Edition number 18; dateline 2 July 2008

British Museum breaks records
Over six million people visited the British Museum in the financial year 2007-08, a figure that exceeds the previous year’s visitor numbers by more than a million. It also means that Bloomsbury has outshone the South Bank, with the museum now receiving more visitors than Tate Modern, the cultural powerhouse that has changed the shape of London’s visitor map in less than a decade. Announcing the figures, Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum, recalled the occasion of Chinese new year, when 35,000 people came on a single day. “We had to shut the main gates on Great Russell Street to prevent more people from coming in,” he said. “It was the first time we did that since the Chartist riots of 1848.” MacGregor also confirmed that he had signed a new five-year contract to remain as director. There had been speculation regarding the possibility of a move to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York but he was happy to dispel the rumours. “The opportunities and challenges for a world collection in London are limitless… the British Museum is a public institution,” he said. With excitement growing over museum’s series of exhibitions on the theme of empires, ten thousand tickets have already been sold for Hadrian: Empire and Conflict in advance of its opening on 24 July.

Marketing disability sport
The Sports Marketing Network is hosting a one-day conference on how disability sport can grow participation, profile and commercial and community partnerships by being vibrant and visible on 15 July. Titled Marketing Disability Sport, the event will be held at Stoke Mandeville. Further details are available from SMN via e-mail here.

Free museums in Liverpool
In addition to all the largesse already delivered, Liverpool’s year as European capital of culture now includes free access to the permanent collections of the Museum of Liverpool, the International Slavery Museum and the University of Liverpool's Victoria Gallery and Museum. Culture secretary Andy Burnham welcomed the collections to the family of non-charging museums as “a fantastic achievement”. He noted new figures that show a doubling in the number of visits to museums that used to charge since they became free in December 2001, commenting, “This proves the impact that abolition of charges has on getting visitors through the doors. By adding three more museums to the list, we're ensuring even more people from all walks of like have access to the treasures of the past and wonders of the future that our world class museums can provide.” The DCMS release on the subject goes into some detail regarding the VAT arrangements, quoting financial secretary to the treasury, Jane Kennedy, who happens to be MP for Liverpool Wavertree.

FA lifts the pressure for under-eights
The Football Association has announced an end to competitive leagues for under-eights football as part of its continuing campaign to improve skills and technique. FA director of football Sir Trevor Brooking commented, “In the youngest age groups, there's too much emphasis on winning leagues, often to satisfy parents and coaches. That's what we're looking to change. We need better, more skilful players coming through. Of course, we are not banning children from competing against each other in football. Every game played is competitive but undoubtedly having league tables at this age is not helping their development. It is the league tables being stopped rather than matches.”

New coaching centre unveiled in Leeds
Minister for sport Gerry Sutcliffe has announced that Leeds Metropolitan University, known to generations of PE teachers simply as ‘Carnegie’, will host the UK centre for coaching excellence in sport and disability sport. The centre will be the first of its kind in the United Kingdom and will benefit up-and-coming coaches in a wide range of sports. The aim is to help them reach the top and drive a legacy of sporting success for British athletes. Sportscoach UK and the university will work in partnership to establish the centre, which has received start-up funding of £600,000 from UK Sport and Sport England, as well as the backing of SportScotland, Sports Council for Wales and Sport Northern Ireland. The centre will use its world class coaching faculty to benefit elite-sport coaches and offer training to community coaches, improving the quality of the sport experience for participants at all levels. “Behind every great athlete is a great coach,” said the minister. “We want to ensure that we have the best sports coaches and coaching system in the world both at the elite end and grass roots. We want to develop a more professional approach to coaching in the UK with it becoming a real career option for people like it is in the United States.”

National School Sports Week kicks off
As TLR 10 went to press young people all over the UK were taking part in National School Sports Week. Over three million school children have been targeted to participate in the initiative, which has been backed by the prime minister and championed by Dame Kelly Holmes. With all schools being encouraged to run sports days and inter-school tournaments, the week will build on the success of the UK School Games and its impact on motivating young people to take part in competitive sport. Sports development manager for Merseyside, Natalie Woodford, commented: “This week is a celebration of everything that has been achieved in sport and physical exercise. It’s about developing new initiatives to benefit our young people and creating a higher profile for physical education and school sport both nationally and locally. I’m really pleased that our schools in Merseyside have really embraced the challenge and created such a varied week of sporting opportunities.” In Merseyside the opportunities include multi-skills sports festivals, inter-form cricket, new-age bowls, new-age kurling, plus the ubiquitous (in Merseyside at least) handball festival.

FitPro Business comes to LIW
Fitness Professionals, which, with over 75,000 members, is the largest association for fitness industry professionals, have launched their FitPro Business conference collocated with Leisure Industry Week. The two-day event at Birmingham’s NEC will offer a variety of morning and afternoon sessions, covering management, retention, sales, marketing and personal training, all presented by leading industry experts from across the world. Managers from elsewhere in the industry would do well to check out the FitPro website as the eclectic mix of subject matter plus the free entry to the LIW exhibition may prove tempting.

Entries invited for new volunteering award
McCrudden Training is inviting nominations for the VM Award to celebrate International Volunteer Managers’ Appreciation Day on 1 November. The award will be presented at the South East Regional Conference for Volunteer Managers on 6 November at the International Lawn Tennis Centre, Eastbourne, and organisers are looking for the superstars who goes the extra mile for their volunteers and their organisation. Announcing the award, Nicky McCrudden said, “I am delighted to organise this award to celebrate the work of volunteer managers. The judges will be looking for examples of innovation, excellent practice or for that special person who gives volunteers outstanding support.” For nomination forms e-mail McCrudden Training here.

Twelve months on: any comments?
The next issue of The Leisure Review will mark the first anniversary of the “independent view for the leisure industry”. If anyone would care to offer their thoughts on the TLR achievement to date or the state of the industry since we started we would be pleased to receive them.

STOP PRESS: Scottish Sports Development Conference
The Scottish Sports Development Conference can now be inked into the diary for 11-12 May 2009. The event will be held in Aviemore and The Leisure Review is delighted to serve once more as the official media partner for the conference. Further details of programmes and delegate registration will appear later this year.


News in brief with finer focus

ZigZag’s Activ Kids is launching a two-day training course accredited by the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) at this year’s Leisure Industry Week. How to Coach Kids is an extension to Activ Kid’s current Child Behaviour Management course. Harbour Clubs in Chelsea and Notting Hill are introducing sport-specific workshops. The clubs aim to run three workshops each week initially focusing on running, football and golf. Lasting an hour, the sessions will be free and will accommodate three members at a time. Capita Symonds Consulting’s sport, leisure and culture team has been appointed to three major culture sector projects: Brecknock Museum and Art Gallery in Mid Wales, Salford Museum and the nearby Buile Hill Park Regeneration. The Club Company has rolled out the Intelligent Golf management system to its ten golf clubs following successful trials. Club Company members can now log on via the internet to sign up to competitions, book tee times and view their playing history online. Merseyside Sports Partnership held a celebration event to launch its annual report, titled A Year of Progress, Impact and Achievements. Over seventy delegates attended the event at the Devonshire House Hotel in Liverpool. Life Fitness has launched the 95X elliptical cross-trainer, which features two screen consoles, iPod integration and a USB port. Esporta has unveiled a new tennis-based workout combining tennis and group aerobic exercise.


Whitehall round-up

The Conservative Party has announced plans to “support, nurture and encourage” the arts, promising “the lightest of touches” and an “American-style culture of philanthropy” should it form a government in the near future. The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has confirmed nearly £500m for neighbourhood partnerships in deprived communities across the country. Local councils will be able to spend some £300m from Local Authority Business Growth Incentives scheme (LABGI) as they see fit according to local priorities.  The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has announced an easing of restrictions on gaming machines allowed in licensed bingo clubs, a “one-off measure designed to help the bingo industry, which has seen about 15% of bingo clubs close in the last four years”. The DCMS is also giving £3 million funding over the next three years to help young people in challenging circumstances realise their potential through a youth mentoring programme run in conjunction with Youth Music, Media Trust, Sport England and the Youth Sport Trust. Eight local authorities are to be fast-tracked to join the Building Schools for the Future programme from this summer: Enfield, Hounslow, North Tyneside, Rotherham, Southampton, Staffordshire, Walsall and Worcestershire. Schools Minister Andrew Adonis has launched a radical new orchestral programme called In Harmony inspired by the Venezuelan project, El Sistema. Under the In Harmony scheme children from the most deprived parts of the UK will be taught musical instruments by charismatic, high quality music teachers. The DCSF has announced that in response to comments from the childcare sector, increases in registration fees for child care providers are to be introduced gradually and in small increments over the next three years; a new system of fee banding will be introduced from September 2008. Defra has announced sixty square nautical miles of sea off the South West around Lyme Bay will be permanently closed to scallop dredgers and bottom trawlers to safeguard the area’s rich marine life and habitats.


Who’s whom

Andrew Motion, poet laureate since 1999, has been appointed as the new chair of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA). Professor Motion will take up his new position on 3 July. A number of members of the Environment Agency board have had their period of service extended or have been reappointed. While Sir John Harman stays on as chair, Ted Cantle is to remain as deputy chair and John Edmonds, Lyndon Stanton, Ruth Hall and James Brathwaite will continue to serve as board members. Florence Orban has been appointed interim chief executive of the National Skills Academy for Sport and Active Leisure. Florence joined SkillsActive as head of business development in June 2005 before taking on the role of project director for the National Skills Academy.


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Staccato reports from the cultural typeface

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British Museum
The British Museum: they've not been so busy since the Chartists got on the roof


National School Sports Week in full flight

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