Category Archives: Connections through Culture

Connections through Culture is the British Council’s new programme to provoke and support collaborative working between the UK and India in the arts. It’s focused on the arts industry itself – producers, festivals, curators, arts organisations and companies – and aims to build strong, sustainable relationships between organisations in the two countries.

Art Connections 2011

The stunning exhibition by Anish Kapoor that opened in New Delhi and Mumbai just a few weeks ago started a new chapter in the relationship between the UK and India in visual arts, underpinned by the new Cultural Agreement between our two countries that was signed in July.
During January, inspired by the amazing gathering that is the India Art Summit, the British Council is working with a huge range of partners to cement that relationship and bringing artists, curators, visual arts producers and policy-makers together, to exchange perspectives and ideas about where this cultural partnership should go next.
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Rob Lynes
Director, British Council, India


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18 January

Dialogues on Curating Part II
at India International Centre
10.30 a.m. – 5.30 p.m.
IIC Annexe Lecture Hall (by registration)

Journeys: Four Generations of Indian Artists in Their Own Words
at British Council
Book Launch & Panel Discussion
6.30 – 9.00 p.m.
Theatre (by invitation only)

The Edinburgh Festival in India
at British Council
Presentations & Lunch
11 am – 12.30 p.m.
Theatre (by registration)

19 January

Dialogues on Curating Part II
at India International Centre
10.30 a.m. – 5.30 p.m.
IIC Annexe Lecture Hall (by registration)

One Sky Project
at British Council
6.30 – 8.30 p.m.
Charbagh (by invitation)
Joint reception for The Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable MP, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, UK and the delegates of the One Sky Project
19 – 29 January, 10.00 a.m. – 6.00 p.m.
Queen’s Gallery (open to all)

20 January

The ŠKODA Prize for Indian Contemporary Art
at Goethe-Institut
Exhibition Preview
11.00 a.m. – 2.00 p.m.
Siddhartha Hall, Max Muller Bhavan (by invitation only)

The exhibition is open to all from 21 – 23 January.

VIP Preview
3.00 p.m. – 5.00 p.m.
Pragati Maidan (IAS VIP pass holders)

21 January

Breakfast reception
at National Gallery of Modern Art
9.30 a.m. – 11.00 a.m.
(IAS VIP pass holders)

Otolith Exhibition
at Seven Art Ltd Gallery
9.00 a.m. – 11.00 a.m.
(IAS VIP pass holders)

Indian art on the international art circuit
at India Art Summit
Panel discussion
3.00 p.m. – 4.30 p.m.
Pragati Maidan (by registration)

Speakers amongst others include
Hans Ulrich Obrist, Co-director of Exhibitions and Programmes & Director of International
Projects, Serpentine Gallery
Nina Miall, Director, Haunch of Venison

The ŠKODA Prize for Indian Contemporary Art
at Taj Palace Hotel (by invitation only)
7.30 p.m.
Winner announcement

22 January

Anish Kapoor in conversation with Homi Bhabha
at India Art Summit
12.00 noon – 1.30 p.m.
Pragati Maidan (by registration)

Anish Kapoor, Artist
Homi Bhabha, Professor and Director, Humanities Centre, Harvard University

The Khoj Marathon by Hans Ulrich Obrist
at Lodi Garden Restaurant
A series of Public conversations
1.45 p.m. – 11.00 p.m.
Courtyard (open to all)

23 January

Shifting cultural contexts and the role of the Museum
at India Art Summit
Panel discussion
11 a.m. – 12.30 p.m.
Pragati Maidan (by registration)
Speaker amongst others include
Sheena Wagstaff, Chief Curator, Tate Modern


Anish Kapoor
at National Gallery of Modern Art
28 November 2010 – 27 February 2011
10 a.m. to 5 p.m., except Thursday until 8 p.m.
Closed on Mondays (open to all)

at Pragati Maidan Metro Station
By London Transport Museum

at British Council
By Vishal K Dar
17 – 23 January

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Culture Connection: understanding and respecting differences

Unlike the mainstream schools where education is easily accessible, Bandhyali is a school on the outskirts of Jaipur which caters to the children for whom school is a palace and education a dream. Bandhyali School, in Bandhyali village, is a primary school for 325 children, 201 girls and 124 boys. All these children are from educationally, socially, and economically disadvantaged communities from the surrounding villages. Bandhayli is a free school. No fee is charged, and all books, notebooks and stationery are provided by the school.

This school is run by an organisation called Digantar which aims to develop educational opportunities for children from the nearby villages. The purpose of education is to make every child a self-motivated and independent learner with the ability to think critically. Digantar strives to develop educational opportunities for all children based on this idea. Every child is capable of learning to live in the society, defining his / her goals for life, finding ways of achieving the chosen goals, taking appropriate action, and of being responsible for the actions taken.

Children at Bandhyali School had never visited another place outside their village. They were hesitant to ask questions and make any decision. They lacked creativity and had never shown interest in learning English language.

Nobody had ever envisaged that a visit by a group of teachers from the UK in 2004 would change the classroom environment and improve the quality of education in Bandhyali School. This group of teachers was led by Mr. Paul Whitcombe, Head teacher of Lord Scudamore Primary School, Herefordshire who proposed the idea of partnership with Bandhyali School. Both schools were formally partnered under the Global School Partnerships programme.

The staff  at  Bandhyali were excited with the prospects of this alliance as it would not only give an opportunity to the students to engage with contemporary issues but also enable the teachers in developing new skills among the students. The aim of this partnership was to primarily evaluate and improve teaching-learning practices, and this was truly in line with the philosophy of education at Bandhyali. This wide-ranging aim would provide endless opportunities for integrating new forms of expression, creativity, exploring diversity and other global issues and supporting formative assessment.

The Global School Partnerships programme, managed by the British Council has provided an opportunity to both schools to work collaboratively in raising awareness about both countries and develop a strong global dimension in the primary curriculum. The programme has benefitted 759 students.

Interaction, creativity and empowerment are the three cornerstones of this six-year old partnership between Bandhyali, a rural school in the Jagatpura district of Rajasthan and Lord Scudamore Primary School in UK. The partnership has come a long way since then; it has laid the foundations of the education dream for the wider school community.

Teachers from the UK school worked on various subjects with the students at Bandhyali. Interaction with teachers from the UK has motivated the students to develop an interest in English language. Various activities were conducted which resulted in improved skills in speaking and writing. The teachers also planned dramas and poems which has improved students’ creativity skills.

Activities in subjects like history and geography has increased children’s knowledge not only of their own country but of UK as well. Locating their partner country and knowing about the geographical conditions taught the students to use a map. They learnt about the similarities and differences between each others’ culture.

The staff at Bandhyali, during their visits to the partner school in UK, learnt a lot about new teaching-learning practices and inter-disciplinary approaches to curriculum transaction; major part of the curriculum is now thoughtfully designed around major seasons, festivals and other events.

The children are now so confident. They are always curious to know more about things around them. They don’t stop questioning until they are satisfied with the answer. They enjoy studying. They don’t shy away in exploring and expressing themselves creatively.

The programme has also benefitted the teachers. The exchange visits have helped in teachers’ professional development, taught them to bring creativity in to the classroom and to make optimum use of each and every resource available.

This partnership has had its positive impact on the community as well. Parents of these children have now become open-minded. They once never agreed to send their daughters to school, are now ready to send them to the UK.

Abdul Gaffar, Senior Academic Co-ordinator, Bandhyali School reminisces asking a parent of a student – “until a few years ago you didn’t even want to send your daughter to school, and you now want her to visit England?’ Prompt came the reply, “I want to give the best education to my daughter and I want her to see the world…”

The mind-set of women in the village has radically changed. They are no longer scared to ask questions and are actively involved in discussions on topics like why men don’t undertake household tasks and why women do more work than men?

Bandhyali School has had an exemplary involvement with the community. The village folk now freely interact with the visiting teachers. The village elders help students with their projects on understanding the changes in lifestyle, education, industry and agriculture practices. The village community has done some significant fund-raising to set up temporary structures for classrooms while a new building for the school is being constructed.

The literacy rate in the surrounding areas in 1992 was 14% for men and 2% for women which has now shot up to 47% for men and 38% for women, as per the survey done in 2008. There is now a long waiting list of students wanting to seek admission in Bandhyali. There are about 197 children waiting to seek admission in this school.

Children of both schools now feel interconnected with each other. They have an urge to visit their partner school in UK. This partnership has developed a holistic perspective among the students of both schools. The activities have helped in develop social ethos and respect and understand the culture and traditions of another country.

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Complicite’s A Disappearing Number in Mumbai this August

A Disappearing Number

The British Council, Prithvi Theatre and Tata Photon present  renowned British experimental theatre Complicité’s A Disappearing Number, an award winning British play inspired by the legendary mathematical collaboration of Srinavasa Ramanujan and G. H. Hardy.


Dates – 9, 10 and 11 August 2010

Time – 7.30 pm,

Venue – Jamshed Bhabha Theatre, NCPA

Tickets prices at Rs 2,500/-, Rs 2,000/-, Rs 1,000/-, Rs 500/-
Tickets sale begins Friday, 16 July 2010 for NCPA members and Sunday, 18 July 2010 for public. Senior Citizen & Student discounts on certain tickets (ID must be shown).

Ticket available at NCPA Box Office, Prithvi Theatre and BookMyShow. For home delivery call 39895050


Date – 21 and 22 August 2010,

Venue - Global Peace Auditorium
(More information to come up soon)

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Day 1 – BandBazi/Q Theatre Productions – Mindwalking

Post by Philipa Vafadari, Thursday 17th June, 2010

We arrived late last night and havn’t really recovered from the journey but are already straight in with a meeting at The British Council offices today – they gave us the travel, visas and accommodation money through their Connections Through Culture fund.  John (Binnie), Tanika (Gupta) and Q(uasar Padamsee) are interviewing potential actors for the role of the Father in the piece and I have snuck away to write this on one of the BC computers as my internet connection isn’t working at the hotel. 

We are meeting 6 older actors today, all but one of whom are Parsee.  So far they have been fascinating to talk to about their lives and experiences.  It is a bit different here to England though, acting in the theatre is often on a semi-professional basis and, because it is very poorly paid most people have other professions.  So far we have met a Business consultant and an airline pilot!  Bollywood, of course, pays really well…  I say it is different, but how many actors in the UK can say that acting is their full-time job?

3 of the actors we meet today will be invited to workshop with us over three days at the weekend.  It’s a packed schedule but we want to make the most of our time here. 

Tonight is dinner hosted by Q’s mother Dolly Thakore.  There will be about 15 guests – all either writers, poets, actors or directors.  It is going to be a fascinating trip.

Tomorrow are meetings with two Parsee newspapers to tell them about the project so that they are on board for the previews and reviews if it tours India in autumn 2011. Also a meeting with the CEO of the National Centre of Performing Arts, Khusrow Suntook about taking the show.

Q has promised us a whistlestop siteseeing tour of the City.  It’s invaluable having him as our host and guide. 

Keep you posted…Philippa

Here is a vidoe of the Work-in-progress at the Alchemy Festival at Sounthbank Centre in April 2010 as part of the Connections through Culture programme.


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Adapting the novel Mrs D’Silva’s -work-in-progress

In early 2010 the British Council awarded a Connections through Culture Development grant to Parthian Books, an independent publishers based in Wales, UK, and theatre producer Rebecca Gould to begin adapting the novel Mrs D’Silva’s Detective Instincts and the Shaitan of Calcutta into a stage play, in partnership with Tin Can performance company.   


In May, the creative team – author Glen Peters, playwright Lewis Davies, Rebecca Gould, and actor Shereen Martineau – travelled to Kolkata for a four-day workshop with Tin Can. 

The workshop, led by Tin Can director Soumyak Kanti de Biswas, was a fusion of very different artistic and working styles, and demonstrated both the special challenges and great creative rewards of cross-cultural collaboration.   

For the British team, used to a model of creating plays where the script is written first and it is the actors’ job to bring the words to life, it was an eye-opener to work with a company who create plays as an ensemble, with the writer just one voice among many.   

“I found this a really exciting way of working,” says the playwright, Lewis Davies. “It meant I could write very sparingly, allowing enough space for the visual and physical storytelling to happen around the lines.”  

Tin Can do not discuss the characters’ motivations or thoughts; instead, they are led by their bodies and by the atmosphere of the scene. They draw on a wide range of influences including European physical theatre traditions and traditional Bengali theatre. 


“What was striking was to see how Tin Can worked as a genuine ensemble,” comments Rebecca Gould. “For me they encapsulated how collaborative theatre should work – each member of the group was entirely open and willing to push well beyond their comfort, physically and emotionally. Collectively they were able to read and interpret the pictures created by fellow members with amazing speed and then to add to them, making them more sharper, more detailed and more expressive.”

All members of the group were keen to learn new styles of working and to break out of their habitual way of doing things.

UK-based actor Shereen Martineau explains: “In Britain, often we feel our way toward a full, extended performance but it seemed the company began with full commitment,  with a certainty and filled in the gaps thereafter. This seemed to me incredibly courageous and served the work in a different and magnetic way. I took from this what I could and I think they too took from our approach. We have much to learn from each other.”

It was initially difficult for the Kolkata actors to work from a script, especially when they had to hold it in their hands; they felt this interfered with their ability to improvise. However, as author Glen Peters comments: “Rebecca’s emphasis on the need to follow a script, although at first difficult for the actors, transformed the mime, dance, music and drama into a powerful amalgam of words and action which I hope will be knockout theatre.”

There was also much debate about the content of the play and what kind of story it should tell. The book itself is a hybrid – a whodunnit, a love story, and a political thriller – and, like its author, has its beginnings in a hybrid community founded on the mixing of different cultures. It is set at a pivotal moment in Kolkata’s history: the Maoists are gaining prominence; the Raj has ended but the British still hold key jobs in industry. 

For Tin Can, this was a chance to explore the history of their own city, seen from the perspective of Glen, a member of the minority Anglo-Indian community who grew up there but emigrated to the UK in the 1960s. And for the UK team, the opportunity to see the locations in the book for themselves made it possible to really bring it to life.The team also put on an event at Seagull Arts and Media Centre, attended by approximately 50 members of the public, who had the chance to see work in progress and join in with the team’s discussions.

As for the future, Lewis is now writing the play, ten scenes of which will form the basis for the final production. The question ‘Who killed Agnes Lal?’ is the central question of the drama, with the other elements of love interest, political intrigue, and women’s experiences woven into the story. The team hope to hold another workshop at a later stage, to collectively develop the play into a final form which can be produced in both India and the UK.

And this final shape will depend completely on the fusion of the India and UK creative teams, and the work of the whole group as an ensemble. As Rebecca says: “I started the workshop rather naively saying that Lewis would write the play that he wanted to write, but that it would be informed by the process over the next few days. In fact, the play Lewis plans to write is entirely inspired and has been created by the process he went through with the actors.”

Post by – © Parthian Books Ltd

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Want to be a PLAYWRIGHT?

British Council (as part of Connections through Culture programme) and Rage bring The Royal Court Theatre, London to town for the third time. For Writers’ Bloc 3. An amazing pot of gold awaites you.


Send in a one-act or a full-length play (in any language) and you could be one of the final 12 playwrights who get a chance to participate in a two week residential playwright workshop by the mentors of Royal Court Theatre.

For Further details call Rage at 9773612114 or email at

So don’t wait…Deadline: 15 July 2010

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The Great Escapade

The Great Escapade

The British Council Soundpad UK Tour of Music Entrepreneurs 2010 is on. Arjun S Ravi reports to us about his experience.

Click to view large

As “Europe’s leading festival for new music” The Great Escape makes for an interesting look at upcoming acts that’ve been gaining press/blog buzz over the last couple of years. I checked out three bands that I’ve had on my/the Indiecision radar for the past few months – Surfer Blood, Best Coast and Real Estate. Apart from these there’ve been some great headline acts that’re on the bill. The Cribs (pictured above) played a packed gig on Thursday night and tonight I’m really looking forward to Broken Social Scene.

The conference has been pretty interesting as well, but mostly for the panels/talks that aren’t business related. More on that in a bit. Am headed out to catch a panel with Nick Kent. I’ll leave you with a picture of the drummer of a band called Yuck (who aren’t as bad as their name). Vasu Dixit, your move.

Arjun S Ravi is the editor of Indiecision, that cool indie blogzine-ication.

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