Thursday 01 May 2014


The British Council today announced details of their programme for Alchemy, Southbank Centre’s annual festival celebrating and exploring the arts and politics of the countries of the Indian subcontinent and their relationship with the UK, offering an unparalleled showcase of South Asian culture.  This is the fourth year that the British Council has partnered with Southbank Centre on the festival.

In its fifth year Alchemy goes further than ever in presenting exciting collaborations, new works, UK premieres and legendary artists across dance, music, theatre, design, comedy and literature, as well as talks and debates providing a unique insight into the region. The British Council’s programme celebrates the rich and diverse cultural heritage of the region through a series of projects and events that reflect a commitment to fostering cultural exchange, supporting artistic collaborations and reaching new and diverse audiences.

Shreela Ghosh, British Council Director Arts, South Asia, says: “Over the past four years, as a result of our partnership with the Southbank, more than 50 of our key creative partners from across the South Asian countries have been presented at Alchemy. Artists value Alchemy as a platform for showcasing and the British Council projects raise important questions about topical issues, about the performances and exhibitions. Through our programme of challenging talks and debates we hope that audiences will gain a better understanding of South Asia and also a deeper insight into the collaborative artistic process”.

Jude Kelly, Artistic Director, Southbank Centre, said: “There are boundless ideas and a multitude of projects that Alchemy is a catalyst for bringing to fruition. In our fifth year, we are ever more intoxicated by the talent and range of artists from South Asia and the UK who are creating collaborations. Our relationship with the British Council allows Alchemy to flourish in every way and that tough cultural debate sits alongside extraordinary classical traditions to inform both.”

Highlights of projects presented by the British Council at Alchemy include

  • Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM) in Residence performances Friday 23 May and Monday 26 May

The first music school in Afghanistan, ANIM was founded in Kabul in 2010 and provides Afghan children and teenagers with specialist training in Western Classical and Afghan music. At Alchemy, six young musicians from the school will take part in a unique musical and cultural exchange, with the opportunity to collaborate musically and socially with young musicians from London and to share their traditional music with the Alchemy audience.

  • Folk Nations Monday 19 May

Showcasing the creation and continuing collaboration of some UK’s leading folk musicians and their Indian counterparts, who first met during a musician’s residency in Kolkata as part of Folk Nations in February 2013. This is the fifth Folk Nations concert at Alchemy and the second for the group, who debuted at Celtic Connections in January. The performance embodies the Folk Nations programme, which produces original new work and strengthens cultural exchange between India and the UK, through each country’s rich and vibrant music.

  • The Citizens Archive of Pakistan

A multimedia exhibition investigating Pakistani identity through personal stories, memories and objects from partition to the present day, produced with The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP), a non-profit organization dedicated to cultural and historic preservation and educational outreach, operating in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.

  • Alchemy Fashion Show Wednesday 21 May

Alchemy Fashion will focus on the underground design and fashion scene in Pakistan with a documentary by filmmaker William Williamson co-commissioned with Dazed Digital which illustrates Pakistani identity through dress, followed by a catwalk show of work by emerging talent from the Pakistani fashion design industry

  • UnBox Labs: Future Cities – A Discussion Thursday 22 May

UnBox Labs 2014 brought together creatives and researchers from the UK and India to explore the future of our cities. Chaired by Beatrice Pembroke from the British Council, this discussion with some of the UnBox participants and mentors will explore new thinking and approaches to future cities.

  • Handpainted Type, Hanif Kureshi and Painter Shabbu with accompanying sign painting workshops by the artists; No Straight Lines Sri Lankan typography installation from the Academy of Design, Colombo with typography workshops

Other projects presented will include: Cartwheels in the Sky: The Evolution of Sri Lankan Visual Arts by Bang Bang Artists’ Collective; 100 Words installation; Kriti Monga’s pop-up Typerventions.

Notes to Editor

For more information about Southbank Centre and Alchemy contact:

Nicola Jeffs, Press Manager, 020 7921 0676

For more information about the British Council contact:

MarK Moulding, Senior Press Officer, 0207 389 4889 

About the British Council
The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. 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 7000 staff – including 2000 teachers – work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year teaching English, sharing the Arts and in education and society programmes.

We are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter. A publically-funded grant-in-aid provides less than a quarter of our turnover which last year was £781m.  The rest we earn from English teaching, UK exams and services which customers around the world pay for, through education and development contracts and from partnerships with other institutions, brands and companies.  All our work is in pursuit of our charitable purpose and creates prosperity and security for the UK and the countries we work in all around the world.

For more information, please visit:

About the Southbank Centre 

Southbank Centre is the UK’s largest arts centre, occupying a 21-acre site that sits in the midst of London’s most vibrant cultural quarter on the South Bank of the Thames. The site has an extraordinary creative and architectural history stretching back to the 1951 Festival of Britain. Southbank Centre is home to the Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and the Hayward Gallery as well as The Saison Poetry Library and the Arts Council Collection. For further information please visit