Tuesday 25 March 2014

New bilateral cultural programme to boost artistic opportunities 

 South Africa’s Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile and the British High Commissioner to South Africa, Judith MacGregor, on behalf of the British Council, today launched the SA-UK Seasons 2014 & 2015, a collaboration that will see the two countries engage for the next two years in creative programmes as a channel to further strengthen cultural relations between these two nations.

The SA-UK Seasons were born from talks which began at the Inter-Ministerial Bilateral forum in London in 2011, resulting in the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in Arts and Culture, which set out a platform for cooperation to be implemented by the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) and the British Council. The DAC will work closely with the British Council in South Africa to promote institutional collaboration and various programmes.

The SA-UK Season is composed of four streams. The Seasons will jointly support projects of a collaborative nature between South Africa and the UK, a South African Season in the UK and the British Council project in South Africa, Connect ZA. The fourth stream of activity is joint projects endorsed without funding by the Seasons but which will benefit from the communication of the campaign of the Seasons. Both the British Council and Department of Arts and Culture will each contribute R2 million to the joint projects fund. A call to private businesses will also be made.

Minister Mashatile said "We are delighted to be launching the SA-UK Seasons 2014 & 2015, as part of our commitment to open up new markets, facilitate skills transfer and create sustainable livelihoods for all those within the South African arts, culture and heritage sector.  South Africa and the United Kingdom have strong bilateral relations, a shared language, similar legal and financial systems and common values. SA and the UK are also longstanding trade partners and have vibrant tourism industries. Showcasing our rich arts and culture, the Season will no doubt enhance our well established relations.”

Judith MacGregor said: "I'm delighted to launch with Minister Mashatile the UK-SA Arts and Culture collaboration Seasons through to the end of 2015. This marks the start of an exciting period ahead, where we will see South African and British artists showcasing their talents during the 20th Anniversary of Freedom and Democracy in South Africa. This season demonstrates the depth and strength of the relationship between South Africa and the United Kingdom. I look forward to continuing and establishing new partnerships between our two countries and peoples into the next generations.”

Colm McGivern, Country Director, British Council South Africa said: “We look forward to developing a shared programme of activities, opportunities and communication that will complement projects already developed through Connect ZA and the South African Season in the UK. Our programmes will be a catalyst for new partnerships that will enable us to highlight and extend existing creative links between our two countries.”

Tom Porter, Head of Arts, British Council South Africa said, "We're delighted to be launching the Seasons with the Department of Art and Culture as it will create further opportunities to create new connections and collaborations between UK and South African creative sector that have already started to make an impact through the Connect ZA programme. We look forward to developing a mutual beneficial partnership that will strengthen creative ties between the countries and enable us to develop a greater understanding of the vibrant creative sector in South Africa."

Notes to Editor

For more information about the British Council or Connect ZA contact:

Mary Doherty, Press Officer

Mary.doherty@britishcouncil.org // 0207 389 3144

About the programme

For more information visit DAC www.dac.gov.za and the British Council www.britishcouncil.org.za.

Former South African Ambassador to Portugal Thandiwe January-McLean and Baroness Usha Prashar from the United Kingdom have been appointed as co-chairs of the Seasons. Internationally accomplished artist and manager Bongani Tembe has been appointed Commissioner-General. He will work closely with Tom Porter, Head of Arts for the British Council in South Africa and a team of experts and officials from both countries in leading and implementing the Seasons.

The South African Season in the UK

The South African Season in the UK will work closely with the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and Edinburgh Festivals.  South African artists will feature prominently in almost all of Edinburgh Festivals this year, including Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh Art Festival, Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival, Edinburgh International Book Festival, Edinburgh International Film Festival and the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

The Edinburgh International Festival will present three major South African works on its programme. The productions are: Inala – a dance piece which will incorporate South Africa’s internationally acclaimed Ladysmith Black Mambazo; Ubu and Truth Commission, a critically applauded theatrical multimedia production by Handspring Puppet Company which highlights the atrocities of apartheid; and Exhibit B, by Brett Bailey of Third World Bunfight, is the second instalment of the Exhibit series. Exhibit B an infusion of performance and exhibition examining themes of the colonial history of Europe and the UK in Africa. 

The Edinburgh Visual Arts Festival will feature Thembinkosi Goniwe’s curated exhibition, featuring artists: Kay Hassan, Kemang We Lehulere and Mary Sibanda. 

British Council Connect ZA

As part of the Seasons, Connect ZA aims to reach new and diverse audiences for the arts and stimulate innovation, while forging new collaboration with organisations and individuals on both continents. Highlights of the Connect ZA programme include the Maker Library Network which promotes collaboration and knowledge sharing between the designers and makers in the UK and South Africa; the Royal Court New Writing Programme which is a long-term play development project between the Royal Court Theatre and Connect ZA and ‘The Young Creative Entrepreneur’ (YCE) Awards are a global British Council initiative that identify creative leaders of the future.

The programme supports and connects the most exciting entrepreneurs who are innovating in the creative and cultural industries.

Connect ZA, a British Council South Africa initiative is a series of cultural exchanges between the two countries marking this year’s celebration of 20 Years of Freedom in South Africa. The programme has, since 2013, supported cultural connections between young people in the UK and in South Africa with a series of art projects and use digital platforms to build creative networks through music, film, visual art, creative economy, theatre and design. 

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We create international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and build trust between them worldwide.

We work in more than 100 countries and our 7,000 staff – including 2,000 teachers – work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year by teaching English, sharing the arts and delivering education and society programmes.

We are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter. A core publically-funded grant provides less than 25 per cent of our turnover which last year was £781 million. The rest of our revenues are earned from services which customers around the world pay for, through education and development contracts and from partnerships with public and private organisations. All our work is in pursuit of our charitable purpose and supports prosperity and security for the UK and globally.

For more information, please visit: www.britishcouncil.org. You can also keep in touch with the British Council through http://twitter.com/britishcouncil and http://blog.britishcouncil.org/.