British Council India launches call for brilliant digital ideas with creativity at their heart UK/India 2017  

british councilNational, 25 May, 2016: The British Council in India today launched a call for brilliant digital ideas to help them reach 50 million people online in the 2017 UK/India Year.  The call is offering £10,000 to organisations in India or the UK with a track record of developing new digital projects or experience that have successfully reached new audiences using smartphones and for ideas that could reach large audiences using non-internet enabled mobile devices.  One award will be co-funded by the Manchester International Festival and will be launched at the Manchester International Festival in 2017.  Projects must have creativity and culture at their heart and be intended for an audience primarily in India but could be global.

The British Council’s digital culture programme is growing around the world and will be a core feature of its work in India in 2017.  Its global celebration of Shakespeare on 23 April reached three-quarters of a billion online and its fiveFilms4freedom is now the world’s biggest online LGBT film festival.  Both have been featured in India.  The British Council will also be bringing its very successful Mix the City programme to India in 2017. []


British Council Director Alan Gemmell said, “We want to find ways to bring British and Indian digital innovation together to help transform what we do in India, connect people in both countries and share our culture.  I hope we will find projects that inspire millions of people across India.”

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Background to the call


The UK/India 2017 Digital Ideas call

The UK/India 2017 Digital Ideas call launched on 24 May and is offering awards of £10,000 to organisations in India or the UK with a track record of developing new digital projects or experience that have successfully reached new audiences using smartphones and for project that have the potential to reach large audiences using non-internet enabled mobile devices.

To apply, organisations must be based in India or the UK and have a track record of developing new digital projects or experiences that have successfully reached new audiences (though not necessarily at this scale before).

The British Council will select five projects for seed funding of £10,000 each by the end of June.  The seed funding will be for organisations to develop a prototype or proof of concept for testing with potential audiences in September/October 2016. Following user testing, a small number of projects will be commissioned for the 2017 year.  Full commissions must launch during 2017.  One digital commission will be with Manchester International Festival, and projects submitted to this open call may be selected for this co-commission.

Background to UK/India 2017

In 2017, the UK and India will celebrate a major bilateral year of cultural exchange. India and the UK have a long and rich history. The UK-India Year will enrich relationships at all levels of society, their institutions and government, building a shared future for generations to come. This is the culmination of a five-year British Council programme to introduce a new, young, Indian audience to the best of contemporary UK creativity. We want to present the UK as a diverse, creative and contemporary country and reach a large audience across India during 2016 and 2017. We have ambitious targets for our online audience – 10 million people in 2016 and 50 million people in 2017.

On 12 November 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Prime Minister David Cameron announced a yearlong programme in 2017 to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Indian independence and UK cultural ties.

Our aims during 2017 are: to capitalise on the Reimagine programme (2012-17) to build new relationships between artists, producers, curators and organisations in the UK and India and to develop new creative networks, build capacity and seed collaborations;  to use those relationships to see new and higher profile showcases of UK creativity in India, of Indian creativity in the UK, and of international collaboration in both countries; to start to shift perceptions of the UK so that we are seen as the source of inspiring and challenging work;  to transform the arts work of the British Council in India, and to give greater focus, depth and relevance to the long-standing relationship between our two countries; To enable the season to be used as a promotional platform by all sectors of the UK, including education, science and innovation, and trade and investment.

Our programme in India in 2017 will include a number of showcase projects on the ground, and an ambitious digital programme beginning in 2016.


About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We create international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and build trust between them worldwide. We work in more than 100 countries and our 7,000 staff – including 2,000 teachers – work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year by teaching English, sharing the arts and delivering education and society programmes. Arts is a cornerstone of the British Council’s mission to create a friendly knowledge and understanding between the people of the UK and the wider world. We find new ways of connecting with and understanding each other through the arts, to develop stronger creative sectors around the world that are better connected with the UK.

We believe arts and culture are vital to prosperous, secure societies, and that offering international cultural connections and experiences strengthens their resilience. We are uniquely able to make a difference thanks to our extensive and diverse networks in the UK and internationally, enabling us to respond to the individual context of each place within which we work.

Through our UK and worldwide network of experts, we support business to business connections, working in partnership to create programmes that responds to the needs of local markets. We foster collaboration; share arts work with the world; build resilience and creative responses to crisis; shape policy; and develop skills and livelihoods. Our programme of seasons and focus countries allows us torapidly develop relationships between the UK, major trading partners and important emerging economies. These seasons build a modern, dynamic and creative image of the UK and develop new audiences for British culture around the world.


About the Manchester International Festival

Manchester International Festival is the world’s first festival of original, new work and special events and takes place biennially, in Manchester, UK. The Festival launched in 2007 as an artist-led, commissioning Festival presenting new works from across the spectrum of performing arts, visual arts and popular culture. Some highlights of the first four Festivals include premieres of SteveMcQueen’s commemoration of fallen British soldiers, Queen and Country; Damon Albarn, Jamie Hewlett and Chen Shi-Zheng‘s Chinese opera Monkey: Journey to the West; group art event Il Tempo del Postino – featuring work by Matthew Barney, Tacita Dean and Tino Sehgal; Zaha Hadid Architects‘ new space for the music of Bach; Björk‘s three-week Biophilia residency; director Robert Wilson‘s The Life and Death of Marina Abramović, starring Abramović, Willem Dafoe and Antony; The xx performing in a hidden city centre space for audiences of just 60 and Kenneth Branagh’s Macbeth.

In 2015 highlights included the Alice in Wonderland inspired with music by Damon Albarn, book and lyrics by Moira Buffini, directed by Rufus Norris; and contemporary-ballet Tree of Codes a spellbinding collaboration between Wayne McGregor, Olafur Eliasson and Jamie xx that featured dancers for Company Wayne McGregor and Paris Opera Ballet;Gerhard Richter and Arvo Pärt dedicating work to each other for Richter/Pärtand FKA twigsSoundtrack 7 residency where audiences observed the artist’s creative process at close quarters.

The Festival works with co-commissioning partners around the world to create and present new productions, partnerships which not only help make these new commissions possible but also extend theaudiences and lifespan of the shows. 35 MIF shows have gone on to have a life outside the Festival, visiting Park Avenue Armory in New York, the Ruhrtriennale in Germany, the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Festival, Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Festival d’Automne in Paris, Spoleto Festival dei 2Mondi in Italy and many more.