Cultural Expansion

Over the past month, the art world has transformed. Museums and galleries have closed their doors. Events and exhibitions have been cancelled. We have experienced an unprecedented global situation. Yet, we have also seen a moment of adaptation and creativity, with cultural institutions responding through online exhibitions and wider digital and social media activity.

“It’s important during this period that we maintain access not just to news and information, but to the arts and culture,” explains Tony Hall, BBC Director General. He is speaking about BBC Arts’ Culture In Quarantine, a new programme of television, radio and online initiatives. “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.”

As part of this mission, the BBC invites TV audiences behind the scenes of some of 2020’s biggest shows. Museums in Quarantine is a four-part series that delves into national collections and closed exhibitions. Screening on BBC Four and iPlayer, the first episode steps into Tate Modern’s Andy Warhol retrospective – the gallery’s first for almost 20 years. After gaining exclusive just access hours before Tate’s closure, critic Alastair Sooke asks: “Another Warhol exhibition. Really? Do we need one? Surely, we’ve heard everything about him.” Yet Tate demonstrates there is more to learn about the iconic pop artist – beyond Campbell’s soup cans and Coca-Cola. “There is another Warhol,” Sooke continues. “An artist not only of his own time but also ours, who predicted pretty much everything about how we all live today.” Further BBC Four programmes examine timely works from Tate Britain and favourites from the British Museum, demonstrating how historic art continues to speak to our world.

By way of supporting artists during uncertain times, the BBC has also announced the Culture In Quarantine Fund. It is part of a wider collaboration between BBC Arts and Arts Council England, launching to commission and distribute around 25 new works by England-based independent practitioners. The initiative is aimed at those looking to produce new works in creative media – across video, audio and interactive works. The selected pieces will be hosted by the BBC online and/or on-air.

Find out more and browse the full programme here.

Lead image: Robert Mapplethorpe, Andy Warhol 1983. ARTIST ROOMS Tate and National Galleries of Scotland. © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

Posted on 23 April 2020

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