‘Biggest ever’ cultural exchange programme launched between UK and Australia

The UK and Australia are to participate in the “biggest ever” cultural exchange programme between the two nations, it has been announced.

The scheme has been launched by the British Council and Australian Department of Foreign Affairs after the UK and Australia agreed a free trade deal last week.

The UK/Australia Season will include more than 200 live and digital events spanning theatre, film, visual arts, dance, design, architecture, music and literature.

Royal Ascot 2021 – Day Five
The Queen is patron of the UK/Australia Season 2021-22 (Andrew Matthews/PA)

The programme is designed “to strengthen and build cultural connections between the UK and Australia” and is the “biggest ever” scheme of its kind between the two countries, according to a statement.

Events will explore the theme ‘who are we now?’

The Queen, who has been made royal patron of the UK/Australia Season 2021-22, said: “On the occasion of the UK/Australia Season of Culture, I send my best wishes to all those involved in this cultural exchange programme.

“Over the next year, I hope that people in both the United Kingdom and Australia take the opportunity to appreciate and enjoy the artistic cultures of both nations.

“As patron, I wish you every success in delivering this project in affiliation with the British Council.”

Events included in the programme will be held at the BFI, Royal Opera House, British Museum, Southbank Centre, Design Museum, Belfast International Arts Festival, Wales Millennium Centre and Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

London landmarks
The Royal Opera House is one of the programme’s venues (Aaron Chown/PA)

Among them will be Lonely House at Edinburgh International Festival from August 20, which will see singer Katharine Mehrling and opera director Barrie Kosky perform an evening of cabaret.

A Made In Birmingham/Made In Sydney digital exhibition by the Ikon Gallery will also explore questions of identity in contemporary Britain and Australia.

George Brandis, high commissioner for Australia, said: “Further to the Free Trade Agreement announcement last week, the UK/Australia Season 2021-22 is the most ambitious cultural exchange between the UK and Australia.

“It comes at a time of great change and opportunity to look at ourselves, and at one another, through fresh eyes.

“Australian audiences will experience some of the UK’s famous companies and artists; UK audiences across the nation will experience new and innovative work coming out of Australia right now, alongside our globally recognised and world-class artists, major performing arts companies and cultural institutions.”

The scheme is being funded by the Australian government and the British Council, as well as by a number of philanthropists.