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How the cost of living in the UK is affecting artists

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A group of actors rehearse on the stage
90% of actors in the UK are unemployed at any one time, according to a survey by Queen Mary University in London | Photo: Fabian Friedrich

The cost-of-living crisis has been stampeding towards us for the best part of a year and the continuing hike in energy bills and food and other basic living costs, is becoming the new – miserable – normal. It feels tougher now more than ever, perhaps because of the recent drastic drop in temperature which was, of course, inevitable but easy not to think about a few months back, as we entered a succession of heatwaves and the first ‘normal’ summer since the beginning of the pandemic.

This crisis is impacting us all, albeit some more than others, and so I’m sure even the most financially comfortable among us are cutting back where they can, but is it enough? Only, pausing that less than £4 monthly subscription to a newspaper, cancelling a streaming service (£9pcm) I use slightly less than another one and not buying coffee when I’m out of the house all day doesn’t seem to be making the dent I hoped it might, and I’m running out of memberships to cancel. So, what do I do? Surely, it’s a simple case of making more money. Great. How? When?

You see, I am a freelance jobbing actor and theatre maker (90% administration and fundraising, 10% making theatre), a playwright and a copywriter and blogger. I’m fortunate to have – at least since February of last year – made most of my income from these areas. Of course, other years this is not the case and so I have a collection of ‘day jobs’ to keep me afloat too. I work for several organisations as a facilitator and teacher, and as a nanny. In addition to these, the moment the first lockdown ended, I got a job in a local pub where I stayed until the beginning of this year because none of my theatre jobs booked in for 2020 had yet been rescheduled, and I also gained employment as a dog sitter and walker which saw me through the best part of 2021. I say this, not because I’m showing off about my ability to keep a dog off the sofa with a baby under one arm and pour a round of drinks with the other, but because it feels important to stress that I am not afraid to work. That isn’t the reason I’m now, almost a year since I went back to being 100% freelance, struggling to make ends meet. The reason is, despite still working the majority of the aforementioned jobs, some of which are very well paid, my living costs – like yours too, I’m sure – have increased exponentially. And it’s affecting my ability to invest in my career, a necessity for any freelancer, my ability to focus on my practice and do the work I want to be doing, the work I have spent thousands of pounds and hours training to do, and which I’m very good at doing. Work like writing pieces such as this!

Take the money I would usually spend on entertainment for instance. Aside from cancelling memberships to the already few streaming services I subscribe to, I’m currently seeing a lot less theatre than I normally would. There are shows I want to see but if I can’t find a good enough deal on tickets or if I’m offered an even ‘ok-paid’ gig, I’m forced to choose to do that instead whereas before, I had the luxury of choosing to turn the odd gig down, sometimes in favour of an even worse paid one, but one which would be more creatively fulfilling. Now, I’m

turning enjoyable day jobs down for slightly better paid but less enthralling ones – not quite the direction I saw my career heading in 10 years in. Thankfully, I do have a prepaid annual membership to a cinema which allows me to see an unlimited number of movies which I make good use of whenever I can. But even that feels finite; the cinema chain I’m a member of reported financial issues earlier this year so I am in no doubt it will need to raise its membership prices in the new year, maybe to an amount I can’t currently justify paying.

Now, you’d be forgiven for not reaching for your tiny violins just yet, but as much as I love watching theatre, TV and films. It’s also my job; it’s research, it’s keeping my fingers on the pulse and an eye on what’s happening in my industry so I’m not completely out of the loop when I’m invited to audition or pitch for projects. Entertainment is a necessary cost I’ve always budgeted for but over the last few months, even working non-stop, often multiple jobs at once, I’ve gotten to the end of a month, paid my bills and rent etc. and had little or nothing left to spend on a single theatre ticket.

But, say I get that meeting, or I book an audition for my dream job, the excitement only lasts a few minutes before I’m reminded to factor in my weekly travel costs which the prices of, even with a railcard I have for one more year, leaves a gross amount to be desired. It’s fine, or at least manageable if you can book jobs, meetings and errands back-to-back in a day but this leaves less time to prepare for each job or meeting; learning multiple pages of script, planning lessons or putting together comprehensive presentations or documents. And that’s not forgetting how time-consuming the admin behind trying to make all these things line up can be! There is of course one positive to paying for travel between commitments; if you’re out all day, your energy bills might dip a bit.

And breathe.

Sorry.

I’m afraid there just isn’t much positive to say about the current economic crisis and its effect on arts workers, especially just shy of a month after the announcement of further astronomical cuts being made across the UK theatre industry. I appreciate this is a tough read with not much let up but unfortunately, for now at least, it’s mine, and so many of my friends’ and colleagues’ reality. Friends and colleagues who are brilliant and talented and good at making relevant, urgent, and entertaining work but who are struggling to keep making it. And these are people who have at least some foundations in the industry; each day opportunities for the next generation of artists graduating into the current crisis are being slashed.

A lack of good quality art made by financially respected and supported, well-nourished and mentally fit artists isn’t just affecting those working in the industry; it affects anybody who engages with entertainment and art, and the impact of this crisis will soon be visible in the content you watch or read if things don’t change. You will see less new faces, and hear fewer new stories – because we can’t afford to write them!

Alexandra Donnachie is an award-winning actress and award-nominated writer and theatre maker. Her writer-performer credits include: twenty-eight (DEM Productions: Theatre 503); When We Died (Carbon Theatre: Vaults Festival 2020, Edinburgh Fringe Online 2021, Bruntwood Prize longlisted); 3 Years, 1 Week and a Lemon Drizzle (UK Tour, Edinburgh Fringe 2018).

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Samsung’s ‘Newfound Equilibrium’ design exhibition closes today

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Samsung’s ‘Newfound Equilibrium’ design exhibition closes today
“Newfound Equilibrium" is showcasing the brand’s user-centered design philosophy

Samsung Electronics today announced that it will hold its design exhibit at Milan Design Week’s Fuorisalone 2024 from April 16 to 21.

A design exhibition located at Le Cavallerizze, in the Leonardo da Vinci National Museum of Science and Technology in Milan, Italy, will come to an end this evening.

Samsung’s Corporate Design Center’s exhibition, “Newfound Equilibrium,” is showcasing the brand’s user-centered design philosophy, “Samsung Design Identity 5.0: Essential∙Innovative∙Harmonious.

“Design must fully take the human experience into consideration, and Samsung’s design principles achieve this,” says TM Roh, President and Head of Corporate Design Center at Samsung Electronics. “With our human-centered design philosophy, we aim to create a future that harmonizes with the lives of our customers through innovation with purpose.”

The multi-sensory experience, featuring immersive installations, guides visitors through five spaces that express Samsung’s design identity. The spaces are titled “Essence,” “Innovation,” “Harmony,” “Infinite Dream” and “New Dawning.” As visitors approach the screens in the spaces, translucent elements change into specific shapes and textures, and the shapes beyond the window appear as if they are approaching onlookers, allowing them to immerse themselves in the dream of an infinite future drawing nearer.

Through collaborations with the human craftsmanship of ceramic masters MUTINA, and wood veneer wizards ALPI, the Bespoke Refrigerator and AirDresser have also been reimagined considering the co-existence of people and technology.

Samsung’s “Newfound Equilibrium” exhibition is located at Via Olona, 6 bis, Milan and offers free entry until 6 PM today.

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10 European travel influencers to follow on Instagram in 2024

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A female travel influencer taking a selfie outdoors
84% of adults in the United States turned to travel content creators for recommendations when planning their trips.

They seem to be living the best lives, always jumping from one city to another and sipping cocktails while posting photos of sunsets.

Welcome to the travel influencer world, one of the most popular niches for content creators across the web. And while taking perfect pictures of their whereabouts, influencers continue to inspire even those traveling on a less generous budget: a 2023 study revealed that a remarkable 84% of adults in the United States turned to travel content creators for recommendations when planning their trips.

With 2 billion monthly active users, Instagram remains one of the favourite social media platforms for travel influencers to share their latest adventures – despite decreasing engagement and the ever-changing algorithm game.

Pack your luggage. Here is a curated list of 10 European travel influencers to follow on Instagram in 2024.

Murad Osmann

@muradosmann

Dubai-based Murad Osmann gained fame for his “Follow Me To” series, where he captures stunning travel moments as his wife leads him by the hand to iconic destinations worldwide. Named by Forbes a top influencer to follow, his photos offer a unique perspective on popular landmarks and showcase the beauty of different cultures.

Jack Morris

@jackmorris

Jack is a British travel originally from a town called Bolton, near Manchester. When he left high school at 17 he started working as a carpet cleaner and did this up until he turned 21.  Nowadays, he is mostly known for photography and adventurous spirit. His Instagram account showcases stunning landscapes and destinations, encouraging followers to explore the world and embrace new experiences.

Leonie Hanne

@leoniehanne

Leonie is a German fashion and travel influencer known for her impeccable style and luxurious travel experiences. Her Instagram feed features glamorous photos from high-end destinations across Europe, providing inspiration for both fashion and travel enthusiasts.

Christina Tan

@sassychris1

Christina, a Swedish travel influencer, is known for her captivating landscape photography and adventurous spirit. Her Instagram feed features stunning shots from her travels across Europe and beyond, inspiring followers to explore new destinations and embrace the beauty of nature. Named top 25 hotel influencer 2024.

Louis Cole

@louiscole

Louis is a British filmmaker and travel vlogger known for his adventurous spirit and positive energy. Through his Instagram account and YouTube channel, he documents his global travels and encourages followers to pursue their passions and embrace the world around them.

Janni Olsson Delér

@jannid

Janni, a Swedish fashion and travel influencer, shares her glamorous travel experiences with her followers through her Instagram account and blog. Her stylish photos and travel tips provide inspiration for fashion-forward travelers seeking luxury experiences around the world.

Tom Jauncey

@tomjauncey

Tom, a Scottish travel influencer and founder of Beautiful Destinations, shares breathtaking travel photography and videos from around the world. Through his Instagram account and media platform, he promotes sustainable travel and encourages followers to discover the beauty of our planet.

Anna Everywhere

@anna.everywhere

Anna Karsten is a Polish travel blogger and influencer known for her vibrant and diverse travel content. Her Instagram feed showcases stunning photos from destinations around the world, along with insightful travel tips and recommendations.

Nelson Carvalheiro

@nelsoncarvalheiro

Nelson is a Portuguese travel and food influencer who showcases the best of Portugal and beyond. His Instagram feed is filled with mouthwatering food photos, scenic landscapes, and cultural insights that celebrate the beauty and diversity of travel.

Jeanne Damas

@jeannedamas

Jeanne is a French fashion and travel influencer known for her chic style and global adventures. Her Instagram feed features photos from destinations around the world, along with fashion inspiration and lifestyle content.

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TIFF announces Writers’ Studio Class of 2024

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TIFF announces Writers' Studio Class of 2024
Writers’ Studio will take place April 15–19, 2024, at TIFF Lightbox.

TIFF has unveiled the lineup for the 2024 Writers’ Studio, an annual program fostering the next generation of storytellers. This year marks the 13th edition of the collaborative, five-day intensive lab, designed to empower Canadian and international screenwriters and writer-directors. From a pool of more than 200 submissions, TIFF has selected a cohort Zhannat Alshanova, Aram Collier, Rebecca Fisseha, Sophie Jarvis, Amy Trefry, and Asia Youngman.

The Writers’ Studio is a space to consolidate skills, exchange ideas, and navigate challenges, while participating in workshops, artist talks, peer-to-peer mentorships, and one-on-one project development consultations guided by industry experts. Writers’ Studio will take place April 15–19, 2024, at TIFF Lightbox.

“Programs like the Writers’ Studio continue to ignite and drive talent, both in Canada and on the global stage,” said Anita Lee, Chief Programming Officer, TIFF. “At TIFF, our commitment to fostering new talent will continue to grow with a focus on providing industry expertise and unparalleled access to industry leaders, ensuring the program’s enduring impact year after year.”

This year’s lab will support the development of feature-film scripts through dedicated one-on-one discussions with international story consultants Trey Ellis and Christina Lazaridi. Additionally, the participants will engage in daily artist talks and workshops facilitated by renowned filmmakers and industry experts including Ashley Comeau, Brad Fraser, Howard Wiseman and Emma Donoghue. Canadian actors, Getenesh Berhe, Vivien Endicott-Douglas, Thomas Antony Olajide and Ajuawak Kapashesit, will join for a full-day workshop of the projects in development.

New this year, the Sloan Science and Technology Writer Fellowship will offer a project development grant and targeted creative support for one emerging to mid-level feature film screenwriter whose project explores themes of science and technology. This year’s selected recipient is Amy Trefry for her project Lenin’s Embalmers, co-written with playwright Vern Thiessen. Funding for this programme is provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s Public Understanding of Science and Technology program.

Now in its third year, the Renee Perlmutter Memorial Fellowship for Literary Adaptation provides a Writers’ Studio participant focusing on adapting literary work for the screen with an additional grant toward developing their project. This year’s Renee Perlmutter Memorial Fellow is Rebecca Fisseha, who is working on an adaptation of her own debut novel Daughters of Silence.

Four participants from the 2024 class will also be awarded a grant generously supported by CHANEL, through the CHANEL Women Creators’ Network, to further the development of their feature-length script.

Notable TIFF Talent alumni include filmmakers Meredith Hama-Brown (Seagrass), Fawzia Mirza (The Queen of My Dreams), D. W. Waterson, and Devery Kawennáhere Jacobs (Backspot), Pier-Philippe Chevigny (Richelieu), Jasmin Mozaffari (Motherland), Lillah Halla (Power Alley), Álvaro Gago Dias (Matria), and Johanna Pyykkö (My Wonderful Stranger). Following their involvement in TIFF Talent Development programmes, many of these filmmakers have gone on to present their films at the Toronto International Film Festival, the Berlinale, and Cannes.

2024 TIFF Writers’ Studio participant biographies:

Portrait of Zhannat Alshanova
Zhannat Alshanova (UK)
Present Perfect
Originally from Kazakhstan, Zhannat is a London-based writer, director, and producer. Her short films has been screened at numerous international film festivals, such as Cannes, Sundance, TIFF, Locarno (Pardino d’Argento award for the Best Short Film). She is a London Film School (MA in Filmmaking) and Berlinale Talents alum.

Portrait of Aram Collier
Aram Collier (Canada)
Intro to Swimming
Aram’s feature, documentary, and experimental films have played festivals across North America and internationally. Collier is a mixed-race Asian Canadian/American originally from San Francisco, now based in Toronto, Canada. His Asian diasporic stories deal with race and class through a humanist lens of observed ironies.

Portrait of Rebecca Fisseha
Rebecca Fisseha (Canada)
Daughters of Silence
Rebecca Fisseha is an Ethiopian Canadian writer whose short stories, creative non-fiction, personal essays, and articles appear in various publications, most recently in Addis Ababa Noir, the Humber Literary Review, and Tongues: On Longing and Belonging Through Language. Born in Addis Ababa and raised there and in Austria and Switzerland, Rebecca is now based in Toronto, where she is working on the screenplay adaptation of her first novel, Daughters of Silence (Goose Lane Editions, 2019), and on completing her second novel, Only Because It’s You (Doubleday Canada, Spring 2025). Fisseha is a graduate of the Vancouver Film School’s program in Writing for Film & Television.

Portrait of Sophie Jarvis
Sophie Jarvis (Canada)
Taking the Waters
Sophie Jarvis is a Swiss Canadian filmmaker whose feature debut Until Branches Bend (TIFF ’22, SXSW ’23, Locarno ’23) earned her a nomination for Best Original Screenplay at the Canadian Screen Awards in 2023. Jarvis’ background as a production designer deeply informs her practice as a writer and director.

Portrait of Amy Trefry
Amy Trefry (Canada)
Lenin’s Embalmers
Amy Trefry is an emerging Canadian filmmaker, who elevates marginalized voices as a queer, non-binary storyteller. Their Masters in Environmental Sociology and upbringing on a Peregrine Falcon breeding facility fuel narratives entwining social and environmental themes. They are a 2022 graduate of the Canadian Film Centre, and were selected as one of ten emerging Canadian Television Producers by RDV Canada in 2021. Collaborating with playwright Vern Thiessin and guided by industry mentors, Trefry blends science and filmmaking, striving for cinematic inclusivity and representation.

Portrait of Asia Youngman
Asia Youngman (Canada)
Until It’s Time to Go
Asia Youngman is an award-winning Indigenous (Cree-Métis) filmmaker. She co-wrote, co-directed and executive produced I’m Just Here for the Riot (2023) for ESPN’s 30 for 30 series. Her previous short films include N’xaxaitk’w (2022) and This Ink Runs Deep (2019), both of which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.

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