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BBC Arts Announces “Culture in Quarantine” Commissions


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25 new works of literary, musical, visual, sonic, and performance arts themed around lockdown announced as part of Culture In Quarantine – launched by Jonty Claypole, Director of BBC Arts, at the beginning of lockdown.

The selection process was managed by The Space, a digital agency and production company helping to promote wider engagement across the arts and cultural sector.

The commissions will receive production and editorial support from partner arts organisations including Battersea Arts Centre, Sadler’s Wells, Opera North and Unlimited.

From a new British Sign Language multi-disciplinary art piece from Cathy Mager with the performances of deaf artists projected onto landmarks and buildings across the country, to an exploration of African and Caribbean dance with a commission to Bristol-based Somina Fombo led by carnival queen Precious, featuring black artists dressed in full carnival costume in their homes and gardens; these commissions represent a mix of culture made by artists based in England.

Award-winning choreographer Corey Baker will unite ballet performers from renowned dance companies for an all-star Swan Lake Bath Ballet from their filled baths at home, Jordan Baseman’s Fabula will capture the experiences of dreaming through the lockdown in an abstract, poetic, non-narrative film; and Judith Dimant will celebrate nurses giving voices to the voiceless as patients are in isolation facing critical illness alone.

In total, 25 projects have been selected from across England. These pieces will be exhibited through broadcast slots across BBC Radio 3 and BBC TV, through podcasts on BBC Sounds, and through the BBC Arts website continuing with the Culture in Quarantine mission to bring the arts to UK homes despite arts venue closures, social distancing, and UK-wide lockdowns.

Jonty Claypole, Director of BBC Arts, said: “We’re hugely grateful for everyone who applied to Culture in Quarantine’s new commissions scheme, with Arts Council England.

“The sheer number and quality of applications was a powerful reminder of the world-leading creativity of the UK. The commissioned art works have a breath of viewpoint, tone and innovation, offering something for everybody.

“Together, with similar schemes we have in all the nations, these projects providing a powerful snapshot – both for now and posterity – of our country during lockdown.”

Simon Mellor, Deputy Chief Executive at Arts Council England, added: “During the isolation of lockdown, millions of us are finding solace in the unique power of the arts to help us make sense of the world around us.

“We’re delighted to be partnering with BBC Arts to commission and deliver 25 high quality new works of art into the nation’s living rooms over the coming months.”

Fiona Morris, CEO and Creative Director, The Space, also commented: “The sheer number, inventiveness and quality of the applications received is a testament to the brilliant creativity that is very much alive and flourishing within the country – even in difficult circumstances.

“The Space looks forward to working with the commissioned artists and associate organisations to produce these works that will chronicle our experiences and help us make sense of the times we are living through.”