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BBC makes ‘strongest commitment’ to arts

Tony HallThe director general of UK pubcaster the BBC has revealed the organisation’s “strongest commitment” to arts programing “in a generation”.

Tony Hall, who was CEO of the Royal Opera House before taking up the Beeb role, has unveiled a new stategy for BBC Arts. “We’re the biggest arts broadcaster anywhere in the world – but our ambition is to be even better,” he said.

The commitment to arts programming comes soon after the BBC decided to scrap youth-skewing network BBC Three.

Hall’s vision will comprise new internal appointments and external advisers; a new strand, BBC Arts at…, which will broadcast from Britain’s key music and arts festivals; a trio of digital initiatives, including a push for arts content on the BBC iPlayer; and a number of new television series.

Among the appointments, Nicholas Hytner, formerly director of the National Theatre, joins the BBC Executive Board; while Alex Poots and the Manchester International Festival will become creative partners with BBC Arts to encourage commissions and collaborations. Vicky Featherstone from the Royal Court will work with Kate Rowland to nurture new writing talent.

The BBC Arts at.. strand includes a Will Gompertz-presented hour-long show featuring annual after-hours festival Museums At Night, a BBC Two documentary on the opening of the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse and a BBC Four show broadcasting its first performance; a feature-length BBC Four film for a new production of Der Rosenkavalier; and there will be new features from indie dance company Balletboyz and the Voice of Black Opera Awards.

Other programming highlights include a new drama strand, Dialogues, which will showcase new writing and acting talent on BBC Four; new filmed adaptations of Shakespeare plays for BBC Two from Neal Street Productions and Carnival Films, with director Sam Mendes attached as executive producer; and BBC Four series The Secret Life of Books, which is being coproduced with the Open University.

A number of other projects are in the works, including a three-part series for BBC Three, The Orchestras, which will shine a light on the worlds of classically-trained young musicians and comes from Buccaneer Media and Globe Productions; BBC Two will get Leopard Films-produced animated film Mimi and the Mountain Dragon; and CBBC, along with BBC Learning has commissioned a film abut filmmaking, Movie Maniacs.