Ciarán Devane, Chief Executive, British Council
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British Council

Dear friends,

I am writing in response to the escalating Covid-19 outbreak, and to let you know what you can expect from the British Council in the coming months. 

We are all affected in some way by this pandemic. At the British Council, we have had our cultural programmes and our English language teaching and assessment activities disrupted. I know that affects many of you as our partners and stakeholders. This is true whether you’re in the creative industries or the cultural sector, in schools or universities, in civil society or in the ministries we partner with around the world.

The health of our audiences, colleagues and partners remains our first priority. Like you, the decisions we take will be taken in the light of the most up to date information we have. We are working hard to deliver what we can while responding to the relevant government and health authority guidance in all the countries where we work.

As I know is true for many of your own institutions, the huge pressure of this pandemic is challenging the British Council’s sustainability. Our operations are underpinned by the surplus from our revenue-generating activities. Pausing this work through so many countries places an extraordinary financial strain on us. We are working to reduce that stress and expect to make clear decisions in the weeks ahead on how to deliver our mission in that context.

We recognise these tough decisions that we are facing will in turn affect partner organisations. And they will also individuals – teachers, pupils, university lecturers, international students, businesspeople, artists, creatives and entrepreneurs. The impact is significant for all of us. 

But I do hope that through all this we at the British Council can continue to do all we possibly can to support you over the next few weeks and months. We are exploring how we can digitise our programmes and find possibilities for connecting people online. Through new approaches to our work, we will endeavour to continue to provide cultural and educational opportunities to connect.

While the Covid-19 pandemic is causing enormous hardship, we have always believed as the British Council that culture connects us. In the face of a truly global challenge, this is more important than ever. It will be difficult in the immediate term, but these connections will be even more vital when we get beyond this.

In the meantime, I wish that you, your families and your communities remain safe and well and I sincerely hope we can continue to work well together during this unprecedented time.

With best wishes

Ciarán Devane 

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