ACE & BBC name companies to serve up online theatre content

Bristol Old Vic, Shakespeare’s Globe and Sadler’s Wells will be among the first companies to create theatre content for a new online arts channel being launched by Arts Council England and the BBC.
The first commissions for the service, called The Space, were announced this week. The channel will launch on May 1 and will be available via PCs, smartphones, tablets and internet-connected televisions.
ACE is offering a total of £3.5 million in funding to arts companies wishing to create work for The Space and will give grants of between £15,000 and £185,000 to the 53 successful applicants.
These include Bristol Old Vic, which will present a filmed version of its production of Swallows and Amazons using “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”.
Meanwhile, Shakespeare’s Globe will capture this summer’s Globe to Globe Festival, which will see all of Shakespeare’s 37 plays performed.
Sadler’s Wells, which had two successful applications to the fund, will broadcast live its Breakin’ Convention hip hop dance festival and will also screen film versions of songs from forthcoming Bollywood musical Wah! Wah! Girls.
ACE chief executive Alan Davey said that he thought The Space would prove to be one of the arts council’s “most significant interventions of recent years” and would “stimulate a dramatic step change in skills development, creative learning and collaboration.”
BBC director of archive content Roly Keating 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 the 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.”
Other successful applicants include Birmingham Opera Company, Contact Theatre, Eclipse Theatre Company, Nabokov, the Royal Shakespeare Company and Pilot Theatre.

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