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February 2018

Art Connects Us: Copyright Richard Davenport

Art Connects Us

At a recent Diversity Arts Australia (DARTS) conference, Paula Abood hauled a pile of dog-eared publications onto the table. “This is my collection of Diversity in the Arts policies”. They went back 30 years.  

In the UK too we’ve been talking about this for a long time. The contexts may be different but we share many similarities, e.g. in both countries representation of people of colour and CaLD artists is roughly half that in the arts as it is in the wider workforce. Progress is being made, but it is not keeping pace with our societies, it is often not sustained, there is little structural change, and it is not yet embedded where power resides in our industry. I was recently told  “I’ve got people with capacity coming out of my ears. What we need is access”.  

We have taken a year to listen to artists and organisations in the UK and Australia, working with DARTS to explore where our resources are of most value. British Council’s core work is cultural relations with a diverse, globally mobile team across 110 countries, and Australia is part of a strong East Asia region. Stakeholders honed in on our ability to connect people worldwide, both artist-to-artist and by facilitating knowledge sharing between institutions and policy makers, and our sustained focus on inclusion. 

We have partnered with DARTS, Western Sydney University and key strategic bodies (announced soon) on Art Connects Us. The next three years our arts work in Australia will focus on:

Australia is the third largest market for British culture after the USA and Europe, but opportunities have been limited for BAME artists. This over-representation of “whiteness” in touring work does not reflect contemporary British culture. We are networking BAME producers into international markets, and in Australia we will focus on opportunities and profile for UK BAME artists. In 2018 we have supported The Barber Shop Chronicles at Sydney Festival, Nassim at ACM and Perth Festival, Not Today’s Yesterday in Adelaide, Margaret Busby OBE comes to Brisbane’s WOW18 in April, in May Art House will present Salt and we welcome two artists to Sydney Writers Festival. Most have long relationships with British Council and we are delighted that Australians are seeing more of their work.

We are collaborating with DARTS to connect British BAME and Australian First Nations and CaLD curators, programmers, producers and publishers – those who have the power to select whose work is seen, what work is seen, how it is seen and who sees it.  It will be open to new applicants and alumni of programmes such as ACCELERATE and Realise Your Dream. 

Best practice is not widely shared between the UK and Australia. Western Sydney University will be asking the industry what might this look like, and we will partner with institutions in the UK and Australia to deliver it.

Photo: Salt by Selena Thompson, copyright Richard Davenport




FameLab entry deadline extended!

This week the 2017 International FameLab runner up Nural Cokcetin met Rt Hon Mark Field MP UK Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney. They toured the very apt Pollination exhibition and Nural impressed the Minister with her research and the way she uses her new public platform to creatively promote STEM, particularly to women and girls. 

In other news, due to a high number of enquiries and university researchers just returning from holidays, the FameLab Australia 2018 deadline for entries has been extended to the Friday, the 2nd of March. All the best to all applicants, keep them coming!

Apply Now!

UK contingent at the Adelaide Fringe

The Adelaide Fringe Festival Honey Pot is designed to forge relationships between Fringe artists and arts delegates: presenters, programmers and producers of festivals and venues from around the world. This year, the UK contingent comprises of 17 delegates including Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Brighton Festival and Soho Theatre.

There are also over 100 artists from the UK presenting their work at the festival, and we are thrilled to support Seeta Patel and her performance of Not Today’s Yesterday, a collaboration with Australian choreographer Lina Limosani. The development has been supported by the British Council and Arts Council of England’s Artist International Development Fund. 

Find out more

Dream Wife bring UK punk to Australia

Dream Wife brought their empowering attitude, cutting riffs and scream-dreamy vocals to audiences across the country. The three piece were spotted at the Great Escape Music Festival by programmer, Travis Banko as part of the British Council Music Showcase and we are thrilled to support Dream Wife as part of St Jerome’s Laneway Festival, a festival that has shown strong support for emerging female artists over the years.

The UK is a leader in positive action to address the gender gap in music. A number of notable organisations that promote gender equity in the music industry.

Find out more





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