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BBC announces new initiative with the Arts Council England

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Mark Bell Mark Bell | 08:27 UK time, Thursday, 9 September 2010

Today we announced that the BBC Academy (the training ground for BBC production personnel) is teaming up with the ACE (Arts Council England) to help staff in arts institutions gain production skills for film, TV and the web. The BBC and the Arts Council have a shared aim to engage new audiences in arts and culture and as arts organisations look to digital forums to reach a wider public, the BBC is uniquely placed to facilitate such developments. It's a very exciting partnership.
The BBC has always supported the arts, in all sorts of ways - from the BBC Proms season, Glastonbury, and the recent live Rigoletto from Mantua, to coverage of the Edinburgh Festival and the Manchester Festival, on BBC TV as well as Radio 3 and Radio 4.   Day to day the arts are reported on in news programmes (and we have a dedicated Arts Editor in the newsroom, Will Gompertz) as well as dedicated arts and culture shows such as Front Row, the Culture Show, Night Waves, the Review Show and Saturday Review.  In these shows we cover many of the big events in the arts calendar such as the Man Booker Prize, the Stirling Prize, Frieze Art Fair, the Royal Academy summer exhibition and the opening of the revamped Ashmolean Museum. In addition Alan Yentob regularly presents films about the big names and interesting stories in arts and culture in Imagine.
We broadcast from and report on arts events as they happen around the country, and we participate in the creation of arts events - from The British Museum's History of the World in 100 Objects to filmmaker Adam Curtis's collaboration with Punchdrunk on their site-specific theatre piece It Felt Like a Kiss at the Manchester International Festival.  Last Christmas we broadcasted a filmed version of the RSC production of Hamlet with David Tennant, and coming up we have Rupert Goold's Chichester Festival Macbeth with Patrick Stewart.

The BBC has a long tradition of making spectacular series that show the glories of art at the same time as setting them in a historical and cultural context - from Civilisation and The Shock of the New through to the Art of Russia and Seven Ages of Britain.  And we have some great expertise - from Simon Schama, Andrew Graham-Dixon, Waldemar Januszczak, Laura Cumming and Matt Collings to newer faces like Alastair Sooke, James Fox and Clemency Burton-Hill.
We also draw attention to areas of the arts that are often overlooked or seen as specialist.  The BBC's Poetry Season across radio and TV in 2009 caused increased interest in poetry and a surge in the sales of poetry books.  The BBC Opera season this summer was a great success bringing new audiences to opera with Gareth Malone in Glyndebourne and turning star conductor Antonio Pappano into a star of TV, and early next year we will be turning our attention to the novel, in a season of programmes at the centre of which will be a series presented by novelist Sebastian Faulks.
Our partnership with ACE and our continuing support of the arts in general is more important than ever, as public sector support is cut, arts institutions will need to look for new and imaginative ways of working.  More and more institutions are looking to film and at the web as a way of growing their audiences and creating more impact.  The BBC can help as a broadcaster by bringing audiences to what it is they do, and by using our expertise to train their staff in the production of audiovisual material.
The BBC is unique.  We are the biggest broadcaster of arts programmes in the world in terms of the audiences who come to our programmes and our commitment to them.
Today I will be out and about at the Media Festival Arts, listening to what the top people in arts and broadcasting have to say.  I am also taking part in a panel discussion about commissioning arts programmes and arts sponsorship.
Mark Bell is the commissioning editor of BBC Arts
  • Editor's note - the Media Festival Arts brings the arts, film and media industries together to discuss potential for commercial and creative collaboration in the digital sphere. Mark Bell will be speaking alongside BBC Director General Mark Thompson, BBC Creative Director Alan Yentob, BBC Head of Archive Roly Keating and Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt. It began on Wednesday and runs until Friday. For full details, visit www.themediafestivalarts.com


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