06 April 2024

The Decline and Fall of Royal Mail

Amazing, isn’t it, that in Victorian times, without the benefit of modern technology, when people wrote letters by the score, it was possible to write to your wife in the morning to say that you would be late home from work that evening and the letter would be delivered in the afternoon.

Now, with all the technology currently at our disposal, and (apparently) far fewer letters now written, Royal Mail is proposing that second-class letters will in future be delivered only every other working day – which, in some areas, will actually be an improvement, I understand!

In Victorian London there were up to twelve deliveries a day, six days a week. Even during my childhood, two daily deliveries and, at Christmas, cards were delivered as soon as a deliverable quantity had accumulated at the Post Office – again, in far greater numbers than today.

Progress?

15 February 2024

The British Museum: Drop BP!

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/the-british-museum-drop-bp

Last year, all signs showed that - after 27-years - BP’s dirty sponsorship of the British Museum was finally over…

But, in a shocking move, the museum has signed a NEW sponsorship deal with the oil and gas giant - which will run for 10 YEARS!

After decades of backing climate delay and denial, BP is still pushing the world deeper into climate breakdown. Earlier this year, BP said it would increase investment in the production of fossil fuels by about $1 billion a year, above its previous plans for the rest of the decade. This is the total opposite direction that we should be heading in.

Crucially, BP’s business plans are not aligned with the goal of limiting global heating to 1.5°C, the target that world leaders have signed up to in the Paris Climate Agreement.

Communities in Argentina, West Papua, Mexico, and Azerbaijan – to name but a few – have faced violence and imprisonment for standing up against BP’s extraction, pollution and corruption. And today, BP continues to work closely with human rights-abusing regimes in order to gain access to their oil and gas reserves, and used its exhibition sponsorship at the Museum to advance its business interests in countries such as Egypt, Iraq and Russia.

But things can change. From the National Portrait Gallery to the Royal Shakespeare Company, most of the cultural sector has largely cut ties to fossil fuel funding, and a new ethical standard for sponsorship has been set.

But once again, The British Museum has chosen to be on the wrong side of history. It has decided to back profit-making polluters, not the people.

Enough is enough.

It’s time to draw a red line - and stop backing BP.

Please sign our NEW PETITION telling Chair George Osborne that enough is enough!

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/the-british-museum-drop-bp

13 February 2024

Stop Suffolk Council’s 100% Arts & Culture Funding Cuts

https://www.megaphone.org.uk/petitions/stop-suffolk-council-s-100-arts-funding-cuts

Equity members, local residents, arts and cultural organizations across East Anglia have raised serious concerns following a proposed £528,000 cut to arts and culture funding by Suffolk County Council.

The nine organizations affected cover the whole county and include: Suffolk Artlink, the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds, the Food Museum in Stowmarket and The Long Shop Museum in Leiston, New Wolsey Theatre, DanceEast and Eastern Angles in Ipswich, Gainsborough’s House in Sudbury and FirstLight Festival in Lowestoft.

While these cuts represent a tiny fraction of the council's need to save £64.7 million, they will have a disproportionate impact on Suffolk residents who rely on the arts and culture for employment and the wider community engaged with the vital support provided by these organizations across the county.

Companies like Eastern Angles and New Wolsey Theatre tour schools and special educational needs settings providing performances and workshops for children. Suffolk Artlink delivers services to diverse communities including children at risk and vulnerable adults, contributing to Suffolk County Council's strategic priorities. The Food Museum in Stowmarket has a national reputation for its community work, but now faces a 13% cut to its core funding.

Together these organizations provide hundreds of jobs, support the local economy and provide thousands of hours of engagement for children and adults who need it in Suffolk. They do not deserve to lose access to culture.

Sign the petition to oppose these 100% cuts now.

https://www.megaphone.org.uk/petitions/stop-suffolk-council-s-100-arts-funding-cuts

06 February 2024

Melvyn Bragg has issued a rallying cry for the arts.

WATCH - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCV-3MUx3dI

 

Melvyn Bragg’s speech in the House of Lords, launching a debate on the contribution of the arts to our economy and society, has already been viewed over a million times.

Lord Bragg argued that the arts are ‘the opportunity this society needs to reform itself, to replenish all parts and pockets’. He expressed concern about local authority budget cuts and widening inequality in arts education, saying ‘enormous rewards could follow from building up the arts’.

Responding for the Government, Arts and Heritage Minister Lord Parkinson said that ministers ‘agree wholeheartedly with the sentiments Lord Bragg put forward’. He acknowledged that the arts ‘remain an integral part of our national life’ and are ‘an essential part of what makes life worth living’.

Lord Parkinson paid tribute to the Campaign for the Arts for keeping all of us on our toes’ at a time when arts funding and provision are at risk in many parts of the country. It comes just weeks after Scottish Labour’s Shadow Culture Secretary said‘the Government have clearly been feeling the heat on this, thanks to the work of the Campaign for the Arts’.

Campaign for the Arts is demonstrating the scale and strength of public support for the arts – and is being heardPlease share the videos above, invite a friend to join us, and if you can, please become a regular Donor with £3 a month or whatever you can afford.

 


11 January 2024

Petition: Do not allow original wills to be destroyed after 25 years

 Please sign this petition!

 

The Ministry of Justice proposes to digitise and then allow the destruction of original wills after 25 years. We call for the original wills to be preserved in perpetuity in line with current legislation. Do not agree to legislative changes that would allow the destruction of these documents.

More details

1. We think costs of digital preservation and storage could be astronomical.
2. The loss of digital files may be more likely than the loss of physical documents, for example via file corruption and cyber attacks.
3. Flaws and errors made during the digitisation process may happen. [This is obvious for all to see in current transcriptions of certificates of births, marriages and deaths, census records, etc.]
4. The proposed changes to legislation may set a detrimental precedent for the destruction of other archive collections.
5. Physical documents provide additional information, such as the materiality of the documents, [revealing notes in margins], etc.

Sign this petition

And here:

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/654081

20 November 2023

Silent Monks sing Hallelujah! Chorus.

 

This recent YouTube discovery might amuse readers. I think it’s brilliant!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRhjWdr-LAA


16 October 2023

Martyn Brabbins resigns from ENO

Martyn Brabbins submitted his resignation tonight (15 October) after seven years as music director of English National Opera, saying that he could not continue to serve in a company whose board was proposing heavy personnel cuts to the orchestra and chorus.

He issued the following statement:

‘As Music Director of English National Opera for the past seven years, and Head of its orchestra, chorus and music staff, I cannot in all conscience continue to support the Board and Management’s strategy for the future of the company. While my feelings on this have been developing for some time, it reached its nadir this week, with the internal announcement of severe cuts to its orchestra and chorus from 2024/25 season. In protest, this afternoon I tendered my resignation with immediate effect.

‘Although making cuts has been necessitated by Arts Council England’s interference in the company’s future, the proposed changes would drive a coach and horses through the artistic integrity of the whole of ENO as a performing company, while also singularly failing to protect our musicians’ livelihoods.

‘This is a plan of managed decline, rather than an attempt to rebuild the company and maintain the world-class artistic output, for which ENO is rightly famed.

‘I urge ACE to reassess this situation and recognise the devastating implications their funding decisions will have on the lives of individual musicians, as well the reputation of the UK on the international stage.

‘My wholehearted thanks and support go out to the entire ENO team, especially those in the departments I oversaw. I am incredibly proud of everything we accomplished, and I sincerely hope that the company will find a path that puts exceptional artistry front and centre of its future.’