British Council announces international creative partnerships supported by new Digital Collaboration Fund

The British Council has announced recipients of the Digital Collaboration Fund, supporting UK and overseas cultural partnerships to develop digitally innovative ways of collaborating.

The pilot fund offered grants of up to £50,000 to UK-based arts organisations partnering with selected Official Development Assistance (ODA) countries, to support the sector in its response to increased travel restrictions due to the global pandemic and the need for more sustainable approaches to future international ways of working. Organisations partnering between the UK and selected ODA countries were invited to apply for small grants of between £10,000 to £20,000 or larger grants of £40,000 to £50,000. The applications were open to cultural collaborations with a focus on arts and culture, or higher education and research projects with an arts and culture element.

The Fund continues the British Council’s work building connection, understanding and trust between people in the UK and overseas through arts, education and English language teaching. The pilot has been made possible using existing ODA funding (government aid promoting and targeting the economic development and welfare of developing countries) from the UK Government.

Overseas teams collaborating with UK partners include those from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Middle East and wider Europe.

The Digital Collaboration Fund provides three types of grant:

  • Research and development grants - exploring and developing new proposals for virtual partnerships
  • Restart grants - for projects halted by Covid-19 but able to pivot and resume virtually
  • Collaboration grants - for new projects with a focus on virtual delivery, e.g. art residencies, digital exhibitions and online events

Projects receiving Research and Development grants include:

  • a digital series devised by Outburst (Northern Ireland), CasaBrandon Festival de Arte Queer (Argentina) and RISCO Festival (Brazil), to address opportunities and challenges of queer arts collaborations between the UK and the Americas;
  • Hijinx (Wales), To He Joint Stock Company and Mat Tran Ensemble (Vietnam), supporting neurodivergent artists from Vietnam and the UK to create interactive augmented reality experiences, responding to the question ‘What is it to be visible’?

Beneficiaries of Restart grants include:

  • People's Palace Projects (England) and Tulukai Indigenous Association (Brazil) developing a Virtual Reality interface with the indigenous Wauja community, to enable renewed access to ancient cave art destroyed by vandals;
  • a UK/Palestinian digital festival helping young people address mental health, the global pandemic and racial justice, supported by Mandala Theatre Company (England) and ASHTAR For Theatre Productions (Occupied Palestinian Territories).

New projects supported by Collaboration grants include:

  • UBIK Productions (England) and Samdani Art Foundation (Bangladesh) launching a mixed reality project to expand on the 50-year legacy of Ravi Shankar and George Harrison’s 1971 ‘Concert For Bangladesh’;
  • Architecture Social Club (England) partnering with Design Indaba and X Lam (South Africa) to bring together young creatives and experienced architecture professionals to exchange digital collaboration ideas;
  • Candoco Dance Company (England), Unbeaten Path (Ukraine) and Arada Association (Turkey) devising a pilot to remotely upskill emerging disabled and non-disabled performers.

A full list of recipients can be found here.

Caroline Meaby, Director Global Arts Network, British Council, said: "International connections are the cornerstone of our work, and we are thrilled to announce the recipients of the Digital Collaboration Fund. We received a significant number of brilliant applications, which demonstrates the resilience and creativity of the Arts sector, despite the challenges of Covid-19. Given the impact of the pandemic and an increasing urgency to develop sustainable ways of collaborating, supporting innovative ideas to enable artists and organisations to continue to connect internationally is more important than ever. We look forward to following grantees to capture and share learnings from these remarkable collaborations."

In parallel to the Fund, the British Council has engaged The Audience Agency to evaluate each project’s partnership, legacy opportunities, digital accessibility, and skills and capacity building. This will inform the British Council’s ongoing work to champion innovative digital cultural relations through the arts.

Find out more here.

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