The South Bank Sky Arts Awards is marking its 25th anniversary in 2021.
The awards return on 18 July in style for 2021, marking 25 years as the only Awards ceremony in the world to celebrate every genre of the Arts, including Dance, Theatre, Pop, TV Drama, Film, Classical Music, Literature, Opera, Comedy and Visual Art.
“This is the 25th anniversary of the Awards and, with luck, we are back to a huge gathering of some of the finest artists across the board in the United Kingdom. This is an Awards show which also includes performances of the highest quality – and is altogether a positive and happy statement of the Arts in Britain today.”
– Melvyn Bragg
Making a spectacular return for this anniversary year, the Awards will be the first in-person event to take place at The Savoy since government restrictions have eased. Presented and edited by Melvyn Bragg, the cream of British talent form a dazzling and diverse list of nominees for this year, with high calibre talent battling it out in a particularly strong Pop category, which includes nominations for Dua Lipa, J Hus and SAULT. The TV Drama category this year sees nominations for three outstanding series; RTS-winning, BAFTA-nominated BBC drama I May Destroy You, BAFTA-nominated anthology series Small Axe and BBC Two drama Industry.
This year there are two additional awards – The Sky Arts Award for Innovation in the Arts During The Pandemic, awarded to both an institution and an individual, to acknowledge their outstanding work during the Covid-19 global pandemic. Winners of this category will be announced on the night.
Leading the way in the Comedy category with two nominations is Channel 4 with quirky sitcom Home and semi-autobiographical series Feel Good, alongside the BBC’s hilarious sitcom from the Horrible Histories team, Ghosts. Nominations for Theatre include the Kiln Theatre’s Pass Over, the Donmar Warehouse’s Blindness and the Harold Pinter Theatre and BBC Four collaboration, Uncle Vanya.
Fighting it out in the hotly contested Film category is Sarah Gavron’s coming of age drama Rocks, alongside Rose Glass’ chilling debut film Saint Maud and Remi Weekes’ horror thriller His House. Opera North and Scottish Opera battle it out in the Opera category with Street Scene and Nixon In China respectively, with VOPERA also being nominated for L’enfant et les sortilèges.
Literature category nominations this year include Douglas Stuart’s Booker Prize-winning and New York Times Bestseller, Shuggie Bain, alongside Maggie O’Farrell’s winner of The Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020 novel, Hamnetand Paul Mendez’s semi-autobiographical, coming-of-age novel, Rainbow Milk. Rounding out the Visual Art category are Denzil Forrester: Itchin & Scratchin from Nottingham Contemporary & Spike Island, Bristol, Hold Still from the National Portrait Gallery and unique, ground-breaking exhibition Cold War Steve Meets the Outside World.
Leaping into the Dance category, nominations include The Royal Ballet’s first main-stage work of Valentino Zucchetti’s Scherzo, Birmingham Royal Ballet’s first one-act ballet commissioned and presented by Carlos Acosta, Lazuli Sky,and Final Edition, the farewell performance from the Richard Alston Dance Company. Classical Music nominations include Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra’s Petrenko’s Mahler I & II, The Lockdown Commissions Lawrence Power and Pavel Kolesnikov’s and Samson Tsoy’s Second Ragged Music Festival at the Ragged School Museum.
The Times Breakthrough Award shines a spotlight on up-and-coming talent in the British Arts; previous notable winners include Amma Asante, Billie Piper and Nubya Garcia. Nominations for this popular category will be announced in due course.
The pinnacle of the event is the Outstanding Achievement Award, which acknowledges the remarkable contribution an artist has made throughout their career to date. Previous winners of this award include Andrew Lloyd Webber, Sylvie Guillem, Tracey Emin, Judi Dench, J.K. Rowling, Howard Pinter, Simon Rattle, Eddie Izzard, and Benedict Cumberbatch. This year’s winner will be revealed during the ceremony.
Despite the restrictions of the pandemic, The South Bank Sky Arts Awards was still able to go ahead in December 2020, putting on a virtual ceremony that provided its deserving winners with an event no less celebratory than in previous years.
The Sound Bank Show was launched on ITV by London Weekend Television in January 1978, named after the LWT studios on the Southbank of the River Thames. The series switched to Sky Arts in 2012, having ended on ITV in 2010, while the awards show made its debut on Sky Arts in 2011.
“After a year like no other where performers and artists across all the genres have found new and innovative ways of working it’s with a real sense of excitement and pride that we welcome them back to celebrate all their amazing achievements in 2020. And in this its 25th year the South Bank Sky Awards promises to be even more special.”
-Phillip Edgar-Jones, Director of Sky Arts