Sky Arts is celebrating its first anniversary as a free-to-air channel by announcing a raft of new programmes spanning every genre of the arts. Spotlighting the very best in theatre, dance, music, literature and visual art, the new slate reaffirms the channel’s commitment to supporting artists and arts institutions and to sustaining the UK’s cultural recovery after an extraordinary period of closures.
For theatre-lovers, a brand-new theatre and performance season, Sky Arts On Stage, will kick off in November. This will include Play in a Day, a new commission in which acting and dance graduates are given the chance to join one of three creative teams staging a 15-minute production in just 24 hours. Also part of the season are brand new original films Death of England: Face to Face from the National Theatre, and Beat the Devil, a film written and directed by David Hare recounting his experience of Covid-19 brought to life by Academy Award, Golden Globe and BAFTA nominee Ralph Fiennes. They’re joined by filmed versions of Walden and Anna-X, two standout shows from Sonia Friedman Productions’ RE:EMERGE season in the West End by Stage2View and starring Gemma Arterton, Fehinti Balogun, Nabhaan Rizwan, Lydia Wilson and Golden Globe winner Emma Corrin. The season ends with Rumpelstilzchen, a Sky Original with BalletBoyz offering a fresh spin on the famous fable with Jane Horrocks in the title role.
Elsewhere on the channel, Frank Skinner and Denise Mina are back on the road together tracking the footsteps of seminal poets William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Literature enthusiasts can also enjoy a special package from the Cheltenham Literature Festival featuring sessions from Booker Prize-winner Bernardine Evaristo and national treasure Joan Bakewell.
For classical music fans, Sky Arts Ambassador Charles Hazlewood will front a new series in 2022 exploring the 21st Century orchestra, and treasure hunters can follow the mysterious story of The Lost Leonardo in a new feature film which premiered at Tribeca Film Festival exploring the lost Da Vinci painting, which reappeared in 2004 before becoming steeped in controversy and disappearing again.
Additional new documentaries on the channel will spotlight two pioneers in their respective crafts: African American filmmaker Oscar Micheaux who succeeded against all odds in a racist, segregated society, and theatre company Punchdrunk, who ripped up the rulebook to create some of the most innovative, immersive theatre the world has ever seen.
Phil Edgar Jones, Director, Sky Arts and Entertainment, commented: “To mark our year anniversary as a free to air channel we are proud to be bringing some incredible theatre to screen at a time when the performing arts is only just emerging from the hardest 18 months imaginable. Despite those difficulties it’s inspiring to witness the great innovations our artists and institutions have dreamt up as culture has adapted to bring audiences brilliant work in new, exciting hybrid forms… it’s a real treat to be providing a home for such stellar talent on the channel.”