Being Present While Going Digital: An Interview with the British Council's UK/Italy 2020 Season Creative Director

The UK/Italy Season - the British Council’s first digital-led Season of Culture - took place 17 September - 30 November 2020. Supported by the British Embassy in Rome, it comprised over 50 virtual events spanning dance, literature, music, theatre and visual arts.

Programme highlights included virtual showcasing of innovative work such as Forced Entertainment's the Complete Works of Shakespeare broadcast live from actors’ kitchens and new work that pushes the possibilities of digital technology such as Alexander Whitley Dance Company’s Digital Body dance piece, produced using motion capture technology.

A series of virtual Culture Salons connected UK and Italian arts and civic leaders to discuss the role of Creative Independents, Cities & Festivals and New Business Models for Resilience. For 80% of UK participating organisations, the Salons provided their first connection to Italy. 51 new bilateral connections between the UK and Italian culture sectors were formed, providing a platform to support cultural resilience, share creative innovation and facilitate dialogue.

The Season provided a testbed for delivering cultural relations digitally, as it had been radically reimagined in the first part of 2020 due to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Season’s theme of ‘Being Present’ took on a new resonance in this new context of engaging with one another in the virtual space, and interrogating who is present and who is absent in the conversations about the global issues facing our societies.

Find out more about how British Council approached this digital international season, what was learned and how organisers and artists adapted to new environments in this video interview with Jean Cameron, Creative Director of the UK/Italy 2020 Season.


Back to stories

About the Author