BBC announces huge boost to arts programming

The director-general, Tony Hall, is about to announce a 20 percent funding increase for arts on television, notably on BBC1 and BBC2

‘Arts programming sits right at the heart of the BBC and is a vital part of who we are. But I want us to be much more ambitious. We need to showcase more of the incredible talent that this country has to offer to the widest possible audiences. It is our privilege and our responsibility to do this,’ he says.

It’s what you’d expect to hear from a recent chief executive of the Royal Opera House, though not, perhaps, quite so early in his tenure or when he has got so many other fires to fight. This is clearly a landmark statement about the future of the BBC. You can read the press announcement here.

Where the money will be found is not specified. And there will be only a qualified welcome for the BBC’s renewed support for the Arts Council’s failed venture, The Space. Nevertheless, this is a landmark moment for the arts in Britain.

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  • Bravo.

    Let us hope the BBC’s programming and budgets will include content from third party programme-makers working with various opera companies, orchestras, ensembles and venues. The alternatives are getting ever stronger for delivering this sort of content on Smart tv’s, PC’s, Macs, laptops, Pads and phones without needing a BBC, ITV or Sky channel.

    We just bought a new Panasonic to replace our front-room tv and not only are there the usual channels of Freeview and FreeviewHD, but also on-demand Netflix and YouTube available at the push of a couple of buttons on the remote, I installed a free Berlin Philharmonic channel app.

    • Don’t you watch the telly? There were live Proms on BBC1 and BBC2 between July and September (apart from a string of recorded ones on BBC4, not dumbed down or even dummed down). Live opera definitely needs increasing though. Sky Arts 2 and well-attended live cinema relays have left BBC TV opera way behind.

    • Hi Janie, don’t know what your situation is, but if you’re desperate for opera, I’d recommend hooking up with Sky. Sky arts 2 regularly features recordings of live opera performances – recent ones have included Boris Godunov and the full Ring Cycle. It’s worth digging thsough the endless Andre Rieu concerts for, I promise!

  • On Saturday I had the enormous pleasure of watching the opening night of La Fancuilla del West on Austrian TV, live from Vienna State Opera, with Jonas Kaufmann and Nina Stemme. It was wonderful!!! When did BBC ever show live opera and make such a big event out of it?

    In Germany, the opening night of Bayreuth Opera Festival is a big TV event, shown on live TV, attended by top politicians, with introductions and interviews this year by Klaus Florian Vogt!! When did such things ever happen in the UK?

    Tony Hall, please, oh please , address this!!

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