2015 marks a flagship year for UK-China relations with the first ever bilaterally agreed UK-China Year of Cultural Exchange.
Underpinned by a government-to-government agreement set out at the UK-China Summit in London last June, the 2015 UK-China Year of Cultural Exchange will showcase the very best of UK culture in China and of Chinese culture in the UK.
The Year was formally announced when Premier Li Keqiang visited the UK in June 2014. It comprises two seasons of culture – a UK season in China from March until July, led by the Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy; and a Chinese season in the UK in the second half of the year, led by the Chinese Ministry of Culture.
The UK Prime Minister’s visit to China in December 2013 (during which the UK-China Cultural Agreement was renewed), the High Level UK-China People to People Dialogue in Beijing in April 2014 and the UK-China Summit in June 2014 all demonstrate the growing strength of UK-China relations, with creativity and cultural exchange at the heart of developments.
The 2015 UK-China Year of Cultural Exchange provides a unique platform to strengthen ties between individuals, organizations and governments in the arts and creative industries.
Digital media at the heart of the UK season
Launching in March during HRH The Duke of Cambridge’s visit to China, the theme for the UK season in China will be Next Generation. It will see a carefully curated series of contemporary, adventurous, multi-disciplinary and innovative works, with digital media at the heart. Groundbreaking digital arts will push creative boundaries, whilst the launch of a major online arts portal ‘UK NOW’ in early March will enable audiences to engage through a variety of integrated platforms.
One highpoint of the UK season will be the GREAT Festival of Creativity in Shanghai from 2-4 March, exploring the role of innovation and creativity in commercial success, enabling Chinese and British industries to gain new insights, to network and to grow.
“The 2015 UK-China Year of Cultural Exchange is a unique opportunity to further deepen and strengthen the UK’s existing relationship with China across the arts and creative industries, and to build on long-standing foundations of mutual respect and appreciation for our long and rich cultural histories, which continue to inspire innovation and creativity,” said Carma Elliot, Minister, Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy.
Chinese creativity lands in the UK
The Chinese season in the UK will showcase cultural creativity from modern China in a variety of art forms including visual arts, design, and fashion. Top Chinese artists, designers and leading brands will participate in famous UK arts festivals and international exhibitions. This will be the first Chinese state-level cultural festival to be held in a Western European country that is aimed at highlighting China’s modern cultural creativity and promoting international cooperation.
New media platforms will showcase rich and exciting content, enabling the Chinese and British public to share in new cultural experiences. The Chinese season will create opportunities for further exchange and co-operation in the creative industries between the UK and China.
Pu Tong, Vice Director of the Bureau for External Cultural Relations of the Ministry of Culture said “The UK-China Year of Cultural Exchange is an exciting new experience in cultural relations between our two countries. In this day and age, cultural exchange is about much more than just appreciating art - culture touches various aspects of life for Chinese and British people, with opportunities to get involved and participate. The UK-China Year of Cultural Exchange will promote mutual learning between China and the UK, injecting a new vitality into co-operation between our two countries.”