“Cultural relations”. Apparently that’s what the British Council ‘does’. It basically means taking all these pointless boundaries and frontiers that divide up the world and its people, and hurtling over them, taking the axe to them, or, best of all, just ignoring them altogether.

Sound familiar?

Like UnBox, the British Council believes that the most interesting stuff happens when people work with people they normally wouldn’t, people from different disciplines or different countries, people with different skills and different perspectives. It’s difficult, it’s scary, it doesn’t always work and it sometimes ends in tears. But it’s worth it, because sometimes it’s magical.

That’s why we’ve been so happy to work with UnBox for all three festivals so far, bringing lovely people from the UK to give talks and listen and run workshops and learn and upcycle and perform light surgery and make fanzines and play around with sensory augmentation. We were also hosts for the main festival for the first two years, and now it’s flown the nest to its new home at Sultanpur, we’ll be cheerleaders-in-chief.

This year, as well as the Festival Zine and the Pan Studio research workshops, we’ve also got the UnBox Fellowships, in partnership with the Arts & Humanities Research Council, the Science and Innovation Network, and UnBox. Five creative professionals from the UK and five from India, five UK researchers, and five Indian host organisations with social projects, spending several weeks together, hurtling over those frontiers of disciplines and perspectives and nationality and coming up with strange and wonderful new ideas that could change the world.

“Action at the Intersections”? “Cultural Relations”? Doesn’t matter what you call it: it’s fun, it’s inspiring, and it might just make the world a slightly better place.

Adam Pushkin
Head of Arts, British Council India