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Successful applicants for The Space announced

  • Date: 22 February 2012
  • Area: National

Arts Council England and the BBC today announced the 53 successful applicants that will be creating hundreds of hours of original commissions for The Space.

The new experimental service, managed by the Arts Council and developed in partnership with the BBC, will launch in May and run until October this year at It will give arts and culture 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 the Arts Council are creating and producing high quality digital content for a variety of platforms.

The Space will be available across all four key digital media platforms; PCs, smartphones, tablets and internet connected TVs. The service will also be available as a red button, video on demand service via Freeview HD.

The Arts Council is committing up to £3.5m 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 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 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 such as the Diamond Jubilee. It is also the year of digital switchover.

Almost 750 organisations applied with 'Expressions of interest' to be part of The Space, these were shortlisted to 111 including Arts Council funded organisations, national museums and other cultural organisations, large and small.

Successful applicants include:

Shakespeare's Globe  - capturing the Globe to Globe festival, a once in a lifetime event which will see all 37 of Shakespeare's plays performed by 37 different international theatre companies at the Globe Theatre.

Bristol Old Vic - Tom Morris, Director of War Horse and Artistic Director of Bristol Old Vic, will present a unique and interactive way of replicating the emotional experience of watching live performance using the pioneering techniques developed by the BBC Natural History Unit.

John Peel Centre for the Creative Arts - an interactive online museum housing one of the most important archives in modern music history - DJ John Peel's personal record collection. It will recreate his home studio with his personal notes, home movies, contributors' stories and filmed interviews with family and musicians he brought to the airwaves.

Faber & Faber - 60 Years in 60 Poems a digital journey that invites the nation to discover the past from the BBC and Arts Council archives through the prism of 60 new works from major poets in poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy's Jubilee Lines anthology.

Philharmonia Orchestra - the Philharmonia Orchestra will pioneer a radical way for audiences to discover and explore the individual role of each instrument within the orchestra with the launch of an interactive, digital experience - in partnership with The Science Museum - through Holst's The Planets suite.

Alan Sillitoe Committee - a  GPS-enabled mobile 'trail app' in the style of a 1950s illustrated cycle maintenance handbook that will explore the Nottingham of author Alan Sillitoe, based on his iconic novel Saturday Night and Sunday Morning.

London Review of Books - in Re-imagining the Literary Essay for the Digital Age the London Review of Books will work with a leading writer and an experienced digital developer to create a new kind of multi-layered literary experience.

See the full list of successful applicants with project descriptions

Download the full list of successful applicants

Alan Davey, Chief Executive, Arts Council England 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 organizations, with each of them committed to documenting and sharing the journey they all are taking together.'

Roly Keating, Director of Archive Content, BBC  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. 

Key partners

Arts Council England and the BBC have also announced today some key partners in The Space.

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.

Strategy & Technology
Strategy & Technology (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.  

Digital TV Group (DTG)
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 over 150 member organisations to develop the specification for Freeview in the UK.