Calendar Girls has managed to raise a staggering £150,000 for Leukaemia Research. The show, which donates the £1.50 booking fee on every ticket, as well as contributing through merchandise sales and a percentage of the show's royalties, plans to continue fundraising as long as it remains in the West End. The show recently underwent a cast change and currently stars Anita Dobson, Jerry Hall and Jill Halfpenny, amongst others. It is based on the story of a real-life group of Women's Institute members, who put together a tasteful nude calendar to raise funds.
Many of the leading independent Edinburgh Fringe venues say spiralling rent costs could prevent them from participating in the future. Licence fees for venues have spiralled by 800% over the last three years, according to operators, because the council charges theatres in the same way as they do nightclubs, with temporary one-month licences costing the same as the first year of an annual licence.
Julian Caddy, co-director of self-funded Fringe venue Sweet Entertainments, said: "There's absolutely no reason for such an increase. It smacks of pure greed, given the council has a complete monopoly... if this continues, small venues will be at risk of not being able to afford to return. It will be Edinburgh and the paying public who will miss out, and the very essence of the Fringe will be lost."
The Association of Independent Venue Producers called the charges a "hazardous path" for Edinburgh council and says some venues have already been forced to drop out of the festival, with others likely to suffer the same fate in years to come. If you are up at the festival and want to make your views on this known, there will be a public debate titled "What is the Fringe worth?" next Monday at 11am at the New Town Theatre, 96 George Street, Edinburgh.
In other Edinburgh news, The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society is to institute a new constitution after suffering heavy criticism last year for its governance and over ticketing issues. Vice-chair Pip Utton said the modernisation of the society's constitution, which is due to begin in September, would be extensive and "almost certainly unique in its scale and ambition."
He added: "The world's largest arts festival needs a constitution which is fit for purpose. A constitution that reflects the demands of an open access arts festival with over 250 unique and ever-changing venues and now over 2000 shows each year.
"The Fringe Society was established to help the venues and the performers sell more tickets and promote shows through a single unified programme. The working group are convinced that these core objectives of the Fringe Society are as relevant today as they were in 1969. Any constitutional changes should enhance this work not detract from it."
Theatre training company CragRats, previously one of the biggest employers of actors in the UK, could be saved just weeks after it slipped into administration. Rival Speakeasy4schools, which produces TIE with trained actors, says it has reached a deal with administrators Ernst & Young to buy both the brand name and intellectual properties. Managing director Will Akerman said he planned to re-establish a core office and performance team by September.
He explained: "Our intentions are positive - to re-establish the brand and everything they do brilliantly... it will be a case of growing the company as fast as we can to get back to that stage."
The company, which Akerman calls a "major investment" closed in June after suffering cashflow problems. Ernst & Young said discussions were taking place but that nothing had as yet been confirmed.
This year's Linbury Prize for Stage Design will be hosted by London's Unicorn Theatre, Sound & Fury, Birmingham Opera Company and the Royal & Derngate in Northampton. Each company will take on three finalists to work on an upcoming production, with one winning a commission to design the set for a professional production of the show. The finalists come from schools including Central Saint Martins, Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and LIPA. The winners (and the overall winner) will be announced in November, with an exhibition featuring all 12 finalists' work hosted by the National from the 9-22nd November.