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Boo!  Boo!  Boo! to Horsecross.   

rotten tomatoes for Horsecross

Rotten Tomatoes for Horsecross

Horsecross which runs Perth Concert Hall and Perth Theatre has just introduced booking fees after being booking fee free since it opened – apart from touring shows which imposed their own booking fees.

Booking fees are a rip-off tax on the arts, and Horsecross is charging 50p a ticket.    So I have just bought 12 tickets in one transaction for several events which comes to around £180, and I now have to pay an extra £6 “arts tax”.    

It does not cost £6 to process £180.

The lunacy is that if I buy 12 tickets for the same event the booking fee is waived on tickets 11 and 12.    That’s real Alice in Wonderland logic for you, as is the waiving of the booking fee if you turn up in person and pay in cash.

If I go into a supermarket, I don’t have to pay extra for the shop to process my transaction.    Horsecross should be no different.   There are plenty of arts organisations that don’t charge booking fees, and Horsecross should be one of them.

Consider this post a generous dose of virtual rotten tomatoes.

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With the press and media so preoccupied with snow stories, and whether Gordon Brown will be ousted from No 10 ahead of a general election, the small stories struggle for space.

But today there is a small story which really matters:    The Festival of British Youth Orchestras which has taken place in Edinburgh and Glasgow for the last 30 summers does not have funding to continue.     Every August, some 2000 musicians from across the UK flock to Scotland with their groups to perform grown-up concerts in front of critical audiences.      Many professional musicians started here, perhaps playing their first concerto.

It will be a very very sad day for schools music if this is allowed to go under.    Surely we need to nurture our young talent, not limit opportunities?      It is a paradox when funders are falling over themselves to support the several el sistema initiatives which are being run in the UK, including the wonderful Big Noise in Stirling, that our Youth Orchestras are being left high and dry.

Perth Youth Orchestra has performed every year since the festival started, and the Glasgow and Edinburgh concerts are a big highlight of the year for our local young musicians.      There will be a big hole and a lot of disappointment this summer.

Perth Youth Orchestra

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What a total nightmare.    The proposed Glasgow Airport Rail Link GARL is a casualty of the Scottish Govermnent’s budget, and will now apparently not be happening.

Glasgow Council are furious, and I am sure that the Commonwealth Games people will also be very unhappy – although they probably can’t say too much as they are due to receive funding from the Government to put the games on.      But GARL was a carrot used in the bid for the Games.

Why can’t Scotland manage to link its airports (Prestwick excepted) with the major cities?      Other countries seem to be able to do this.

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homecoming_2009Homecoming 2009 is an initiative to encourage people with Scottish connections living abroad to visit the old country in 2009.   It is to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Robert Burns’ birth, and there are 200 events running from Burns Night through to St Andrews Day.   It is costing the taxpayer dearly, yet we are hopeful of a return – difficult in a year of worldwide economic turmoil.

So on Friday, the promotional video was unveiled.      Various Scottish celebs sing a line of Dougie McLean’s song Caledonia in front of iconic scenery.     The idea is imagination on auto-pilot.   I have to say that it is appalling.   Most of the performers look very uncomfortable, and Sean Connery only manages to speak his line.    It is badly shot with poor sound.

Surely we can do better than this.   We badly need to.    There is a lot at stake.

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The loss of normal Newsnight last night, and the complete absence of anything relevant to Scotland in the entire The World at One program on Radio 4 yesterday lunchtime has got me thinking about the news in Scotland.

The Times newspaper in Scotland has dedicated coverage to Scotland, with pages that the rest of the UK simply don’t see.    Yet this regional coverage is not available on their website, while the UK stuff is.    And of course, there will be other stories which Scotland does not get because there has to be room for the Scottish pages.

It has all become a bit messy.    I like a UK, and indeed a worldwide perspective on things, yet like to know what is happening in Scotland too.     I would like to think that those living outside Scotland would be intested in what is going on in Scotland.     Perhaps there is a bit of ‘having ones cake and eating it’ about this, but it needs sorting out, and I am not sure whether a ‘Scottish 6’ (campaign for a Scottish 6 o’clock news) will improve things.    Probably not – we already have Reporting Scotland on the BBC which does OK, and the early evening mix of national news at 6 and regional to follow works as it is.

I like Newsnight, and I tolerate Newsnight Scotland – tolerate, because the program is too rushed, the technical presentation is typical BBC Scotland (not as good as it should be) and the presenters don’t exactly set the heather alight.    I also resent being deprived of the last Newsnight story every night.

 The BBC were taken to task recently for not covering important regional stories in the National News.    I agree with this, and the organisation will have to get smarter about how it handles stories from around the UK.

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I have just turned on the TV tonight hoping to see Newsnight, but instead there is a program interviewing the main candidates for the Glasgow East by-election.    They have spent all the normal Newsnight time doing this, and now are in over-run time interviewing the minority candidates ‘in the interest of fairness’.    I can’t say I have been very impressed by any of the candidates, major or minor, and for my money the Lib Dem performed best on this program.   

Newsnight Scotland has been featuring the Glasgow East by-election nightly for the past while.   I know that this is an interesting by-election, but this coverage is overkill.

I want BBC2 Newsnight back please.   There is a lot going on in the world beyond Glasgow East.   And it is now midnight and I can’t even see tonight’s Newsnight on BBC i-player yet, which makes it missable on the day of transmission, which kind of misses the point after all.

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Lisbon Treaty

At least the Irish were given the choice, although, Zimbabwe style, they may get another vote to come up with the ‘correct’ answer next time.

In the UK, we have no choice – Gordon Brown and his chums have railroaded this through parliament and approved it on our behalf.      It is an undemocratic disgrace.      We should have been given the chance to choose.

NO means NO.   What part of that do the eurocrats have a problem with?

Don’t know if these things do any good, but if feel hard done by, you have until 22nd June to sign this petition:   http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/Abandon-Lisbon/ 

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