Page last updated at 13:55 GMT, Wednesday, 28 January 2009

BBC to strengthen arts coverage

Mark Thompson
Mr Thompson said the BBC will deliver 'distinctive and enjoyable' programmes

The BBC is to "reaffirm" its commitment to arts and culture with a raft of new measures, director general Mark Thompson has said.

Plans include a pan-BBC Poetry season and an ambitious aim to put each of the 200,000 oil paintings in public ownership in the UK on the internet.

Mr Thompson outlined the corporation's commitment to the arts in 2009 and beyond during a speech in London.

The BBC has a "special responsibility" to culture in the UK, he said.

"We are not only reaffirming our commitment to arts, but we're announcing a series of measures that will put this relationship on an even stronger footing," he said.

"Through innovative new partnerships, I believe the BBC can deliver big, bold arts programming that is accessible, distinctive and enjoyable."

News coverage

A partnership with the Public Catalogue Foundation charity could enable the public to view every one of the UK's 200,000 publicly owned oil paintings - 80% of which are currently hidden away - by 2012.

Simon Sainsbury Bequest Displayed At The National Gallery
About 200,000 oil paintings are owned by the public in the UK

Your Paintings, on, would be a one-stop-shop for the public to view and find information on every oil painting in public ownership.

BBC News also plans to add weight to its coverage of arts and culture on TV, radio and online with the creation of an arts editor.

And there are plans to increase the "reach and range" of output, starting with a poetry season of programmes and content on BBC Two, BBC Four and CBeebies, Radio 4 and online.

They include an authored documentary from Simon Schama on John Donne and a film by Armando Iannucci on Milton on BBC Two.

Young people

There will also be Lifelines - a series where four public figures take a journey of discovery into the poems that inspired them - and a UK-wide poetry recital competition for primary schools, Off By Heart.

On BBC Four, Owen Sheers explores six great British works, Ian Hislop welcomes the new Poet Laureate and Simon Armitage goes in search of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

Radio 3 and Radio 4 will also mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Alfred Lord Tennyson.

BBC Two will also engage young people in the arts with the launch of The Romeo Project, which will see two schools brought together to perform Shakespeare's play in a prestigious theatre.

There will also be a nationwide search to find Britain's best young speaker in The Speaker on BBC Two.

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