Happy Public Domain Day!On January the 1st 2019, hundreds of works of art entered the U.S. public domain following a delay of two decades! Thanks to a bill which extended copyright terms in 1998, one which was urged in by the Walt Disney Company (in a bid to protect Mickey Mouse) this huge release of early twentieth century works into the public domain hasn't happened for 21 years. This created a “bizarre 20-year hiatus between the release of works from 1922 and 1923.” At the Jane Austen News, we really enjoy seeing how out-of-copyright works (such as Pride and Prejudice) can be used to be the basis of, and the inspiration for, new works of art - both literary and visual. Thanks to public domain laws we've been able to see stage productions of Jane's books, new films, and new fiction (What Kitty Did Next and Death Comes to Pemberley for example). We're therefore highly keen to see what the new release of work may lead to. Some of the works which are now in the public domain include:
- Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
- Two of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot novels, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and The Murder on the Links
- A Son At The Front by Edith Wharton
- Poetry by Robert Frost
A Change in The Law for National Treasures New protection proposals have been outlined by the Government. These proposals, if passed, would give UK museums and buyers a better chance of acquiring items considered to be national treasures. At the moment, if a UK buyer puts in a matching offer on a national treasure set for export then they are given first refusal and time to raise the funds, but the seller is under no legal obligation to honour the commitment. It is a 'gentleman's agreement' system according to the Government. The Government wants to introduce a system to make sure that owners who are selling items which are deemed as national treasures are legally bound to accept a matching offer from a UK buyer. UK museums and buyers would also get first refusal on acquisitions. An item is deemed a national treasure or not when the seller applies for an export license. A committee decides whether the object ought to be regarded as a national treasure, if it is of “outstanding aesthetic importance” or whether it is of academic importance. The Jane Austen News mentions these new proposals as one example of a national treasure that was nearly exported is that of Jane Austen's famous gold and turquoise ring, which was saved from export to the US in 2013. The proposals are important to consider too, as between 2007-2017, 40% of items at risk of export (worth a total of £97 million) were saved by UK museums and galleries using the national treasures rules. The public consultation on the proposals will run until February 24.
Austentatious is on the Move If you've been reading the regular posts from the Jane Austen News for a while, then you've probably already heard of Austentatious. If not then in a nutshell they are a improv troupe who perform an improvised Jane Austen novel performed based on audience suggestions which are submitted on the night, so every show is different! We're big fans of theirs and so are pleased that, although the troupe are ceasing to perform at London's Leicester Square Theatre, Piccadilly Theatre, and the Savoy Theatre, Austentatious will now hold a regular Monday night residency at 8pm from 18th February at the Fortune Theatre, which is where The Woman in Black is currently performed. We wish them every luck in their new Monday night home!
Andrew Hunter Murray, one of the cast of Austentatious, on being asked what some of the best titles which have ever been suggested have been: Our audiences are reliably insane with regards to that. We’ve had ‘Optimus Prime and Prejudice’, I think we’ve had ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Mr Darcy?’ which was a Blade Runner-type thing. People either riff on pop culture, or incredible riffs on the world of Austen. We’ve had ‘Darcy and Bingley: Electric Love’ which was an absolutely electric Brokeback Mountain-esque continuation of Pride and Prejudice. There are some unprintable ones I absolutely can’t tell you.
Local Planning Permission for A Sanditon Set We've mentioned before in the Jane Austen News how excited we are to see an adaptation of Sanditon being filmed as a new eight part ITV series in the UK this year, and now it seems that at least part of Sanditon is going to be built just a few minutes away from Bath. The production company Red Planet Pictures has submitted a planning application to build a temporary set at Bottle Yard Studios on the outskirts of Bristol. The set will be a mock-up of an 1820s outdoor Regency street, and will be used to shoot scenes showing everyday life in a small seaside town. The set is only needed for a short time while filming this year, but the production company has asked for permission to keep it up until September 2020 in case (fingers crossed!) there's a second or extended season. It will need to be kept in one piece and constructed as the company says it is "too large and complex" to be kept in storage when not in use. In fact, the temporary set would be built within part of the large car park of the studios and is expected to measure 67m by 21m, with the height of the buildings varying in size (but not exceeding 10 metres). Filming of Sanditon is due to take place between February 18th and July 5th, but filming would only be taking place on the exterior set for 20-30 days during this time. If approved, construction of the set is due to start next month and should take no more than 10 weeks to complete.
A New Lease of Life for Sydney Gardens Bath’s Sydney Gardens, the UK’s only surviving example of Georgian Pleasure Gardens (and a favourite place to visit for Jane Austen when she was living in Bath), will be restored thanks to a £2.7million grant which has been awarded jointly by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the Big Lottery Fund. The restoration project is called Sydney Gardens: a 21st Century Pleasure Garden and it will see the Grade II registered gardens and its listed buildings conserved, as well as areas of the park which are currently closed to the public being reopened. Some of the historic features to be restored include the Loggia and Minerva’s Temple. The plans will also include a new café kiosk and an artist/ craft workshop space at the top of the gardens.
This much-needed grant will enable a major heritage restoration project which will benefit people of all ages and abilities. I am especially delighted that Sydney Gardens will become the city’s first dementia-friendly park and I hope the work that is planned will see these wonderful and historic gardens revitalised for the public good.Detail designs for Sydney Gardens: a 21st Century Pleasure Gardens will begin in the New Year, with construction planned to start in 2020.
Councillor Bob Goodman, cabinet member for Neighbourhoods and Development
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Well, I hope Austentatious will continue their annual 3 weeks on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, though as they usually sell very well they would be mad not to.