Tag Archives: artsfunding

Let’s talk about the rights and wrongs of IP for creative and cultural projects

2 May

I know this is going to ruffle some feathers, get some people’s backs up and that kind of thing. But it really is time we addressed the issue of rights in terms of creative work that has been made and produced using public money.

At some point in the journey of a piece of work that has been made using funding that is essentially public money, should, at some point, become feely available for all to see, and benefit from. This point should be arrived at after the piece of work has had chance to recoup costings and profits, and to use the word ‘monetise’ its potential.

I am talking about the capture of theatre work and live performances, and the ever growing  archive and body of work that we are now creating and producing. I am also talking about the archive and body of work that exists from days before the internet that is stored and hidden away. Lets be creative about the licensing for its use…

Why can’t we have some of the recorded work captured by leading theatres and organisations made available for people to revisit, study, share or enjoy? As long as they are not being traded further for monetary gain, they are then in a Creative Commons bank of ideas and inspiration for all to see and learn from. A digital public space for creative endeavour and understanding. A free library of visual, audio and performing arts.

I take my thinking from the talk I saw at TED way back in 2007 – yes 9 years ago – by Larry Lessig, who was then introducing the whole concept of Creative Commons Licences. Let’s reconsider these now. After all, where did the money come from in the first place to make the work? From either public subsidy, or people buying tickets. So actually, we are also stakeholders in each project, so at some point it must be OK to ask for a return?

As Professor Lessig says ‘let common sense prevail’




#ArtsFightBack – an update

10 May


I want to make a new project. I want to make it with people who want to make it too.  I sent out a tweet on Friday night asking if anyone was interested in helping out. You know, writers, directors, actors, artists, makers, helpers across the whole spectrum who might want to lend a hand.

I sent the message out on the 8th of May, the day the UK election results became clear.

So far over 200 people have offered help and would like to know more. Thank you for getting back to me with such strong and positive reactions.

This is not about asking the question what next? more like what now?  – what can we do now – creatively.

So, I have contacted Stratford East and in a truly supportive way they have said we can have a space there to kickstart the conversation. I will check and post on here when we have confirmed a date. We can also have a get together in Yorkshire in York – and we can have a space there too.

If anyone wants to suggest or offer a space elsewhere please let me know.

So thanks so far for the responses and offers – I will post on here and on the usual sites. If you want to drop me line here is my email – MarcusRomerUK@gmail.com

The picture at the top? It is one I took in Buenos Aires when I was making a show there. I think it shows that most things are possible…

Artsfunding and understanding touring #brewhouse

23 Feb

What happened at the Brewhouse was clearly a terrible blow for the town, the staff and their audiences.

But also for the whole wider arts ecology and infrastructure. There are companies and artists who are owed thousands of pounds – and some who date back to early October last year who have not been paid.

It is highly unlikely that any of these individuals and organisations will see any of their money as they now all count as unsecured creditors.

At Pilot Theatre we know this only too well, as this is the second time this has happened to us.

I want to place our story in context. As you will be aware we have been very active on issues of artsfunding

I set up the artsfunding.ning.com site almost 3 years ago, when I could see the shifts that were looming and happening.

So when Somerset announced its 100% cut to its arts budget we were very active in raising this issue as a pending crisis.

So wanting to stand shoulder to shoulder with venues and to continue our commitment to deliver great art for everyone – we agreed to continue to bring our work to the county.

In so doing we also agreed to a significant reduction in our fee to be able to support the audiences and the venue.

Our Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner production was booked into the Brewhouse to play in November 2012.

For those who don’t realise the cost for us keeping a show with 10 actors, 4 tech team, staff director, transport, wages and marketing costs us about 14/15k per week.

Our fee normally covers this and we aim to break even.

In this particular case we agreed a lower fee of 8.7k from the Brewhouse – as we wanted to play there, and to utilise our subsidy to support them in difficult times.

So again seeing that our role as a national touring NPO was going to reach those audiences who would not have ordinarily had the chance to see the work.

This is part of our joined up strategic touring plan at Pilot Theatre.

So you can see – we have still had all our costs, and of course will not receive our reduced fee to help offset our budget line.

There are questions to be asked. At what point did the Brewhouse realise they could not pay their artists? October? November?

In which case who did they prioritise payments to? Who did get paid after October? November? December?

I have heard from companies and individual artists who have not been paid. Some of this is clearly their own money and is affecting them greatly.

So, this is a very regrettable situation and it damages the whole sector and its reputation.

We run a very tight ship at Pilot Theatre – we are a small organisation – we have to. We are all too aware of our responsibility with public money and we have a very strong and committed Board who oversees our fiscal planning and reserves policy.

As a charity our Board are personally financially liable – if we were found to be wrongfully trading when insolvent – it would be they who would have to address this.

My question is to the Board of the Brewhouse – when did you become aware of the situation?

A solution I would like to put forward is that venues and companies use escrow payments – where the agreed fee is held in an escrow account – they use this in the film industry and it would be one way the Arts Council could protect its investment in NPO’s and artists it funds – rather than leaving them to the behest of insolvency law

Marcus Romer
Artistic Director
Pilot Theatre

BBC News – It’s no time to be squeamish #artsfunding

24 Sep

Arts bodies cannot be “squeamish” about where their money comes from in the current financial climate, the former head of Arts Council England has said.

Sir Christopher Frayling was speaking at a debate – Public Art, Private Money – at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London.

The debate focused on proposed government cuts, and where the arts should look for money in future.

The government is expected to announce cuts in its spending review next month.

Speaking about the relationship between art and business, Sir Christopher said: “Ever since serious art was invented some sort of subsidy has been required to protect it from the market.

“It’s always been a mixed economy in this country and long may it continue. The issue is the tail must never wag the dog.”

And he warned: “Now is not moment to be squeamish – it really isn’t. If things are going to be as tough on 20 October as some of us think it’s going to be, now is not the moment to get particularly squeamish.”

Tax breaks

Speaking about corporate sonsporship, Alex Beard, deputy director at Tate, acknowledged there had been “a huge amount of controversy” over BP’s backing of its galleries.

Earlier this year, there were protests outside the Tate summer party as activists called for the organisation to sever ties with BP over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Beard said BP had been a Tate sponsor for 20 years but had “never once made an artistic suggestion or comment”.

Colin Tweedy, chief executive of Arts and Business, said: “Since man crawled out of his cave he’s been looking for someone to support his art. Business supports the arts because it’s good for the business.”

John Woodward, chief of the recently-axed UK Film Council, said: “If I started being choosy about where money came from to make films, you’d never get any films made.

“If we’re trying to make art or help artists make art then, in the end, the ends justify the means.”

A special BBC News season examining the approaching cuts to public sector spending

Woodward, who announced his resignation last week, said he wanted to see the government take steps to encourage philanthropists to help plug the funding gap.

“I think there is a widely-held and deeply-ingrained view right the way across society that it is the role of the state broadly to support culture and art,” Woodward said.

“What I can’t see on the horizon – in terms of public policy – are the strategies that might be brought into place to leverage philanthropy properly – and that probably takes you into the area of tax incentives.

“If the gap is going to be as big as people are suggesting, it behoves policy makers and government to think about what a proper tax break for the arts looks like.”

Marcus Romer, artistic director of the York-based Pilot Theatre company, said: “It’s all very well to talk about philanthropic giving, but the moment you move out of metropolitan centres it does become increasingly more difficult.”
Reckless by Mark Wallinger Mark Wallinger’s Reckless is an adaptation of a Turner masterpiece

He suggested that a 30% cut in arts funding would make the company “unsustainable” within 18 months.

“It’s a false premise to suggest that outside of London it’s all sunshine and roses,” he said.

Earlier this week Turner Prize-winning artist Mark Wallinger revealed a new work aimed at highlighting a campaign against the proposed cuts.

Wallinger’s piece – entitled Reckless – shows Turner’s 1839 masterpiece The Fighting Temeraire with a large hole in the middle, exposing the phrase “25% cut”.

Chancellor George Osborne is due to announce the findings of the spending review on 20 October.

Save the Arts #artsfunding

21 Sep

click the link to sign the petition


Invitation to D&D Monthly Satellite about #artsfunding cuts #improbable #pilot_theatre

8 Sep

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Improbable???s Devoted and Disgruntled Satellite

What to do about The Arts Funding cuts?
Hosted by Marcus Romer and Phelim McDermott
18th September 2010, 2pm – 8pm
Venue: The Theatre at Arts Admin

Dear friend of the Arts and others,

The last few months have been a time of change and uncertainty for all the arts.

In response to actual and threatened severe cuts to arts funding by the coalition government, in September Improbable???s Devoted & Disgruntled Satellite will take this as its theme.

In the last few months many opinions and thoughts have been expressed, in the press, online and in Edinburgh bars about the financial and artistic challenges we now face. The discussion has been particularly active on the Arts Funding Ning for a while with now nearly 800 members. The shifthappens hashtag on twitter has gained many thousands of mentions and we have managed to create a community of action via these new networks. How can we utilise these networks to best galvanise / inspire / move / generate and create new forms of activity across all sectors to demonstrate the importance and vitaility and the need for artsfunding.

In order to harness this energy in a creative and active way we will be holding a day of Open Space in the afternoon and evening of 18th Sept

This will be an opportunity to continue the discussions and just as important take them into concrete action if we wish.

Open Space works best when the situation is impossibly complex, the stakes are high, the solution is not obvious and the need for a solution is urgent ??? this seems to be the case right here, right now for anyone who is involved in the arts in the UK.

Please come and join us to help together answer the question:

Devoted and Disgruntled: what to do about the arts funding cuts?

Bring your passion, frustration, sadness, defiance, desperation, anxiety, curiosity- bring the lot. We need them all.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Phelim and Marcus

Marcus Romer, Artistic Director of Pilot and founder of the rapidly growing Arts Funding ning, will co-host with Phelim McDermott. In order to give proper time to addressing this pressing issue we are expanding the event beyond the usual evening time slot.

The Theatre
Arts Admin at Toynbee Studios
28 Commercial Street, London E1 6AB

For Directions to Toynbee Studios click here

Please pass this on to as many people as you can. We are hoping for as many people from the arts community to turn up as possible to work together on our response to these cuts.


Devoted and Disgruntled is an opportunity to meet up with artists, arts professionals, and audiences.

D&D Satellite runs using Open Space technology which gives anyone the chance to propose a starting point for discussion, then take part in one of these conversations, flit between them all, or head to the bar.


Contact office@improbable.co.uk for access information 

This event is free but you could please RSVP to office@improbable.co.uk so that we can monitor the amount of attendees. Thank you 

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The Cuts Won’t Work (They’ll just make it worse) #artsfunding

26 Jul

An artistic response to arts cuts in Canada… – #artsfunding

24 Jul

Voting opens for the #CultureForum – I am standing for this

13 Jul
Check out this website I found at artsandbusiness.org.uk

Voting opens for the #CultureForum – I am standing for this

Please check it out and you can vote for up to 5 candidates in the medium category. click on the link to check out the candidates



#artsfunding – Arts Funding Information – join the conversations

25 Jun

Click the link to see who has joined – so far 312 people in just over a week – The power of the network and making Shift Happen…