Sky Arts Amplify: first winners revealed

Digital subscription TV channel Sky Arts is bringing together arts organisations and independent production companies through its new initiative, Sky Arts Amplify.

Sky Arts Amplify encourages the formation of new partnerships in order to pitch collaboratively on new TV ideas. Two new commissions were announced under the Amplify banner this week, bringing the number of approved projects in this first annual funding round up to three.

As the recipient of the first grant, National Youth Theatre collaborated with The Christmas TV & Film Company to make a 30-minute drama-documentary titled Generation Sext, based on the early day workshops of a new play slated for eventual production. Sky Arts Amplify described the project, the initial results of which were screened on the Sky Arts channel yesterday evening, as an ‘innovative exploration of a particular issue facing young people today.’

Now, adding to the roster of commissioned Amplify projects, Sky Arts has announced that Wingspan Productions are to produce two 60-minute documentaries about a theatrical performance from a London theatre, following the show as it develops from casting to final performance.

Generation Sext ©
Generation Sext ©

The third Sky Arts Amplify commission was awarded to What Larks!, a production company set up in 2009 by filmmaker Claire Whalley and comedian Jo Brand. Its award will support a programme documenting an artist’s journey as they prepare for the launch of a new dance/visual crossover exhibition at Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

Both the Wingspan and What Larks! programmes will air on Sky Arts during 2016.

Officially launched in November 2014, the Sky Arts Amplify initiative will distribute up to GBP1m (€1.4m) of funding per year for the next three years, in an attempt to encourage creative partnerships between TV production companies and creative institutions and bring ‘the vibrancy and breadth of the arts in the UK and Ireland to life on screen’ in innovative new ways.

‘In launching Amplify we wanted to create new and innovative ways of making Arts TV,’ said Sky Arts director Phil Edgar-Jones. ‘These first few projects out of the blocks absolutely deliver on this intent: all these projects demonstrate the vibrancy and breadth of the arts in the UK.’

Sky Arts Amplify held its first networking event to launch the project last November, with 40 production companies and arts organisations coming together for talks. Arts Council England is now also involved with the project, and will be arranging a series of ‘speed-dating’ events to facilitate meetings between appropriate companies (locations and dates are yet to be announced), as well as providing guidance to organisations in applying for future Amplify commissions.