BBC to put arts “center stage” with multi-platform strand

The BBC is promising a major commitment to the arts via a new strand that will see increased coverage of music and art events in the UK, stronger digital platforms, and production on a slate of landmark series. (Pictured: director-general Tony Hall)
March 25, 2014

The BBC is promising a major commitment to the arts via a new strand that will see increased coverage of music and art events in the UK, stronger digital platforms, production on a slate of landmark series, and a closer relationship with local artists.

The extensive arts strategy involves a number of internal appointments at the British pubcaster. Among them, and in a push to unite television, radio, online and the iPlayer , Jonty Claypole has been appointed director of arts, while Bob Shennan becomes director of music.

Headlining the initiative will be a remake of popular 1960s historical docuseries Civilisation, which is set to air on BBC2, while other highlights include collaborations between series on BBC1, BBC2 and the soon-to-move-online-only BBC3 with institutions such as the Tate, the National Portrait Gallery, National Galleries of Scotland, Sadler’s Wells and The British Library.

Meanwhile, a May launch of “BBC Arts at…” will give audiences access to UK exhibitions, performances and festivals through partnerships with Shakespeare’s Globe and the Glyndebourne and Hay festivals. The platform will – for the first time – bring TV, radio and online together under a single “BBC Arts at…” banner.

“I want BBC Arts – and BBC Music – to sit proudly alongside BBC News,” said Tony Hall (pictured above), BBC director-general, in a statement. “The arts are for everyone and, from now on, BBC Arts will be at the very heart of what we do.

“We’ll be joining up arts on the BBC like never before – across television, radio and digital. And, we’ll be working more closely with our country’s great artists, performers and cultural institutions.”

The broadcaster’s digital strategy for the arts initiative will include bringing BBC Arts programming across all channels into a single arts category on the BBC’s VOD service iPlayer. There will also be more coverage of arts events at BBC Arts Online, and The Space - the BBC’s collaboration with Arts Council England – will relaunch this summer with a series of partnerships and collaborations. In addition, the broadcaster will digitize its extensive archival collection and collaborate in exhibits with the Tate and the Royal Academy.

Further, the BBC will foster relationships with UK writers, artists and performers such as Zaha Hadid, Simon Russell Beale, Gemma Arterton, Akram Khan, Sir Simon Rattle and others. The broadcaster will also line up a number of drama and arts collaborations including three more filmed adaptations of Shakespeare’s “History” plays for BBC2, and Dialogues, a showcase of British writing talent, on BBC4.

Finally, children’s programming initiatives include an animated music film by Michael Morpurgo, a collaboration with the Northern Ballet on a “Three Little Pigs” production for CBeebies; and an ob-doc on members of an orchestra for BBC3.


About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news editor at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joined the RS team in 2015 with experience in journalism following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and with communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.