Cultural exchange with other countries is a very important means of deepening understanding of India and promoting international friendship and goodwill. With interdependence among nations on the increase, it has become more and more important to promote mutual understanding of such social premises as language, custom, and cultural traditions and to strengthen heart-to-heart contacts through cultural exchange.
This February a group of 18 people including artists and creatives of many disciplines visit Kolkata from Barrow-in-Furness in the North-West of England.
After securing funding from the British Council, BarrowFull and Song of Soul’s cultural exchange project, “A New Jute Route” began in 2022; an artist-sharing cross-continental partnership grew between India and the UK.
This visit is the next step in this British Council-backed initiative, where Barrovian artists, as well as community leaders including Women’s Community Matters and DropZone, visit Kolkata between 10 and 20 February 2023 to share practice, collaborate and discover new ways of working from one another.
Workshops will be led in the ‘City of Joy’ by Barrow-based Lego animation-creator Tori Davis, who will be using toy bricks donated by the LEGO foundation in Denmark to work with Future Hope school. Other artists leading workshops include: BarrowFull’s artist for change Danielle Chappell-Aspinwall; Kate Davis, an awardwining poet who lives on Walney Island; Barrovian actor Sally-Ann Staunton, who has performed in plays across the UK; John Rennie a Barrovian filmmaker and creative; and BarrowFull’s Creative Director, Dr Daniel Tyler-McTighe, will collaborate with Mr Kaushik Dutta to lead experiments with theatrical scenes that mix music with spoken Bengali, Hindi and ‘Barrovian English’.
Associate company Open Theatre will run workshops for several important organisations in the city who look after and teach young people with learning disabilities and Autism and their teachers and make connections between them and the students and staff at Barrow’s special school, George Hastwell.
Swerve and JD will continue in the recording studio working with more traditional Indian musicians and representatives of Barrow’s charities and youth provision will visit women’s and children’s charities, a school for slum and street children and more.
Previously, in July 2022, BarrowFull, welcomed 8 Indian artists along with Kaushik Dutta, Sarmistha Sarker (Painter), Angana Mukherjee (Dancer), Shinjini Paul (Cinematographer), Srabasti (Movement therapist) and four musicians, to the town who explored Barrow’s historic links to Kolkata and the Jute trade through creative activities, engaging with 1000s of local people and children. Working with local companies Horizon Studios, Furness Multicultural Community Forum, Drop Zone Youth, Thought for Time and Chinwaggers at Women’s Community Matters, The Forum, Coast Roads Festival, Barrow Deaf Centre and Ormsgill Stronger Together as well as Birmingham-based theatre outreach practitioners Open Theatre at George Hastwell school, Kaushik Dutta, Director of Song of Soul and SOS Productions, said, “I think it’s of great importance to be exchanging views and ideas from both countries. It’s not only about the music and the arts, it’s about our different cultures as a whole.”
As part of the exchange, Indian musicians worked with Barrovian musicians and rapper Swerve and JD (Josh Duncan and Josh Spedding) of Horizon Studios, the award-winning music production and education company based in Barrow to create new soundscapes blending Indian traditional folk music and sound with contemporary rap.