There’s never been a better time to be in the business of cultural relations. And there’s never been a harder time. This edition of Insight touches on just a few of those challenges: the human family’s ability to co-operate at a global level when faced with an environmental emergency; the role of cultural connection when politics have hit a wall; the importance of national stories in explaining ourselves to others.
At such a moment of challenge, the value of cultural relations is clear. But we are in the middle of a global pandemic that has changed the British Council’s operating model, Government finances are also incredibly stretched, and as a result the way we operate, and our geographical priorities, must change.
Tough times demand new ways of thinking and working. In a post-pandemic world, full of danger and upheaval, we must be innovative and open-minded.
Fortunately, our long history – spanning hot and cold wars, as well as social revolutions – is also the history of change. What has remained constant is our mission to create connections between people wherever they live. Whatever the world throws at us, we will continue doing that, helping to maintain the United Kingdom’s reputation as a committed global citizen.
The UK Government’s recently published Integrated Review sets out a new ambition: to promote a truly Global Britain. It acknowledges that the UK’s soft power advantage is vital to the success of this endeavour.
At this crucial turning point we offer new insight into the UK’s standing in the eyes of young people around the world. Our new report, Global Britain: the UK’s soft power advantage written by Alistair MacDonald, Senior Policy Advisor, highlights the places where the UK is in a position of strength and where work is needed to maintain and increase the UK’s reserves of soft power in an increasingly competitive international environment.
Kate Ewart-Biggs, Interim Chief Executive, British Council