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Art for Everyone - Sky Arts to become a free to air channel


WEBWIRE

"As a creative business, we believe it’s important to have a thriving cultural sector."

Sky Arts, the UK’s only channel dedicated to arts and culture, is to be made free for everyone this September, supercharging its mission to increase access to and drive participation in the arts, at a vital time for the cultural sector.

With a renewed focus on bringing more of the arts to more people, Sky Arts will embark on an ambitious programme of activity to support and champion the arts – putting artists, creatives, and public participation centre stage on a channel that everyone across the UK can watch on Freeview.

The move to become free-to-air will include a bold new slate of original programmes and increased and deepened partnerships with artists and arts organisations, providing them with a platform to create and showcase their work. And to support new talent, the channel will launch a series of bursaries worth £30,000 each, that will see leading figures from the arts support and mentor diverse and emerging new artists.

“As a creative business, we believe it’s important to have a thriving cultural sector. By making Sky Arts free for everyone we want to give more artists and arts organisations a platform to create and share their work and to bring more art and culture to everyone across the UK.” Stephen van Rooyen EVP and Chief Executive Officer, Sky UK and Europe

While the Sky Arts linear channel will be made free for everyone, the extensive Sky Arts On Demand library of arts content, with more than 2000 thousand hours of shows, will remain exclusive to Sky and NOW TV Entertainment Pass customers.

Some highlights of the brand-new original programming coming to Sky Arts includes:

  • Landmark, a bold and ambitious series for 2021 where artists and local communities across the UK will join forces in a quest to create the next great British landmark, in response to the current debate about the meaning of public monuments, and who or what is commemorated.
  • Portrait Artist of the Week, the live-streamed paint-along version of the channel’s flagship series ‘Portrait Artist of the Year’, has been confirmed to return this Autumn both on @SkyTV Facebook and Sky Arts, following its huge success during lockdown. Complementing this, Portrait Artist of the Year will return at the same time, with new celebrity sitters including Normal People’s Paul Mescal, First Dates front-of-house Fred Sirieux, singer Ray BLK and Sir Trevor McDonald.
  • Goldie: The Art That Made Me: Renowned visual artist and musician Goldie goes on a personal and passionate journey into the world of graffiti and street art.
  • Danny Dyer on Pinter, sees Dyer explore the life and works of Harold Pinter and tell the story of their unlikely friendship.
  • Sky Arts Late, a new monthly arts and culture show creating a feature-length space for original perspectives, debate, critical discussion, and performance from across the arts.
  • English National Opera’s Drive & Live, a world-first exclusive broadcast of the ENO’s drive-in opera performance of La Bohème.
  • No Masks, A brand new drama from Theatre Royal Stratford East based on the real-life testimonies of key workers in East London during the pandemic.
  • Life & Rhymes, A celebration of spoken word hosted by Benjamin Zephaniah, featuring some of the country’s leading spoken word performers.
  • Inside Art, presented by Kate Bryan, will explore leading exhibitions across the UK, starting with the Walker Gallery’s major exhibition of Linda McCartney’s photography.
  • Brian Johnson meets Dave Grohl, the AC/DC frontman hangs out and chats at the Foo Fighters’ studio in Los Angeles.

Becoming a free channel means the existing slate of Sky Arts programming will be available for everyone to watch for the first time including popular series such as Portrait Artist of The Year, Landscape Artist of The Year, Tate Britain’s Great Art Walks, Treasures of the British Library, The South Bank Show, Urban Myths and countless documentaries and performances, from Kylie, Ed Sheeran and U2, to Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake, Wagner’s Ring Cycle and Cats.

Philip Edgar-Jones, Director of Sky Arts, said: “There’s never been a stronger need or demand for the arts, nor a more important time to champion and celebrate creativity. That’s why we’re throwing open the doors to make Sky Arts a free channel. During lockdown we’ve seen audiences to the channel increase by 50% and our weekly live paint-along show, Portrait Artist of The Week, reached 4.6 million people with over 20,000 portraits painted.

“As a free to air channel I hope that Sky Arts can help arts organisations and cultural institutions of all shapes and sizes across the UK, providing them with a platform to create and showcase their work to a broad audience. With our renewed focus and mission to increase accessibility and participation across the arts, we want to hear from everyone with ideas for how we might be able to work together – we can only succeed with artists and creatives at the heart of what we do.”

“This is fantastic news for our world-leading cultural and creative industries. The coronavirus pandemic has underlined just how important they are to our health and wellbeing. I am delighted that Sky Arts is opening up its vast array of programming to the nations’ living rooms, for us all to enjoy.” Caroline Dinenage Culture Minister

To view images of Sky Arts programming please visit Sky’s editorial asset centre.

Notes to editors:

Please see below for

  • Full details on programming announcements
  • Details on existing Sky Arts programmes
  • Key Facts and Figures

Full details on programming announcements:

All new programmes listed have been commissioned by Phil Edgar-Jones, Director of Sky Arts and Entertainment, and Zai Bennett, Managing Director of Content, Sky UK and Ireland.

Landmark, a bold and ambitious series for 2021 where artists and local communities across the UK will join forces in a quest to create the next great British landmark, in response to the current debate about the meaning of public monuments, and who or what is commemorated. Landmark will capture the national mood, giving a diverse range of British artists the chance to create the public art of the future.

Landmarks is produced by Primal Media; executive producers are Adam Wood and Mat Steiner, head of development is Ben Riley. Barbara Lee is commissioning editor at Sky.

Portrait Artist of the Week, the live-streamed paint-along version of the channel’s flagship series ‘Portrait Artist of the Year’, has been confirmed to return to @SkyTV Facebook, as well as airing on Sky Arts, this Autumn, following its huge success during lockdown. The first event during lockdown received over 20,000 entries and was truly international, receiving global submissions from Pakistan to Ecuador to the UK. Portrait Artist of the Week features celebrity sitters in their own homes, with main series finalists and winners taking turns to paint live via Facebook. Artists at home can submit their final portrait to the judges through social media using the hashtag #MYPAOTW. At the end of each week judges choose three of their favourite portraits to feature on the following live programme. The competition is open to everyone as the judges also picked out their favourite 3 children’s portraits each week. The pilot series reached more than 4.6 million people, with previous sitters including Noel Fielding, Will Young, Booker Prize winning author Bernardine Evaristo, acclaimed dancer and choreographer Akram Khan and broadcaster and journalist Clare Balding.

Portrait Artist of the Week and Portrait Artist of the Year are produced by Storyvault; Executive producers are Danielle Graham, Sam Richard and Stuart Prebble. Benedetta Pinelli is commissioning editor for Sky.

Goldie: The Art That Made Me: Renowned visual artist and musician Goldie goes on a personal and passionate journey into the world of graffiti and street art, tracing the evolution of the art form in parallel with his own career. In a story that takes us from New York via London, Manchester, Wolverhampton, Miami and Lisbon, Goldie meets the originators and crucial artists from the scene, plus those who continue to push at the edges of the art form today.

Goldie: The Art the Made Me is produced by Somethin’ Else and Debonair; the director is Lauren Jacobs; executive producers are Ian Sharpe and Debby Lee. Barbara Lee is commissioning editor at Sky.

Danny Dyer on Pinter, Taken under his wing following roles in films like 1997’s Human Traffic, Pinter cast Dyer in several of his plays, including No Man’s Land and The Homecoming. Now, twelve years after Pinter’s death, Danny takes a look back at his mentor’s work and the profound influence he had on his life. The 1x60 is due to air in autumn 2020.

Danny Dyer on Pinter is produced by BBC Studios; executive producer is Rob Unsworth and producer is Ian Denyer.

Danny Dyer said: “It was an honour to take part in this documentary as I got to go on this journey down memory lane. My relationship with Harold is something I will always cherish and I was very touched by the whole experience. What an incredible complex humble human being he was. I miss him every day”.

Sky Arts Late, a new late-night, feature-length monthly arts and culture show, with Tim Marlow hosting alongside a cast of leading and new voices from across the arts. Featuring original perspectives, topical debate, critical discussion, and performance, the first edition of this lively and provocative series will assess the importance of culture in the nation’s recovery from Covid-19 and how it is reshaping creativity. Due to air in Autumn 2020.

Sky Arts Late is produced by Cultureshock Media; executive producers are Debby Lee and Phil Allison. Barbara Lee is commissioning editor at Sky.

English National Opera’s Drive & Live, in partnership with the ENO, Sky Arts will film and broadcast the ENO’s much-anticipated return to live performance in September with a drive-in, super-sized, and socially-distanced production of La Bohème at London’s Alexandra Palace.

English National Opera’s Drive and Live is produced by Somethin Else; executive producer is Jez Nelson and live director is Marcus Viner. Benedetta Pinelli is commissioning editor for Sky.

No Masks, in partnership with Theatre Royal Stratford East and their artistic director Nadia Fall, Sky Arts and Moonshine Features will present a new work based on the real-life experiences and testimonies of key workers from East London. Weaved together with imagined narratives, written by Nadia Fall and Rebecca Lenkiewicz, No Masks will be a testament to the dedication of key workers during the COVID crisis as well as an exploration of our shared hopes and fears. Due to air in autumn 2020.

No Masks is produced by Moonshine Features; executive producers are Michelle Crowther and Mike Reilly. Barbara Lee is commissioning editor at Sky.

Life & Rhymes, A celebration of spoken word hosted by Benjamin Zephaniah, featuring some of the country’s leading spoken word performers who will be lighting up the mic with their lyrical creativity. The poets will perform in front of a live, committed audience of spoken word fans who are key to every performance. Each week Benjamin will open up the floor to give members of the audience the opportunity to spontaneously take part in the open mic section of the show.

A 4x30 series due to air in Autumn 2020. Life & Rhymes is co-produced by CPL Productions, a Red Arrow Studios company, and Licklemor Productions; a company owned by Mama Youth Project. Exec producers are Murray Boland, Danielle Lux, Sharon Ali for CPL Productions and Bob Clarke for Licklemor Productions. Barbara Lee is commissioning editor at Sky.

Inside Art, presented by Kate Bryan, is a series that explores temporary art exhibitions at galleries and cultural venues in the UK, connecting audiences with art experiences from photography, painting and sculpture exhibits, to design video and fashion. Inside Art will look at the curatorial decisions being made at institutions as well as focusing on the artists themselves. Arts institutions involved in the series include: Four Corners, Beecroft Gallery, The Hepworth Wakefield, Walker Art Gallery and Manx Museum. Each episode will TX in the first two weeks of an exhibition launching.

Inside Art is produced by Unity House; executive producers are Richard Shaw and Nicola Schofield. Jack Oliver is commissioning editor at Sky.

Brian Johnson meets Dave Grohl, In an exclusive special recorded at the Foo Fighters’ LA studio, the AC/DC frontman hangs out with the (other) nicest man in rock…

Brian Johnson meets Dave Grohl is produced by Somethin’ Else; the executive producers are Ian Sharpe and Tarquin Gotch. Barbara Lee is commissioning editor at Sky.

Brian Johnson said: “Dave Grohl’s passion for rock music is infectious, we had a ball reminiscing about the early days in our different careers. If he ever runs for President, he’d get my vote.”

Details on existing Sky Arts programmes

The South Bank Show, a host of the arts’ leading figures discuss their work, influences and inspirations in a collection of eye-opening exclusive interviews with Melvyn Bragg. In the next series, due to TX in November 2020, new interviewees will include Bernardine Evaristo, Benjamin Zephaniah, Gillian Anderson and Simon Armitage. This brand new series is complemented by The South Bank Show Originals, featuring famous past episodes with added footage and extra interviews and contributors.

Landscape Artist of The Year, Eight artists use paints, pencils, brushes and biros to showcase their artistic flair for the outdoors in only four hours, all in the hope of impressing judges Tai Shan Schierenberg, Kate Bryan and Kathleen Soriano.

Tate Britain’s Great Art Walks, Hosted by Gus Casely-Hayford, Tate Britain’s Great Art Walks is an epic travelogue through British art in the company of Danny Baker, Simon Callow, Richard E Grant, Cerys Matthews, Miriam Margolyes and Michael Sheen, as they each journey to discover the landscapes that inspired their favourite paintings, chosen from Tate’s national collection.

Treasures of the British Library, A host of famous faces pick out what they believe are the most important items in the British Library. Writer Julia Donaldson, comedian Meera Syal, poet Benjamin Zephaniah and musicians Jamie Cullum and Alison Balsom share their personal histories and passions as they explore the extraordinary range of the British Library’s treasures.

Urban Myths, Urban Myths, the International Emmy Award nominated series, fictionalises some of the most peculiar stories to have ever leaked out of Hollywood, the music industry and the worlds of art and culture. The latest series, airing in Autumn 2020, features cast including Steve Pemberton, Robbie Coltrane, Kara Tointon and Katherine Ryan.

The Art of Drumming, This four-part series joins some of the greatest drummers on the planet as they discuss their passion for music and the fellow drummers who inspire them. More than that, these icons do what they do best and play, demonstrating how iconic beats and solos are created and how they make a unique contribution to the creation of legendary tracks.

Key Facts and Figures

About Sky Arts:

As the UK’s only dedicated arts channel, Sky Arts exists to bring more art to more people across the UK. By throwing open the doors to make the channel free to air, we want to increase access to and participation in the arts.

Offering something for everyone, whatever their passion, Sky Arts showcases the best of classical and popular music, theatre, opera, dance and the visual arts, as well as original drama and comedy.

Audience reach of the channel – Sky Arts currently has an average monthly audience reach of 6.2m, its biggest reach since 2016.

No of hours – Sky Arts broadcast more than 530 hours of brand-new programming in 2019 and houses more than 2000 hours of arts-focused shows on demand for Sky customers.

Awards – Multi-award winning programming including 2020 BAFTA TV Craft Award-winning Battle of the Brass Bands, 2018 BAFTA TV Award-winner Morgana Robinson’s Summer, 2019 RTS Programme Award winner The Art of Drumming and 2019 Prix Italia winner Why Do We Dance? The Sky Arts channel has twice won the Specialist Channel of the Year category at the Broadcast Digital Awards in 2017 and 2018.

Partnerships – Across the years Sky Arts has partnered with major institutions including the National Theatre, Royal Academy of Arts, Tate, English National Opera, National Portrait Gallery, Northern Ballet, National Youth Theatre, British Library, Glyndebourne, Hay Festival, Cheltenham Literary Festival, Isle of Wight Festival, Download Festival, The Barbican, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, National Gallery of Ireland.

Talent – Sky Arts has worked with a host of leading talent including: Antony Gormley, Brian Johnson, Stephen Fry, Akram Khan, Matthew Bourne, Gus Casely-Hayford, Jonathan Yeo, Tamara Rojo, Melvyn Bragg, Tony Visconti, Danielle de Niese, Joan Bakewell, Stephen Mangan, Chris Addison, Isabella Rossellini, Lily Cole, Helena Bonham Carter, Don Letts, Steve White, Nitin Sawhney, Frank Skinner, Denise Mina, Ronnie Wood, David Tennant, Emma Thompson, Noel Clarke, Kim Cattrall, David Threlfall, David Suchet, Sheila Hancock and Noel Fielding.

Innovation - Sky Arts is committed to innovation and some of our most innovative programmes over the years have included:

  • Animal Symphony - a remarkable experiment looking at the effect music has on animals, culminating in a unique concert orchestrated by acclaimed composer Nitin Sawhney
  • Computer Says Show - a world first, which looked at the effect of technology on the creative process, by presenting the premiere of the world’s first ‘computer generated musical’…
  • Virtual Reality: Mystery of Creativity - four virtual reality experiences and a documentary that will see world renowned artists - Antony Gormley, Jonathan Yeo, Farshid Moussavi and Humphrey Ocean – experiment with VR as an art form, as part of the 250th anniversary celebrations of the Royal Academy of Arts
  • One & Other – a living artwork by sculptor Antony Gormley, where 2,400 people occupied the fourth plinth at Trafalgar Square for 60 minutes each, taking place over 100 days.
  • Art 50 – Fifty diverse art projects funded by Sky Arts examining what it means to be British in a post-Brexit world. Artworks included a song book created by choirs around the country, a new poem by Simon Armitage, a new national anthem composed by Nitin Sawhney, a comic film of different British dogs ‘talking’ about British culture and a play by John Godber featuring a Brexiteer and a Remainer as they take a tandem bike ride across Europe.

About Sky

With 24 million customers across seven countries, Sky is Europe’s leading media and entertainment company and is proud to be part of the Comcast group. Our 32,000 employees help connect our customers to the very best entertainment, sports, news, arts and to our own local, original content.

Following the success of Sky originals like Chernobyl, we plan to double our investment in original content by 2024. We’re also developing a new TV and movie studio, Sky Studios Elstree, which is expected to lead to the creation of over 2,000 new jobs and generate an additional £3 billion of production investment in UK creative sector in the first five years alone.

Our technology allows customers to watch what they want, when they want, how they want, and as we connect millions of families to content they love, we believe it is our responsibility to do it safely. That’s why we offer services like Sky Broadband Buddy and the Sky Kids app. And our online streaming service, NOW TV, brings viewers all the enjoyment of Sky with the flexibility of a contract-free service.

We also believe that a company of our scale has a responsibility that goes beyond our business, and into the community. We recently announced a series of commitments to help tackle racial injustice and improve diversity and inclusion. To ensure the commitments are delivered, Sky will invest £10million per year across its markets for each of the next three years. We’re committed to being Europe’s first net zero carbon entertainment company by 2030 – two decades before we have to – and we’re an inclusive employer recognised by The Times and Stonewall for our commitment to diversity.


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