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BBC to boost arts show funds by 20%

The BBC is to increase funding for television arts programmes by a fifth as part of efforts to bring more of Britain's "incredible talent" to the widest possible audiences, the broadcaster said.

Director-general Tony Hall will unveil plans this week to place arts programming "back at the heart" of the corporation with new investment, a new BBC arts "brand" and more landmark commissions and partnerships.

In a speech at Broadcasting House in central London, Mr Hall, a former chief executive of the Royal Opera House, is expected to unveil a 20% funding increase for arts television programmes.

There will be also be a new BBC arts brand -"BBC Arts at" - featuring partnerships with festivals and institutions such as the Tate, the National Theatre and the Manchester International Festival and aimed at broadcasting live music, theatre and arts events from around Britain.

The Space, the experimental digital arts services developed by Arts Council England and the BBC, will be relaunched next year to promote digital arts.

There will be more "landmark" programming on BBC One and BBC Two with a three-part series next year on the greatest writers in Scotland to be presented by journalist and broadcaster Andrew Marr, who returned to live television at the beginning of last month after suffering a stroke.

There will also be a BBC One six-part series on the "hidden heroes" of British art with 10 "passionate amateurs" competing to be crowned Britain's best artists.

Historian and broadcaster Simon Schama will also explore the history of Britain through portraiture in a five-part series in partnership with the National Portrait Gallery.

"Arts programming sits right at the heart of the BBC and is a vital part of who we are. But I want us to be much more ambitious," Mr Hall said.

"We need to showcase more of the incredible talent that this country has to offer to the widest possible audiences. It is our privilege and our responsibility to do this."

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