BBC ‘must collaborate more with arts organisations’

Alan Davey, chief executive of Arts Council England. Photo: Nick Gurney
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Arts Council England has called on the BBC to forge more partnerships and collaborations with arts organisations, claiming the result will be a “net gain for the cultural power of the UK”.

ACE said that the Corporation’s editorial policies had sometimes “impeded partnership working and encouraged less equal relationships”.

In a response to the culture, media and sport select committee, which is holding an inquiry into the BBC ahead of its current royal charter ending in December 2016, ACE claimed that the BBC should support the “discoverability” of publicly funded arts content using its reach and marketing. It said it should be linking to other public service content and promoting material that “reflects high-quality and distinctive public service characteristics”.

“New models of acquisition and publishing in partnership with the cultural sector should be explored,” it said, adding: “Greater compromise and collaboration has to happen in this space.”

It added that “shared spaces” could be created on the Corporation’s online platforms, to help bring the arts to the attention of the wider public.

“Even the largest arts organisations cannot hope to achieve this exposure on their own,” ACE said, adding: “The potential to link up individual artists and arts organisations with the BBC’s multiple platforms is huge, driving place-based and digital engagement, and thought should be given as to how this can be better enabled.”

Although it praised the BBC for its existing partnerships with arts and cultural organisations, including the British Museum, ACE said: “It remains true that currently only a fraction of the publicly funded arts in England have featured or feature on BBC platforms.”

It added: “The BBC has often operated in parallel to the wider cultural and educational sector and the emerging wave of cultural providers beginning to narrowcast and distribute their work digitally.”

ACE said a “new era of collaboration and innovation is possible”, adding that this, combined with the investment the BBC makes in developing new writing and original drama, would be a “net gain for the cultural power of the UK” and have “beneficial effects for the wider economy”.

ACE and the BBC are currently working together to re-launch The Space, a digital arts platform first tried out in 2012.

It said The Space should encourage the BBC to work with a greater number of partners, not just as the commissioner of content but also as the host and promoter of such content.