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United Kingdom

The BBC Big Screens program throughout the UK - a core partner of Streaming Museum, 2008-2013

Arrival/Departure (2013) by Tom Carr at BBC Big Screen, Woolwich – General Gordon Square, London. Photo by Elisabeth Carr. Tom Carr international exhibition produced in collaboration with Art Plural Gallery, Singapore

The BBC Big Screens are a partnership of the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation), city councils, some universities and LOCOG, the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games. There are currently 23 Big Screens across the UK, in Belfast, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cardiff, Coventry, Derby, Derry, Dover, Edinburgh, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, London (two locations), Manchester, Middlesbrough, Norwich, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Salford, Swansea, and Swindon. They are generally located in areas in city centres with good footfall and event space. The screens run with sound (muted overnight) and present BBC news, weather and sport information, national, international and local, as well as community information and films, a range of digital film work and major televised programmmes, such as Wimbledon coverage, Last Night of the Proms (summer classical music concert series and events) and the Olympics. Big Screens also support national and local events, from live music to relays from other locations and interactive game playing.

History of BBC Big Screens Back in 2003 the first Big Screen was erected in Manchester’s Exchange Square. It was part of an experiment into Public Space Broadcasting by the BBC, born out of using screens for events such as Proms in the Park, 2002 World Cup and the Manchester Commonwealth Games. From here the experiment grew to include other cities like Birmingham, Liverpool and Leeds. The Big Screens enabled cities to be able connect with their community by animating public spaces with live events using the screen and its technology. Up until this point each of the original 9 screens were run locally but with the introduction of 8 new screens and a consensus that all screens within the network should look and operate the same the Screens Operational Centre (SOC) was set-up in Birmingham. From here Imran Hussain and Jo Willis, both Assistant Producers (AP’s), monitor and schedule the screens centrally.

The Big Screens day-to-day content consists of news, sport and weather from the BBC, mixed in with short films sourced nationally and locally. Imran and Jo are always on the lookout for innovative and inspiring content to show on all the screens. As the screens are in public spaces the content needs to be suitable for audiences of all ages. The majority of short films that appear nationally are sourced from film festivals like Bristol’s Encounters Film Festival, the Midlands Flip Animation Festival and Manchester’s Exposures Film Festival. The national content is complemented with international content like the video artwork programming produced by Streaming Museum.

The Big Screens adhere to a dynamic schedule. This enables the screens to broadcast a broader mix of content across the day/week/month. Content is not restricted to a set time each day, allowing the content to reach a wider audience.

Each region has a Screen Manager or Producer, who ensures that each of the screens showcases the work of local producers, making the screens relevant to their location. They also work with the local authorities to stage events that bring the community together.

As part of the scheduling, Imran and Jo are able to allow the Big Screens to opt out of their normal schedules, whether this is to show a BBC programme like Wimbledon or the Electric Proms, or to allow the managers and producers to run an event like showcasing a popular film (Mamma Mia in Plymouth) or a Christmas Lights Switch-On event (Norwich).

Imran and Jo provide support to the managers and producers within the regions aiding them with day-to-day problems, whether they are scheduling queries, problems with editing or minor technical questions. As part of this support, they monitor the Big Screens to ensure they are all in good working order, working closely with the technical team they notify them of any problems to ensure that they are dealt with quickly and efficiently.

Jo Willis Assistant Producer, Screens Operational Centre BBC Birmingham WEBSITE

FACT [Foundation for Art and Creative Technology] Liverpool, United Kingdom

Mick Stubbs, Director

Streaming Museum exhibitions were presented at FACT, the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology - the UK’s leading organisation for commissioning, exhibiting, promoting and supporting artists’ work and innovation in the fields of film, video, and new media. FACT has commissioned and presented over 100 digital media artworks with artists including Mark Wallinger, Barbara Kruger, Tony Oursler, Pipilotti Rist, Vito Acconci and Isaac Julien.

Originally founded in 1988 FACT’s mission was to inspire and promote the artistic significance of film, video and new media. Twenty years on, and still the UK’s primary exponent of innovative digital media, our aim is to pioneer new forms of artistic and social interaction with emerging creativity. We believe in the ability of individuals and communities to express themselves creatively, and work with international artists to develop exhibitions, increase knowledge about new technologies and to create new commissions with people living and working in Liverpool.

FACT Programme is the artistic core of the organisation, commissioning projects by artists in film, video and new and emerging media forms and working with a wide variety of partner organisations. Collaboration and Education works across four key areas: housing, health, young people and education, and with local communities through pioneering projects such as tenantspin.

Media Services supports and develops the national infrastructure for artists and exhibitors working with video and new and emerging media forms. As well as managing the Medialab, a training and workshop room, activities include: theMoving Image Touring and Exhibition Service (MITES), the national technical support service for artists and exhibitors; Digital Mastering, New Tools training courses, FACT Online Archive and FACT TV.

Deena DeNaro-Bickerstaffe, Manager, FACT Moving Image Touring and Exhibition Service [MITES] 88 Wood Street, Liverpool L1 4DQ T: +44 (0)151 7074444


Birkbeck, University of London Department of History of Art and Screen Media, participated in the 7-continent simultaneous launch of Streaming Museum on January 29, 2008, with Good Morning Mr. Orwell (1984) by Nam June Paik. Artist and Professor Jeremy Gardiner, produced the event and gave an introductory presentation.

The Birkbeck, University of London, School of History of Art and Screen Media is a long established centre with a high national and international reputation in medieval, Renaissance and modern art history and the history of film and television. Located in the centre of London, in historic Bloomsbury, gives students access to the capital’s unrivalled range of libraries, art galleries, museums and cinemas. Forty-six Gordon Square, the building housing the School, is also the former home of Vanessa and Virginia (later Woolf) Stephens, centre of the Bloomsbury Circle, as well as the home of John Maynard Keynes, celebrated economist.

The School includes an architecturally acclaimed state-of-the-art Centre for Research in Film and Visual Media, designed to be used for teaching, research and conferences, and is equipped with a 70-seat cinema.


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