The BBC and Arts Council England have teamed up to launch a new service for mobile, tablet, PC and connected TV called The Space. The service is also available on digital television in the UK and is accessible via the BBC’s ‘Red Button‘ function for TV too.
The experimental idea is aimed at allowing artists and cultural organisations to capture and distribute their own work on the platform. The Space is the result of a four-year Public Value Partnership between the BBC and Arts Council England.
The initial idea was to create ‘a new era of public engagement in the arts’, and to build digital capacity and skills within the arts sector. The service runs from May 1 until October 31st to provide coverage and engagement with the arts throughout the Summer.
Users can expect to see a wealth of newly accessible archive material from the Arts Council England, including film, images and further information. To complement the history, contemporary events will be available live and on demand. According to the site, something new will be added every day.
Though it has taken a long time to get to this stage, access to cultural works and archives on digital platforms is important. The Space does a great job of opening up material that has barely seen the light of day for many years.
A packed agenda
In May alone, the offerings are impressive. Take a look on the site for full performances from The Globe Theatre’s entire ‘Globe to Globe’ season, check back on the May Bank holiday weekend to watch opera and dance streamed live from London’s Southbank Centre and Sadler’s Wells theatre.
For those less keen on the classical genre, the UK’s late legendary music explorer and radio host John Peel is featured as parts of his record collection are revealed. Users will be able to explore a virtual recreation of Peel’s home studio and highlights of his record library. Fans of the DJ will be able to flick through his record collection, read the notes he made and watch some of his home videos as well as specially shot interviews with members of his family and musicians.
There will also be historic footage from the British Film Institute (BFI) National Archive and Arts Council Film Collection. The BFI is making available its archive of the very first films from household names including Ridley Scott, Stephen Frears, Gurinder Chadha and Ken Russell.
The Arts Council is also opening up its 50-year-old film collection, showing highlights from its groundbreaking Dance for the Camera series from the 90s, which paired emergent film directors and choreographers who are now leading figures in their field.
It’s exciting to see archive material paired with new technologies in a sophisticated way. One of the more cutting-edge and longest running commissions for The Space will be the’ Listening Machine’ where performers from the Britten Sinfonia using digital technologies are going to create a continuous soundtrack to what the nation is saying on Twitter over the next six months.
It’s an ambitious presentation all round and the extraordinary scope of arts coverage will no doubt appeal to those who are hoping to escape wall-to-wall Olympics sport programming this Summer. It will be interesting to see how the project evolves and what may be added. People are passionate about the arts and discovering new ways to interact with their favourites, it’s possible we will be seeing a lot of links from this resource emerge on social media platforms too.
No doubt students, art lovers and the curious will benefit from the evolving material and although the end date has been set in October, we hope that the site will stand for others to look back upon and use as a resource.