Already struggling with bills, London theatres now say they face a double whammy after Arts Council England froze their funding to focus on regional theatre.
“We were told to expect our funding to stay at a standstill,” says Lauren Clancy of the Bush Theatre, “but with inflation, that standstill budget does not go as far as it did a year ago.
We have closed the building to the public during the day to save on lighting and heating,” she told The Stage. Ticket sales have dried up too, says West End producer Kenny Wax.
“Shows have had to be pulled before they’ve even opened because the numbers were just not going to happen,” he says. Amena Hamid, named best producer at the Black British Theatre Awards, is accepting fewer projects: “Six months ago, if something seemed a very good and exciting idea, I would have taken it on. Now, I am saying no.”
Piano power lost on Cate
Cate Blanchett had to take piano lessons in preparation for her new film, Tar, about a fictional composer and conductor called Lydia Tar. Despite the help of her “amazing” piano teacher, all those Chopsticks recitals seem to have left a negative impression on the Oscar winner, who complains that “the music world is so insular and hierarchical.” Ouch.
Happy Birthday Billy
Billy Connolly turns 80 this week but on a recent visit to London he told The Oldie he has no grand party plans: “I had a big do when I was 60. Great friends, great music, dancing, getting drunk, smoking cigars and being stupid. That’ll do me for partying. When you’re 65, you get to retire. When you’re 21, you get the key to the door. When you’re 80, you get told to bugger off.”
The kalamatas out of our hands
Rest in peace, Isle of Olive. After 11 years as a fine purveyor of kalamatas, feta, honey and more, the beloved Greek deli in Hackney is closing down. The family owners put their troubles down to Brexitrelated bother importing goods from their homeland. An unreasonably cheap closing down sale is currently underway for those who wish to grab a bargain and pay their respects.
Saoirse reaches for the stars
Londoner’s Diary 21st November
Last night the Scottish BAFTAs brought glamour to Glasgow, where Irish film star Saoirse Ronan appeared on the red carpet followed swiftly by the new Doctor Who, Ncuti Gatwa, who was nominated for an award. His Dalek-fighting predecessor, Peter Capaldi received the Scotland Award for Outstanding Contribution to Film and Television, one of their highest accolades. Down south, historian David Olusoga attended a special screening of documentary Descendant at Picturehouse Central.