Weekly round-up: 17 November 2010

Lots of gloomy news this week– but some bright spots for the arts:

Wednesday round-up

Blog’s been quiet of late– it never ceases to amaze me how busy the autumn term is! So much crossing the desk these days, I’m going to try and offer a weekly digest on Wednesdays of what’s been making the rounds…

Controversial plan to amalgamate opera


Yesterday’s Irish Times carried a story about plans afoot by the Arts Council to merge Wexford Festival Opera, Opera Ireland, and Opera Theatre Company:

The Arts Council is working on a proposal that would see all three companies, whose combined track record of opera production runs to nearly 150 years, cease to exist.

The companies’ current functions would not be lost, however.

A new company would be set up to mount productions in Dublin, run the Wexford festival, and provide small-scale productions to tour around the country. Staff in the existing companies would not automatically transfer to the new company, which would be based in the new €33 million Wexford Opera House.

This is one of the most dramatic cost-saving measures yet to emerge, although according to the piece the AC has been in discussion with the three since the beginning of the year. With opera comprising an underfunded art form which has struggled historically to find audiences in Ireland, the merge makes some amount of sense (more so than, for instance, the proposed merging of the national art institutions)– however the differences between Wexford Festival Opera (much more international in its programme, talent and target audience) and OI/OTC (largely Dublin-based, and focused on Irish talent, although OTC does tour more) are significant enough. And it certainly sounds like job losses would be part of the equation, no matter how the merger shakes down.

The McCarthy report has recommended slicing the AC’s budget by €6.1 million, meaning there are undoubtedly more cuts in the pipeline… frustrating and anxious times for any organisation heavily dependent on an annual grant.

Will you still need me, who will succeed me…

A few weeks ago the Los Angeles Times carried an interesting story on the ‘graying’ of perfoming arts audiences, seeking to refute the perception that interest classical music is dying out:

[…] representatives of such organizations also offer compelling reasons why seeing gray hair — or, at least, gray roots — in the audience is (a) nothing new and (b) not necessarily a cause for panic, because, at least so far, there has always been “new gray” waiting in the wings to replace the old.

“A colleague of mine says the audience isn’t graying — it’s always been gray,” says Teresa Eyring, executive director of Theatre Communications Group, a national service organization for American nonprofit theaters.

Perhaps nothing earth-shattering here, but it is refreshing to hear the reactions of folks on the ground in response to this perennial whinge…

(read the rest of the article)

Culture Night 2008: this Friday!

Just a reminder to all you vultures out there– the third annual Culture Night takes place this Friday, September 19th, from 5-11 pm. In Dublin more than 100 arts & cultural organisations will be staying open late, offering unique & fun programming for this evening only. Temple Bar Cultural Trust is the driving force behind the initiative, which includes special bus routes (map pdf) laid on to take vultures from spot to spot, and lots of outdoor performances and entertainment.

It’s not just Dublin getting all the action either:

Culture Night Cork: http://www.corkcity.ie/culturenight
Culture Night Limerick: http://www.limerickcity.ie
Culture Night Galway: http://www.galwaycity.ie

Last year’s event had a great buzz to it– wandering around the National Gallery at near 11 pm was a surreal highlight for me!– and it’s a great chance to check out (for free!) sites that normally require admission. I’ve got a few circled already… 🙂

Copies of the programme can be downloaded as a pdf here, or picked up in print copy from participating venues, the Suffolk St Dublin tourist office, or Temple Bar Cultural Information Centre at 12 East Essex Street (the latter two will be open 9am until 11pm on Culture Night).