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BBC Arts announces further programming for Culture In Quarantine

Wed 25th Mar 2020

BBC Arts today announced further programming for Culture In Quarantine, a virtual festival of the arts rooted in the experience of national lockdown, with more to be announced over the coming weeks.

Virtual festival of the arts includes:

Extraordinary access to shuttered exhibitions and performances around the country

Emergency fund with Arts Council England to support independent artists

A virtual book festival curated with Kit de Waal

A puppet show from Margaret Atwood for Front Row Late

Bac Beatbox Academy’s hit show Frankenstein

Classic Shakespeares with the RSC

A brand new play from David Greig

Beginning this month, Culture In Quarantine across television, radio and online, will give the nation access to the arts at a time when we need it the most. Providing extraordinary access to shuttered exhibitions, performances and museums, a virtual book festival and much more besides. The BBC mission is to increase access to the arts, at a time when the buildings that support them are closed, and to support artists and arts organisations in the process.

Tony Hall, BBC Director-General, says: "It’s important during this period that we maintain access not just to news and information, but to the arts and culture. For many people they are a valuable part of their lives and a way of stimulating imagination, thought, and escapism. It’s a vital part of who we are as individuals and part of our identity as a nation.

"So I’m delighted that we have been able to work with organisations up and down the country to deliver everything from virtual access to exhibitions and book festivals, through to performances. There is something for everyone. By working together, we can still have a vibrant period of culture to brighten our lives."

Culture In Quarantine features innovative ways to connect with the country, including:

Culture In Quarantine Fund

As part of a wider collaboration between BBC Arts and Arts Council England, a new fund will be launched to commission and distribute around 25 new works by independent artists, in response to the Covid-19 outbreak. This will be reflected throughout the nations.

Access to Exhibitions

Audiences will get extraordinary access to shuttered exhibitions and closed museums in a four part series, Museum In Quarantine.

The Big Book Weekend

A three-day virtual books festival co-founded by the authors Kit de Waal and Molly Flatt, with support from BBC Arts and publishing start-up MyVLF, The Big Book Weekend is a virtual festival that brings together the best of the cancelled British literary festivals. Video interviews, panel discussions, and in conversation sessions will be broadcast as live across three days over the first bank holiday weekend in May.


A repertory theatre service across platforms, with productions from the best of the BBC and the UK dance and theatre scene’s recent output; including a brand new play by David Greig on Radio 3 and new work from the Balletboyz on BBC Four, alongside six classical Shakespeares with the RSC as part of an education initiative for BBC Four, featuring stars like Christopher Eccleston and Hugh Quarshie, and with educational tools online for children learning these plays on the school syllabus.

Online Culture Resource

BBC Arts digital will be repurposed as Culture In Quarantine to support and showcase the work of the wider culture sector.

Front Row Late

Playing the part of presenter and chief engineer, Mary Beard will host the new series of Front Row Late on BBC Two from her study. Special guests include Margaret Atwood, who has created her own puppet show, in isolation, to accompany her narration of a story by Edgar Allan Poe.

Jonty Claypole, Director for BBC Arts, has written a blog further outlining Culture In Quarantine, available to read here.

Culture In Quarantine Fund

As part of a wider collaboration between BBC Arts with Arts Council England for Culture In Quarantine, a fund for around 25 established England-based artists of any discipline to produce new works in creative media - video, audio and interactive - is launching.

Commissions do not need to be about the current emergency, but they do need to adhere imaginatively and lawfully to the principles of self-isolation. Depending on their nature, each work will be hosted by the BBC online and/or on air.

We will be inviting brief expressions of interest explaining your idea, how it could be made, and a ballpark budget by Wednesday 8 April. Ideas can be submitted by artists or by the organisations that represent them. Collaborations between artists of different disciplines are welcome.

The online application form, terms and conditions, and FAQs will be live by end of the week.

Please send an email with the subject line 'Please update me' to [javascript protected email address] and we will email you as soon as the guidance and application form are published. More information here.

Online Culture Resource

As of today, BBC Arts Digital has been repurposed as a platform where the UK Creative industries can come together to share content and ideas. There will also be brand new blog with regular updates from the curator and director of all BBC Arts content, Jonty Claypole, to guide audiences around the newest discoveries as part of Culture in Quarantine. Visit BBC Arts.