BBC arts funding to get 20% boost

The British Museum Tony Hall wants more partnerships with UK arts institutions

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Funding for the BBC's arts coverage will go up by 20%, the broadcaster's director general will announce later.

Tony Hall - who used to run the Royal Opera House - says he wants to return the arts to the corporation's "heart".

It will mean plays, art exhibitions and more live music from around the UK being broadcast on the BBC.

Among Lord Hall's proposals are a new "BBC Arts at" brand and new television series fronted by historian Simon Schama and broadcaster Andrew Marr.

The director general, formerly the BBC's head of news, returned to the corporation following the Jimmy Savile scandal.

He wants to see the BBC collaborate more with arts institutions around the country.

In a speech on Tuesday he is expected to announce new partnerships with London's British Museum, the Tate and the Manchester International Festival.

The plans mean that more opening nights, major exhibitions and arts events will be shown live on television.

Hidden heroes

An experimental digital service, known as The Space and developed by the BBC and Arts Council England, is also due to be relaunched in 2014.

"Arts programming sits right at the heart of the BBC and is a vital part of who we are, but I want us to to be much more ambitious," Lord Hall said.

"We need to showcase more of the incredible talent that this country has to offer to the widest possible audiences."

The BBC's arts correspondent David Sillito said Lord Hall is keen to "return the BBC back to the founding principles of its first director general John Reith to inform, educate and entertain".

"We already know a few of the details of today's speech but this is being presented as something rather broader, an outline of Lord Hall's vision of the future," he said.

An enhanced iPlayer, allowing users to personalise their viewing and listening choices, is expected to be announced.

Lord Hall is also due to announce major new television series featuring two faces familiar to BBC audiences.

Simon Schama will front a five-part series in partnership with the National Portrait Gallery, exploring the history of Britain through portraiture.

A series looking at the greatest writers in Scotland will be presented by journalist Andrew Marr.

And there will be a series of six BBC One programmes seeking to uncover the "hidden heroes" of British art, with 10 amateurs competing for the title of Britain's best artist.

The announcement is part of the director general's new strategy for the BBC and comes as the corporation is in the process of cutting 2,000 jobs by 2017 after the freezing of the licence fee.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    I'd be happy to pay a fiver a year for the BBC, to provide News (including this website) and to provide 4 radio stations.

    £145 a year for the total rubbish which it churns out, is an obscene joke in todays economic climate. Would adverts during Eastenders really be a bad thing? We just get endless adverts for the BBC itself instead, so there wouldn't be a big difference.

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    23. Denaris
    Are the BBC now shunning the younger generation? I don't see anyone under retirement age being excited about this news.
    "It will mean plays, art exhibitions and more live music from around the UK being broadcast on the BBC."

    You obviously don't go to any of the above mentioned - I do and most events are attended by people from all age groups.

  • Comment number 36.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    The BBC should close the World Service. This is now funded out of the license fee, i.e. you and me. It is a vanity project and past it's sell by date. I don't want to pay for it and no-one I have spoken with does either. Why make programmes for the rest of the worlld for non fee payers?

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    Persecution of the hand-in-glove BBC/Government that terrorizes it's citizens with a prison sentence if it does not conform to their financial demands in an almost complete totalitarian state, where free speech is in your sleep, the BBC has found yet more money to fund a miniscule area of certain types of taste I am in the middle of watching the full history of WW1/2 & the world at war on "SKY TV"

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    Let's hope those 2000 jobs "to go" are the managers left over from the BBC sacking all it's creative production staff.
    After wasting nearly £2b (yes really) on wasteful moves to Manchester and New Broadcasting House, I'm amazed there is any money left for programs at all as reflected by your current schedules which are full of repeats.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    Going upmarket can actually make sound financial sense. Productions like Downton Abbey cost more to make, but they are rapidly snapped up by the Americans and others starved of good quality drama.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    So they can't use the money better by doing better news reports/docs regarding UK issues, or coverage of ALL of the F1 season, or something that would be more popular like a UK drama etc?

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    "Yeah I'm sure this applies to 1% of BBC viewers! i'd much prefer more detailed reports on how UK governments..."

    There's quite a lot of news and current affairs already. This morning for example - Andrew Marr followed by Sunday morning live followed by Sunday politics. It's not only 1% of viewers who enjoy quality drama and arts programmes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    Out of touch yet again. Who is asking for this and it will only cater to a small audience mostly from well off back grounds.

    Get rid of the dancing and the voice and stop trying to compete with the xfactor. Make more comedy that isn't politically correct and science technology shows.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    It doesn't really matter whether one is for or against this extra funding to Arts programmes. The BBC will spend the money it receives from us in whichever way it chooses.

    Despite paying for the BBC (under threat of prosecution) we don't have any say in how this vast amount of money is spent. They can do whatever they like - we just have to pay for it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    Is this due to extensive customer research or because Mr Hall used to run the Royal Opera House and is possibly a bit arty?

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    Sounds great, the BBC strengthening its intellectual output will counterbalance the dumbing down that some of the other broadcasters are trying to subject audiences to.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    If the bbc closed bbc3 and 4 it would have enough cash to stop bbc2 showing wall to wall repeats.
    BBC2 used to be the channel for interesting and thought provoking tv.
    It is a shadow of what it used to be.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    @ 16.JackMaxDaniels

    "Anything wrong with employing English people perhaps doing an English play"

    Why just English people? It's the British Broadcasting Corporation actually.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Are the BBC now shunning the younger generation? I don't see anyone under retirement age being excited about this news. Documentaries and thought provoking programs - Horizon for example, are plummeting in quality while we see the rise of mind numbing sitcoms and boring drama for the elderly to cozy up to with their cup of tetley. Good thing I got Sky!

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.


    We have a chronic shortage of Science and Maths teachers and yet we plow more money into schemes this??

    Focus on the STEM subjects, not this!

  • Comment number 21.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 20.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    If this means putting something on TV which is better than the present diet of dross seen primarily but not exclusively on commercial stations then it is to be welcomed.

    It doesn't have to be elitist just good quality stuff.
    Breaking Bad Dexter Game of Thrones brilliant. But all made by American TV. We do Downton Strictly & X Factor.
    Time to shake it up a bit.


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