UK-India Year of Culture in Guwahati

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Guwahati: Alan Gemmell OBE, Director, British Council India today announced that the British Council will present five bands from the UK to perform at the NH7 Weekender festivals this year, as part of an exciting collaboration with Only Much Louder who organise this popular festival every year. Two of the five bands, Natty and Wild Palms, will play at the NH7 Festival in Shillong being held between 21 and 23 October. The other bands include Dinosaur Pile Up in Hyderabad (4-5 November) and Eagulls in Pune (2-4 December). In addition, Django Django, a British art rock band, will also perform at the NH7 Festival in Hyderabad (4-5 November 2016). The British Council will also take these bands to other cities across India after their gigs at NH7. These bands are part of Selector Live. Selector is British Council‟s award-winning radio show that covers all styles of music from indie, dub-step, folk, soul, electro and everything in between. The show features interviews, mixes and exclusive live sessions from some of the most exciting British artists and is broadcast in over 40 countries. Each week it brings to audiences the brilliance and diversity of British music, promoting the sounds, talents and musical culture of modern Britain to an international audience. Selector is available online on Sound Cloud – anytime, anywhere. Speaking at the event, Alan Gemmell OBE, Director, British Council India, said, “I am delighted that we are presenting these bands from the British Council‟s Selector Live programme in Shillong as part of the popular NH7 Weekender festival. The British Council plans to bring Selector to Indian radio channels in the near future and many more music initiatives, including Mix The City. My love for music began with my playing the piano. Working with all kinds of musicians and other artists as part of my job in the British Council, I realise that the arts can begin conversations and change the world.”

He also announced a series of interesting new projects that the organisation will be working on in the next couple of years. Speaking on his ambitions for the British Council in East India, the new Country Director also launched the „2017 UK-India Year of Culture‟ campaign in Guwahati today. He emphasised the need to promote cultural exchange and to create educational opportunities for stronger ties between India and the UK. He 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 Northeast.” He spoke about the British Film Institute‟s (BFI) Shakespeare on Film touring collection. The project is a collaboration between the British Council and the BFI and it celebrates Shakespeare on film, with films dating from 1899 right up to the present day. One of the films from the collection, Richard III, directed by Richard Loncraine was screened at IIT Guwahati on 10 August 2016. There are plans to screen other films across cities in the Northeast. Alan Gemmell also announced that the British Council would work with local arts organisations and educational institutions in the Northeast to bring innovative digital projects on Shakespeare like Mix The Play to schools. 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.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 longstanding 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.

For more information please contact:

Shonali Ganguli, Head Communications East India at 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.


Hailing from North London, Natty grew up surrounded by an eclectic mix of sounds from Neil Young to Bob Marley. Although interested enough in music to write songs from an early age it was while working in Sphere Studios, Battersea that he really discovered his talent. By day hewas engineering for some of the biggest names in pop music, and by night this gave him the inspiration to nurture his own sounds. Soon he garnered a devout following from his open mic sessions and Vibes and Pressure nights which have seen the likes of Ben Howard, Ed Sheeran, Wretch32, Dawn Penn etc perform. The success of his debut Album Man Like I captivated the well-deserved attention of the UK media. It went on to establishing Natty as a well-respected songwriter and festival favourite across Europe and Japan, where had a number 1 hit with the single Badman.

Wild Palms

Southgate boys Lou Hill, Gareth Jones and James Parish grew up together and formed an early incarnation of the band, Lou then met Darrell Hawkins whilst studying at Brighton University and completed the line-up. Academic duties fulfilled they all moved back to north London en masse and set about recording their acclaimed, post-punk leaning debut Until Spring. Five years later, Wild Palms returned with the first taste of what‟s to come with two new singles - Temper Gold and Ennio - both produced by Liam Howe (Lana Del Rey, FKA Twigs). Temper Gold was released through One Little Indian Records in March 2016. Wild Palms are: Lou Hill (vocals), Darrell Hawkins (guitar), Gareth Jones (bass) and James Parish (drums).


Mix the Play


"Mix the Play‟, a special edition of the popular „Mix the City‟ platform (, 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.


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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. O ur 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.