Here, you can find our latest thinking on culture, arts, and the UK’s international engagement, along with research on these topics.
On 11 and 12 June 2020, British Council China arts team organised the first Sino-UK Creative Ageing Online Roundtable to kick start discussions about creative ageing in China and to introduce UK and Chinese partners working in this area. The event was held on Microsoft Teams and 82 guests joined including 5 UK speakers, 4 Chinese speakers and delegates from arts and cultural organisations, research institutions, community centres traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital experts and others working in the area of healthy ageing across China. The dialogue and discussion was very honest and open, and the session demonstrated a clear need to facilitate more targeted forums focused on shared global challenges. We can see real benefit in potentially creating a virtual community of practice with experts from across East Asia and the UK who are keen to share ideas and to develop new partnerships in this area.
In order to share more best practices in creative ageing sector across the world, we have the report Around The World in 80 Creative Ageing Projects published by the Baring Foundation in October 2019 translated into Mandarin. The report will take you to a journey around the world in 80 creative ageing projects and explore the possibility of engaging the elderly in the arts. Kate Arthurs, Director, Arts at the British Council shared her thoughts in the foreword of the report: at the British Council we are well placed to witness the social changes taking place in the UK, and how they are mirrored overseas. Our ageing population is both a challenge and an opportunity for the UK. Across the UK, expectations of government, family and community with respect to older people are shifting. Older people are increasingly being seen as our collective responsibility, deserving of inclusion by communities, friends and families, and a source of both labour and wisdom. Age is one of few common human experiences, enabling people to age well is something we all have a stake in. The values of equality, diversity and inclusion sit at the very heart of the British Council’s cultural relations ambition, to build mutual trust and understanding between the UK and peoples around the world. And these values are one lens through which we look at ageing. We recognise that negative perceptions of difference can be damaging. With stigmas of ageism and ableism prevailing – not to mention issues of age and isolation correlating positively, we need to find a way to bring people together across the divides so often determined by difference. In our experience arts are a crucial tool when seeking to connect those who wouldn’t otherwise meet. Connecting, learning and partnering with those who have more experience than us in this field is also critical if we are to find new ways of addressing shared challenges.
The impact of COVID-19 on the cultural sector in the UK has been profound with the closure of venues and the cancellation of major events like Glastonbury and the Edinburgh Festivals. The UK sector is not alone in this – COVID-19 has affected artists and institutions around the globe. In the first in a series of articles charting how different countries have responded to the crisis we turn to China.
We are all creative and we are all capable in different ways, it is important to respect, understand and be open to working differently with people who may perceive the world around them or within them differently to the way that we do. At the time of writing this, the world is going through a major health crisis, millions of people have been cut off from their families and friends in lockdowns and through social distancing measures. It is not natural for us as human beings to be isolated for weeks and months, unable to socialise and enjoy the activities we like doing with others. The Covid-19 Pandemic has given rise to many concerns about mental health and wellbeing, the uncertainty related to lockdowns and job losses has led many people to feel lonely, depressed and anxious, all these emotions, although distressing are normal and more common than we might expect.
We have translated into Mandarin, the Creatively Minded report, with the kind permission of its author and Director of the Baring Foundation, David Cutler to share learning and practice from the UK between 2018 and 2020 in the area of arts and mental health. The report will take you on a journey across the UK, everything from spoken word poetry, drama, music to multi- art form is captured in the report. We hope the report will deepen understanding and inspire people here in China who work in the arts and health sectors, we are keen to offer ideas and to encourage further innovation in the area of arts and mental health. We do not yet know the long term impact of the pandemic on the mental health and well being of the millions of people who stayed at home while offices, schools and universities remained closed, but we do know that the arts have a central role to play in helping everyone to rebuild and recover and to reconnect with each other.
Download the Creatively Minded report.