David Cameron announces 2012 festival in China highlighting the best of UK arts

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British Prime Minister David Cameron MP announces UK Now arts festival in China 2012 in front of the National Museum in Beijing. From left to right: Joanna Burke, Cultural Counsellor, Cultural and Education Section, British Embassy; Vernon Ellis, Chairman British Council; Neil MacGregor, Director British Museum, London; Xiang Xiaowei, Assistant to Director General, Bureau for External Cultural Relations, Ministry of Culture; British Prime Minister David Cameron MP; Lü Zhangshen, Director National Museum; Sir Mark Jones, Director Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Helen Wong, CEO, HSBC, China. Attached photo 

The British Prime Minister Rt Hon David Cameron MP, during his visit to Beijing, announced today that there will be a major festival, UK Now, in China in 2012. The festival, potentially the biggest ever celebration of British arts held in China, will highlight the best of UK creativity and will include exhibitions, concerts and performances across the country.

The programme will be managed by the British Council in partnership with HSBC and Brunswick. Highlights will include British Design 1948-2012 – a V&A exhibition that will showcase 60 years of British creative talent including fashion, furniture, ceramics, photography and architecture; and a major exhibition, History of Porcelain, jointly organised by the British Museum, V&A and the National Museum of China.

Other leading UK organisations planning to work in China in 2012 include the National Youth Theatre, Birmingham Royal Ballet, London Symphony Orchestra, Liverpool Biennial, National Dance Company of Wales, London Philharmonic Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, and the international wildlife and environmental film festival Wildscreen. There will be many more.

UK Now will highlight the connection between China and the UK by virtue of being consecutive hosts for the Olympic Games. Organisers intend the event to showcase the UK's excellence in the arts and the creative industries as well as strengthening the cultural links made during the China Now festival in the UK in 2008 and building on the success of the UK's participation at Shanghai Expo during which the British Council programmed entertainment 7 days a week over 6 months in 2010 offering over 2,000 performances with more than 600 performers to the millions of visitors to the Expo Park.

The idea for the UK Now festival follows the success of the China Now festival in the UK in 2008. It will be funded by major UK companies including HSBC, Brunswick, Burberry, British Airways, Diageo, IHG, John Swire & Sons Ltd, Prudential and Norton Rose LLP, as well as the British Council. It will also be developed in collaboration with the China's Ministry of Culture and other Chinese partners.

Alan Parker, Chairman, UK Now, and Chairman of Brunswick Group, said:

"UK Now in China builds on the success of China Now in the UK. It is a real example of how British business and culture can create a stronger bridge between these two countries, and will show the very best of British culture, supported by the best of British business."

Martin Davidson, Chief Executive of the British Council said: "I am proud that the British Council will build on the success of the UK Pavilion at Shanghai Expo and enable the UK to present itself more fully across China in 2012."

Neil MacGregor OM, Director of the British Museum, and part of the Prime Minister's delegation, said: "We are delighted to be working with the National Museum to present this dialogue in porcelain over three centuries – a fascinating chapter in the history of China and Europe."

Also part of the delegation, Sir Mark Jones, Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum said: "The V&A has an exciting range of exhibitions planned to tour China in 2012 including a major survey of British Design since 1948."

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