World renowned ‘Treasures of China Exhibition’ at Tullie House featured in 2020 UK-China Contemporary Culture Festival 

During October, the British Council launched #ConnectedByCreativity an online festival for cultural exchange between China and the UK. This is the first time an online festival, dedicated to celebrating the UK and China’s cultural and creative relationship has been staged. 

Organised by the British Council, the UK’s international organisation for education and culture, in partnership with the UK’s Department for International Trade and Chengdu Foreign Affairs Office, 75 cultural performances and projects were shared online with support from VisitBritain, VisitScotland, the British Embassy in China and Chinese Visual Festival.

#ConnectedByCreativity saw 50 cultural institutions from both countries provide digital content, forming more than 75 individual cultural projects, most of which were created during the pandemic when restrictions were in place.  Some of these projects are being shown for the first time in each country.

The festival celebrates the power of the arts and culture in uniting people. It helps to increase and strengthen collaboration between artists and cultural institutions from China and the UK as both recover from the impact of the pandemic and it introduces new work to wider audiences in China and in the UK 

Andrew Mackay, Director Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery said: “The Treasures of China exhibition was a very important and popular exhibition for us. It is part of a wider engagement programme aimed at celebrating Chinese culture and, despite the lockdown restrictions and the need to temporarily close, it was still one of our most popular exhibitions. A video of the exhibition was made and has been shared globally, thanks to our colleagues in the British Council, and as part of the 2020 UK-China Contemporary Culture Festival. Within 12 hours over 3,500 people had downloaded the video. We are so pleased that we are able to share such an important exhibition digitally and help put Tullie House, and also Carlisle on a world stage.”.
Commenting on why the British Council is hosting a festival at this time, (Ms.) Rehana Mughal, Director Arts for the British Council in China, said: “Our work and all the things we value at the British Council – encouraging connection, understanding and trust between people and nations – are being profoundly challenged by the current pandemic. For the cultural and creative industries, the impact has been significant, yet many artists have found imaginative ways to make powerful work that documents our collective strength during this challenging time. #ConnectedByCreativity is our contribution to the important cultural and educational relationship between our two countries.”

The festival includes showcases and projects relating to trending social topics such as the Creative Industries response to the pandemic, sustainability and climate change, inclusion and diversity. 
Highlights from the festival include:

1.    The Making of Samsara, Aakash Odedra Company, theatre and dance, England
2.    Three works from Barrowland Ballet, theatre and dance, Scotland
3.    Tate programme featuring four exhibitions in Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Tate Liverpool and Tate St Ives visual arts, England
4.    Bernando Evaristo Talk at Hay Literature Festival, 2019 Booker Prize winner
5.    Chinese Artist Peng Yingwei in conversation with Curator Michael Guo 
6.    Crafting Futures Chengdu – textile designer Odette Steele & Shu Embroidery
7.    Art of Troubles Ulster Museum, visual arts, Northern Ireland
8.    Wales in Venice 2019: Sean Edwards, contemporary visual arts, Wales 
9.    Uncertain Kingdom, a selected screening of films made by mostly female filmmakers, British Council Collection, a film from various locations
10.    BBC Culture in Quarantine series including Swan Lake performed in bathtubs 

Tullie House gives thanks to the Oriental Museum Durham University, Lancaster University Confucius Institute and support from the Art Fund for helping to make this exhibition possible.

On the ambitions for #ConnectedByCreativity Rehana Mughal said: “Culture, and the creativity it inspires, connects us all, despite our differences. This festival is about sharing creativity, arts and culture, for decades artists, musicians and writers have imaginatively captured the story of our time, while this creative documentation is not a cure for the challenges we are facing at the moment, the experience of arts can inspire and play an important role in bringing people together, and helping our societies recover, allowing them to forge greater trust and understanding between people.”