Network, a scheme to support local creatives by encouraging partnerships, and a Creative Connectors Scheme, to involve local people in its plans.

The announcement was made at the launch of live performance and events programme Royal Docks Originals, which takes place throughout October. Community-led immersive promenade performance Arrival leads the programme of events. Running from October 21 to 23, Arrival will be accompanied by more than 20 music, dance, art, theatre, film and photography commissions.

The drive to make the Royal Docks a cultural destination is being led by the Royal Docks Enterprise Zone, a joint partnership between the Mayor of London, London Borough of Newham and the London Economic Action Partnership.

Fiaz, who is also co-chair of the Royal Docks Enterprise Zone board, said: “We are delighted to announce the plans to transform Royal Docks into London’s most exciting place for cultural and artistic production. With a vibrant and growing community in a borough that has the youngest population of anywhere in the country and is the most diverse, we have a very rich creative culture with huge business potential.”

She added: “We’re very excited that Royal Docks Originals festival is the beginning of this new vision and will host both local and international artists, showcasing exceptional talent in the area. I hope you enjoy the programme of events we have put on this October – it’s a taste of more exciting things to come.”

Khan described the cultural zone as “the latest example of London roaring back to life with culture leading the way in our city’s economic recovery”.

Epstein Theatre in Liverpool to reopen under new management

Elms is director of arts PR company Bill Elms Associates, and a theatre producer under Bill Elms Productions, and becomes the artistic and communications director at the Epstein Theatre.

A new management team has been appointed to run the Epstein Theatre in Liverpool, who will operate it as a variety venue.

Epstein Entertainments Ltd is a joint venture between Liverpool producers Bill Elms, Chantelle Nolan, and Jane Joseph.

The theatre has been run by administrators since 2017, when the previous operator went into administration. It had continued to offer music, comedy and drama but closed in 2020 due to the pandemic. The 380-seat venue will now reopen this year.

Nolan is currently general manager at St Helens Theatre Royal and is the new artistic and operations director at the Epstein Theatre. Along with her mother Joseph, she also runs Regal Entertainments Ltd, which has run St Helens Theatre Royal for the past 20 years.

Oxford School of Drama latest to reduce audition fees Matthew Hemley

Bill Elms Productions, St Helens Theatre Royal and Regal Entertainments Ltd will continue to run as normal.

Elms said: “I’m delighted to have been successful in the joint tender for the lease of the Epstein Theatre. This is a venue I have loved with a passion for so many years and is one of Liverpool’s leading historical and cultural gems. I’m excited to play a part in both strengthening and reaffirming its future.”

Nolan said she had performed at the venue as a child: “Performing there helped fuel my love of theatre, but little could I have known then that I’d be running the venue one day.”

In July 2011, a £1 million refurbishment of the theatre was completed and it was renamed the Epstein Theatre.

atthew Hemley

The Oxford School of Drama ( pictured right ) has become the latest to slash its audition fees, in an effort to remove the “financial barriers” experienced by some applicants.

Previously, the school charged all applicants a £45 fee to audition, but this has now been reduced to £15 for the initial self-tape audition, with a further £30 payable for those who are invited to the recall auditions.

The recalls are held in person at the school and include a workshop alongside an individual audition with the panel.

Executive director Liz Wilson said: “We want to make sure everyone can get access to training, so we’re working hard to ensure that the financial barriers for some applicants can be removed.”

In addition, the school offers a meanstested audition-fee waiver, open to anyone, which is now in its second year.

Last year, the Guildford School of Acting reduced fees for the first round of auditions by more than 70%, aimed at improving access and increase diversity.

The school’s flat-rate audition fee of £55 was reduced to £15 for first-round auditions. Anyone who progresses to a recall workshop day will pay an additional £30.

RADA has also reduced its audition fees.

Quentin Lake

October 21 2021

Actors, comedians and writers including Michael Sheen, Katy Brand and Neil Gaiman are backing #BreaktheGlass, a campaign to help marginalised young people break into the arts. The campaign was launched by charity Arts Emergency, which provides guidance and opportunities to help under-represented young people get into creative careers.

Festivals Edinburgh, the umbrella body for the city’s festivals, has announced plans to help the city achieve its goal of reducing carbon emissions to net zero by 2030. It has published Taking Action on Climate Change, which outlines how the 11 festivals are collectively accelerating their responses to climate change. Campaigners fighting to save Dudley Hippodrome have called on housing and communities secretary Michael Gove, to intervene over plans to demolish the building. Its owner, Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, submitted a planning application earlier this year to demolish the theatre.

ALSO ONLINE appointments

Plans to relocate Derby Theatre to a purpose-built facility on the site of the former Assembly Rooms are being considered by the local council. Derby City Council and the University of Derby, which owns Derby Theatre, are currently looking at options to move the organisation.

Nina Millns has won the ETPEP Award 2021 for new UK playwrights who have worked in the theatre industry. The actor and writer won for her play Service, and will receive a prize of £6,000, a rehearsal workshop, dramaturgy support from the Finborough Theatre – which runs the award – and a staged reading of the play.

Julia Samuels, the co-artistic director and chief executive of 20 Stories High, is to step down after 15 years.

Salisbury-based Wiltshire Creative has become an associate partner of theatre network Ramps on the Moon.

Jane Spiers is to step down from her role as chief executive of Aberdeen Performing Arts in 2022, after 10 years in the post.

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