In this current production of A Christmas Carol, the Arts Council England as Scrooge is wreaking havoc upon the lives of many Bob Cratchits.
The on-going recent National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) funding allocation – where, as previously reported, there were several catastrophes, including the withdrawal of English National Opera’s core support, among others – is starting to be understood in real terms.
Welsh National Opera (WNO) has announced that it will no longer be able to tour to Liverpool, with immediate effect, due to “budget efficiencies” brought on by the “substantial reduction in its public funding”. WNO faces a £2.2 million (35 per cent) reduction in financial support from Arts Council England, jeopardising its ability to continue to work across Wales and England, where it serves cities including Truro and Southampton.
When the NPO shake-up was first revealed last month, improving provision away from London was the supposed rationale. As the Arts Council England cuts start to bite, it is becoming increasingly clear that ‘levelling up’ is actually ‘notching down’, and that regions outside the capital are immediately suffering as a result. God bless us, everyone!
Southbank Centre’s version of A Christmas Carol offers more promise. Dickens’ classic tale has been reworked time and again; for stage (Simon Callow), opera house (Thea Musgrave; Iain Bell) and even Kermit and Miss Piggy, but this time the story takes an American angle as sooty Victorian streets are swapped for the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee in the Great Depression. The setting sees Ebenezer as the owner of a mining company town, with music composed by none other than Dolly Parton (Queen Elizabeth Hall until January 8).
Reimagining a story so intertwined with festive tradition is a daunting task. When Ilan Eshkeri was asked to write the soundtrack for the The Snowman and the Snowdog, the 2012 follow-up to The Snowman, he was – understandably – nervous.