UK-China Year of Cultural Exchange

6 October 2015

What is in it for the North West? Do you know that the cultural industries in both China and the UK will represent about 5% of the economies by 2016? What will this mean to the arts organisations in the North West of England? What new opportunities will there be? And how can the Confucius Institute contribute to this dynamic interaction?

2015 is designated as the first UK-China Year of Cultural Exchange, with the first half dedicated to the promotion of UK culture in China and the second half to the promotion of Chinese culture in the UK. You may have read and seen some high profile visits and events such as Prince William’s visit to China in March dotting the eye of Shaun the Sheep and launching the GREAT Festival of Creativity in Shanghai. Furthermore, there was the visit of David Hockney and the live broadcast of National Theatre performances in Chinese cinemas. The recent announcement of £7 million by Chancellor George Osborne to support showcasing British arts from Shakespeare to Sherlock Holmes as well as educational programmes for art students and practitioners in China, means the exchange and interaction between the two creative industries will go from strength to strength.

One assumes that British government funding is likely to support large arts institutions like South Bank, Shakespeare Global, Royal Opera House and British Library. Where does this leave the arts organisations in the North West? From our point of view, identifying a good partner in your field is the starting point. We have seen small theatre groups and individual producers actively involved in performances in key cities in China; In China on the other hand, private collectors and galleries are keen to find partners for exhibitions and shows. Getting an invite to major festivals like Shanghai China International Arts Festival is a good way of understanding what appeals to mass Chinese audiences.

The Confucius Institute is here to help with making that connection and overcome the communication barrier. We are already working closely with Manchester Literature Festival, Manchester Museum, MOSI, Whitworth and Manchester Art Gallery and would like to see more.

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