Last month, a new streaming service called Marquee.TV launched in the UK and US. The on-demand platform has partnered with a number of international cultural broadcasters to curate a library of recorded dance, theatre, opera and music productions from around the world. The service, which is available on iOS, Android, Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Smart Tvs for $8.99 per month, provides art-lovers with an opportunity to see art they would not have access to otherwise.
In addition to classical ballet favorites, like Bolshoi Ballet's Swan Lake, Marquee also offers avant-garde works, such as Barbarian Nights by French-Algerian choreographer Hervé Koubi, and Swedish choreographer Alexander Ekman's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. We caught up with Kathleya Afanador, Co-Founder and Director of Partnerships, to get the scoop on how they made this all happen.
This is such an exciting new way to see to make the arts accessible! Where did this idea come from?
The idea has been out there for a while, but there hasn't been a platform that has really captured the opportunity to be a part of the wider cultural ecosystem. Unlike many of the existing arts offerings, we're not tied to a particular institution and we're not branding ourselves as a "classical" arts platform. While, of course, we are building up a roster of gorgeous canonical works (for example, Swan Lake from the Bolshoi Ballet), we look at our content in the context of what's currently touring, who are the artists being reviewed and talked about now, where are the diverse, contemporary voices, and who is actually innovating within these art forms? Forging those links between live and digital audiences has been an important part of our mission since the very beginning, and it shapes the way we're approaching future development of the platform.
Specifically, Marquee had two points of genesis. One was in New York, where Marc [Kirschner] and I had been working on TenduTV, a digital distribution network for dance programming, and were also developing CultureBand, a YouTube Multi Channel Network (MCN) for arts channels. The second point was in London where Simon [Walker] (now our CEO) was developing the Arts Council England’s YouTube MCN initiative. The short story is that over the course of some company acquisitions on the tech side, both MCNs ended up “under the roof” of the same tech company. That’s how Marc and I met Simon. It became clear pretty quickly that we were all thinking of moving our focus towards creating a subscription platform. So we decided to collaborate.
When did you begin work on making this a reality?
We officially formed the company 2 years ago.
Who did you collaborate with? (And what, if any, is their relation to dance/arts?)
Well, the primary collaboration has been between the three co-founders. We all have a background working with arts and media in various capacities. Simon was part of the team that developed the BBC iPlayer and was involved in developing digital strategy at Arts Council England. Marc started TenduTV and has been involved with the dance world in both a digital strategy capacity as well as an advisory capacity. I've worked as a choreographer, arts writer, video editor, and also worked on some the US cinema broadcasts of arts content before joining Marc at TenduTV.
There are so many different performances available to stream! How did you go about acquiring all of this footage?
We license our programming from a range of cultural content distributors, international broadcasters, and independent producers. We're always looking for great content, so we also attend markets and festivals to see what's coming up and what new productions are in the pipeline.
To learn more about the company and subscribe, visit Marquee.TV website.