BBC Arts launches Culture in Quarantine with Big Books Weekend

BBC Arts launches Culture in Quarantine with Big Books Weekend

BBC Arts has launched Culture in Quarantine, a virtual arts festival “rooted in the experience of national lockdown”, with highlights including "The Big Book Weekend", co-founded Kit de Waal and Molly Flatt.

Beginning this month across television, radio and online, it aims to “give the nation access to the arts at a time when we need it the most”. The corporation said it wanted to increase arts programming at a time when many buildings that support them are closed due to the pandemic.

The three-day "Big Book Weekend", supported by BBC Arts and publishing start-up MyVLF, will bring together the best of the cancelled British literary festivals. Video interviews, panel discussions, and in conversation sessions will be broadcast live across three days over the first bank holiday weekend in May.

Elsewhere, 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.

Tony Hall, BBC Director General said: “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.”

As part of a wider collaboration between BBC Arts and Arts Council England, a new fund will also be launched to commission and distribute around 25 new works by independent artists, in response to the Covid-19 outbreak. For more information visit the Culture in Quarantine website.

BBC Arts Digital has also 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.