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All You Need to Know About This Year's South Bank Sky Arts Awards

Picture of Freire Barnes
Art & Design Editor
Updated: 9 June 2017

The nominees for this year’s South Bank Sky Arts Awards were announced this morning at London’s Rosewood Hotel and reveal a diverse list of potential winners.

From Harry Potter to John Akomfrah and Zadie Smith to David Bowie, this year’s list of nominees celebrates and honours the diversity of British culture.

Melvyn Bragg, the awards host, said: ‘The South Bank Sky Arts Awards are unique. They are the only major Awards wholly dedicated to the Arts.  They cover the spectrum – from pop music to classical music, from comedy to literature… They are focused on the best in the British arts which over the last couple of generations have steadily moved to the front in world status.’

Melvyn Bragg announces the South Bank Sky Arts Awards nominees and new award | © Tim Anderson

So, here’s what you need to know about the awards and this year’s nominees.

What is it?

The South Bank Sky Arts Awards are the only awards to focus entirely on all aspects of the Arts in the UK.

How long has it been going?

Conceived as The South Bank Show Awards back in 1997, Sky Arts have partnered on the awards since 2009.

© Ray Tang/REX/Shutterstock

What does it cover?

Celebrating the very best of UK culture there are ten categories covering: Comedy, Classical Music, Dance, Film, Literature, Opera, Pop Music, Theatre, TV Drama, and Visual Arts.

What do the winners get?

Apart from general acclaim, each year the 12 lucky winners get an artist bespoke-designed trophy. Following in the footsteps of Peter Blake and Anish Kapoor, this year Joe Hill and Samantha Scrase Dickins have created a take on the old-fashioned peep show machine with a special hand-painted 3D illusion inside.

2017 award trophy designed by Joe Hill and Samantha Scrase Dickins | Courtesy South Bank Sky Arts Awards

When are the winners announced?

At a star-studded award ceremony on Sunday July 9, at London’s Savoy Hotel.

Where can I watch it?

On Sky Arts on Wednesday July 12, 2017.

Who’s nominated?

Visual Art
John Akomfrah, Vertigo Sea
George Shaw: My Back to Nature
Artangel, Inside: Artists and Writers in Reading Prison

Artists and Writers in Reading Prison, an Artangel commission, 2016 | © Sandra Keating

Classical Music
Tom Coult, Spirit of the Staircase, London Sinfonietta/Martyn Brabbins
Dunedin Consort, Monteverdi Vespers, Lammermuir Festival
Philharmonia Orchestra, Stravinsky: Myths & Rituals

Camping, Sky Atlantic
Fleabag, BBC Three
People Just Do Nothing, BBC Three

English National Ballet, Akram Khan’s Giselle
Richard Alston Dance Company, An Italian in Madrid
Northern Ballet, Jane Eyre

Richard Alston Dance Company, An Italian in Madrid | Courtesy South Bank Sky Arts Awards

American Honey
I, Daniel Blake
Under the Shadow

The Gustav Sonata, Rose Tremain
The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land In Between, Hisham Matar
Swing Time, Zadie Smith

4.48 Psychosis, Royal Opera House
Nothing, Glyndebourne Youth Opera
Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring Cycle), Opera North

Pop Music
The 1975, I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it
David Bowie, Blackstar
Skepta, Konnichiwa

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Palace Theatre
The Shakespeare Trilogy, Donmar at King’s Cross
Yerma, Young Vic

TV Drama
Happy Valley, BBC One
National Treasure, Channel 4
The Crown, Netflix

The Times Breakthrough Award?
The nominees for outstanding new British talent this year are: Kieran Hodgson (Comedy), Sheku Kanneh-Mason (Classical) Rachel Kneebone (Visual Art), Malachi Kirby (TV Drama), Joseph Knox (Literature), Lewis MacDougall (Film), Kate O’Flynn (Theatre), Vidya Patel (Dance), Natalya Romaniw (Opera) and Sampha (Pop Music).

And what about The Outstanding Achievement Award

Ah well, that’s still hush hush, so we’ll have to wait until the day of the ceremony.