British Council inaugurates India/UK Together Season of Culture

Aims to strengthen India-UK bilateral relationship

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British Council
The Zizi Project is a collection of works by Jake Elwes exploring the intersection of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and drag performance. Zizi – Queering the Dataset aims to tackle the lack of representation and diversity in the training datasets often used by facial recognition systems. Photo IPP

The British Council launched the India/UK Together Season of Culture at the British Council building at New Delhi’s Kasturba Gandhi Marg on 7 June 2022. The Season of Culture commemorates 75 years of Indian independence and to mark the deep connections between the two countries. The event was officially launched by Jan Thomson, deputy high commissioner to India and Barbara Wickham, the British Council director in India.

The cultural initiative aims and collaboration looks forward to creative expression and digital innovations in literature, music, design, theater, and the visual arts. It brings together 1,400 artists from both countries through 40 creative collaborations in 21 cities across India and Britain, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The cultural collaborations, based on the themes of accessibility and inclusion, would be spread across a period of ten months till March 2023. Culture is a key pillar of the India-UK bilateral relationship and is underlined by the recently signed (May 2021) UK-India Roadmap 2030 to enhance collaboration to support the development of the creative economies of both nations.

Music maestro AR Rahman, winner of several national and international awards including the Padma Bhushan and the Padma Shri, was announced as the ambassador of the India/UK Together Season of Culture at the 7 June event. Barbara Wickham OBE, Director India, British Council, said, “We are excited to have the globally acclaimed AR Rahman as our season ambassador. He has been a significant adviser to the Season of Culture and his work and professional journey truly embody what the Season of Culture stands for – working together, and artistic output that captures the imagination of the world.

“India/UK Together, a Season of Culture marks the deep connections between our nations and the 75th anniversary of India. The creative collaborations of emerging Indian and UK artists and arts organizations will juxtapose art with social dialogue, exploring shared global challenges such as environmental sustainability, inclusion, gender equality and accessibility, and empowering young leaders of the future through the arts. People in both countries will have the chance to experience innovative and exciting creative work from some of the most promising UK and Indian artists pushing the envelope of creativity and the infusion of creative tech.”

Wickman stated that India’s creative economy was worth Rs 50,000 crore in 2019 before the Covid-19 pandemic, and came down to Rs 30,000 crore in 2020, suffering a loss of 39%. The cultural extravaganza also aims in countering the effect caused to the pandemic on the cultural landscape of the nation. The cultural activities under the initiative will observe all Covid-19 measures and guidelines in both the countries.

AR Rahman said about the collaborative opportunity in a prerecorded video, “I am honored to be the ambassador for the British Council’s India/UK Together, a Season of Culture, and to celebrate the strong friendship between our two countries. Today, creative expression and exchange can nurture young talent and create a global stage for fair and equitable access to arts. As an artist, it is a pleasure to be part of an innovative cultural program which supports creative excellence and artistic appreciation; and brings diverse audiences together.”

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