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International news round-up: May 19

Festival seeks backers

RWANDA/KIGALI The second Ubumuntu Arts Festival will take place in July but its organisers are still looking for financial support – the event is free and relies on donations and sponsors. Launched by Mashirika Performing Arts and Media in 2015, the festival takes place following the last week of the 100 days commemoration of the Rwandan genocide, and is held at the open-air amphitheatre of the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre. Artists and companies from at least 14 countries will perform this year and hold workshops. Dates are July 14-17, details at ubumuntuartsfestival.com

Theatre World winners

USA/NEW YORK The winners of the 72nd Theatre World Awards have been announced and will receive their awards at a ceremony at New York’s Circle in the Square Theatre on May 23. Winners include Cynthia Erivo for The Color Purple, Mark Strong for A View from the Bridge, Ben Whishaw for The Crucible and Lupita Nyong’o for Eclipsed. The awards take place at the end of the theatre season and are given to six actors and six actresses for outstanding Broadway and Off-Broadway debut performances.

School drama awards

IRELAND/DUBLIN Ireland’s third annual Student Theatre Awards winners have celebrated their prizes for theatre in primary and secondary schools. Winners from the 2,888 entries were invited to perform on the Bord Gais Energy Theatre stage on May 5 at the awards ceremony, which drew a record audience of 1,500. RTE Two Tube presenters Blathnaid Treacy and Stephen Byrne hosted the awards with special guests including playwright Marina Carr.

Back to Back grant

AUSTRALIA/GEELONG Victoria’s Back to Back Theatre has been awarded A$800,000 (£407,000) by the government’s new Catalyst arts programme. The money will help the company develop its international presence over four years with work such as the controversial Ganesh Versus the Third Reich. It is one of the biggest arts grants to date from Catalyst, which is giving A$10 million (£5.1 million) to 70 projects around the country.

Arts Party funding call

AUSTRALIA/SYDNEY The Arts Party has called for a restoration of Australia Council funding in response to fears that government arts policies have crippled the organisation. Last year, the government slashed funding to the Australia Council by A$105 million (£54 million), which was re-routed to new funding body the National Programme for Excellence in the Arts. The party has also proposed increased funding of A$124 million (£63 million) to artists and mid-sized arts organisations, a suspension of the controversial “efficiency dividend”, which has imposed cuts of A$36.8 million (£18.75 million) on the larger national institutions, and for arts grants to be exempt from income tax. The party launched itself via crowdfunding in 2013 with the aim of “reprioritising the arts and human creativity as central in the future prosperity of Australia”. artsparty.org [1]

Mayakovsky protest

TAJIKISTAN/DUSHANBE The Russian government has protested at plans to knock down the Mayakovsky Russian Drama Theatre in Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe. The Tajik government is embarking on a redevelopment of the city centre by replacing Soviet-era architecture with modern buildings, with the theatre to be rebuilt in the suburbs. Russia’s foreign ministry said the plans “aroused serious concern” and pointed out that the building is part of Tajik historical legacy, as it was where the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic was proclaimed in 1929. Local residents have expressed opposition to the city scheme.

New role for Aliev

RUSSIA/ ST PETERSBURG The Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg has appointed dancer and choreographer Eldar Aliev as its new ballet master-in-chief for the Primorsky Stage. Born in Azerbaijan, Aliev studied in Baku and moved to Russia, where he became principal dancer at the Kirov Ballet (the former name for the Mariinsky) in Moscow. In 1992, with the encouragement of The Stage and New York Post critic Clive Barnes, he joined the Indianapolis Ballet Theatre, later renamed Ballet Internationale, becoming its artistic director until the company’s demise in 2005.

The International section is co-edited by Ian Herbert and Nick Awde. Contact email: international@thestage.co.uk [2]