China Gets Set For UK Now Art & Culture Festival

Largest Festival of British Culture will be seen by 50m visitors From April

A major UK Art and Culture festival is set to open in China in April. The event is organised by the British Council and will kick off in Beijing before traveling to 17 centres around the country. It is expected to reach tens of millions of people, by the end of 2012. The festival is potentially the biggest ever celebration of British arts held in China. It will highlight the best of UK creativity and will include exhibitions, concerts and performances across the country. The program will feature a cross-section of the UK’s most celebrated and established artists as well as up-and-coming talents in dance, design, film, literature, music, fashion, theater and visual arts.
Highlights in April and May will include exhibitions from Turner Prize-winning sculptor Tony Cragg and the photographer Rankin, tours by the English National Ballet, and performances by the Philharmonia Orchestra, according to the British Council. Also part of the delegation, Sir Mark Jones, Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum said: “The V&A has an exciting range of exhibitions planned to tour China in 2012 including a major survey of British Design since 1948.”

The programme will be managed by the British Council in partnership with HSBC and Brunswick. Highlights will include British Design 1948-2012 – a V&A exhibition that will showcase 60 years of British creative talent including fashion, furniture, ceramics, photography and architecture; and a major exhibition of Chinese and European ceramics, jointly organised by the British Museum, V&A and the National Museum of China.

Other leading UK organisations planning to work in China in 2012 include the National Youth Theatre, Birmingham Royal Ballet, London Symphony Orchestra, Liverpool Biennial, National Dance Company of Wales, London Philharmonic Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, and the international wildlife and environmental film festival Wildscreen.

The UK will highlight the connection between China and Britain by virtue of being consecutive hosts for the Olympic Games. The festival will build on the success of the UK’s participation at Shanghai Expo during which the British Council programmed entertainment 7 days a week over 6 months in 2010, offering over 2,000 performances with more than 600 performers to the millions of visitors to the Expo Park.

The idea for the UK Now festival follows the success of the China Now festival in the UK in 2008. It will be funded by major UK companies including HSBC, Brunswick, Burberry, British Airways, Diageo, IHG, John Swire & Sons Ltd, Prudential and Norton Rose LLP, as well as the British Council. It will also be developed in collaboration with the China’s Ministry of Culture and other Chinese partners.
Photo: Director of the British Council Joanna Burke (L), British Ambassador to China Sebastian Wood (C) and Director of arts at the British Council David Elliott

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