The Space (and John Peel's record collection) to remain online for another six months


A free digital art service set up to give everyone access to the Cultural Olympiad from their living rooms is to be extended for another six months.

The Space ( is a £2m website and integration with digital television channels providing on demand and livestream access to theatre, dance, music and poetry performances, visual art exhibitions, film and literature. The portal has also given the nation access to John Peel’s record collection.

Similar to the BBC’s hugely successful iPlayer television service, investment in The Space was a mixture of redistribution of the time of the BBC's technical teams, and mentorship, and monetary investment. All commissions for the site are made by Arts Council England.

BBC Director General George Entwistle called The Space “a shining example of a public partnership,” he hinted that extending the lifespan of the portal might become permanent, to ensure “that arts and culture continue to command a proper place in a fully digital world”.

The pilot is being extended to 31 March 2013 “to allow more time to conduct a full evaluation of the existing service and to explore the potential of a permanent digital service for the arts.”

Since it was set up six months ago The Space has attracted 885,000 visitors. In that time it has broadcast a Globe to Globe season of 36 Shakespeare plays performed in 36 different languages. Les Troyens was streamed live from the Royal Opera House, as was The Scissor Sisters’ River of Music gig.

Audiences have been able to engage in otherwise sold out events, such as the UK premiere of the Helicopter String Quartet, which was streamed from the Birmingham Opera House production of Mittwoch aus Licht to a remote audience of 33 times the venue’s physical capacity.

The Space is available on Freeview HD channel 232 and Freesat channel 908.

Yesterday the BBC unveiled a version of its iPlayer dedicated to radio. The new site, and app, will give listeners access to schedules, national and local BBC stations and allow them to bookmark favourite shows and clips.