ScreenSkills CEO part of Sky Arts lockdown portraits


ScreenSkills CEO Seetha Kumar joined leading industry figures - including former culture minister Lord Vaizey and Bafta CEO Amanda Berry - in being painted for Sky Arts as part of an initiative focusing on the value of culture during the pandemic.

The portraits are being unveiled today in a series of short films and will also be shown on Sky Arts in September.

The channel, which hosts the Portrait Artist of the Year series, initially intended to create an exhibition of the portraits. Sitters also include the comedian and political commentator Ayesha Hazarika, Axel Ruger, who runs the Royal Academy, and Caroline Norbury from the Creative Industries Federation.

However, the continued restrictions led to an alternative presentation with short films featuring each of the cultural leaders reflecting on the role of the arts during the pandemic and their hopes for the cultural recovery.

Filmed as she saw her portrait by the artist Danny Howe for the first time, Seetha reflected on the resilience of the screen industries during the pandemic.

“Our industry responded imaginatively and creatively to the challenges of the pandemic. We moved towards remote working and we also innovated with creative technologies, such as virtual production which is here to stay,” she said.

Seetha also highlighted some of the ways ScreenSkills supported the workforce through this challenging time. “We wanted to help the sector get back to work so we provided the coronavirus basic awareness module so we could go and film safely again.”

With lockdown measures being eased imminently, she said she “can’t imagine anything more magical than being in an auditorium, the lights darkening and being transported and just wafted away.”

Sky Arts have launched the portraits this week before lockdown restrictions lift as a reminder of how important the creative industries have been throughout the pandemic and to rally support for the sector as it reopens.

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