The South Bank Sky Arts Awards have taken place with Melvyn Bragg overseeing proceedings.

“This is as strong as any list we have ever had. The arts in the UK, a ¬£92billion industry, are second only to the US. Regrettably, government policy in cutting arts teaching out of so many schools fails to take this on board. This year’s awards celebrate what can happen when arts are encouraged from school-age onwards.” – Melvyn Bragg

Today’s South Bank Sky Arts Awards saw a host of artists from the entire spectrum of the arts celebrated for their achievements this year, with Benedict Cumberbatch the recipient of the coveted Outstanding Achievement Award.

Hosted by Melvyn Bragg, The South Bank Sky Arts Awards continued its legacy as the only awards ceremony in the world to celebrate the complete range of the arts, with categories for TV Drama, Classical Music, Theatre, Comedy, Dance, Film, Visual Art, Pop, Literature and Opera. Grime artist Stormzy took home the Pop award for Gang Signs & Prayer, his sensationally popular debut album that has taken the music world by storm. The universally treasured Paddington 2 was victorious in the Film category, meanwhile Ma’am Darling, the rip-roaring and witty account of Princess Margaret’s life, saw its author, Craig Brown, scoop the Literature prize.

Other winners on the day included the deliciously dark Inside No. 9 for Comedy, the eloquently poised maliphantworks for Dance and politically pertinent The Jungle for Theatre. The awards also celebrated emerging talent, with The Times Breakthrough Award this year presented to Nubya Garcia, a multitalented saxophonist whose debut recordings and live performances have transcended the jazz scene.

The awards added a personal touch for this year’s winners, as many of the presenters of each category had a connection with the respective recipient. Presenters included Germaine Greer, an early champion of winning artist Rose Wylie; and Classical Music presenter Guy Garvey, who has performed with Sir Mark Elder, conductor of the victorious BBC Philharmonic and the Hall√©. With a host of artists performing on the night, including opera singer Danielle de Niese; remarkable country duo The Shires; hip hop infused saxophonist Soweto Kinch; and an expressive reading by Stephen Mangan, the awards were a dynamic celebration of British artistic excellence.

The full winners can be seen on Wednesday at 8pm when Sky Arts broadcasts the gong show.

“The Arts in the UK is as vibrant and exciting as it’s ever been – at Sky Arts we are privileged to be able to bring the very best practitioners across all genres to the screen, whether they are the established geniuses in the field or just starting out. The South Bank Sky Arts Awards celebrates the very cream of the crop and we are proud to celebrate it with our brilliant band of viewers.” – Phil Edgar-Jones, director of Sky Arts

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