Hall to reveal arts boost for BBC

Tony Hall

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Funding for television arts programming is to be boosted by 20%, the director general will announce tomorrow.

In his first major strategy speech, Tony Hall will reveal that there will be more landmark arts programming on BBC One and Two, while more of the best live music, theatre and arts events taking place across the UK will be brought to BBC audiences.

The Space - the BBC and Arts Council UK online arts forum - will return next spring after a successful pilot, the DG will also announce.

'Arts programming sits right at the heart of the BBC and is a vital part of who we are,' says Hall, who came to the BBC after more than a decade as chief executive of the Royal Opera House.

'But I want us to be much more ambitious. We need to showcase more of the incredible talent that this country has to offer to the widest possible audiences. It is our privilege and our responsibility to do this.'

Best artist contest

Hall will announce some major tv arts commissions on Tuesday, including BBC One's The Big Picture, in which amateur artists will compete for the title of Britain's best artist, and a Simon Schama exploration of British history through portraiture.

Andrew Marr, meanwhile, will examine some of Scotland's most influential writers in a three part series.

Hall will push for the BBC to further fruitful partnerships with arts venues and organisations, including Tate, the British Museum, the National Theatre and Manchester International Festival.

Such partnerships will underpin his commitment to increase the live music, theatre and events the BBC brings to viewers. This content will be better signposted, under a new BBC Arts at... banner.

Performances will be enhanced by supplementary website content, such as interviews and guides.

More Space

The Space will also build on partnerships which saw it, in its pilot phase, do everything from stream opera to provide access to John Peel's record collection.

It will be given three years to continue to both showcase artistic endeavour and co-commission digital projects.

Renewed commitment to the arts - an area the DG said in his first week in the job was 'phenomenally important' to him - is just one element of Hall's vision for the BBC's future.

Staff are invited to watch what else he has to say on the ringmain at 11am on Tuesday.

'I appreciate just how difficult the last year has been for the organisation,' he said in an all staff email. 'But I'm more confident than ever about our future - and I think we've got some exciting new ideas coming through.

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