The BBC has defended itself from criticism by the Rupert Murdock owned Sun newspaper who labelled its digital arts website, ‘The Space’ as an “eccentric digital arts project”. The Space features experimental artists including Marina Abramovic, Jeremy Deller and Gilbert and George.
The publication questioned the £8.16m earmarked from the licence fee for it. But in a statement, the BBC said the site was intended to “support greater digital access to the arts”. The corporation also pointed out it was a joint project with Arts Council England, which is also publicly funded. The BBC has spent a total of £3.6 million on The Space so far, but more money is earmarked for the service. Arts Council England has also committed £8.1m to the project.The BBC added: “Licence fee funding has been carefully used to support the development of artists and the cultural sector”. The Space “includes projects with National Theatre Wales, Northern Ballet Theatre, Barbican Centre, the RSC and Manchester International Festival,” it added.
The Sun also accused BBC creative director Alan Yentob, described as “the man behind the project” of wasting public funds. Yentob was just one of a number of directors on the project and is no longer involved. Tony Hall announced last year that the BBC would boost its coverage of the creative arts, calling it the corporation’s “strongest commitment to the arts in a generation”. As part of that commitment, The Space was relaunched in June 2014.
Set up by the BBC and Arts Council England, The Space is a commissioner of art that employs technology to push the boundaries of creative expression. We support new talent and great artists from all art forms, creative industries, technical and digital backgrounds, through regular Open Calls, commissions and partnerships.