2017 UK-India Year of Culture launched

Friday, 5 August 2016

Bhubaneswar: Alan Gemmell OBE, Director, British Council India announced a series of interesting new projects that the council will be working on in the next couple of years. Speaking on his ambitions for the Council in East India, the new Country Director launched the "2017 UK-India Year of Culture‟ campaign in Bhubaneswar today. He emphasised the need to promote cultural exchange and to create educational opportunities for stronger ties between India and the UK. Speaking at the event, Alan Gemmell OBE, Director, British Council India, said, “I am thrilled to be in East India and learn about the brilliant educational and cultural ties that exist between the East India and UK. Also, the great work we do here and the opportunities for our work in the East and North East.”

The year 2017 marks the culmination of four years of Re-Imagine: a programme in the Arts designed to build creative connections in new ways between the people and institutions of the UK and India. It offers a chance to celebrate the achievements of the world‟s largest democracy, and consider how the future relationship between the UK and India might help both to address the challenges of the 21st century. The purpose of UK-India 2017 Year of Culture is to increase the appreciation of contemporary UK in India, and vice versa, in order to give greater focus, depth and relevance to the long-standing relationship between the two countries. This will be done through events and projects, both face-to-face and digital in 2017, with a wider aim to reach out to newer audiences, not restricted to the metropolitan cities alone. UK-India 2017 will seek to challenge outdated perceptions of the UK with an inspiring programme that demonstrates the quality of contemporary British arts and culture.

He added, “India and the UK have years of shared history and 2017 UK-India Year of Culture seeks to promote this spirit of cultural partnership. Our future generations must understand and appreciate our past and the path that we have travelled together to reach where we stand today.” The UK-India Year of Culture was announced during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to London in November 2015. The aim of this campaign is to highlight the vibrant cultural history of the two countries and celebrate the best „cultural exports‟ together.

For more information please contact:

Shonali Ganguli, Head Communications East India at shonali.ganguli@britishcouncil.org or M: +91 (0) 98365 69944

Notes to Editor

New Director India at British Council

Prior to being appointed Director India at the British Council, Alan has served as the Director Israel where he ran a £10m stem cell research fund working with world-leading medical research foundations like the British Heart Foundation and Parkinson‟s UK. He launched the UK‟s first multi-lateral research fund in the Middle East, a platform for Israeli, Palestinian and British scientists to work together to tackle critical water challenges in the region, and a PhD programme for Palestinian scientists to study at Israeli universities - supporting a new generation of scientists to work together across borders.

 In 2015, Alan commissioned mix the city an interactive digital art work with the BBC and Arts Council of England featuring Israeli YouTube artist Kutiman and British digital agency Flying Object. Over 500,000 users in 190 countries have taken part. Partnering with the United Nations and the British Film Institute, Alan created fiveFilms4freedom, the world‟s first global, online LGBT Film Festival. In 2016 fiveFilms4freedom became the world‟s biggest online LGBT Film Festival with 1.5m film views and a total social media reach of 140m people. In 2016 fiveFilms4freedom published a Global List of 33 inspiring people from around the world promoting freedom and equality. The 2016 List included Indian film-maker Sridhar Rangayan and actor and director Manish Gandhi. Alan has also worked in Mexico and Brazil. He joined the British Council in 2008 to head its Government Relations. Alan spent five years in the centre of the UK Government working on: 1. counter-terrorism and the crisis response to domestic and international terror plots; 2. developing the economic migration strands of the UK‟s points-based  igration system; and 3. as Private Secretary to the Permanent Secretary of the Home Office Sir John Gieve. Before joining the civil service Alan established the Scottish Youth Parliament. He studied law at Glasgow University and piano and trombone at the Junior School of the Royal Scottish

 Academy of Music and Drama (now the Royal Scottish Conservatoire). Alan was appointed OBE in the 2016 New Year Honours List for services to arts and science.From May 2016 he will take up his appointment as Director of the British Council in India.

 Mix the Play

 "Mix the Play‟, a special edition of the popular „Mix the City‟ platform (www.mixthecity.com), was launched. This project is commissioned with The Old Vic theatre, London. Where Mix the City placed visitors in the role of a DJ working with Kutiman‟s music recordings, Mix the Play will offer digital audiences the chance to play director of one of Shakespeare‟s most loved plays: A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Visitors to the Mix the Play website will be invited to make a short film from a scene in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The duration of a scene will be under 3 minutes. Using pre-recorded film samples and effects, locations, costume options, visitors are given a range of elements to control, including a selection or all of casting, setting, direction of the actors, background music etc. Audiences need to consider meaning, symbolism, tone, and storytelling, and will learn through trying and doing. The objective of Mix the Play is to engage audiences with Shakespeare and educate them about theatre direction in a fun way. In October, we will launch an Indian commission of Mix the Play with a different Shakespeare play.

 For more information Visit

 The British Council in Odisha

The British Council continues to be present in Odisha through a range of work in education and cultural relations. It has strong connections that are testimony to its presence here through the years. The British Council offers a range of UK qualifications in Odisha. We conduct IELTS almost every month in Bhubaneshwar. We also offer Aptis, the British Council‟s own English language proficiency test, to various institutions in the state. We partner with various schools, colleges and universities across the state and deliver Cambridge English Language Assessment Exams. We deliver exams leading to globally recognised Health and Safety qualifications through NEBOSH (National Examination Board for Occupational Safety and Health). Schools in Odisha continue to participate in the British Council‟s International School Award programme and we have ambassadors in the network who play a crucial role in reaching out widely; guiding and advising new schools; sharing open feedback and new experiences for a much bigger impact of our work. We also engage schools in the state  through our new Connecting Classrooms programme in the field of training the teachers in the Core Skills areas. Odisha already has a growing number of international collaborations, especially with UK. IIT-Bhubaneswar, NISER, XIMB, KIIT have multiple international collaborations/ initiatives. UK India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI) program of British Council has supported quite a good number of projects between higher education institutes (HEI) of Odisha and UK. Students/researchers/ academicians from Odisha regularly visit UK for academic and research exchange through different scholarships (Commonwealth/ Chevening/ Newton Bhabha PhD program). Bhubaneswar continues to be a popular destination for UK universities. In August 2015 we held a range of education events in the city as part of the UK Week in Bhubaneswar, including seminars, debates and quizzes for over 2,000 students. July 2014 three universities from the UK (Cardiff University, University of Highlands and Islands and BPP University) undertook a tour to Bhubaneswar and visited several institutions reaching out to approximately 700 students to promote UK as a destination of choice. In November 2014 a series of student seminars were conducted around the GREAT scholarships and approximately 1,000 students were addressed across schools and colleges in Bhubaneswar. In December 2015, the British Council also presented with a range of partners three shows of Twelfth Night by Filter Theatre, which was seen by over 10,000 people.

About the British Council

The British Council is recognised across India for its network of 9 libraries and cultural centres. We offer a range of specialised projects in arts, education, exams, English language and society to audiences across India and more than 100,000 members. We also provide access to English language training and learning for both students and teachers, offer UK qualifications in India and enable opportunities to study in the UK. We also manage prestigious scholarships and training awards, including the Jubilee scholarships, the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan and the Charles Wallace India Trust awards. Our English language centres in Chennai, Delhi and Kolkata provide a range of general and business English classes, specialised skills based programmes and young learner courses. We work with a wide range of Indian partners in cities all over India enabling British and Indian experts to meet and collaborate and to nurture mutually beneficial relationships.