News - South Bank Sky Arts Awards

The winners have been announced for this year's South Bank Sky Arts Awards. Here's the full list along with a look at how Susan Omand's predictions panned out (contains spoilers if you're going to watch it on TV on 20th)...

Press Release

The winners of this year’s 24th annual South Bank Sky Arts Awards were announced in a socially distanced ceremony at the London Coliseum, home of English National Opera. Hosted by Melvyn Bragg, the awards continue their legacy as the only awards ceremony in the world to represent the entire spectrum of the arts, with categories for TV Drama, Classical Music, Theatre, Comedy, Dance, Film, Visual Art, Pop, Literature and Opera. The awards will be free for everyone to watch on Sky Arts, Freeview channel 11, at 8pm on Sunday 20th December.

Ian McKellen took to the stage to accept the Outstanding Achievement Award, recognising his incomparable contribution to theatre and film. He joins Tracey Emin, Harold Pinter, Julie Walters, Sylvia Guillem, Benedict Cumberbatch, Andrew Lloyd Webber, The Who, Paul Abbott, Simon Rattle, Eddie Izzard, and Sir Lenny Henry in the Outstanding Achievement hall of fame. He was also congratulated via video by Dame Judi Dench and Dame Helen Mirren.

Receiving his award, Ian McKellen said, “I am very happy and honoured to be in the company of the nominees for this tricky year’s South Bank Sky Arts awards…The closure of theatres in response to an outside threat to the country, is not unprecedented. When another plague reached London 450 years ago, the theatres were closed and Shakespeare’s company was out of work. No furlough. His response to one lockdown was to write Macbeth, Antony & Cleopatra and King Lear. I hope during our lockdowns that playwrights have been busy writing plays. More, I hope others have been planning and imagining future productions.”

The Times Breakthrough Award was awarded to Waad al-Kateab, the Syrian journalist, filmmaker and activist whose critically-acclaimed documentary For Sama won two BAFTAs and an Academy Award. She joins the likes of Tom Hiddleston, Billie Piper, Stormzy, Amma Asante, Sheku Kanneh-Mason and Jessie Buckley as Times Breakthrough recipients.

In television, Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s renowned series Fleabag won the Comedy category, seeing off Netflix’s Sex Education and Channel 4’s Home. Meanwhile, Sky Original drama Chernobyl won out in the TV Drama category for its unflinching portrayal of the nuclear accident.

In music, Dave conquered the Pop category with his winning album Psychodrama, fighting off Kano and Michael Kiwanuka. In Classical Music, Thea Musgrave’s Trumpet Concerto triumphed, whilst The Royal Opera took home the coveted Opera trophy for Katya Kabanova. Northern Ballet were thrilled to accept the Dance award for their production of Victoria, with Choreographer Cathy Marston commenting, “It’s so exciting to think back after such a challenging year to a time when we were in the studio creating and inspiring one another.”

Haunting masterpiece The Souvenir took home the Film award, with director Joanna Hogg and actor Tilda Swinton joining the ceremony via video to accept the gong. The Sheffield Crucible won this year’s hotly contested theatre award for its outstanding production Standing at the Sky’s Edge, collected by Robert Hastie, Artistic Director of Sheffield Theatres.

Steve McQueen’s Year 3, which appeared at Tate Britain and on billboards across London won the Visual Art category. Joining the ceremony from Amsterdam, Steve thanked “all of the schoolchildren and their teachers. Here’s to their future.” Meanwhile, Edna O’Brien triumphed in the Literature category for her masterful novel Girl, inspired by the women abducted by Boko Haram.

Phil Edgar-Jones, Director of Sky Arts and Entertainment, said “Congratulations to all the winners of the South Bank Sky Arts Awards. We all know what a difficult year it’s been for everyone who works in the arts so to see the level of talent, creativity and entertainment in show here is heartwarming and kind of heartbreaking at the same time. Here’s to 2021 and the road to recovery.”

Two special performances also took place on stage over the course of the evening. Trumpet virtuoso Alison Balsom performed her own arrangement of Albinoni’s Oboe Concerto in D minor whilst Faith Omole gave a rendition of Richard Hawley’s ‘Coles Corner’ from Standing at the Sky’s Edge. Alison Balsom commented on the year, saying “The UK performing arts industry has been the envy of the world for decades, centuries. But this year has been, there is no other way to describe it, than catastrophic for tens and thousands of artists and creatives, but also joyless for the millions of us who know that the Arts give us all something to live for. That the South Bank Sky Arts Awards have yet again been able to recognise more of these achievements, despite everything, is a ray of hope for the future.”

Here's the Full List of Nominees with Susan's predictions [guesses - Ed] from last month of who will win. Let's see how many she did get right... 

Classical Music

Götterdämmerung - ** Will Win (and not just because it was local to me)**
Edinburgh International Festival
Sir Andrew Davis and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra

Thomas Adès Concerto for Piano and Orchestra - London Philharmonic Orchestra
Thea Musgrave Trumpet Concerto - **DID WIN ** (current score 0/1)
Cheltenham Music Festival / City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra


Fleabag - ** Will Win ** (Andrew Scott - enough said) 
**DID WIN ** (current score 1/2)
BBC Three and Amazon Prime Video / Two Brothers Pictures Ltd

Sex Education - Netflix / Eleven Film
Home - Jantaculum / Channel X for Channel 4

Dance - a difficult category as I really enjoyed all of these. Happy if any of them get it. 

Victoria - 
Northern Ballet **DID WIN ** (current score 1/3 but I'm really happy this one won)
Ingoma - Ballet Black
Matthew Bourne’s Romeo and Juliet - ** Will Win ** (because Matthew Bourne)
A New Adventures Production


Rocketman ** Will Win ** 
The Souvenir
 ** Should Win but not enough people have watched it ** **DID WIN ** yay! (current score 1/4 because I should have had the courage of my convictions)
For Sama


The Confessions of Frannie Langton - Sara Collins
Girl - Edna O’Brien ** Will Win ** (violent and violating - a masterpiece of writing) **DID WIN ** (current score 2/5)
On Chapel Sands: My mother and other missing persons
 - Laura Cumming


Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk
 - Birmingham Opera Company ** should win but Shostakovitch is difficult for some people **
Katya Kabanova - The Royal Opera ** Will Win ** **DID WIN ** (current score 3/6)
Iolanta - Opera Holland Park


Dave - Psychodrama ** Will Win ** (that performance at the Brits earlier this year clinches it for me) 
**DID WIN ** (current score 4/7)
Kano - Hoodies All Summer
Michael Kiwanuka - Kiwanuka


Standing at the Sky’s Edge
 - Crucible Theatre, Sheffield **DID WIN ** (current score 4/8)
Life of Pi - ** Will Win ** (An incredibly clever production)  
Crucible Theatre, Sheffield
Cyrano de Bergerac - Playhouse Theatre

TV Drama

Chernobyl - ** Will Win ** (because it's won everything else) **DID WIN ** (current score 5/9)
Sister / The Mighty Mint / Word Games / Sky Atlantic / HBO

The Virtues - Warp Films / Big Arty Productions / Channel 4
Years And Years - Red Production Company and HBO for BBC One

Visual Art

Tracey Emin: A Fortnight of Tears - White Cube Bermondsey

Only Human: Martin Parr ** Will Win ** (a superb concept)
National Portrait Gallery

Steve McQueen: Year 3 - **DID WIN ** (current score 5/10)
Tate Britain and billboards across London. A partnership between Tate, Artangel and A New Direction. Supported by Joseph and Abigail Baratta, De Ying Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies, with additional support from Dana and Albert R. Broccoli Charitable Foundation, The Garcia Family Foundation, Wagner Foundation and Tate Americas Foundation.

The Times Breakthrough Award

Classical Music: Jess Gillam
Comedy: London Hughes
Dance: Paris Fitzpatrick
Film: Waad Al-Kateab **DID WIN ** (current score 5/11)
Literature: Candice Carty-Williams
Opera: Rowan Pierce
Pop: Beabadoobee
Theatre: Miriam-Teak Lee
TV Drama: Dafne Keen ** Will Win ** (His Dark Materials is getting a lot of plaudits)
Visual Art: Michael Armitage

So 5/11 isn't a bad score [and proves that random guesswork will get you a right answer about half the time! - Ed]

Images - Sky/Edinburgh International Festival/Ryan Buchanan/Amazon
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