RSA Replay: Can a healthy cultural relationship compensate for political mistrust?

Findings from the 2014 UK-Russia Year of Culture.

In the spring of 2013, Foreign Secretary William Hague and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov signed a joint declaration announcing 2014 as the UK-Russia Year of Culture. In an increasingly interdependent world, both governments recognise how the promotion of cultural values and ideas plays a vital role in building mutual understanding and trust, and creating the capacity to influence. A programme of engagement in both countries would be set up across the arts and creative industries, education, sport and science.

A year later, diplomatic relations between the two countries were arguably at their lowest ebb since the ending of the Cold War, with the ongoing Ukraine crisis threatening to derail the initiative completely. However, the UK’s programme in Russia continued with an overwhelming public response, and the evaluation evidence points to important short-term gains.

What more can be done to foster innovative and sustainable exchange between individuals, institutions and government? And is there a role for social innovators alongside creative practitioners in strengthening civil society, at a time when Russian cultural policy is closing itself off from the West?

The British Council’s Director in Russia, Paul de Quincey, tells the inside story of the Year of Culture, followed by a panel discussion on the future of this vital cultural relationship.

Panel to include CiarĂ¡n Devane, chief executive, British Council.

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