Sky Arts Art 50

Post Brexit Britain. Who Are We?

What will Britain look like, feel like, be like to live in, when we are no longer members of the European Union?  The outcome of the Brexit referendum has stimulated a widespread debate about our national identity, with many people looking to express how they feel about our nation as we approach a future outside the EU.

What is Art 50?

Sky Arts launched Art 50 to invite artists of all kinds, from all walks of life, from all artistic genres, to create a piece of work which says something important about what it will mean to be British after we leave the European Union. 

We are working with our partner organisations; the Barbican, Sage Gateshead and BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art.  They will be hosting a festival featuring a selection of the Art 50 commissions as well as being on the judging panel.  Separately, Sky Arts is commissioning them to produce some new work.

In the next two years there will be staggered commissioning rounds to give you, or your school, college or arts institution, the opportunity to apply for funding or co-funding to make a piece of theatre/ dance/ music/ film/ art/ collage (the list goes on) that responds to the question….

What will it mean to be British?  

What are the criteria?

At the beginning of February 2017, key figures in the arts world across disciplines and across the country were invited to a consultation to help decide the criteria for commissioning: 

We are looking for ideas of all sizes that:

  • Engage rather than lecture
  • Relate to suburbs and rural communities as well as towns and cities
  • Allow us to hear and understand many points of view 
  • Help us to understand how we’ve got here
  • Taken together, represent a diversity of opinion
  • Include new voices as well as established artists
  • Make a splash, or leave a lasting legacy – or both!

How much funding is there?

Sky Arts has allocated £1m to Art 50. This covers the cost of making the TV documentaries we will make and all the arts projects it will fund.  We welcome applications for up to £50,000 – the majority of awards will be made between £5,000 to £20,000.  

Who can apply?

Anyone can apply - no matter how experienced or otherwise.  However, the commissioning panel will need to feel confidence that the proposed project can be realised as described. 


Having commissioned a number of films and plays in Round 1, we would really like to see more music and visual art ideas i.e. painting, sculpture, installations etc. But if your thoughts don’t tally with this, don’t worry – we still exciting ideas about what it means to be British in other genres too.

We also want to hear from around the country, but are particularly keen on receiving a greater number of ideas from:

1) Areas that are underrepresented in the UK’s mainstream metropolitan arts community
2) Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland who are currently underrepresented in our commissions
3) Schools across the UK and British territories for a particular project within Art 50 - ‘School Britannia’

What will happen next?

The new commissioning round is now open and closes at midday on the 12th January 2018


As well as the regular applications, we would also like to commission a number of primary and secondary schools to contribute poems from pupils along with artwork or additional exciting pieces, showing us a child’s eye view about what life is like in their town, city or village up and down the country. The five best poems will be filmed being recited and these shorts, accompanied by visuals alongside them, will be transmitted in March 2019 on Sky Arts.  The 50 best poems will form the basis of a collection entitled ‘School Britannia’’ which will provide a historic legacy. 


We need to know WHY you should be included. Are you the smallest school in the UK? Are you the biggest? Are you the most isolated? Are you a special school for other reasons? Is where you live the ultimate British village? The first or last ‘new town’ created? Is it a place a particular group flocked to in – be it in 1500 or 2017? Does it have memorable things for children to do - or nothing at all but fields? Tell us anything that makes your school and where you live stand out from all the others –providing a unique voice in this national debate about what it means to be British.   

If your school is picked, we will arrange for a poetry ambassador – an established poet - to visit your school. We will also provide the school with a small donation for the time, resources and effort you put into the project. 

Our choices will be based on exciting pitches that enable us to show differing aspects of Britishness across the rural, town and suburban landscapes of the UK and beyond. 

Here are a few tips for Art 50 applications:

1. Where relevant, make sure you send links and passwords to websites or work you have done previously, or attach anything that will help us understand who you are, and why we should trust that you can see through your project. Many applications didn’t make it through because there simply wasn’t enough information on you or your organisation to make a proper judgement. 

2. Don’t just send us a pitch for any old idea you want funding for! This isn’t a general arts funding scheme. At Art 50 we want ideas that fit the brief: what does it mean to be British?  These ideas can vary – they can present everything from a specific group to showing a wider notion of Britishness. Either way, we want to get a sense of who we are as a nation from it.

3. Whilst verbatim ideas can be fantastic, we received a number that had ‘we will speak to people around the country’ as their main thrust. If you are going to have other people’s words, then do something interesting with them. We aren’t looking for travelogues, reportage or a straightforward compilation of people’s words.

4. Brexit was the main reason for this project coming together, but the project itself isn’t about Brexit. This project is about documenting a unique moment in our history. So don’t stick rigidly just to the topic of Brexit. You don’t even need to talk about it at all. Art 50 is about our identity as a nation now and in the near future. Bear that in mind when you apply – what is your idea saying about us as a people?

Round 2 of Sky Arts Art 50 is now open

Thank you for visiting our website.

Apply here for Art 50 Apply here for Art 50: School Britannia

Submitted projects

We commissioned 15 projects from Round 1 of Art 50.

From poems to plays, from music to marketing and from roadside photography to robots - all British life is here!

View projects