Recently in Arts Organisations Category

Lowry ballet banner The Lowry arts centre has this week stated its opposition to current plans for the Palace Theatre in Manchester to host all elements of a proposed Royal Opera House development in that city. The arguments on both sides seem however to miss some critical points: firstly, this is a regional not a sub-regional issue; and secondly the infrastructure and the local provisions should have been sorted years ago. Some other opportunities to develop the regional cultural offer have already been shunned; and now it looks as though this may happen yet again.

Arts Organisations, Regeneration and Regions, Sub-Regions & City Regions.

Reports this week suggest that the Lowry in Salford feels left out and disadvantaged by the proposed development of a northern (second) home for the Royal Opera House, if as a result all ROH-related northern ballet and opera productions - some of them currently hosted by the Lowry - were to be located in Manchester's presently fading Palace Theatre.

This is not the time or place to go into questions of sub-regional and local politics - the cities of Manchester and Salford must get along as best they can - but there are a few larger questions which now arise which might have been addressed earlier.

Regional aspects of the arts organisation proposals
Firstly, investments and development of this size are clearly regional as well as local matters. The Lowry, a Millennium product, cost over £100 million to set up, and doubtless the cost of the new proposals would also reach many millions.

It is surprising therefore that the 'arts and culture' debate thus far seems to have centred in its positive aspects only on the ROH and the Manchester orchestras. (Perhaps, as a slightly mischievous aside, there are very few left who recall that it was the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, not a Manchester ensemble, that performed at the Covent Garden Royal Opera House in May 1981 during the Royal Ballet's golden anniversary celebrations?)

Locating and programming
Whatever, the there is now also a Royal Ballet in Birmingham, and Opera North may be intending like the Royal Ballet to make its northern activities to the Palace Theatre in Manchester; but the Lowry wants to keep them in Salford.

It has to be said however that the Lowry has disappointed some of us in its more recent opera and ballet offering. To begin with we were excited by the range and frequency of national-level opera and ballet at the Lowry, but over time this seems to have been diluted by a preponderance of more local and / or less ambitious scheduling. Once enthusiasms for a venue are lost, it is probably hard to get them back.

Travel and catchment
One unfortunate element in the Lowry scenario is its very poor infrastructure. It is almost impossible for non-Mancunians to reach (and return home from) on public transport. Unless you take the car, you can't sensibly get there after work or in bad weather....

Despite the trainline from the West of Greater Manchester (Warrington, Liverpool, etc) running within sight of the Lowry, it doesn't actually stop there, and one has to proceed into Manchester and return out on a local route. It's perhaps relevant that the first stopping point, Manchester Oxford Road station, is however almost next door to the Palace Theatre.

Regional benefits
The Lowry deserves a measure of sympathy for the situation in which it is placed by Manchester's proposals; but there is already a huge plan for the relocation of parts of the BBC to that site. And there is a feeling that the Lowry could have positioned itself better as an attractive venue: limited serious arts programming, poor and / or restricted catering provision, little public transport and expensive car parks do little to ensure a consistent and devoted fully regional audience.

There again, Manchester itself needs to explain why it has not, as far as can be seen, looked beyond its own boundaries to other North West areas, in sharing enthusiasm for the ROH proposals.

Lost and endangered opportunities
A few years ago Liverpool had an opportunity, which it decisively shunned, to make a bid for the National Theatre Museum to be relocated to Merseyside. That Museum used to be located right alongside the Covent Garden Royal Opera House; but despite the potential for inside influence of very eminent Merseysiders, not least on the board of the Victoria and Albert Museum (which owned the Theatre Museum), the bid never materialised and there is no longer any dedicated location for the theatre collection at all. Most of the collection is now stored away in Kensington, at the V&A itself.

The possibilities of real cultural synergy between Merseyside and Greater Manchester have already therefore been seriously blunted by lack of vision, imagination and enthusiasm. Let us hope this is not about to happen yet again.

Sir Richard Leese, Chief Executive of Manchester City Council, is surely correct in sharing with previous Secretary of State for Culture, Andy Burnham, the view that the regional benefits of the current proposals for regeneration and investment could and should be significant. But if everyone is not persuaded soon, there will probably be no action, or benefits at all.


Read more articles on Arts Organisations, Regeneration and Regions, Sub-Regions & City Regions.

violin, amplifier & briefcase The Liverpool Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) represents all sectors of business in the city - including those who work in arts and culture. A current Chamber concern is therefore to maintain and promote the gains made in 2008 by Liverpool's creative, arts and culture sectors. The recent momentum remains fragile, and for continued success it is essential that arts and 'non-arts' businesses across the city develop the synergies to be gained by working together in 2009 and beyond.

Enterprising Liverpool and The Future Of Liverpool

The Liverpool Chamber of Commerce and Industry has a Members' Council which has an Arts and Culture Committee, of which I am chair*. This Committee seeks to help maintain the profile and business health of Liverpool's creative sector; hence the following article, a version of which has just been published in the "Liverpool Chamber" magazine:


We sometimes forget that arts and culture, as much as any other formal activity, is Business. Artistic enterprise brightens our lives and captures our imaginations, and it’s done by people, often highly trained, who earn their living in that way.

It’s therefore important that Liverpool’s Capital of Culture Year 2008 momentum is maintained into 2009. Liverpool needs the arts to flourish because they enhance both our communities and our economy.

Momentum unsecure?
Some of Liverpool’s arts practitioners fear however that the momentum of 2008 is not yet secured. The Liverpool Culture Company expects the ’09 funding round to be ‘highly competitive’; and everyone anticipates that sponsorship will be difficult to come by in the current financial situation.

So it’s unsurprising that Liverpool’s arts practitioners are currently nervous, some of them already publicly predicting ’09 will be a tough call.

New but vulnerable synergies
Of course this scenario applies to other businesses as well; but the arts have developed new synergies and added value during 2008 which, once lost, it would be extraordinarily difficult to reinvent. The ‘08 cultural gains remain vulnerable, and need more time to embed if they are to bring maximum benefit.

This isn’t simply an academic concern. Liverpool’s established businesses are beginning to wake up to how they can work to mutual advantage with arts providers.

Live music brings in more customers; visual arts encourage customers to linger; drama can be an excellent training tool.... and it also all helps the economy to tick over because practitioners are earning and spending money locally.

A role for all Liverpool businesses
The LCCI Arts and Culture Committee is seeking to encourage this beneficial synergy, but there’s a role here too for companies across the city. We all need to say how important the ’08 cultural legacy is; and we need to think how to conduct real business with arts enterprises.

Hilary Burrage
Chair [* retired June 2008], LCCI Arts and Culture Committee

A version of this article was first published in the January / February 2009 edition (Issue 19) of "Liverpool Chamber", the magazine of the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Read more articles about Enterprising Liverpool and The Future Of Liverpool, and see more of Hilary's Publications, Lectures And Talks.

Xmas Tree & Piano 113x87 011b.jpg Sunday 23 December 2007 was the date for an occasion to remember: Carols Round the Christmas Tree at Sudley House, the historic home of a Victorian Mayor of Liverpool. The free singalong afternoon concert saw almost three hundred people came to enjoy the company and the carolling with Live-A-Music and the Children's Choir.

This event was supported by the National Museums Liverpool and offered a warm welcome to everyone. The musicians (Martin Anthony (Tony) Burrage, John Peace, Richard Gordon-Smith and Hilary Burrage) were all members of Live-A-Music, a group also known as Elegant Music. The children's choir of Mossley Hill Parish Church also performed.

Sudley House has an excellent tearoom for refreshments throughout the afternoon, and provides full disabled access. It is set in peaceful parkland and offers spectacular views across the River Mersey to the Wirral and beyond, to Moel Famau in Wales.

Visitor information and location and travel advice for Sudley House is available here.

See also:
Sudley House: Victorian Home Of A Mayor Of Liverpool

Liverpool's Ancient Chapel Of Toxteth, Dingle Gaumont Cinema, The Turner Nursing Home & Dingle Overhead Railway Station

Autumn Glory In Sefton Park

Sefton Park, Liverpool: Winter Solstice 2006

For more articles please visit History of Liverpool and The Music.

Sudley House, Liverpool 29 Oct. 2007 Aigburth is a long-established residential area within sight of Liverpool Cathedral. Amongst the many surprises in this enduring part of the city is the National Museum Liverpool's newly refurbished Sudley House, tucked away behind Rose Lane, Carnatic Halls and Mossley Hill Church. Bequeathed to the City by Emma Holt, daughter of a Victorian merchant, it offers a major art collection.

Mossley Hill Church, Liverpool, 1 Dec. 2007

Sudley House, Liverpool, 29 Oct. 2007

Sudley House veranda & conservatory, Liverpool, 29 Oct. 2007

Sudley House, Liverpool, view to the River Mersey, the Wirral & Moel Famau, 1 Dec. 2007

Sudley House, Liverpool, wall & stables , 29 Oct. 2007

Sudley House & Holt Field , Liverpool, 29 Oct. 2007Sudley House Hillsborough Memorial Garden, Liverpool 29 Oct. 2007Sudley House wallside walk, Liverpool, 29 Oct. 2007Sudley House conservatory, Liverpool,  29 Oct. 2007

North Sudley Road looking to Liverpool Cathedral (below Sudley House & Holt Field), Liverpool, 20 Jan. 2007

Sudley House contains works by artists such as Gainsborough, Reynolds, Landseer and Turner. This is the only surviving Victorian merchant art collection in Britain still hanging in its original location.

The earliest resident of the house was Nicholas Robinson, a rich corn merchant, who bought the land and built the original house somewhere between 1811 and 1823. The architect may have been Thomas Harrison. Robinson was Mayor of Liverpool in 1828-9. He lived in the house until his death in 1854, and his two daughters continued to live there until their own deaths in 1883.

Sudley was then sold to George Holt, a ship owner and merchant, who made many alterations to the property. He acquired the art collection which remains in the house, which, with its contents, was in 1944 bequeathed to the City of Liverpool by his daughter Emma.

See also: History of Liverpool

Carols Round The Christmas Tree At Sudley House

Liverpool's Ancient Chapel Of Toxteth, Dingle Gaumont Cinema, The Turner Nursing Home & Dingle Overhead Railway Station

Autumn Glory In Sefton Park

Sefton Park, Liverpool: Winter Solstice 2006

Please see additional photographs at Camera & Calendar

More information on Sudley House and visitor arrangements is available here.

Music & bills 065a 99x138.jpg Professional orchestra musicians' employment and pay is a mystery to most people. Do players have 'real' jobs, too? is a common question. And is it all very glamorous? The latest survey of orchestral pay in the UK gives some answers - not much glamour, not too much pay, and little time for anything else. But for many players the commitment remains.

The Musicians' Union has recently published their second annual report on Orchestral Pay in the U.K. Leaving aside the self-governing London orchestras, the BBC Symphony and other BBC orchestras, English National Opera (ENO) orchestra and the Royal Opera House (ROH) orchestra (all of which, with London weightings, do somewhat - though only comparatively - better), the M.U. report, as we shall see from the details below, makes pretty dismal reading.

Who are the musicians?
Almost every established player in the major regional orchestras is a permanent staff member (London is different). These 'chairs' are coveted positions amongst performers, who are usually graduates from the most prestigious music colleges and / or the top music conservatoires.

Musicians supply their own instruments and equipment for work, the initial costs of which can amount to more than an annual salary.

The 'regional' orchestras
Orchestras outside London surveyed by the M.U. in August 2007 were: the regional BBC orchestras, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (BSO), the City of Birmingham Orchestra (CBSO), Manchester's Halle Orchestra, the Opera North Orchestra, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (RLPO), the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO), Scottish Opera, the Ulster Orchestra and Welsh National Opera (WNO).

The fortunes of these orchestras fluctuate quite widely over the years, especially since the standardised regional orchestras contract for the BSO, CBSO, Halle, RLPO and RSNO was abandoned. All are dependent on civic support as well as national. [See The Association of British Orchestras for general information about these orchestras.]


Orchestral salary scales
Orchestras generally divide their players up into 'Section Principals' and 'Principals' (who sit at the front of their instrumental section) and 'Tutti' (formerly called 'Rank & File'!). The M.U. estimates there are approximately 600 fully professional string players employed by British orchestras - which means about one in every 100,000 of the UK population has this occupation.

With a few exceptions, string players (violins, violas, cellos, basses) are the only Tutti musicians, and they make up the larger part of most orchestras.

Who gets paid what?
Concentrating on the regional orchestras, we see a variation of minimum salary in August 2007 as follows:

Section Principals: BBC Regional ~ hourly playing rate of £24.22 (£32,118 p.a.) through to CBSO ~ £33.09 (£45,205 p.a.).

Principals: RLPO ~ £21.44 (£28,298 p.a.) through to CBSO ~ £28.49 (£33,159 p.a.).

Tutti: RLPO ~ £18.20 (£24,024 p.a.) through to CBSO ~ £22.43 (£27,348 p.a.).

In some cases there are increments and / or long service awards which take experienced players above these levels, but these additional sums, usually only a very few thousand per annum, rarely raise salaries significantly above the starting point. Likewise, some, but not all, orchestras pay musicians an additional fee for recordings, media relays etc. [Some details of comparable orchestral salaries in the USA are available here.]


Comparison with other UK salaries
To set these figures in context:
* The average wage in 2007 for all full-time workers across the UK is £29,999 p.a.; or £27,630 specifically for Liverpool.

* The average salary of professionals in IT, an occupation which perhaps begins to approach comparable levels of skill to orchestral musicians (though there are many fewer performers) is £37,000 p.a.

* For graduates overall, an average additional £10,000 p.a. has accrued to their income after ten years' service; this annual income will then continue to increase for another ten or twenty years.

Back of an envelope calculations using these comparative data perhaps suggest that over a lifetime orchestral musicians will receive approximately half the income of other professionals at comparative levels of skill.

Annual orchestral performing and other work arrangements
The regional orchestras vary in the number of annual playing 'on stage' hours they demand from their musicians. Of the orchestras above (not including the BBC orchestras, at 1,326 hours each, and ENO (874 hours) or ROH (860 hours)) the fewest performing hours are required of musicians in the opera orchestras (1,128 each) and the most by the RLPO (1,320).

How these hours are distributed is laid down in detailed contracts. For health reasons, such as risk of hearing loss and repetitive strain injury, players rarely play on the platform for over 6 hours per day. (They may well practise for more than that.) Scheduled 'unsocial 'hours - Sundays, Bank Holidays, and very early or late - and other erratic scheduling, with the attendant risks to wellbeing and mental health - are normally paid at the same rate as other hours.

Stress at work is seen as part of the job. There are also travelling hours etc which may add some 30-40% in time commitment - even though much time away from home is still 'free' in every sense of the word; neither paid nor, obviously, available for, say, teaching or other alternative opportunities for income.

Not a professional wage?
Most people who attend classical concerts see well-dressed and self-evidently skilled musicians and assume from this that orchestral incomes will be to some extent commensurate with appearances.

The truth is different. Many musicians, even at this level and with years of experience, barely scrape a living, often working almost every day for weeks to make ends meet. Relatively few within the profession achieve comfortable incomes and the view that orchestral playing is not a 'real' profession, with eventual progression and hope of greater reward, is widespread amongst foot soldiers at least - large numbers of whom, a previous M.U. survey has revealed, also incur occupationally induced ill-health or injury.

Artistic development
Sadly, players' negative perceptions are reinforced by an absence of continuing professional development in their core skill, i.e. instrumental performance.

Players can often work for decades without receiving support as artists, or to maintain and develop their instrumental technique, let alone the money to pay very costly professional coaching fees. Artistic human resource investment is not high on (or simply missing altogether from) the priority list for most orchestra budgets.

Skills and experience lost
U.K. orchestras are becoming younger in age profile. The salary figures above offer an insight into why experience is frequently lost, as players leave mid-career for other ways to support their families or preferred lifestyle.

Youth and vigour are wonderful to behold; but knowledge, insight and long-term commitment would in a more ideal world also be valued.

Music not money
Fortunately, for many musicians and their audiences the imperative towards the extraordinary inner world of classical music continues to bring them together even against the rationale of external economics.

But it would be risky to permit the future for UK orchestras to depend on this inner imperative.

Read more articles in Music, Musicians & Orchestras

Life In A Professional Orchestra: A Sustainable Career?

The Healthy Orchestra Challenge

Musicians in Many Guises

Where's The Classical Music In The Summer? An Idea...

British Orchestras On The Brink.....Again

HOPES Children's Music Workshop  07.8.14 (Two boys) 125x87.jpg Summer 2007 has been a special opportunity for HOPES and Live-A-Music to provide Children's Music Workshops, thanks to generous funding from Awards for All. The workshops, held alternately in the city centre and a close-by suburb, have focused on themes developed by the children themselves - in one case, a 'symphony' featuring global warming, drifting snow, salsa / jazz and a roller-coaster! Following sessions in July and mid-August, the next workshops in the series are on Saturday 8 September in Mossley Hill Parish Church Hall.

These workshops have proved a great hit with budding musicians of all sorts - players of everything from the trumpet to the triangle It's not very often that parents and children of considerable musical experience and none can come together from all around Liverpool to sing, dance and make their very own music.

Details of the 8th September sessions follow below. Here are some photographs of the workshops at Mossley Hill Church Hall , Liverpool 18, on 30/31 July, and at St. Bride's Church, Liverpool 8, on 13/14 August.

Children's Music Workshop 07.7.30 7077aa (480x326).jpg


Children's Music Workshop 07.7.30 7012b (480x445).JPG


HOPES and the Live-A-Music workshop leaders are very grateful to Awards for All, who have substantially funded these Children's / Family Music sessions.

The next workshops: when, where and how
The next two children's music workshops are scheduled for Saturday 8 September at 10.30 - 12.15 and 1 - 2.45 pm. The venue is Mossley Hill Parish Church Hall, Rose Lane, L18 8DB. These sessions are part of the current series of Live-A-Music workshops organised by Richard Gordon-Smith with Martin Anthony (Tony) Burrage, and supported by HOPES: the Hope Street Association with generous funding from Awards for All.


Cost and conditions
The cost per child per session is just £3. Parents and other carers are welcome to accompany children and join in at no extra cost if they so wish. We ask that any children under seven are always accompanied by a parent and / or older sibling because this helps them to feel confident and happy.

Children attending both the morning and the afternoon sessions may bring a packed lunch, subject to their parents' written consent. (Specific details of conditions are here; but NB session timings have been revised at the request of parents.)

Booking and further information
Booking beforehand is appreciated because it helps with planning for the workshops, but children may simply turn up on Saturday 8th if they wish. Please email us to book places, or for further details. You are also welcome to use this email address to tell us you would like to go on the emailing list for notice of future workshop sessions.

And have fun
These children's workshops are an opportunity to explore and develop imaginations and musical skills, whatever the previous experience of music. They're for children (with their parent/s if that's wished) to enjoy and create new musical ideas, to tell stories in sound, and to have fun.

HOPES Festival logo (small) 110x116.jpg HOPES: The Hope Street Association marks the thirtieth anniversary of the inaugural Hope Street Festival with a HOTFOOT 2007 concert offering many elements of previous such events. Tayo Aluko, Tony Burrage, Richard Gordon-Smith, Sarah Helsby-Hughes, Hughie Jones, Roger Phillips and Surinder Sandhu join children from Merseyside schools and the stalwart HOPES Festival Orchestra and Choir for an event not be missed.



HOTFOOT 2007! A Street of Hope for 30 Years

Celebrating 30 years of the Hope Street Festival


Buy your tickets here.


The first Hope Street Festival took place in 1977, when Her Majesty the Queen visited Liverpool as part of her Silver Jubilee tour. There was another Festival in 1980 and then no more until HOPES: The Hope Street Association was able to resurrect the event in 1996. HOPES, with support from the Liverpool Culture Company and the Community Foundation for Merseyside, has chosen to mark the thirtieth anniversary of the inaugural Hope Street Festival with a HOTFOOT 2007 concert which incorporates many of the elements of previous such events.

Sunday 22 July 2007 @ 7 pm (please note time),
Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, Hope Street, L1 9BP

with

* Roger Phillips (Presenter)

* Richard Gordon-Smith (Conductor)

* The HOPES Festival Orchestra and Choir

(Leader / Director: Martin Anthony (Tony) Burrage)

and guests

CONCERT PROGRAMME:

Surinder Sandhu and the Saurang soloists
returning to HOPES to perform music by Surinder Sandhu (orchestrated by Richard Gordon-Smith) with the HOPES Festival Orchestra

Songs of the Sea with Hughie Jones' Jack Coutts, Kevin Bargen & Friends, featuring some of the performers who made the Mersey Shanty Festival an international success, singing shanties and sea songs from the days of the great sailing ships - the other music that Liverpool gave to the world a century before the Mersey Sound !

HOPES Festival Orchestra
performs Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Petite Suite de Concert

Sarah Helsby-Hughes (soprano) & Tayo Aluko (baritone) join the HOPES Festival Orchestra
for Gershwin’s ‘Summertime’ and other songs from Porgy & Bess

Children from Merseyside schools, with the HOPES Orchestra, perform
Liverpool First and Last
which they have themselves devised for HOPES with Richard Gordon-Smith & Tony Burrage, now arranged, orchestrated and conducted by Richard Gordon-Smith

Grand finale
where the entire company performs
HOPES’ Song for Liverpool, ‘Light Up The City' (from Cool Street) by Richard Gordon-Smith.


Exhibition
* We are delighted that the National Trust / Chambre Hardman have also agreed to put on an exhibition in the foyer of the Phil Hall on the day. (HOPES was a major advocate of 'saving' the Chambre Hardman House, at 59 Rodnet Street, Liverpool.)

Tickets for the show
(Sun 22 July, 7 pm [please note start time]
are now available from the Phil Box office: 0151-709 3789
or via the Liverpool Philharmonic website
at £7, £9 & £11 (£5 children).

And, finally……If you would like to be involved in this concert, as a performer, singer or sponsor / raffle donor please contact us a.s.a.p. on hope.street@btconnect.com. Thank you!

HOPES is grateful to The Liverpool Culture Company and The Community Foundation for Merseyside, both of which generously provided grant-aid for this concert.

LiveAMusic07.4.5(small)5134b90x73.jpg The Live-A-Music Children's Workshops on 5 April in Mossley Hill Parish Church Hall, Liverpool 18 were action-packed, with much creative sparking between the children, musicians and 'supporting cast' of accompanying (grand) parents and younger brothers and sisters. Themes included 'Music, Myth and Magic', 'Animal Samba' and 'Symphony' - with the children also performing a work of their own.

LiveAMusic07.4.5(small)5141a160x138.jpg LiveAMusic07.4.5(small)5138a160x264.jpg LiveAMusic07.4.5(small)5137b160x84.jpg

LiveAMusic07.4.5(small)5146a160x141.jpg LiveAMusic07.4.5(small)5148b160x208.jpg LiveAMusic07.4.5(small)5154a160x137.jpg

LiveAMusic07.4.5(small)5158a160x222.jpg LiveAMusic07.4.5(small)5160a160x270.jpg

LiveaMusic07.4.5(small)5151a160x198.jpg LiveAMusic07.5.4(small)5147a160x113.jpg LiveAMusic07.4.5(small)5144a160x175.jpg










These Live-A-Music workshops ran during the day on Thursday 5 April 2007, in Mossley Hill Parish Church Hall, Rose Lane, Liverpool 18. Background information about the workshops is available on this website. Further workshops are planned for the Summer school holidays.

For more details of the Summer arrangements, or to discuss how Live-A-Music can work to support your own educational / social engagement proposals, please email us.

Musicians (small).bmpIt's surprising that so little music happens in most European cities in August. Obviously some musicians take their holidays then, but others might be pleased to work during the holiday period. The scope for entertaining and engaging tourists and visitors during the high summer season is probably quite significant.

Whether one is in the U.K. or most other European cities, there are very few concerts - classical or indeed of other genres - in August. Yet the holiday high season is when most people have the time and inclination to relax and enjoy music.

How about forming groups of (willing) musicians from the major orchestras and ensembles - no need to audition, they're already in top bands! - and touring with them to bring good music of many sorts to people, young and older, in different and exciting contexts during the summer season?

Would it work? Would the idea get the sort of support from financiers and audiences alike that it would need? Would it reach people who might not otherwise attend such performances?

Tell us what you think, in the Comments box below...

See also: Orchestral Salaries In The U.K.

Life In A Professional Orchestra: A Sustainable Career?

The Healthy Orchestra Challenge

Musicians in Many Guises

British Orchestras On The Brink

HOTFOOT(small) orange 2005 027.jpgThe National Museum of the Performing Arts closed 'for good' yesterday. This is a disaster for London (where it has had its home, in Covent Garden) and for the whole of the U.K. If the Trustees of the Victoria and Albert Museum - in whose 'care' the Theatre Museum resides - cannot maintain the collection as an entity, perhaps the Theatre Museum should pass to those who can do better? The Chair of the V & A has close Merseyside connections; why not re-open the Theatre Museum in Liverpool?

No-one believed it could happen, but the announcement has been made - the National Museum of the Performing Arts in Covent Garden, London, closed yesterday (Sunday 7 January 2007) because the Trustees decided they couldn't commit further resources to the venue. This is despite the description of the Museum by its own Trustees, the Victoria and Albert Museum Board, as a 'world-class collection'.

The protests of people as diverse as Alan Ackbourne, Judi Dench (Guardians of the Theatre Museum) and Ken Livingstone have, it seems, had no effect. Somehow, the performing arts are not compelling to the Museum Trustees. Apparently there is to be a website and some collections are to be shown at the V & A in Kensington in 2009, but basically that's it. Just at the time when London is preparing to host the 2012 Olympics, and when Covent Garden can never have been a more popular visitor attraction, the doors have closed. Firmly.

Nonetheless, after the experience we as CAMPAM had in the late 1980s / 1990s of 'resurrecting' the Liverpool Everyman - which actually went dark - and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (which just about clung on) I don't think anyone should give up all hope yet.

So come to Liverpool
I have already suggested that, if Londoners really don't want their Theatre Museum, it should come to Liverpool. Here, up North, we're preparing for an event even more imminent than the Olympics. 2007 is Liverpool's 800th Anniversary, and 2008, as everyone knows, will be our year as European Capital of Culture. The arguments for Liverpool taking this venture on have already been rehearsed; and I have been assured (though I await the evidence) that the City Council is considering things, as, one gathers from recent Minutes of the V & A Board, are the NWDA and Blackpool Council.

In the meantime, though, there is one other interesting aspect of this strange situation: The Chair of the V & A is Paula Ridley, a person with strong connections on Merseyside. It would be fascinating to know her view of the proposition that the Theatre Museum come to Liverpool.



Read more articles on the National Theatre Museum.

Recent Entries

Will Merseyside Miss Out? The Gormley Statues And The Theatre Museum Are Must-Haves.
Here we go again. The cultural drag, if I may call it that, which afflicts so many places is once…
London's Theatre Museum Is Closing - So Why Not Bring It To Liverpool?
The sad news this week is that London's Theatre Museum is to close. Its home in Covent Garden near the…
Hope Street, Liverpool: History And Festivals (1996 - 2006)
The 2006 Hope Street Festival (later renamed 'Feast'), on Sunday 17 September, is a continuation of such an event…