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Three south west organisations to take part in experimental new broadcast service

  • Date: 14 March 2012
  • Area: South West

Watershed; Bristol Old Vic and Forkbeard Fantasy will be amongst 53 organisations nationally taking part in an experimental new broadcast service, The Space.

This new service, managed by Arts Council England and developed in partnership with the BBC, will launch in May and run until October 2012. It will give organisations the opportunity to experiment and engage with new and existing audiences in an 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 nationally 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 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.

Watershed's project, 'Out of the Box' is an invitation into the journey of 12 artists who are delivering projects as part of Unlimited, a Cultural Olympiad programme. 'Out of the Box' is an opportunity to simultaneously build and broaden audiences whilst deepening relationships with context, process and impact. Through short films, a documentary and a rich media interactive blog, this project will build momentum and leave legacy.

Bristol Old Vic's Artistic Director and Director of War Horse Tom Morris, 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.

Forkbeard Fantasy will create an online gaming environment, inspired by their exhibitions, theatre shows, installations, cartoons, animation props and filmic special effects. This will enable viewers to uncover much more than is currently possible in the company's animated exhibitions.

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 artform strands. The BFI will be making available a wide range of films, some of which have not been seen before, exciting new work and films dating back to 1895. 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 over 150 member organisations to develop the specification for Freeview in the UK.

The Space has also secured a commitment from Creative Scotland, Arts Council of Wales and the 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 nationally applied 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.