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What's the point of international cultural relations today?

22/11/2018 - 14:18

Culture in an Age of Uncertainty. Active Citizens in Ukraine. Photo by Oleksandr Filonenko © Goethe-Institut, adapted from the original.

The Cultural Value Project: Cultural Relations in 'Societies in Transition' publishes its findings on the value of the work of the British Council and the Goethe-Institut

A new report shows cultural relations are not just a matter of teaching English and putting on Shakespeare in unusual places. Groups representing British culture overseas are working on cultural relations "all the way down" to local levels and not just in major cities but "all the way out" into hard-to-reach places -- including places of war and conflict.

This hard work pays off for those societies. And alongside the efforts of the British Council and many of Britain's artists and cultural leaders, similar work is being done by the Germany's Goethe Institute, who also help promote values of democracy and social entrepreneurship.

Research conducted by the Open University and the Hertie School of Governance for the British Council and the Goethe-Institut examines the ways in which cultural relations work and the conditions and contexts under which cultural relations produce value (and indeed where it cannot) –particularly in promoting and sustaining security and prosperity as well as in strengthening civil society in societies going through substantial change.

The result offers guidance to cultural relations organisations in and beyond the UK and Germany about the processes, outcomes and value of cultural relations activities. The findings contribute to current political, policy and academic debates about the role of culture in conflict, diplomacy and development.