Unscripted: CBC Arts

“What Are You Looking For?”
This is the question we get asked the most. On this page, we’ve tried to answer that question as fully and as clearly as possible. Please take the time to read this information and apply these filters to your creative thinkingthis will give you the best shot at a successful pitch.

Whether you’re an independent producer, an artist or a freelance creator, these are the opportunities currently available with CBC Arts:

First, it’s important to understand the overall vision and strategy behind CBC Arts.
CBC Arts content lives primarily in the digital realm, with a secondary television presence. Both feature the most surprising, relevant and provocative arts content today—the kind of content that inspires Canadians to come back again and again, and share their favourite stories with their friends.

CBC Arts is for all Canadians who are even a little bit curious about the arts: occasional adventurers, digital explorers, culture vultures, cultural scribblers, working artists, aspiring artists, songbirds, crafters, sophisticates, doodlers and dabblers of all kinds. At the heart of CBC Arts is an online platform curating content from across our TV, radio and online properties, as well as stories, photos and videos both produced in-house and commissioned from artists, producers and the general public.

Please take a few minutes to browse the CBC Arts feed and the Exhibitionists sub-page to familiarize yourself with our tone and approach.


I WANT TO CONTRIBUTE TO EXHIBITIONISTS (as a videographer) AND/OR TO THE CBC ARTS FEED (as a writer):

We are interested in working with and developing diverse content-makers from across the country who can deliver original, creative short videos that tell stories about Canadian issues, arts and culture… And have the potential to be highly shareable in the digital world.

Fresh ~ Diverse ~ Distinct ~ Irreverent
We are where the audience lives.

We are looking for story pitches that showcase fresh, innovative Canadian artists and cultural producers. Our idea of “the arts” is inclusive and contemporary: our ideal story pitches celebrate less traditional art forms including digital arts (e.g. GIFs), web series, podcasting, street art and performance, experimental film, and the way artists interact with social media. They feature fresh, diverse, irreverent and distinct artistsand are highly shareable. Surprise us with something we’ve never seen or done before! 

When pitching a story, please ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is it Canadian? We’re interested in arts stories with a Canadian connection.
  • Is it shareable? We're interested in stories that will hook audiences and draw people to CBC Arts through a Facebook post, a headline or an Instagram image. Please include the social media information for your story and its subjects (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and other relevant handles).
  • Is it relevant to viewers across the country?
  • Is it relatable? Does the narrative connect to something personal or topical beyond the art itself?
  • Are you a concise and efficient storyteller? Video stories should run no longer than four minutes, and written pieces vary depending on the content.

How do I submit my idea?
Send your story idea to cbcarts@cbc.ca. Please put "PITCH" in the subject line and make your proposal one page long. Include links to your past work.


I WANT TO PITCH A CBC ARTS DIGITAL ORIGINAL SERIES:

CBC DIGITAL ORIGINALS take risks, exploring niche stories and themes in the worlds of arts, to entertain active online communities, deliver content that people will talk about and share, and incubate new homegrown talent and formats.

Produced in partnership with Canada’s leading digital storytellers and emerging creators alike, CBC DIGITAL ORIGINALS are video series made for young, diverse audiences whose phone is their dominant screen.

These premium series are designed to build our digital audience reach on CBC.ca and social media. We are looking for risk-taking content that covers underexplored subject matter that is in step with the CBC Arts strategy (above). Episode lengths currently range between 310 minutes and most seasons consist of 812 individual episodes, but content will dictate the format needs on a project-by-project basis.

Our Current CBC Arts Digital Originals

  • THE ARTISTS - an immersive 10-part digital series that dives into the first three decades of the video game revolution, featuring stories of the designers, companies and, of course, seminal games that transformed how we play.
  • ART IS MY COUNTRY - profiles 10 Canadian artists from different cultural backgrounds, exploring their identity through dance, music, poetry, visual and performance art. This stunning 10-part digital series shows how these artists are re-defining and re-shaping Canadian art.
  • OFF KILTER - A scripted comedy hybrid series takes you into the ballet world, with all its egos, insecurities and spellbinding moves, OFF KILTER follows a disgraced choreographer's (Alejandro Cadilla) attempt to rebuild his career after disappearing from the stage 25 years ago. Shot as a mockumentary, each of the 8 seven-minute episodes focuses on a different step in the course of rebuilding a career. Choreography by the acclaimed Shawn Hounsell (Royal Winnipeg Ballet, National Theatre Ballet - Prague).
  • SEEN AND HEARD - a fly-on-the wall documentary series that follows the ups and down of a mixed troupe of 30 deaf and hearing actors as they attempt to mount their adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid. 

CBC ARTS Series

  • CANADA IS A DRAGThe time has come for our drag performers to sashay into the spotlight! CANADA IS A DRAG is a nine-part docu-series from CBC Arts that showcases the true North strong and fabulous, from Winnipeg's Prairie Sky, "a lady who loves gowns but talks like a trucker," to Sofonda Cox, the chameleon queen of Toronto's Church Street.
  • THE MOVE - From ballet to breakdance to bharatanatyam, THE MOVE showcases the signature movements of six acclaimed Canadian dancers, and explores how their personal stories inform their craft. With stunning visuals and thoughtful interviews, THE MOVE will change the way you look at dancers.
  • ART KIDS - a series that travels the country to find the next generation of groundbreaking creators. From painting, to dance, to poetry, their accomplishments will amaze you — and might make you feel a little bad about yourself. But that's okay.

Please note: we also commission digital originals in other content areas. For more information, please click here


I WANT TO PITCH A PRIME TIME TELEVISION SERIES:

In our Arts programming at the moment, we're looking for series that are authentic, distinct and character-driven.

Authentic means real moments experienced by real people. Authentic storytelling doesn’t feel fake or constructed, isn’t superficial, and connects with the audience on an emotional level. We want to showcase the best of Canada. Crash Gallery is built around a series of challenges, but the creative energy and competitive spirit is neither forced nor faked, and the only real prize is bragging rights.

Distinct means that you probably wouldn't see the content on another network. Does your show fit perfectly on another network? Have you seen this story told before? If so, it’s not for us. Our series should celebrate under-represented artists and introduce Canadians to a facet of arts they never considered before.

Character-driven means that we want to hear pitches that are about people, not subjects. Interrupt This Program is not about the history of war-torn citiesit’s about the lives of the residents who are using art as an agent of change. Pitch us a story, pitch us characters, but a pitch that is just about a subject won’t cut it. We need drama, but we’re not about nasty, superficial conflict. The characters in our Arts series are engaging, inspiring, resilient, and forward-thinking.

When reviewing new proposals, we’ll evaluate how your concept addresses each of those elements, and how it helps fulfil the overall mandate and creative direction of the CBC Arts strategy. Other important factors to consider:

Do not be earnest. We want to make art more accessible to our viewers through entertaining, immersive, captivating content. We don’t want to be earnest or old-fashioned.

Make the audience feel something. Our Arts series are not about delivering straight-up information. We deliver emotion and human connection. Create something that will make our audience laugh, cry, gasp and feel proud to be Canadian. Inspire Canadians to become more engaged with the world of arts.

Stay in Canada. We currently have one Unscripted series (Interrupt This Program) that explores the underground arts scene in cities outside Canadabut that’s an exception. We are mostly looking for concepts set in Canada.

Stay present. Our mission is to reflect contemporary society. We are not looking for historical documentaries or biographies.

It’s crowded out there. Drawing eyeballs to new content is no small feat in this crowded media landscape. What unique hook does your series have? What’s the wow factor that’s going to generate buzz and compel the audience to watch? Open our eyes to something surprising and new.

Diversity is key. The CBC continues to invest in diversity both behind the scenes and in front of the camera. This means introducing new perspectives, voices, and topics of conversation, and talent that’s as ethnically, culturally and geographically diverse as the audiences we serve. We encourage all producers to embed diversity of view, subject and approach in your proposals.

Why is the public broadcaster the right partner for this series? This is a big question that we ask of each incoming pitch. Where is the public value in your concept? Why is CBC the best platform to tell your story? This links back to the point above regarding distinct content and bringing new perspectives to the audience.

Nitty gritty:

  • We prefer series over one-offs and specials
  • We generally commission between 4 and 14 episodes depending on concepts and schedule availability
  • Episodes can be an hour or half hour in length
  • Our series air in prime time between 8:00pm and 10:00pm
  • Our target audience is 25–54 years old

Our Current CBC Arts Prime Time Television Series

  • THE FILMMAKERS (Summer 2018) - Co-hosted by Amanda Parris and Johanna Schneller,  The Filmmakers is a 30-minute series featuring candid studio conversations with some of the talent behind a showcase of recent Canadian-made films directed by women.  The eight half hour episodes feature intimate one-on-one interviews with Canadian female writer/directors followed by a roundtable discussion with key creatives, actors or analysts.  We find out how each of these Canadian films were made, the inspiration behind them and why we need to watch.
  • CBC ARTS: EXHIBITIONISTS (Season 4 - Fall 2018) - a new kind of arts show — it’s young, it’s edgy and at its heart is a passionate and personal connection with diverse communities across Canada. Hosted by actor, playwright and educator Amanda Parris, CBC ARTS: EXHIBITIONISTS features fast-paced short videos that get to the core of artists, their cultures and their practices. From throat singers to ballerinas, sculptors to Instagrammers, CBC ARTS: EXHIBITIONISTS is a TV show about people who create and why they do it.
  • IN THE MAKING (Fall 2018) - This new CBC TV series showcases an extraordinary lineup of creative visionaries – visual artists, filmmakers, musicians, choreographers – who have singular approaches and something to say. Host Sean O’Neill travels the globe alongside some of Canada’s most extraordinary artists as they bring new work to life and face moments of opportunity, challenge and reward. We follow artists in real time – in studio, at home, on stage and in the field – gaining access to intimate spaces and exhilarating moments of realization.

We encourage producers to begin by familiarizing yourselves with our content. Watch CBC on TV or online. Follow the CBC Arts feed on social media. Review our schedule online. Set up a Google Alert so you can be notified when we greenlight a new show, or there’s an article in the press about our programming.

One-page pitches should be sent to the contact below, along with a signed copy of the CBC's Submission Release Form which can be downloaded from this website. If you have any video to support your pitch (ie: host or talent tape, short teaser, etc.) you may include links in your email.

All proposals are reviewed by the commissioning team on a regular basis. If there is interest in a project, you will be contacted for further discussion and refinement of the program proposal.

If the Network is interested in the concept, we embark on a phase of development, the deliverables of which are agreed upon by the producer and the CBC. Development funding is determined by the deliverables.


CBC Submission Release Form
Materials will not be reviewed unless accompanied by a signed CBC Submission Release Form, downloadable here: Submission Release Form (PDF)

All submissions should contain the subject line “Unscripted/Factual” or “Unscripted/Arts” (depending on your concept) followed by the title of your proposal. We will respond to all submissions within 46 weeks of receiving a signed CBC Submission Release Form. Please note that we cannot return materials submitted.


Contact Information
Christian Hamilton
Development Manager, Unscripted Content
email: factualpitch@cbc.ca

CBC Television Online

Watch videos online of your favourite CBC-TV programs, news, sports and much more

 
Also on CBC