British Council Arts Strategy by taoyni


									   British Council Arts Strategy:
Connecting the UK with the World through Culture
              British Council Arts Strategy:

 Connecting the UK with the world through Culture



  1.   Executive Summary                                       3

  2.   What the British Council does – Cultural Relations today 6

  3.   The domestic and international context for our work     7

  4.   Our wider focus                                         9

  5.   A new strategy for the arts and creative industries     10

  6.   Working together                                        18

  7.   Resources                                               18

  8.   Consultation questions and next steps                   20

1. Executive Summary

The arts are central to the British Council’s ambition to connect the people of the UK
to people throughout the world. We build understanding, trust and influence for
Britain - working over the long-term in over 100 countries: in developing economies,
closed societies, countries in conflict, and countries with a lack of trust in the UK. In
addition, we increase the UK’s international awareness and our openness to
influences from other countries.

As the UK’s leading international Cultural Relations organisation we have always
been an integral part of the UK’s cultural scene: supporting and stimulating the best
UK talent to produce outstanding arts and cultural experiences.

In looking again at the role of the arts and creative industries in the British Council,
we want to make sure that our focus fits today’s priorities. This document outlines
some of those priorities and our proposed response.

The recent McMaster Report commissioned by the Department for Culture, Media
and Sport underlined the importance of excellence in the arts and culture. McMaster
specifically challenged the British Council to work with the Department and with the
Arts Council of England to develop a joint international strategy that stimulates
greater international exchange. In accepting this challenge, we wholeheartedly
endorse the premise that UK arts and culture are strengthened by international
engagement. We can go further and say that the British Council is uniquely placed to
respond. We have a physical presence in over 100 countries and work with partners
in others. We are a unique brand and resource for the UK.

The creative industries are the second-largest sector in London’s economy and
contribute 7.3% to the UK’s GDP: driving growth and providing employment across
the UK.    London is the heart of the UK creative scene, but Northern Ireland,
Scotland, Wales and the English regions make a vital contribution.           The British
Council’s strong presence in Cardiff, Belfast and Edinburgh, as well as in London and
Manchester will help us ensure that the whole UK remains at the hub of the global
creative economy.

Finally, as an organisation, we seek to respond to the wider policy and international
imperatives facing the UK. Over the next three years we want to focus on three
strategic priorities: inter-cultural dialogue; the UK creative and knowledge economy;
and increasing understanding of the risks and impact of climate change. We believe
that British Council expertise in education, science, innovation, governance and the
teaching of English, as well as in the Arts, combined with our long-term approach,
have an important and unique contribution to make to all three.

All of this means we are proposing the following four key approaches to our arts
strategy over the next three years:

   •   Showcasing UK excellence
       We want to assist the best UK talent to take their work to the world. We will
       support the touring and commissioning of work which explores the diversity,
       innovation and excellence of UK arts, with a particular emphasis on facilitating
       its entry into new markets.

   •   Internationalism
       We believe that increased internationalism will inspire artists and cultural
       organisations.   We    want    to   increase   opportunities   for   international
       collaboration, for UK artists to visit and work overseas and for young
       international artists to visit and work in the UK. We want to partner major UK
       cultural institutions and others to build greater international opportunities,
       understanding and connections.

   •   Global networks in the creative economy
       The UK is a leading hub in the global creative economy. Artists are attracted
       to the UK by the openness of our society and the excellence of our tertiary
       education in the arts. As a consequence, the UK is already well placed to
       engage internationally.

       We want to develop existing multilateral networks and foster new ones,
       increasing opportunities for exchange; skills development; and dialogue
       between artists, creative entrepreneurs and policymakers.       We believe this
       will stimulate ideas, innovation and growth in the UK economy and within the
       global creative economy.

   •   Integrated Cultural Relations programmes
       We run major multi-country, arts-based programmes across all art forms. Our
       programmes harness the power of the arts to promote excellence and
       demonstrate the diversity of the UK; build real and online international
       networks; generate opportunities for UK creative industries; facilitate the
       learning of English; and foster debate and dialogue. In the future we want to
       work across our arts, science, education and English language teams in
       large-scale, cross-sector programmes that reach greater numbers of people.
       Such programmes have the potential to deliver huge impact across the world.

We want to consult on the approach outlined in this strategy. We want to know
whether you agree with our four areas of focus for our work with the arts and creative
industries. The UK arts and creative industries already make a major contribution in
the world, we want them to do even more.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Martin Davidson
Chief Executive

2. What the British Council does – Cultural Relations today

The British Council’s purpose is to develop long-lasting relationships between
individuals, organisations and peoples in the UK and countries around the world
through cultural and educational links. In doing so, we create connections, increase
collaboration and prosperity, build understanding of and trust in the UK and help
reduce conflict.

For us, Cultural Relations is about the long term. We seek to build lasting
relationships with individuals and institutions in this country and overseas that help to
meet their respective aspirations. In doing so we support people’s desire for progress
and change in their societies and ours through education and culture. We provide a
platform for UK artists and cultural organisations from which they can contribute to
this mission.

From teaching English to millions to supporting research and curriculum reform; from
school links, scholarships and exchange programmes to showcasing the best the
UK has to offer the world, our programmes deliver life-changing encounters. By
sharing UK arts, creativity and innovation; the English language; and UK expertise in
governance, education and skills with peoples from all around the world we deliver
opportunity and mutual benefit daily to people in the UK and around the world.

The arts are central to how we do Cultural Relations. They have a unique ability to
present complex ideas and to engage people. Moreover, in the UK they have been a
demonstrable agent for change and regeneration. Through the arts we express our
values of self determination, our internationalism and our ability to absorb a
multiplicity of views and ideas without losing our essential identity. In the future we
want to increase appreciation of the UK’s creative ideas and achievements abroad,
and ensure greater appreciation for the cultural achievements of the wider world in
the UK.

3 The domestic and international context for our work


Over the past few years many UK agencies have recognised the value of working
internationally. The Arts Council of England, Creative London, the regional
development agencies in England and devolved administrations in Northern Ireland,
Scotland and Wales have all placed internationalism high on their agenda. With the
approach of the 2012 Olympics, the desire for international engagement is likely to
spread and intensify.

At the same time, the UK’s creative landscape continues to change and evolve. The
recent McMaster Review (“Supporting Excellence in the Arts: from measurement to
judgement”, January 2008), sought to reinvigorate the pursuit of excellence across
art forms and placed internationalism at the heart of that pursuit.

The creative industries are the second largest sector in London’s economy and
contribute 7.3% to the UK’s GDP. The Work Foundation’s report (“Staying Ahead:
the economic performance of the UK’s creative industries” June 2007) focused on
the centrality of the creative industries to our on-going economic development.
Creative & Cultural Skills, the skills council for the sector, has recognised the
importance of international engagement and collaboration to continued growth.

Other reports have looked at the role that the arts play in education and social
inclusion, at the changing nature of our consumption of culture and the importance of
intellectual property rights. All these interrogations of the cultural and creative arena
shape the development of policy and practice and reflect our understanding of the
changing role and nature of the arts. This policy, practice and enquiry will be
reflected in our international offer.


International agencies and overseas governments are increasingly keen to engage
with the UK experience of both the arts and the creative economy. UN agencies as

diverse as UNESCO, WIPO, UNCTAD, UNDP and ILO1 all have an interest in the
creative economy and present opportunities for collaboration and partnership.

The issue of cultural diversity remains a focus overseas. We recognise the worldwide
importance of a strong local creative sector, which invests in local talent and has an
understanding of the local market. Our capacity building initiatives and work with
young creative entrepreneurs seeks to ensure that the UK, which draws so much
talent from other countries is, at the same time, supporting cultural diversity.

As a Cultural Relations agency it is important for us to recognise that we come with
experiences rather than answers; that we seek to create debate and understanding
and not to impose. It is also important to understand that the nature of our approach
– at arms length from UK government – gives us a licence to explore difficult
questions and to create an environment for open discussion. In exercising this
licence we recognise the need for cultural sensitivity and intellectual rigour.

The British Council has its own international priorities reflected in our three-year
objectives. Like many, we recognise the need for greater inter-cultural dialogue with
peoples and countries throughout the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. In
addition, there is a growing need to engage with the emerging economies. Over the
last 10 years we have shifted our focus from the developed world to new economies
particularly India and China.

The UK as a creative hub

People, ideas and resources move around the globe faster and more easily than ever
before. As a result, London has become a truly global city, the home to myriad
diaspora communities, reaching out across the world.           Today the UK is recognised
as a centre of creative excellence and attracts the best from around the world. It is
also a crossroads for talent. The UK is a leading hub within the global creative
economy: a key link to the live and evolving networks around the world.                   This
presents challenges and opportunities for Britain: how do we maintain this position,
support the development of further networks of value and keep existing connections

 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation; World Intellectual Property
Organisation, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development; United Nations
Development Programme; International Labour Organisation.

London, in its creative industries, has both a breadth and depth that few cities can
match. Outside London the arts and creative industries also flourish. Cities and
regions across the UK, from Cornwall to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, see
the growth of the creative industries as a key factor to their economic development.

4. Our wider focus

In response to the key international strategic challenges and opportunities facing the
UK the British Council has decided to focus its work in three programme areas: inter-
cultural dialogue; the UK creative and knowledge economy; and an increased
understanding of the risks and impact of climate change.

We believe that the British Council has a unique role to play in each of these areas.
We have a wealth of experience of working across cultures and building relationships
and inter-cultural dialogue between peoples. We have a long and established history
of taking the best UK creativity, innovation, talent and culture to the world and
expertise in bringing the best world talent to the UK. Our experience in bringing
together leaders and influencers from many countries to share agendas on public
policy issues also means we are well placed to create programmes that address
climate change increasing our chances of building a more sustainable future. The
arts allow us to extend the space for ideas, communication and understanding and
can be central to how we will deliver in each of the programme areas.

5. A new British Council strategy for the arts and creative industries

The arts and creative industries are critical to work of the British Council. The arts
have a particular ability to inspire, and connect people; they create economic, social
and cultural value, and help us articulate, fuel and better understand the great
debates of our time.

Our programmes harness the power of the arts to promote excellence and diversity
both internationally and within the UK; build real and online international networks;
generate opportunities for UK creative industries; facilitate the learning of English and
foster debate and dialogue, often in countries and regions where conventional
exchange can be problematic.

In responding to new global and UK challenges and opportunities, we are proposing
a refreshed focus for the Council’s arts work. This new approach comprises the
following four key strands, we believe that the Council has a unique contribution to
make to each area:

   •   Showcasing UK excellence
   •   Internationalism
   •   Global networks in the creative economy
   •   Integrated Cultural Relations programmes

       Showcasing UK excellence
       We will continue to identify, facilitate and support the showcasing of excellent
       work from the UK to increase understanding of the UK and its vibrant cultural
       climate. We want to present the best of our arts, from all disciplines, with a
       focus on innovative work and work that is new to international markets. We
       have a particular interest in extending the UK sector’s understanding of, and
       access to, opportunities in emerging economies.

       Through this strand we will continue to support our flagship programmes like
       the Venice Art and Architecture Biennales and the Edinburgh Showcase at
       the Edinburgh Festival. Programmes like these showcase the best of British
       work and position the British Council, and its experts, as cultural brokers, able
       to leverage further opportunities and influence for the benefit of the UK.

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We intend to increase opportunities for collaboration between artists and
cultural organisations here and overseas. We want to create greater
opportunity for artists and organisations from the UK to work overseas, and
for international artists and organisations to work in the UK. We want to work
in partnership with major UK cultural institutions, and with others, to forge
stronger international links and connections, creating opportunities in which
artistic achievement can be shared internationally as part of an on-going
conversation between nations.

Global networks in the creative economy
The UK is a leading hub in the global creative economy. Artists,
entrepreneurs and organisations are attracted to the UK by the openness of
our society, by the quality and innovation of our tertiary education in the arts,
and by the promise that the UK offers of artistic freedom and licence to

We will work with partners to sustain the UK’s role as a hub within the
creative global economy.       With UK Arts Councils, regional development
agencies, governments of the devolved administrations and others we want to
increase opportunities for creative exchange, skills development, and
dialogue between artists, creative entrepreneurs and policymakers.            We
believe this will stimulate growth, encourage internationalism and reinforce
the UK’s position as a dynamic engine of the global creative economy. We
will use our resources to construct and maintain a series of social and
creative networks for the benefit of the UK and our overseas partners.

Integrated Cultural Relations programmes
One of our new ambitions is to run major multi-country programmes across all
the sectors in which the British Council works. We believe that the intellectual
and physical parameters of any discipline inevitably restrict the reach of that
discipline. By integrating our work in the arts with our work in science,
governance, education and English language teaching we hope to extend the
reach and impact of the arts, as well as these other sectors in which we
operate, in pursuit of the British Council’s Cultural Relations objectives.

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       An example of how this might work in practice is our proposed activity around
       the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin in 2009. We envisage a
       programme of work that will be rooted in a discussion of the science of
       evolution but will incorporate contemporary issues within education and
       governance around intelligent design, creationism and secular values. We
       anticipate that there are many pieces of work across all the art-form
       disciplines that will resonate within these conversations, for example the
       concept of “fitness for purpose” is a fundamental consideration in a designer’s

The four approaches in practice – examples of our recent work

We know that the community of creative individuals and institutions around the world
will respond to these challenges in new and different ways each time an opportunity
arises. However, below are examples of past projects that demonstrate the range of
concepts discussed in this paper.

Showcasing UK excellence

       Venice Biennales of Art and Architecture
       The oldest and most influential of all the art and architecture biennales,
       Venice provides an outstanding opportunity for the British Council to present
       the very best of the UK’s leading artists and architects in a truly international
       setting.   The   Council     supports         the   presentations   of   the   devolved
       administrations at the Biennale, as well as commissioning and organising the
       principal exhibition held in the British pavilion.

       Edinburgh Showcase
       Curated and hosted by the British Council, the Showcase brings over 250
       international promoters to the UK during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to see
       30 pieces of British theatre and live art, concentrating on new and
       experimental work. The Showcase generates over £1 million of bookings per
       year as well as acting as a catalyst for generating longer-term international

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      An award winning two-hour radio show featuring the best in new UK music. It
      reflects the brilliance and diversity of British music, promoting the new
      sounds, talents and musical culture of modern Britain to the world. It is
      produced in the UK and syndicated onto local radio stations around the world
      to a weekly international audience of around 1.5 million.

      Great Brits
      Since 2003 the British Council has partnered the Design Museum and Paul
      Smith to present Great Brits at Milan’s annual Furniture Fair. Our ambition
      has been to give a platform at the world’s most influential design event for
      designers under the age of 30 who have demonstrated exceptional
      achievement. Great Brits has launched the international careers of 14
      designers, including Julia Lohmann and Peter Marigold, and through the
      British Council has been toured widely to ensure maximum exposure for
      emerging and innovative design talent.

      Turning Points (Tehran, 2004)
      The first major exhibition of contemporary British art to be shown in Iran since
      the Islamic Revolution (1979). Work by Damien Hirst, Mona Hatoum, Gilbert &
      George, Anish Kapoor and Bill Woodrow amongst others electrified an
      audience of 50,000 Iranians. This led to a longer term programme of museum
      management training between Britain and Iran which, even in today’s difficult
      political climate, is on-going.


      Fashion Fringe (Central South Asia)
      In 2007 we joined forces with IMG Fashion Europe to give an international
      dimension to their young designers’ platform. We facilitated an exchange of
      finalists between Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and the UK so that
      individuals could be introduced to new craft and textile skills, and be given the
      opportunity to showcase their work to international audiences.

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Artists Links (Brazil)
A joint British Council/Arts Council of England programme designed to
encourage opportunities for English and Brazilian artists to help build
professional careers through collaboration with their international peers.

Arab World at London Book Fair
In partnership with the London Book Fair 2008, to which the ‘Arab World’ has
been invited as its Market Focus, we have developed a wide-ranging cultural
programme designed to introduce British publishers, writers and distributors
to their Arab counterparts. For the past few years, we have focussed on
introducing contemporary writing in Arabic to the UK, supporting Arab
publishing houses across the Gulf, Middle East and North Africa, and
developing new networks by taking UK writers, critics and publishers to many
of the new international book fairs held in the Arab world.

Rock Music Rock Art (Uganda 2007-08)
The little known island of Lolui situated in Lake Victoria, Uganda, is the site of
a series of imposing ancient rock gongs. Inspired by this extraordinary place a
group of world class musicians and artists have come together to develop a
four-way collaboration drawing together the disciplines of sculpture and
music, and the cultures of Uganda and the UK. The musicians and sculptors
came together for their initial collaboration in 2007, with a work in progress
performance given at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in
Kampala in November. A full score, which will use digital recordings of the
gongs, is currently being composed, and will be premiered as part of the
opening week of the new Kings Place venue in October 2008. Collaborators
on the project, including the London Sinfonietta, the Ugandan musicians,
Ruwenzori Sculpture Foundation, and UK sculptor Peter Randall-Page, will all
participate in this performance.

The London Design Festival
The London Design Festival has grown in scale and impact to become one of
the key international events for design, debate and spectacle, alongside more
established fairs at Milan, Tokyo and Cologne. The British Council has
applied its unique synthesis of critical expertise and international perspective
to enlarge the global reach of the Festival. As well as bringing international
speakers to the World Creative Forum, we regularly feature the ten finalists in

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      our International Young Design Entrepreneur award and, in 2007, presented
      designers from Mexico, Slovenia, Brazil, India and South Africa in The New
      World: Design from Five Continents.

Global networks in the Creative Economy

      Young Creative Entrepreneurs programme
      A unique programme of annual international awards devised by the British
      Council to celebrate entrepreneurship. The programme introduces young,
      international, creative entrepreneurs to their peers and senior figures in the
      UK industry, giving them the opportunity to engage, collaborate and trade.
      Awards currently exist in design, fashion, music, publishing and screen and
      this year will extend into communications, interactive, performing arts and
      visual arts, providing coverage across the creative industries.

      Berlinale: The Berlin International Film Festival
      We collaborate with the festival to ensure that the best available UK feature
      films are screened. We enable around 70 young UK filmmakers to take part in
      the festival’s week-long Talent Campus of young people from around the
      world, where long-standing professional relationships are forged. With our
      partners, the UK Film Council, we run the British In Berlin business centre for
      UK companies selling completed films and new ideas to buyers and partners
      from around the globe.

      Connections through Culture
      A partnership between the British Council, Department for Culture, Media and
      Sport, Foreign Office and Scottish Government to link British and Chinese
      artists and arts organisations and provide practical help in developing
      collaborations and connections. It offers four areas of assistance: substantial
      on-line information including databases of potential partners; a variety of
      professional networking events in both countries; on the ground administrative
      assistance; and a quick response fund of small travel grants. Currently 600
      organisations use the service.

      Nurturing the Creative Economy seminars
      This annual programme of seminars brings together leading figures within
      policy development in around 20 developing countries, and provides them

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      with an opportunity to share, hear and debate new ideas. It has stimulated an
      on-going dialogue that is influencing the voice of emerging economies in the
      international debate that is shaping the architecture of the global creative
      economy. The seminars have looked at issues such as cultural diversity,
      intellectual property rights and challenges to cultural policy.

Integrated Cultural Relations programmes

      The Beautiful Names (Turkey)
      In advance of the 2008 European year of Intercultural Dialogue, the British
      Council partnered the BBC in presenting the Turkish premiere of Sir John
      Taverner’s magnificent work for chorus and orchestra based on the 99 names
      for God according to Islamic tradition. The Beautiful Names was premiered at
      the 2007 Istanbul International Music Festival. Following the performance,
      the British Council organised an international Colloquium on Music & Faith, as
      well as inter-cultural Creative Learning project leading towards the BBC
      Symphony Orchestra’s Diverse Orchestras week in London in November

      Black Watch – National Theatre of Scotland
      The British Council supported the National Theatre of Scotland’s production of
      ‘Black Watch’ in the USA and the creation of an auxiliary programme of public
      and academic debates. The work is a critically acclaimed piece of verbatim
      theatre based on the experiences of a platoon of soldiers during a tour of Iraq.
      The debates explored the impact of recent experiences in Iraq on the
      transatlantic relationship and the relationship of the USA and UK with the rest
      of the world.

      Common Ground
      (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Indonesia, Malaysia 2006/7)
      This exhibition started with a commission to eight British artists to create new
      work on the theme of Muslim life in today's UK. As the exhibition travelled
      through the Gulf and South East Asia, the British Council commissioned
      artists in each country to create new work about their own experiences. For
      many artists in the Gulf this provided the first opportunity to exhibit their work,
      and to meet and discuss with artists from across the region common
      concerns. The exhibition was one of the very first exhibitions of contemporary

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art ever to be shown in Saudi Arabia, and was hailed by local critics as

Bring the Noise (Africa)
A collaborative project bringing together musicians and digital visual artists to
create new work exploring themes of culture and identity. The objectives of
the project were to broaden the international view of young people in Africa
and the UK through engagement directly and indirectly with the project, and
stimulate debate about Africa–UK relations. The project enabled the artists to
share experiences and promote a better understanding of Africa and the UK
to each other as well as audiences in their own countries. Although the
exploration of UK-Africa relations was the starting point for this project it also
stimulated debate about Pan-African relations.

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6. Working together

Partnership is at the heart of our activity. We recognise that partnerships need to
explore the questions raised by creative collaboration and ensure that partners feel
equally valued. In seeking to broaden and extend the range of our partnerships in the
future, and to create greater opportunity for greater numbers of UK artists and
institutions, we aim to be sensitive to the ownership of ideas, return on investment
and intellectual property rights.

7. Resources

The British Council’s funding comes from three sources: grant-in-aid from the UK
Government and devolved administrations; matched and extended by our own
commercial income from English language teaching and UK exams and contract
work for the UK Government, the EU and other international institutions for services
and programmes which develop education, governance and other links between the
UK and other countries.

For 2006/07, our total income was:

Source                                               £million
UK Government / devolved administration grants
Fees and income from teaching, exams
and other sources                                    234
Contract income                                      122
Total                                                551

Income from English-language teaching and exams is directed towards the provision
of a quality commercial service and our contract income is ring-fenced for the
delivery of the specific programmes for which it is contracted. Our grant-in-aid funds
our global network and presence in over 100 countries world-wide as well as our
many programmes in education, science, governance and leadership. Although our
grant has been secured in the recent UK Government Comprehensive Spending
Review at its current levels, it will decline in real terms with inflation over the next
three years.

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The Council's spend on Arts and Creativity has never been ring fenced. However, in
recent years spend has been of the order of £20 million annually. This spend delivers
programmes across the British Council's global network. Historically additional
partnership funding has played a very significant part in allowing us to deliver our
programme of work. With a shift in our emphasis away from the developed to the
developing world, we will no longer be able to leverage funding of the same
magnitude.    Consequently we have an ambition that the British Council’s global arts
spend be higher. We propose to spend nearer 15% our grant-in-aid on arts and arts
based programmes for the next three years. This will mean seeking to increase our
global annual arts spend to some £30 million in each of the next three years to
support the development of this strategy.

The British Council also has world-class expertise in different art forms. As we seek
to grow the impact and scale of our work, we will ensure we protect and build our art
form expertise as well as our expertise in creative industries and networking.

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9. Consultation Questions and responses

The British Council is embarking on a UK-wide consultation exercise between
February and April 2008 and we are keen for your views on our proposed approach.

We want to know whether you agree with our four areas of focus for our work with
the arts and creative industries and how you would prioritise resources across those
areas over the next three years.

You can find out more details about our consultation events by contacting:

Alternatively, you can send your response to this document directly to

Thank you for your interest.

British Council
February 2008

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