Sky Arts is to be made free from September, with programming to include a new drama from Theatre Royal Stratford East and a broadcast of English National Opera’s drive-in performance of of La Bohème.
Everyone across the UK will be able to watch Sky Arts on Freeview, with the channel also launching a series of bursaries worth £30,000 each for leading arts figures to mentor emerging artists.
New programming will include No Masks, in partnership with Theatre Royal Stratford East, which is written by Nadia Fall and Rebecca Lenkiewicz.
The programme, which is based on testimonies of East London key workers during the pandemic, is due to air this autumn.
Sky Arts will also film and broadcast English National Opera’s Drive and Live performance of La Bohème at London’s Alexandra Palace in September.
Other programming includes Danny Dyer on Pinter, in which the actor and presenter explores the life and works of Harold Pinter, and new monthly arts and culture show Sky Arts Late.
Stephen Van Rooyen, European vice president and chief executive of Sky UK and Europe, said: “As a creative business, we believe it’s important to have a thriving cultural sector.
“By making Sky Arts free for everyone, we want to give more artists and arts organisations a platform to create and share their work and to bring more art and culture to everyone across the UK.”
Philip Edgar-Jones, director of Sky Arts, said: “There’s never been a stronger need or demand for the arts, nor a more important time to champion and celebrate creativity. That’s why we’re throwing open the doors to make Sky Arts a free channel.”
He added: “As a free-to-air channel, I hope Sky Arts can help arts organisations and cultural institutions of all shapes and sizes across the UK, providing them with a platform to create and showcase their work to a broad audience.”