The upcoming Dual Year of Mexico in the UK, the UK in Mexico will be a year long initiative that will focus on deepening the relations between the two countries. Private academic, scientific and artistic sectors are key areas that will be given deliberate attention during the year. KITE Invest interviewed The British Council’s Director for Culture, Mr. Graham Sheffield to understand the role of the British Council during the upcoming year and ways in which greater linkages can be made.

KITE Invest: What is your personal view and involvement of the British Council  with the Year of Mexico in the UK and the Year of the UK in Mexico?

Graham Sheffield: The 2015 will see the biggest ever programme of UK cultural projects in Mexico and an unprecedented showcase of Mexican culture in the United Kingdom. The British Council is delighted to be working with our partners across the UK government and with the Mexican government to make the year a celebration of the rich cultural heritage of both of our countries. We are also looking to the future, on deepening and strengthening partnership and collaboration between Mexico and the UK across the arts, education, science, innovation, trade and investment. We have so much to learn from each other in these areas and my hope is that the new partnerships forged will far outlive the year.

For instance, our creative sector in the UK is now worth £71.4 billion per year to our economy, generating just over £8 million pounds an hour; a real catalyst of growth. Governments around the world, in Mexico, China, Brazil and Nigeria to name a few, also recognise the value of film, fashion, architecture and design and other creative disciplines as drivers of innovation and new business. Our bilateral relationship is strong, but now is the time to strengthen it further.

KITE: Please share with us your expectations and objectives to be achieved during the upcoming ‘Dual Year’.

GS: In Mexico, the arts and cultural sector will celebrate heritage and diversity, through activities such as an arts and disability showcase at the Cervantino Festival. Co-operation in education, science and innovation will inspire academic collaborations and partnerships, broadening access to knowledge and research. Trade and investment will be stimulated by a high profile business forum, led by some of the most senior business people in Mexico and the UK.

Simultaneously, Mexico in UK will promote Mexican culture, innovation and trade in cities across the UK. The UK will be guest of honour at the Feria Internacional del Libro (FIL) Guadalajara, which is fantastic. Mexico as Market Focus at the 2015 London Book Fair should also be a real highlight. By working together both countries learn from each other and aim to build a legacy that will last well beyond the year itself.

KITE: The BC works in over 100 countries, what are some of the measures that the BC takes to tailor programs to countries, and specifically in the caseof Mexico?

GS: With all our major initiatives we seek synergy with the ambitions and aspirations of others – artists, companies, institutions, trusts and foundations, other public sector bodies, so that we can maximise the resource and the impact of our work and Mexico is no different. We are delighted by the partnerships and collaborations initiated so far and I am sure they are just the tip of the iceberg, the possibilities for lively exchange and new connections between individuals and across institutions are endless.

Showcasing British artistic excellence is integral to our work, but we want long-term partnerships with greater opportunities for exchange between the UK and Mexico. It is through intense engagements with partners that we are able to accelerate programmes and be more innovative in our relationships and those we facilitate between arts organisations.