Archive for August, 2012

Olympics brings no Fringe benefits to Edinburgh

Posted in Theatre, Ticketing with tags , , on August 29, 2012 by richardhowle

Paul and I went to Edinburgh last year for the Festival and had a fantastic time, packing in 9 shows in 44 hours. We loved it and have very happy memories. But we didn’t go this year.
It’s not that we didn’t want to, it’s just with other stuff and the Olympics etc we couldn’t make it work.

Ah, there – you see, I said it. The Olympics, the catch all excuse for 2012.

“where’s my parcel?”
“It’s the Olympics”
“what time does that train leave?”
“it’s the Olympics”
“why can’t I take this bottle of water into the cinema?”
“it’s the Olympics”

The Olympics was a ready made excuse for people not do things that they normally would. And as reported by the BBC yesterday, I wasn’t the only one who didn’t make it up to Edinburgh this year because of the Olympics.

Yes, ticket sales were down by 1% on last year. 1%? As my friend and colleague, Ian Taylor, commented on Twitter yesterday (@IanTix) – I think they got off lightly.

If the West End had only been down by 1% we would all be cartwheeling down Shaftesbury Avenue. For many shows in London the figures were more like 20-30% down on last year. For theatre in the capital, the Olympics were a disaster. Ok , I should acknowledge that it wasn’t for all shows and that the official Society of London Theatres figures for this period aren’t out yet. But at the front line, speaking on a daily basis to producers who saw revenues tumbling – this was not a good time.

But, we were told, theatre will reap the benefit in future years when there will be an influx of visitors to London because of the Olympics. That is of cold comfort for today’s producers whose loss of income this year may mean that they or their shows won’t be around to cash in on future riches.

And this is the important point. The Olympics coincided with some of the most important weeks in the West End year. A profitable time which usually helps to provide investors with a return and generate incomes that can be invested into future productions. This didn’t happen this year.

I am not anti Olympics, I loved them and was always a big supporter of London hosting them.What I am concerned about is the casual attitude that our leaders had to this important industry. An industry that generates billions for the exchequer, creates thousands of jobs and of which the UK are World Leaders.

I am delighted that Edinburgh escaped relatively unscathed from the Olympics, because ultimately by protecting the grassroots, the starting ground for many writers, performers and producers,we have avoided doing real damage to this great industry of ours.

Silly Season

Posted in Current Affairs with tags , , , , on August 27, 2012 by richardhowle

It’s August Bank Holiday. An August Bank Holiday with an uncertain weather forecast. Now whilst it is very welcome after a tough couple of weeks at work, there is always the question of what to do. For me it has been quite productive – I am particularly pleased that I have been able to sort out a few more nagging issues on my new website www.richardhowle.co.uk and learnt a bit more than I thought I needed to about web hosting.

If only the nations media could be a bit more productive in what is commonly known as the “Silly Season”. For this is the time of year where “nothing happens” – the world of politics is quiet – our political leaders are on holiday (hands up if you know that Theresa May is currently running the country – true) and many journalists are away, drinking themselves into a stupor in deepest darkest France.

So how does the Silly Season manifest itself? Well how many column inches and broadcast hours have been wasted on an army office having fun in Las Vegas (despite countless polls saying that the public don’t care)? And this weekend dozens of pointless hours have been wasted by hapless journalists reporting about the sightings of a Lion in Essex, despite it being patently obvious that it never existed.

Why does any of this matter? It matters because of course there are things happening in the world. Important things like the deteriorating situation in Syria, more violence in Afghanistan, significant changes in Burma’s government and the impending nomination of one of the most right wing US presidential candidates we have had in a long time. All of which have the potential to have more impact on our lives than a party Prince and a (non existent) rogue lion in Essex.

With the Olympics dominating the news agenda from the end of July it means that we have effectively been cut off from proper news for nearly six weeks. Did anyone see the story that the UK government unexpectedly had to borrow £600m in July (in July 2011 there was a £2.8bn surplus)?

We have some fantastic journalists in this country and for 11 months of the year we have some of the finest news reporting in the world. As September rapidly approaches, please can we return to these high standards and bring an end to the Silly Season.

New Beginnings

Posted in Uncategorized on August 19, 2012 by richardhowle

Change is a good thing, it helps keep things refreshed and up to date and makes you evaluate why you have chosen to do something. So when Mac decided to discontinue MobileMe and not issue any more updates to iWeb I decided to change things around with my website.

I have been particularly slack in recent times about updating my blog (the last post was in March). But with a new website and a new blogging tool, which means I can update from my iPad – I hoping this will revitalise my blogging.

But it has not been without its tribulations, new web creation software and the new blogging site have all caused their own problems.

Currently I can blog via word press (and this entry was submitted via the iPad app) but my domain is still looking at my old website.

More googling is required methinks……..