Arts Council England and the BBC take a leap into digital space

Partnership lies at the heart of our vision for the BBC, and our partnership with Arts Council England is one that we value greatly."Mark Thompson, BBC Director-General
Date: 14.11.2011     Last updated: 18.03.2014 at 18.16
Category: Corporate
Arts Council England and the BBC have announced a partnership to create The Space – an experimental digital arts media service and commissioning programme that could help to transform the way people connect with, and experience, arts and culture.

Launching in May and running until the end of October 2012, this pop-up service will challenge artists, arts and cultural organisations to collaborate with each other and with partners to capture and create a wealth of cultural experiences, drawing on the richness of the summer of arts of the Olympic year.

Arts Council England is investing £2.5 million of its strategic digital innovation funds in commissioning grants for artists, arts and cultural organisations to create work to be shown in The Space. The BBC will contribute substantial support, providing the technology solution that will enable the arts, for the first time, to sit seamlessly together across the four key platforms of the digital media age: PC, mobile, tablet and connected TV. In addition the BBC will mentor successful applicants – particularly smaller organisations – through the creative process, with training and guidance where appropriate.

The Space will showcase work led and created by the arts and cultural sector, presenting that work in new, surprising and connected ways. The Space aims to re-imagine how arts, culture and media can collaborate and explore ways to make new experiences for audiences in the UK.

Alan Davey, Chief Executive of Arts Council England, said: “There are fantastic examples of arts organisations using digital technology to make their work live in different ways, have a life beyond the live event, and reach wider audiences. But so far organisations have been working in isolation as producers and distributors.

“What’s really exciting about The Space is that it will provide a communal playground for arts and cultural organisations, for technology wizards, and for audiences – anyone who’s open to new ways to connect with culture – to come in, to be creative, and to feed back about their experience.

“Embracing the potential of digital technology is essential to achieving the Arts Council’s mission of great art for everyone. This intervention, made possible through the amazing support of the BBC, is quite possibly our boldest step to date towards enabling that to happen.”

Mark Thompson, Director General, BBC, said: “Partnership lies at the heart of our vision for the BBC, and our partnership with Arts Council England is one that we value greatly.

“The enormous success of the BBC Academy/Arts Council Building Digital Capacity for the Arts programme has shown the appetite within the sector for a shared approach to skills development and technology innovation, and now we are able to take this much further.

“The launch of The Space demonstrates our shared commitment to bringing art to all, building on the BBC's great history of technical innovation and the Arts Council’s ability to energise the arts world.”

The Arts Council’s £2.5 million Lottery-funded commissioning programme opens today for expressions of interest. Full guidance for applicants can be found on the Arts Council website.

Brief expressions of interest should be submitted to the Arts Council by 9 December 2011, following which a number will be invited to complete a full application and will receive additional support from the project in developing their proposals.

Grants for work to appear on The Space will be awarded in three key areas:

1. Capturing the event or artistic work: the capture or reinterpretation of an event - some will be for live broadcast

2. About the event or artistic work: work to deepen knowledge and explore the process of creation - for this we will be opening up material from some of the BBC’s and the Arts Council’s archives where relevant

3. Creating a new artistic work: artists’ creations using The Space itself as a canvas, to take advantage of the different artistic possibilities offered by emerging technologies

Applications for The Space fund will close on 3 February 2012 and final decisions will be announced later that month.

The Space will launch in May 2012 as a UK service, free at the point of use.

The experiment will be evaluated to provide long-term guidance and direction for the digital dissemination of arts and cultural experiences.

This is a joint Arts Council and BBC release

BBC Press Office