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Sky Arts to become free in the UK

SKY Arts

The Sky channel will become free to watch from September on Freeview. It will offer a variety of new shows and pieces launching on the platform.

Programmes will include a series alongside Theatre Royal Stratford East entitled No Masks, ENO's drive-in La bohème opera, and a documentary where Danny Dyer explores the life and work of Harold Pinter.

Many existing Sky Arts documentaries and performances from Kylie, Ed Sheeran and U2, to Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake, Wagner's Ring Cycle and Cats will also now be free to watch on TV.

Sky UK and Europe's EVP Stephen van Rooyen, said: "As a creative business, we believe it's important to have a thriving cultural sector. By making Sky Arts free for everyone we want to give more artists and arts organisations a platform to create and share their work and to bring more art and culture to everyone across the UK."

Philip Edgar-Jones, director of Sky Arts, said: "There's never been a stronger need or demand for the arts, nor a more important time to champion and celebrate creativity. That's why we're throwing open the doors to make Sky Arts a free channel. During lockdown we've seen audiences to the channel increase by 50% and our weekly live paint-along show, Portrait Artist of The Week, reached 4.6 million people with over 20,000 portraits painted.

"As a free to air channel I hope that Sky Arts can help arts organisations and cultural institutions of all shapes and sizes across the UK, providing them with a platform to create and showcase their work to a broad audience. With our renewed focus and mission to increase accessibility and participation across the arts, we want to hear from everyone with ideas for how we might be able to work together – we can only succeed with artists and creatives at the heart of what we do."

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