British Council INTERSECT Programme Drives Cultural Diversity In The Arts

British Council INTERSECT Programme drives cultural diversity in the arts

¾ Three Australian and three UK artists of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander or minority ethnic background participate in an international knowledge exchange, travelling to each nation for a programme of meetings and workshops

¾ Australian participants are theatremaker and choreographer Jacob Boehme, multi-disciplinary theatremaker, performer and writer Candy Bowers, and director of 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art Mikala Tai

¾ UK participants are curator and project manager Adelaide Bannerman, the Artistic Director and CEO of tiata fahodzi Natalie Ibu, and Artistic Director of Fio Abdul Shayek

The UK and Australia are both multi-ethnic societies with an under-representation of artists, producers and curators from First Nations and culturally diverse backgrounds in their arts and cultural industries. INTERSECT is a British Council and Diversity Arts Australia led knowledge exchange initiative to address this inequality.

INTERSECT has enabled six curators, programmers, producers, publishers or artistic directors who identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander or being from a culturally and linguistically diverse or minority ethnic background to connect and collaborate with international colleagues.

In February-March 2019 the UK participants will visit Australia to meet with the Australian participants and engage in a programme of events and meetings curated specifically by the Australian participants to share their working context as well as industry meetings arranged by the British Council. Each activity is designed to foster cross-cultural exchange with a focus on further developing and facilitating each individual's vision.

The participants will also attend Diversity Arts Australia's Fair Play Symposium in Melbourne 26-27 February. The Fair Play Symposium focuses on tangible ways to improve equity and inclusive practice in the creative industries by bringing together knowledge, leading practices and lived experience from First Nations, Disability and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse communities.

In September 2018 the Australian participants travelled to the UK for the first leg of the knowledge exchange, meeting with the UK participants and a range of peak organisations, companies and agencies. The UK participants curated a range of meetings with their colleagues and contemporaries as well. Some of the early outcomes of this exchange have included Candy Bowers bringing Inua Ellams' R.A.P. Party to Melbourne in December 2018 and artist Erika Tan's work being programmed as part of the By All Estimates exhibition at Mikala Tai's 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art.

The Australia Council for the Arts' 2017 Making Art Work report found that people from a non-English speaking background account for only 10% of the arts workforce, compared to 18% of the general workforce. The Arts Council of England found that people from a minority ethnic background make up 11% of staff at their National Portfolio Organizations and 4% of staff at Major Partner Museums compared to 16% of the general workforce. INTERSECT is part of the British Council's commitment equality and platforms for arts that better reflect our societies and culture.


INTERSECT is contributing to social cohesion by supporting multiple ways of seeing the world through the arts. The programme is increasing access and opportunities to artists from diverse backgrounds through creative exchanges. It will strengthen international collaboration between those who decide whose work is seen, what is seen, how it is seen, and who sees it.

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