BBC Director General Lord Tony Hall has promised to place the arts at the centre of the broadcaster’s output with a 20% boost in the BBC’s arts spending.
In a major speech Lord Hall said the BBC would screen adaptations of Shakespeare’s Richard III and Henry VI, live broadcasts of plays and tie-ups with the Hay Festival.
He also announced plans for a follow-up to art historian Kenneth Clark’s widely acclaimed documentary series, Civilisation, which will air on BBC Two.
The channel will also screen The Duchess of Malfi, the first production from the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, which stars Gemma Arterton.
Lord Hall told his audience: “The arts really matter. They’re not for an elite, or for a minority. They’re for everybody.”
He also said he wanted to ensure that BBC Arts became as prominent as BBC News.
A new BBC Arts At… strand of shows will see the broadcaster join forces with a host of venues, including the Royal Academy of Arts, the Barbican, the British Museum and the National Galleries of Scotland.
Hall said the BBC’s “ambition” was “to give everyone front row seats at the very best cultural events, up and down the country, right across the year.”
In addition to TV programming, the DG announced The Space, the internet-based joint venture with the Arts Council, will be relaunched.
There’ll also be new commissions for the BBC iPlayer and arts and arts-related content for young people and children, including a production of the Three Little Pigs for CBeebies in collaboration with the Northern Ballet.