Is Jonathan Mills censoring the EIF?

Posted in festival on August 12, 2013 by danbaker83

Sir Jonathan Mills has a lot to answer for. Ahead of the 2014 Edinburgh International Festival (EIF), he has declared there will be no works which address the issue of Scottish independence – Mills has instead declared that the festival will remain “politically neutral”. To me, this just smacks of cowardice.

Art and politics have always had a close relationship, with theatre and performance in particular proving to be powerful means of expression; ideologies have been challenged, leaders lampooned and revolutions documented throughout the course of theatrical history. Due to the impact these issues have on people’s day-to-day lives, politics are a fertile breeding ground for artists to mine when creating work – and the strength of conviction people often have around these issues helps create powerful, moving and provocative work. So, for Jonathan Mills to tell artists they should not create work for the festival which covers Scottish independence – a huge issue for those living and working north of the border – is tantamount to censorship. Continue reading

Open Court, and presenting innovative work in risk-averse times

Posted in artist development, new writing, producing, venues on August 11, 2013 by danbaker83

The Royal Court’s Open Court Festival – a programme of work programmed, curated and developed by writers – saw a variety of different styles of work presented, in many ways different to what we have come to expect from the Court. Along with the change in the Bush Theatre’s submissions process to accept a wider range of work, two major new writing venues are showing a willingness to embrace the desires of writers to create the work they wish to, rather than that which venues traditionally programme. But will this lead to a change in the type of work produced, or will the safer, more traditional work win out in the end?

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Resisting the call of the Edinburgh Fringe

Posted in artist development, festival, networking, producing on July 29, 2013 by danbaker83

Flyering in the rain - an oft-familiar sight

So, it’s that time of the year when thousands upon thousands of “pathologically self-absorbed bastards” descend on Edinburgh for the festival season. Normally I’d be heading north, or at least making plans to; this year, however, I won’t be making the journey. Considering the last time I headed up I ended up sleeping on a park bench, I’m kinda glad that I’ve decided to forgo the festivities this year.

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Re. Michael Simkins’ Guardian blog

Posted in Uncategorized on July 24, 2013 by danbaker83

*Updated – I’ve read over this again and have made a couple of additions where I’ve thought about things a bit more, or where I thought perhaps I wasn’t as clear as I wanted to be.  I’ve italicised the amendments, in case you want to follow my train of thought as it has developed*

Firstly, I’d like to state that I might a) change this or b) delete it completely at some point.  This is a pretty immediate reaction to a blog and, subsequently, there are certain parts of this I feel uncomfortable about writing for personal reasons, but I’ll post it now because I think it’s relevant and important at the present time.

The Guardian blog by Michael Simkins about the relationship between depression and acting – following on from Paul Bhattacharjee and Corey Monteith’s death – has irritated me a little.  I write this somewhat reluctantly due to the nature of what’s being discussed – and want to keep it brief – but feel it’s worth putting this out there due to the circumstances.

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Fringe-onomics: Assessing the National Minimum Wage ruling

Posted in producing on June 5, 2013 by danbaker83

The recent ruling regarding actors being entitled to the National Minimum Wage when working on Fringe productions has created a bit of a stir – with some people proclaiming that it will lead to “the death of the Fringe”.  Whilst the ruling is important in ensuring actors aren’t taken advantage of, reports of the Fringe’s death are greatly exaggerated.

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How do you solve a problem like Maria?

Posted in arts council, funding, journalism on November 28, 2012 by danbaker83

Maria Miller has apparently declared war against the arts world.  The past couple of weeks have seen key figures in the arts come out and challenge the new Culture Secretary, and after initially putting the barriers up she has now come out fighting against allegations that she – and, by extension, the government – are abandoning the arts in a time of need.  With her Twitter dialogue with Mark Shenton and an editorial in the Evening Standard in recent days – following on from Charlotte Higgins blog for the Guardian accusing her of stonewalling the press and the arts community regarding how engaged she is – it appears Miller has finally decided to make her presence felt, with Culture Minister Ed Vaizey also writing to The Stage to defend government policy.  Maria Miller’s recent language has been confrontational and defensive – but are the arts community being fair by personally targeting her, or does her lack of engagement justify the broadsides?

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Risking Together – Developing work in a regional setting

Posted in artist development, networking, producing, venues on September 25, 2012 by danbaker83

Working in a regional setting can often be a difficult scenario for artists; with so much focus on London within the arts, it can feel like there is a lack of support and resources for those who are not working in the capital.  But with the arts scenes in these areas being potentially less competitive and saturated, should we be doing more to support the development of regional work?

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