Arts Council England and the BBC today (22 February) announced the 53 successful applicants who will be creating hundreds of hours of original commissions for The Space.
This new experimental service, managed by Arts Council England and developed in partnership with the BBC, will launch in May and run till October this year. It will give organisations the opportunity to experiment and engage with new and existing audiences in a completely new and innovative digital environment.
The project is designed to build the digital skills and capability of the arts and cultural sector – currently only about four per cent of the hundreds of organisations funded by Arts Council England are creating and producing high quality digital content for a variety of platforms.
The Arts Council is committing up to £3.5 million to The Space from its recently created £20 million digital innovation fund, with ‘in principle’ grants ranging from £15,000 to £185,000.
The BBC is contributing to the partnership by developing the technological solutions and by providing ongoing support through mentoring, production, training and skills development, helping the UK’s arts and cultural sector to make the most of the new and emerging digital opportunities.
The Space will be available across all four key digital media platforms: PCs, Smartphones, Tablets and Connected TVs. The service will also be available as a Red Button, Video on Demand Service via Freeview HD.
The launch of The Space has been timed to coincide with and complement the extraordinary arts activity in 2012: the London 2012 Festival, the wider Cultural Olympiad, plus many important celebrations (e.g. the Diamond Jubilee). It is also the year of digital switchover.
Successful applicants include:
Turner Contemporary’s commission will offer a live and interactive streaming of Tracey Emin in conversation with Stephen Fry. The streaming will be accompanied by a live Twitter feed and a short film of Emin at work, showing her upcoming exhibition at the gallery: She lay down deep beneath the sea.
Blast Theory is an artists’ group that uses interactive media to create art for live performance. Blast Theory will create I’d Hide You: a ‘game of stealth, cunning and adventure’ to be experienced by participants using smartphones, the internet and smart television. The game will connect virtual worlds, video streaming and performers on the streets of Manchester.
Carousel and its Oska Bright International Film Festival are creating an interactive art project and sharing the work of learning disabled filmmakers for others to select digital arts, films and music to watch or listen to in a format of their own choice.
Chief Executive of Arts Council England, Alan Davey, said: “The Space is one of our most significant interventions of recent years and I’m delighted to be able to announce such exciting and imaginative contributions from artists and organisations.
“The Space will stimulate a dramatic step change in skills development, creative learning and collaboration. It will inspire a great generosity of spirit among the participating organisations, with each of them committed to documenting and sharing the journey they all are taking together.”
Roly Keating, BBC Director of Archive Content, added: “What excites us so much about The Space is the chance to unite the BBC’s tradition of technical innovation with our commitment to partnership and the arts.
“By bringing together the complementary skills of BBC and Arts Council in this ambitious way we believe we can make something really special happen to celebrate 2012’s unique summer of arts. And by sharing the BBC’s expertise, training and mentoring we hope there’ll be a lasting legacy, by putting digital creativity at the heart of artistic life in the UK.”
Sally Abbott, Regional Director, Arts Council England, South East, said: “The news that Turner Contemporary, Blast Theory and Carousel will be creating exciting new work for The Space is a great boost for the south east’s burgeoning reputation for excellence and innovation in digital arts.
“The Space will enable the successful arts organisations to share their work with more people than ever before, changing the way audiences experience arts and culture, and creating an archive of their work for the future.”
Arts Council England and the BBC also announced today some key partners in this new venture.
The BFI, which has the most significant film and TV archive in the world, will become a key partner in The Space and a new film strand will be created in addition to the other art forms strands. The BFI will be making available a wide range of films, some of which have not been seen before, some exciting new work and some films dating back to 1895. The BFI’s contribution will include short films, artist’s film and video, arts documentaries, and non-fiction films from the archives. The BFI, BBC and Arts Council will work together to link material from the various archives and The Space commissions to create a richer experience for the public and work together to extend public access.
S&T will provide its S&T Player interactive Video On Demand application for The Space. This will enable most users with Freeview HD receivers that are connected to the Internet to search through the catalogue of content available and stream the content directly to their TV or set top box.
The interactive technology behind the Space complies with the standards set by the Digital TV Group (DTG), who facilitated the partnership with S&T. DTG is the industry association for digital television in the UK. The Group works with over150 member organisations to develop the specification for Freeview in the UK.
The Space has also secured a commitment from the Nations’ Arts Councils – Creative Scotland, Arts Council of Wales and Arts Council of Northern Ireland – who will be working with their BBC counterparts in the Nations so that the best of their 2012 events can also be showcased on the service.
Almost 750 organisations applied with ‘Expressions of Interest’ to be part of The Space, which were eventually shortlisted to 111. These included not only Arts Council funded organisations, but also national museums and other cultural organisations, large and small.