While the impact of COVID-19 on the arts has been challenging at times there have also been some exciting and positive moments. With theatres closing due to the pandemic there has been a need to find other ways to allow audiences to access performances - and the most obvious solution has been for theatre to go digital. The National Theatre is one of the institutions of the British arts industry and National Theatre Live has been supported by Sky Arts for the past three years. As a result of a new sponsorship deal that has been signed this autumn, this is going to continue for another three years with more theatre productions being made available digitally too.
National Theatre Live digital initiatives
National Theatre Live has been responsible for helping audiences beyond the theatre to get access to some of its most critically acclaimed productions. Broadcasting these has meant that theatre has been accessible via cinemas all over the country. The recent National Theatre at Home initiative also made use of YouTube as a platform for reaching a wider audience - 15 productions were made available for free via YouTube, each one time limited. The initiative attracted a huge audience of around 13.9 million viewers via the social media platform. This commitment to taking theatre productions into the digital realm has helped the industry to overcome many of the challenges that have been presented by the pandemic and to ensure that the arts still remain available to audiences all over the country.
Sky Arts sponsorship
Over the next three years Sky Arts will continue its headline sponsorship of National Theatre Live performances thanks to the deal that has now been put in place. This will enable more of the theatre to go digital and be broadcast to audiences nationwide. This will include the first time that any National Theatre performances have been broadcast live on TV when Sky Arts screens two live performances on its Freeview Channel 11 in December. The first of the two chosen productions is Jayne Eyre, a National Theatre co-production with the Bristol Old Vic, which has received positive reviews for its depiction of a pioneering heroine and her fight for freedom. The second production that will be screened live on TV in December is Twelfth Night, which will star Tamsin Grieg. In addition to these productions being screened on TV the Sky Arts sponsorship deal has a lot of benefits for those who are part of Sky VIP. Loyalty scheme members will continue to have access to many other regional productions, as well as backstage tours and tickets. This is a critical time for the arts and evolution has been essential for the theatre world. There is no way of knowing what is going to happen next in terms of any potential future lockdowns and how this will impact on productions going forward. However, for now partnerships like Sky Arts and the National Theatre Live are making headway in driving theatre to be more digital so that it can be more widely accessible no matter what the circumstances.
Set Builders London National Theatre portfolio.