By Rebecca Gould, Head of Arts, British Council Wales

16 February 2021 - 09:00

Six people taking part in an online discussion
The arts and leadership panel in action. From left to right; Laura Drane, Abdul Shayek, Ruchira Das, Rashmi Dhanwani, Rebecca Gould and Debanjan Chakrabarti  

Is a pandemic the ideal time to build a more diverse, inclusive and accessible culture in the arts sector in India and Wales? Rebecca Gould reviews the India- Wales digital festival session on arts and leadership during the Covid-19 outbreak. 

As arts and creative industry sectors in India and Wales start to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, we heard from arts leaders in India and Wales on how collective action and resilience are enabling and encouraging the sector to imagine a new and improved future for the arts. The event was introduced by Debanjan Chakrabarti, Director British Council East and Northeast India and chaired by Rashmi Dhanwani, Founder Director, The Art X Company. The panel included Laura Drane; producer, consultant and facilitator, Abdul Shayek; Artistic Director and Joint CEO of TARA  Arts, and arts leader Ruchira Das

The panel discussed a myriad of subjects including how they navigated through the pandemic and what was its impact on their work and organisation. They spoke about the culture sector response in UK, Wales and India and highlighted the roles of collectives during this time. They also discussed how we could learn from this pandemic to create a new, better normal. 

Rashmi also spoke about the Taking the Temperature survey, a joint initiative between British Council India, FICCI and the Art X Company. The survey was designed to track the impact of Covid-19 on the creative sector in India, collecting responses from a wide range of creative professionals, arts companies, sector support organisations, policymakers and funders. The first edition of the report of is now available online

Laura shed light on a new term ‘un-producing’ and spoke about collective response from Wales to the Covid-19 pandemic. She highlighted the importance of inclusivity in the arts sector, now more than ever as we shape the better normal we aspire for. The pandemic has made her realise the power of collective voices. Examples of this include What Next?, a free to access network connecting freelancers, artists and organisations to inform, debate and shape the future of the arts and culture and use them to create a more equitable society.

Ruchira and Abdul shared their experiences, giving us an insight into how they navigated through this unprecedented situation, adapted and altered plans to stay connected. Abdul spoke about the pen to paper initiative they undertook where they used handwritten letters to stay connected with fellow artists, instead of using digital platforms for the same. 

Abdul also spoke about how they tried to strengthen the dialogue around diversity even through the Covid-19 pandemic. He further emphasised the need to create and provide funding and other opportunities to diverse groups of artists. 

The panel concluded that this is the ideal time to build a better, more informed, diverse, inclusive and accessible culture in the arts sector in India and Wales. 

Watch this insightful session here  

India-Wales digital festival: connections through culture was a series of online events, in partnership with British Council India, Wales Arts International and Welsh Government’s digital Diwali celebrations. The event lasted ten days, during November 2020, over the course of which we explored the past and current cultural work, of artists and cultural leaders in literature, theatre, music, dance, visual arts and craft. And it was through their work that we celebrated the connections and the ever-growing friendship between India and Wales. Through this event we aimed to further strengthen and enable creative collaboration between both nations in these difficult times. The event showcased and celebrated the work of artists from India and Wales who have been involved since 2017, or who were recently awarded in the 2019/20 Connections Through Culture: India-Wales grants programme. The event was a great success with an audience of thousands watching on platforms including Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. 

Rebecca Gould

Rebecca Gould

Head of Arts, British Council Wales