A new Friday night BBC2 TV arts show, "Artsnight", and a season of poetry-focused programming on BBC4, including a profile of poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, are in the pipeline.
Details of the new arts programming have been revealed ahead of a “major new partnership announcement between the BBC and UK-wide arts organisations to encourage creativity and participation in the arts”.
The poetry season will include a profile on Duffy; a special on Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, first published in the 1590s; and a drama adaptation of Simon Armitage’s long poem Black Roses, written about the real-life murder of a 20-year-old girl by a gang of youths. All will be screened on BBC4.
Meanwhile Radio 1Xtra will work with Arts Council England to launch a “brand new scheme to reflect and enrich the UK’s growing spoken word scene, with a key pillar being to find and develop brand new performance poets”.
Dates for the poetry season have not yet been made public.
The Poetry Society is also working with the BBC to launch the BBC Proms Poetry Competition 2015, which opens for entries in June. The winners of the competition, who will have to write a poem inspired by any piece of music from this year’s proms season, will be invited to read their poems at a live Proms Extra event at the Royal College of Music and broadcast on BBC Radio 3. They will also receive a commission to write a new poem for BBC Radio 3 for National Poetry Day in October. BBC Radio 6 Music will also have Spoken Word Sessions around National Poetry Day.
Meanwhile a new 30-minute arts and culture magazine show, "Artsnight", will launch in March. The series will comprise four episodes, guest-edited in turn by actress Maxine Peake, journalist Lynn Barber, writer Armando Iannucci, and Tate Modern director Chris Dercon. Peake’s programme will examine how women and working-class people are marginalised in the arts, while Iannucci will look at high art, and Barber will examine populism in culture.
The show will air on BBC2 every Friday in March following "Newsnight". It is not known yet whether any of the programmes will feature book-related content, as content will led by the guest editors.
Last month author Robert Harris criticised the BBC for its lack of dedicated programming for books.
Additionally, BBC4 will air "Artists' Question Time", hosted by Kirsty Wark, which will open with a “vital debate on who the arts are for in the UK, who gets to play a part in the them and how should they be funded in times of recession”. The BBC has also announced seasons on dance, film and theatre across its networks.
Tony Hall, BBC director general, said: “I want to put arts centre stage at the BBC. I strongly believe that arts should be for everyone with more prime time arts content on the BBC.
“The BBC also needs to play an even greater role in getting the wider public to participate in the arts - particularly young people and children, as creativity can help boost innovation and help forge a life-long passion that can raise aspirations. That’s why the BBC will be forming a range of new partnerships to help that happen.”