1. The 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death is the most significant moment since the 2012 Olympics for UK culture to make a contribution the UK’s global profile and standing.

2. The British Council aims to reach over 500 million people worldwide through Shakespeare Lives, a major programme of events and activities celebrating Shakespeare’s life on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of his death in 2016.

3. His work explores universal themes which remain alive and relevant today and can help to resolve cultural differences and discuss shared values.

The biggest moment since 2012 for UK culture to support the UK’s global standing and reputation

  • Shakespeare Lives is a major collaboration between the British Council, the UK’s cultural and education sectors and government departments, working together to boost the UK’s international standing.
  • Through a world-class celebration of Shakespeare’s work, we can present a modern, dynamic culture that is the UK today.
  • As one of the UK’s most admired figures, Shakespeare provides an important connection for people around the world with the UK.
  • Shakespeare Lives will create opportunities for increased understanding, relationships and cooperation between the UK and the world, building trust and contributing to the UK’s long term prosperity and security.

A major programme of events and activities reaching more than 500 million people worldwide

  • Shakespeare Lives will create new opportunities for people around the world to engage with Shakespeare, UK culture, UK organisations and people through projects in the key sectors of education, English language, civil society and arts.
  • The programme will bring Shakespeare to a wider global audience including the next generation of leaders in societies around the world, including individuals and communities who have not had the opportunity to engage with his work before.
  • People in countries around the world will be able to engage with Shakespeare Lives via specially developed digital platforms, downloadable resources, performances, screenings and more. These will also enable people to connect to the UK’s wider cultural and creative offer, creating a longer term connection to UK society.

Keeping Shakespeare’s work alive and relevant

  • Shakespeare is widely regarded as the UK’s greatest playwright having produced some of the most profound and enduring works in the English language.
  • Shakespeare’s work explores complex issues which have resonance in the world today such as leadership, governance, conflict, discrimination and oppression.


  • 2016 is the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.
  • 2014 is the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth.
  • Shakespeare’s work contains the first written use of 1,700 words in the English language: hot-blooded, swagger, jaded, remorseless, majestic, new-fangled and critic, to name a few.
  • Shakespeare's works have been translated into more than 100 languages.
  • Shakespeare’s work is on the curriculum in more than 50% of the world’s schools.
  • In 2012 we supported the RSC’s World Shakespeare Festival, part of the Cultural Olympiad, through international co-productions from Brazil, Mexico, Iraq, Russia and Tunisia, as well as a related education programme, Shakespeare: A Worldwide Classroom.
  • The British Council is working with partners including the GREAT Britain campaign and a host of British theatres, museums, institutions, educators and artists to coordinate a vibrant programme of activity for Shakespeare in the UK and internationally.

The British Council’s Shakespeare Lives programme will include:

  • A digital mass-participation project enabling people all over the world to upload clips of themselves reciting Shakespeare. Funded by the GREAT Britain campaign.
  • Recent productions of Shakespeare made accessible to audiences around the world through digital streaming and screening events. Funded by the GREAT Britain campaign.
  • A new teachers’ pack exploring identity and citizenship through Shakespeare, developed in partnership with RSC Education.
  • Screenings of the Royal Exchange Theatre’s production of Hamlet starring Maxine Peake, in non-English-speaking countries worldwide.
  • A new film adaptation of a Shakespeare play developed collaboratively by Indian and UK Asian filmmakers.
  • Funds to support UK artists in theatre, dance and music to develop collaborations with international counterparts in 2015 and bring the best to audiences in 2016.
  • Translation opportunities for writers and performers.
  • A downloadable pack to help communities all around the world to celebrate Shakespeare Day, developed in partnership with Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.