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Letters of the week

Creative Scotland is getting it right

As members of the arts sector in Dumfries and Galloway we wish to add another voice to the national conversation taking place about the arts in Scotland.

Since Creative Scotland [1] was established there has been a fairer geographical distribution of arts funding. We believe that Creative Scotland has successfully balanced competing demands for development of the arts and creativity across the entire country.

Dumfries and Galloway has long held a reputation for artistic endeavour and achievement, and our recent experience of working with Creative Scotland has seen both an increase in confidence in existing work as well as promising initiatives springing up from the grass roots. While we accept that there are questions to be resolved over the delivery of some of Creative Scotland’s remit, we expect due recognition of the successes of the organisation in committing to a nationwide vision for creativity – we cannot countenance a return to the bad old days.

In the south-west we are building new models of working in the arts that involve diverse partner-ships with local and national organisations – partnerships that promise to deliver real impact for our way of life, taking account of both global environmental issues and the specific realities of life in rural Scotland. Creative Scotland has understood and supported these initiatives as they have been often led by the region’s creative community.

Taking account of this strategic direction, Creative Scotland has backed public, performing, visual and environmental arts, capital projects, festivals, literature and much more. This has helped many artists and makers develop their careers and has done much to further build the reputation and confidence of Dumfries and Galloway as a vibrant cultural centre.

We understand that many have wrestled with the changes that Creative Scotland has made, and we believe that the discussion about the role of the arts in contemporary society is precious and vital. However, many of us operating in this region feel that the overall momentum of change is in the right direction and must be maintained.

Dr Jan Hogarth, Dame Barbara Kelly, Charles Jencks, Matthew Dalziel, Louise Scullion, Alasdair Houston, Cathy Agnew, Wendy Stewart, Jane McArthur, Pam Pumphrey, Spring Fling Art and Craft Open Studios Event, Tom Littlewood, Pete Renwick, Emma Varley, Tom Littlewood, Sam Booth, Jim Buchanan, Winnie Cooper, Jo Hodges, Linda Mallett, Will Levi Marshall, Matt Baker, Adam Booth
Email address supplied

 

Carers also have big role to play

Further to the very welcome observations made by Teri Scoble (Letters, November 22, page 8 [2]), I suggest that Equity immediately takes an industry lead that will confirm, not only to those in all areas of entertainment but also to the much wider public, that the protection of child performers is of paramount importance to our union and its members.

The recent Jimmy Savile revelations and those relating to Cyril Smith and others add to similar free press reports on various religious orders and organisations. To protect children in our industry, Equity must go beyond condemning abusers of the young, giving children insurance or providing legal assistance on problems with pay, working conditions, contractual issues or childminding inadequacies.

To begin with, it must consider children under the age of ten employed in all areas of the entertainment industry. I’m not forgetting amateur performers, but protection provided by Equity to young performers entering our profession can become a reliable base if it has partners in establishing that base from the outset.

Membership for the young is a beginning, but I suggest that it must be granted on the supporting signature of a parent, carer or responsible social services officer on the young person’s application form.

Young performers must then also have a voice that can be relied upon, a voice uninfluenced in any way, totally free to express the problems they have experienced, expose the failures of others charged with the protection of children, condemn potential grooming, abuses of power or privilege, and any other matters that union members and society would condemn.

That voice surely cannot now come from within the union membership. It must come from those adults who are prepared to sign a young person’s application form.

Equity must then give the right to that voice to be heard regularly, by forming a specialist committee for children and young performers comprised of adults from outside the entertainments industry. They are, after all, the adults that society holds responsible for the well-being of the young they have in their families or in their charge.

Let there be protection for children that is incorruptible, that abusers will fear and that the public will believe Equity can truly provide.

Let us start now. Provide the sound base needed to build upon. Equity can lead the way.

Roy Radford
Walk-on and supporting artists’ committee member and former Equity council member
Email address supplied

 

Walk-on artists may just walk off

I write to express my deep unhappiness on reading your report on the latest, to my mind unnecessary, Equity referendum (News, December 6, page 4 [3]).

The extermination of the remaining two out of three walk-on and supporting artists’ councillors and the probable extinction of my committee I feel to be such a fundamental change of policy by the Rep-Con Group that I suspect they really would wish to be rid of us altogether.

Together with a council policy of accepting wage increases for main-part artists without getting the same for walk-ons, I believe this will leave some thousands of Equity members wondering why they should continue to pay their subscription.

I am convinced that Equity will probably lose far more money than it hoped it could save by these draconian actions.

Michael Earl
Equity honorary life member and vice-chair, walk-on and supporting artists’ committee
Email address supplied

 

Cheers for porn’s Prince Charming

It could only happen in sexually repressed Britain – the withdrawal of Craig Chalmers from this year’s panto at the Alhambra, Dunfermline, after it was learned that he had done porn work under an alias. One can only hope that other theatre managements will not be quite so petty. To counter the daft decision, I intend to gather together as many friends as possible for the next appearance of Craig, who I do not know and have never met, and cheer him to the rafters.

Ryan Edwards
Axe Street
Barking

 

Do you recall the Masters?

Having worked in the theatre for many years, and with my son following in my footsteps, I decided to follow up a comment my father made before he died. He said one of his brothers was a “song and dance” man.

This is what I have discovered – my uncle Frederick Masters died in a tragic accident before I was born. He was married to Eileen Isabella Masters (later EI Peters). Her stage name was Anita Creighton and their act was known as the Creightons. They had a daughter, Barbara Anita Masters. She later became Dowling and/or Bourne.

I have searched The Stage archives [4] – superb, how did we do without it? – and found lots of entries of productions that Barbara and Eileen worked on, but unfortunately no pictures. Did Barbara and I ever meet without knowing the link? How many people did she work with whom I later worked with? From my searches, I did find that she was in panto with someone I worked with a few years later.

The last records I have of Barbara and Eileen are in the Southsea area, where Eileen died some years ago, but I have drawn a blank since then. Is Barbara still with us? If she is I’d love to meet her – I am sure we would have lots to talk about.

Now comes my plea for help from The Stage readers. Does anyone remember Eileen? Does anyone remember or still know Barbara? (She would be in her 80s now.) Any information would be gratefully received.

Stan Masters
Former technical manager, Epsom Playhouse