Tuesday, October 30, 2007



Last week I had to be circumspect, now news is starting to leak out. This article confirms our rather high opinion of Mark Russell and spills the beans (if you know what's what).



Monday, October 29, 2007


Comprehensive Spending Review

Large sections of the public sector have long had their breath held in anticipation of the government’s Comprehensive Spending Review. The announcement was brought forward a bit, adding fuel to the rumour of a snap General Election. So now it’s official, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport are getting an increase in their budget slightly ahead of inflation. They’ve passed on the equivalent rise to Arts Council England and now across the country a swath of Regularly Funded Organisations are waiting for the phone to ring.

We understand Arts Council England were asked to budget for three scenarios: a cut of 4% (Armageddon option), standstill (a tough scenario as it would mean a cut in real terms), or an inflation linked increase (standstill by a more attractive name). The rumour is that every scenario involves some companies being cut but the final scenario also means some companies gain. The newly savvy Stan’s Cafe has been lobbying hard and now fingers are crossed hoping that we’re on the up side of things (I refer you to the post of 17.10.07).

It will be a while before we know definitively what the score is. Despite having the three scenarios worked out in advance the A.C.E. process still seems painfully slow. Provisional notification will be in mid-December. That gives about four weeks for companies to go ballistic and lodge appeals (festive cheer in short supply no doubt). Then the regional council meets on 23rd January to confirm decisions and these final decisions are not confirmed until “early February” and come into effect barely seven weeks later at the start of the 2007/8 financial year.

Of course as a Regularly Funded Client we are expected to demonstrate prudent financial management and forward planning. Still, at least we’re in the mix coming into the home straight.



Friday, October 26, 2007


NYC Whistle Stop

I saw The Wooster Group’s Hamlet in New York City on Wednesday. My intention had been to post a review here, but I believe myself to be an unreliable witness. Shambling into The Public Theatre at 1am GMT and out again at 4am GMT events between are clouded in a jetlagged delirium. The show’s technical accomplishment was staggering, live action fully synched up with a film of a live stage performance given by Richard Burton’s from way back, complex and apparently flawless.

In the first half I reflected that where as Brace Up! felt like an extraordinarily lucid version of The Three Sisters, by taking the Burton staging as its primary text, this version of Hamlet, like its processed video backdrop, was picking up the noise and static of another lost generation.

Then, after the interval, with the audience significantly thinned out, somehow the show’s logic became manifest and the blizzard of video interference merged with mine and Hamlet’s delirium and I left thinking the whole thing was a triumph.

On reflection I know I’ll never know.

This theatre trip was a happy bye-product of being on site visit for an ‘up coming’ presentation of Of All The People In All The World in NYC. We can’t pre-empt an announcement about this presentation by our excellent hosts, but following my visit everyone can rest assured the venue is looking fantastic and the team there seem impressively business-like so it should be a good one.

Adding a degree of surreality to an already strange trip was a brief meeting with Neil (Lord) Kinnock. Now Chair of The British Council he was guest of honour at a Lunch thrown by the Welsh Development Agency at the swanky Metropolitan Club. Unfortunately a tight schedule meant I only had time to shake a few hands, smile at a few people and gulp Butternut Squash soup before traveling downtown to a production meeting.

Downtown from The Metropolitan Club doesn’t narrow it down much but it’s a small clue exclusive to Stan Blog readers familiar with The Big Apple (does anyone call it that any more?).

James 26.10.7

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


School Graft

What with making The Cleansing Of Constance Brown, bedding it in, then taking it to Edinburgh we've spent much of the year burning through our cash reserves. We'd built these up knowing this year was going to be an expensive one, but with a few tasty gigs either falling through or being postponed until next year finances are getting a bit tight.

Fortunately our financial projections were canny enough to predict this pinch and we've been able to make some savings and take on some fun education projects to see us through. As a result I'm feel more like a teacher than a theatre director.

In Stoke-On-Trent I'm working with a fantastic team of science teachers from St.Peter's school and a large swath of Year 10 pupils on debates around Nuclear Power. In Stone I'm working with one fantastic science teacher and a small band of Year 10 pupils making a video/animation about Hydrocarbons: how they're formed, how they're separated out, cracked and turned into plastics.

Sharing your life with a teacher you think you fully appreciate what a demanding job it is, but then you go and dabble in it a bit yourself and you realise you only know the half of it.

At this point trip to Stan's Cafe in Wilkes Barre seems very attractive, a nice martini to cut through the chalk dust. We've set up a Google Alert which with luck could help us track down the true home of Stan's Cafe. Not this one we sense – too glitzy.



Thursday, October 11, 2007


Another Victory

It was a curious event, four organisations pitching, Dragons Den style, for a £1,000 cash prize, but the main point of Match Made In Heaven? was to put a host of artistic projects in front of a business audience which was looking for sponsorship opportunities.

As we're starting to focus very hard on bringing the world version of Of All The People In All The World to the UK it seemed worth a punt. We won the Grand, got a proper Local Paper cartoon size stunt cheque and a few leads to follow for money (£45K), space (3,000 sqm) and rice (120 tonnes).

Lynn Gardner phoned to ask what was going on and ended up writing a nice piece about the event in her Guardian Blog.



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