Sky Arts, a channel dedicated to culture, arts and music, will become free-to-air this September and will be available as a live Freeview and Freesat channel.
The channel’s on-demand content, however, will remain exclusive to NOW TV and Sky customers.
August 24 Update: Sky has now confirmed that the channel will become available for free on September 17. On Freeview, you will find it on Channel 11, and on Freesat, it will be available on channel 147.
Sky Arts, which launched back in the year 2000 as “Artsworld”, is owned by Sky and is currently only available for paying subscribers on Sky, NOW TV, Virgin Media and other pay-TV companies.
The channel, which runs 24 hours a day, offers documentaries, movies, operas and more – all related to culture and the arts.
Starting this September, Sky Arts will move to both Freeview and Freesat, becoming a free-to-watch channel, along with a new slate of original programmes (Sky’s original announcement only referred to Freeview, but we have since confirmed with them that Freesat will also be included).
This only refers to the linear “live” part of the channel – as Sky Arts’ on-demand content, which includes more than 2,000 hours of shows, will only be available to Sky and NOW TV Entertainment Pass customers.
It is unknown yet whether Sky Arts will replace an existing Freeview/Freesat channel, or get a brand new spot.
Becoming a free channel means the existing slate of Sky Arts programming will be available for everyone to watch, including popular series such as Portrait Artist of The Year, Landscape Artist of The Year, Tate Britain’s Great Art Walks, Urban Myths and countless documentaries and performances, from Kylie, Ed Sheeran and U2, to Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake, Wagner’s Ring Cycle and Cats.
Along with the move, Sky Arts aims to support new talent, so the channel will launch a series of bursaries worth £30,000 each, that will see leading figures from the arts support and mentor diverse and emerging new artists.
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.”
New Programmes Coming To Sky Arts
The move to Freeview and Freesat will bring with it brand-new original programming, including:
Landmark, a bold and ambitious series for 2021 where artists and local communities across the UK will join forces in a quest to create the next great British landmark, in response to the current debate about the meaning of public monuments, and who or what is commemorated.
Portrait Artist of the Week, the live-streamed paint-along version of the channel’s flagship series Portrait Artist of the Year, has been confirmed to return this Autumn. Complementing this, Portrait Artist of the Year will return at the same time, with new celebrity sitters including Normal People’s Paul Mescal, First Dates front-of-house Fred Sirieux, singer Ray BLK and Sir Trevor McDonald.
Goldie: The Art That Made Me: Renowned visual artist and musician Goldie goes on a personal and passionate journey into the world of graffiti and street art.
Danny Dyer on Pinter, sees Dyer explore the life and works of Harold Pinter and tell the story of their unlikely friendship.
Sky Arts Late, a new monthly arts and culture show creating a feature-length space for original perspectives, debate, critical discussion, and performance from across the arts.
English National Opera’s Drive & Live, a world-first exclusive broadcast of the ENO’s drive-in opera performance of La Bohème.
No Masks, A brand new drama from Theatre Royal Stratford East based on the real-life testimonies of key workers in East London during the pandemic.
Life & Rhymes, A celebration of spoken word hosted by Benjamin Zephaniah, featuring some of the country’s leading spoken word performers.
Inside Art, presented by Kate Bryan, will explore leading exhibitions across the UK, starting with the Walker Gallery’s major exhibition of Linda McCartney’s photography.
Brian Johnson meets Dave Grohl, the AC/DC frontman hangs out and chats at the Foo Fighters’ studio in Los Angeles.