Arts at the heart of the summer schedule on 4
Tabitha Jackson, Arts Commissioning Editor
Channel 4 today announced Street Summer, a season of programmes celebrating contemporary urban art forms, and a new arts strand, Random Acts, which will provide a 'disruptive space' on air and online for artists to create unmediated, short-form pieces for the screen.
Arts Commissioning Editor Tabitha Jackson said, "Above all I want Channel 4 Arts to connect to a broad modern audience. We will both celebrate our vibrant contemporary culture of arts and creativity, and we will also interrogate how that culture is expressing just what it is to be alive in 21st century Britain. In other words - us now, through art now.
Our Street Summer season is a good example. Street Culture in its various forms now occupies the cultural and commercial mainstream and is a presence in many people's lives, however arts television has not yet treated it with the curiosity and respect with which it treats other ‘high arts'. I want the season to showcase the excellence of the art form, and help us to understand its context, as well as inspiring and enabling people to express themselves creatively through it. "
Channel 4's Street Summer season will air in August, stripped across 10 days, and will shine a light on street art, street dance, rap/spoken word, hip hop and street sport. It will air on Channel 4 with a strong online presence including an ambitious multiplatform performance commission, and will be complemented by programming on T4, More4 and Film4.
And in an innovative new strand launching this autumn Channel 4 Arts will work with a number of creative hubs around the UK to commission a range of artists, performers and experimental filmmakers to create new works of arts specifically for the screen.
Random Acts, a new post-watershed short-form art strand will air five nights a week on Channel 4. Designed to encourage both established artists and emergent talent to exploit television as an artistic medium, the short films will disrupt the schedule with content encompassing spoken word, dance, animation, video art and music. The films will also exist as part of a new online arts hub on Channel4.com
Of the new strand, Tabitha Jackson said: "Arts television has become very formulaic and so I want Random Acts of creativity that can surprise, delight, provoke and disrupt our schedule. Channel 4 has a strong history of experimenting with form and we want to bang the drum that television isn't just a window onto other people's art, it is itself a artistic medium. Along with our multiplatform capabilities, our desire to take the creative constraints out of commissioning for Random Acts now means that excellence, ambition and impact are the only requirements for entry. "
Street Summer line up
Diversity's show stopping routine on Britain's Got Talent was the moment that street dance broke through to a mainstream UK audience. In Street Dance Wars (w/t), a three part documentary series from Fresh One, Channel 4 will tell the story of what is arguably the most exciting and original dance phenomenon of the 21st century, through the prism of the annual Street Dance XXL UK Championships which this year will be held at Southbank Centre as part of their Intelligent Movement weekend (Thursday 14 - Sunday 17 July). The films will follow this year's up and coming crews through the UK competition, as the pick of the crop are selected to represent the UK in a massive dance-off with the US champions. As well as following the personalities and performances of the UK's preeminent dancers, the series will pay tribute to the artistic integrity of this dance style, examining its history, its influences, its evolution and the lexicon of moves within it.
In Concrete Circus (w/t) Renegade Pictures in association with ChristieHQ), Channel 4 brings together the world's hottest names in urban sports, plus their extraordinarily talented, viral filmmakers, and pairs them all with Mike Christie - the director of the critically acclaimed, globally successful extreme sports documentary ‘Jump London'. The 90-minute documentary brings together an extraordinary cast for the very first time: Danny MacAskill, Scottish Urban Trials rider extraordinaire; Kilian Martin, Spanish skateboarder (and his LA filmmaker Brett Novak); Parkour legends Paul ‘Blue' Joseph, Phil ‘Professor Longhair' Doyle and Mathieu Ledoux (working with director Claudiu Voicu); and Keelan Phillips, the amazing British BMX Flatlander. As he did with Parkour in ‘Jump London', Christie will capture unique portraits of four urban sports scenes. He'll profile the lives of these street stars and their work with inspired filmmaking collaborators who have collectively amassed fifty million views for their films. But, in addition to the documentary content, Christie will work with both the ‘performers' and their directors to help them create four brand new, breath-taking and beautiful films. The four films will be premiered to form the centrepiece of the documentary and in a remarkable first, Christie will bring the sports stars together in one space to create a breathtakingly choreographed sequence.
Up and coming indies Lemonade Money and ACME, will produce a 1 x 60 minute documentary for the season, exploring spoken word and rap, featuring a mixture of performance and back story on how the UK scene developed and evolved. There are a generation of young people expressing themselves through poetry, rhyme and meter which is respected on the street but not recognised in the classroom; this film makes the case that it is time to understand the art of rap.
Twofour will produce a 1 x 60 documentary looking at Street Art and Graffiti, the creative tension between them and the conflicts within this artistic arena, as exemplified by the recent spat between King Robbo and Banksy. Channel 4 will also screen the television premiere of Banksy's Oscar nominated documentary, Exit Through The Gift Shop, as part of the season.
Idris Elba aka 'DJ Driis' and Jacques Peretti will collaborate on How Hip Hop Changed the World (1 x 120, Fresh One) which will reveal the defining moments of a music and culture that has spanned the last 35 years. The countdown will chart the rise of what started off as an underground US music phenomenon and went on to become a formidable international economic and political force with, latterly, its own uniquely British identity. This two hour special will feature rare archive, seminal hip hop music videos, and revealing insight from an all star cast, many of who were instrumental in the rich history of Hip Hop.
Jackson has also commissioned a brand new short dance film, choreographed and created especially for Channel 4 to air as part of the season. One Man Walking (1 x30 MJW Productions) will be a powerful and stylish collision of Krump, Hip Hop, BB boy and Parkour, set in the night time streets of London. The film brings together the talents of writer/deviser Jonzi D, leading choreographer and performer Kenrick 'H2O' Sandy and his company Boy Blue Entertainment (Olivier-award winners for PIED PIPER) and composer Michael 'Mikey J' Asante. One Man Walking is directed by Margaret Williams, well-known for her many award-winning dance films for Channel 4 including 4DANCE: DANCE 4 FILM, and will centre around the idea of re-claiming the streets; showing us the city with new eyes.
Notes to Editors
Southbank Centre presents Intelligent Movement: A Celebration of Hip-Hop Culture (Thursday 14 - Sunday 17 July 2011), a weekend exploring the four pillars of hip-hop - Djing, MCing, breaking and graffiti. For a weekend in July, street culture takes over Southbank Centre in its entirety, with the Streetdance XXL Championships UK, free hip-hop dance workshops in breaking, popping, locking and jazz-funk; a free DJ battle; an evening of hip-hop inspired poetry; the best in female hip-hop dancing with b.supreme and free late-night parties at the Hayward Gallery's Concrete Bar.
Southbank Centre is the UK's largest arts centre, occupying a 21-acre site that sits in the midst of London's most vibrant cultural quarter on the South Bank of the Thames. The site has an extraordinary creative and architectural history stretching back to the 1951 Festival of Britain. Southbank Centre is home to the Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and the Hayward Gallery as well as The Saison Poetry Library and the Arts Council Collection. The Royal Festival Hall reopened in June 2007 following the major refurbishment of the Hall and redevelopment of the surrounding area and facilities.