The embattled arts industry will be celebrated next month with the South Bank Sky Arts Awards. Now in its 24th year, the annual ceremony will take place at the London Coliseum in a new, socially distanced format.
The reach of the awards event will be greatly increased this year, following the arrival of the Sky Arts channel on the Freeview free to air TV platform.
The show will screen at 8pm on Sunday December 20.
Hosted by Melvyn Bragg, the South Bank Sky Arts Awards is the only Awards ceremony in the world to acknowledge and celebrate every genre of the Arts, including Dance, Classical Music, Comedy, Film, Literature, Opera, Pop, Theatre, TV Drama and Visual Art.
In the TV Drama category, Sky Original Chernobyl is nominated alongside Channel 4’s The Virtues and BBC One’s epic Years and Years. Meanwhile in Comedy, BBC Three and Amazon Prime’s critically acclaimed Fleabag goes up against Netflix hit Sex Education and Channel 4’s Home. A hotly contested Film category also spans multiple genres, featuring Rocketman, The Souvenir and For Sama.
The South Bank Sky Arts Awards is the only Awards ceremony in the world to acknowledge and celebrate every genre of the Arts…
On stage, Sheffield’s renowned Crucible Theatre boasts two separate nominations in the Theatre category for new plays Standing at the Sky’s Edge, directed by Robert Hastie with music by Richard Hawley, and Life of Pi, directed by Max Webster. They go head to head with The Jamie Lloyd Company’s production of Cyrano de Bergerac at the Playhouse Theatre, directed by Jamie Lloyd and starring James McAvoy in the title role.
In the world of music, BRIT award-winning rapper Dave’s album Psychodrama will clash with Kano’s Hoodies All Summer and Mercury Prize winner Michael Kiwanuka’s Kiwanuka, in the Pop category. In Classical Music, Edinburgh International Festival’s performance of Götterdämmerung, from Sir Andrew Davis and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra is nominated alongside the Thomas Adès Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra with the piano soloist Kirill Gerstein.
The final nominee in the category is the world premiere of the Thea Musgrave Trumpet Concerto, from the Cheltenham Music Festival and CBSO, based on a series of paintings by Scottish artist Victoria Crowe.
The Opera nominees include Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk from Birmingham Opera Company, directed by Graham Vick and conducted by former Times Breakthrough nominee Alpesh Chauhan, and Katya Kabanova, a story of love and loneliness from The Royal Opera. They are up against the dark and beautiful fairy tale of isolation and enchantment, Iolanta, from Opera Holland Park.
In Dance, Northern Ballet’s tragedy Victoria, is nominated alongside Ballet Black’s Ingoma, a fusion of ballet, African dance and song. Matthew Bourne’s contemporary reimagining of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, is the final nominee.
In Visual Art, Tracey Emin’s A Fortnight of Tears at White Cube is nominated alongside Only Human, the Martin Parr exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, and Steve McQueen’s celebrated Year 3 project in collaboration with Tate Britain, Artangel and A New Direction, which appeared on billboards across London.
The authors nominated in the Literature category are Sara Collins for the thrilling murder mystery The Confessions of Frannie Langton, Edna O’Brien, for her powerful story of survival, Girl, and Laura Cumming for the deeply moving On Chapel Sands: My mother and other missing persons.
Promising artists at the start of their career will be celebrated in The Times Breakthrough Award. One to watch, it has been previously awarded to actors Jessie Buckley and Tom Hiddleston, grime and hip hop artist Stormzy and extraordinary cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason. This year, Dafne Keen, star of the BBC’s His Dark Materials, Candice Carty-Williams, author of bestselling novel Queenie and dancer Paris Fitzpatrick are among the young hopefuls competing for the prize.
The final award is the Outstanding Achievement Award, the winner of which will be revealed on the night. This award recognises the remarkable contribution an artist has made to the Arts, throughout their career to date. Previous winners include Harold Pinter, Judi Dench, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Benedict Cumberbatch and last year, Sir Lenny Henry.
“This year’s Awards will inevitably be a very different sort of event for very different circumstances, but nonetheless will be an inspiring and uplifting celebration of the remarkable talent and strength of many artists at the peak of their powers,” says Melvyn Bragg. “The diverse and eclectic list of nominees in every category proves that there is much to enjoy in the Arts – even in the toughest of times.”
“When I look at the list of nominees for the South Bank Sky Arts Awards it’s simultaneously inspiring and heart-breaking,” says Phil Edgar-Jones, Director of Sky Arts and Entertainment. “The talent and creativity on display is awesome but at the same time makes our lost 2020 more poignant and reinforces how much we need and miss our brilliant artists, actors, musicians, dancers and all-round entertainers.”
South Bank Sky Arts Awards nominees in full
Edinburgh International Festival
Sir Andrew Davis and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Thomas Adès Concerto for Piano and Orchestra
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Thea Musgrave Trumpet Concerto
Cheltenham Music Festival / City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Fleabag – BBC Three and Amazon Prime Video / Two Brothers Pictures Ltd
Sex Education – Netflix / Eleven Film
Home – Jantaculum / Channel X for Channel 4
Victoria – Northern Ballet
Ingoma – Ballet Black
Matthew Bourne’s Romeo and Juliet – A New Adventures Production
The Confessions of Frannie Langton – Sara Collins
Girl – Edna O’Brien
On Chapel Sands: My mother and other missing persons – Laura Cumming
Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk – Birmingham Opera Company
Katya Kabanova – The Royal Opera
Iolanta – Opera Holland Park
Kano – Hoodies All Summer
Michael Kiwanuka – Kiwanuka
Standing at the Sky’s Edge – Crucible Theatre, Sheffield
Life of Pi – Crucible Theatre, Sheffield
Cyrano de Bergerac – Playhouse Theatre
Chernobyl – Sister / The Mighty Mint / Word Games / Sky Atlantic / HBO
The Virtues – Warp Films / Big Arty Productions / Channel 4
Years And Years – Red Production Company and HBO for BBC One
Tracey Emin: A Fortnight of Tears
White Cube Bermondsey
Only Human: Martin Parr
National Portrait Gallery
Steve McQueen: Year 3
Tate Britain and billboards across London
The Times Breakthrough Award
Classical Music: Jess Gillam
Comedy: London Hughes
Dance: Paris Fitzpatrick
Film: Waad Al-Kateab
Literature: Candice Carty-Williams
Opera: Rowan Pierce
Theatre: Miriam-Teak Lee
TV Drama: Dafne Keen
Visual Art: Michael Armitage