The BBC has announced a “virtual festival of the arts” that aims to give people access to culture while they isolate themselves in their own homes during the coronavirus lockdown.

Cultural content will be made available to the public on television, radio and online as part of the broadcaster’s Culture In Quarantine programming.

Content will include a virtual book festival curated with author Kit de Waal, classic performances by the Royal Shakespeare Company and a puppet show by novelist Margaret Atwood.

Tony Hall, director-general of the BBC, said: “It’s important during this period that we maintain access not just to news and information, but to the arts and culture.

“For many people, they are a valuable part of their lives and a way of stimulating imagination, thought and escapism.

“It’s a vital part of who we are as individuals and part of our identity as a nation.

“So I’m delighted that we have been able to work with organisations up and down the country to deliver everything from virtual access to exhibitions and book festivals, through to performances.”

Zoe Ball on first day hosting BBC 2 Breakfast Show – London
Lord Hall said that it is important to maintain access to culture amid the Covid-19 outbreak (Yui Mok/PA)

A radio performance of a new play by David Greig, a behind-closed-doors look at museum and gallery collections and a filmed recording of Mike Bartlett’s play Albion will all form part of the coverage.

Northern Ballet’s performance of Dracula and Frankenstein at the Battersea Arts Centre will also be broadcast.

As part of Culture In Quarantine, which is a collaboration between BBC Arts and Arts Council England, a fund has been set up for 25 established artists who are based in England to produce new work.

Artists can apply online for the commissions and all of the works that are produced will feature on the BBC in some way.