The British Council operates at arm’s length from the UK government to promote the English language, Arts and Education worldwide. The founding Royal Charter outlined its mission as “promoting abroad a wider appreciation of British culture and civilisation [by] encouraging cultural, educational and other interchanges between the UK and elsewhere”.
In line with this Charter, the British Council brings high quality English materials to learners or teachers around the world. It also delivers English teaching and trains teachers by radio, web and broadcast in developing and post conflict countries. In the Arts, the British Council works with the best of British and international artistic and creative talent to develop events and collaborations linking artists, organisations and audiences worldwide. In addition to staging shows and exhibitions, it partners with others on joint Arts projects and helps develop creative leadership, professional networks and cultural educational programmes worldwide. The British Council’s focus in education is on bringing an international dimension to education in schools, technical colleges and universities, on raising educational standards by sharing the UK’s expertise and on encouraging the best international students to study in the UK.
The Goethe Institute is the cultural institution of the Federal Republic of Germany, and operates worldwide. The institute promotes the study of the German language abroad and encourage international cultural cooperation. In addition, it provides a comprehensive picture of Germany by furnishing / offering information about the cultural, social and political life. The network of 150 Goethe Institute branches has been performing key tasks of foreign cultural and educational policy and through their projects, promoting a dialogue-oriented cultural exchange. The Goethe Institute sees itself increasingly as a European institution. Its many initiatives and projects planned and implemented in a multilateral context are carried out within a framework of deeper European cooperation in which cultural diversity is encouraged to flourish for the common good. Along with the merger of the the European Cultural Institutes (EUNIC), the Goethe Institute aims to be an important partner for the recently created European External Action Service.
The Goethe Institute calls for more culture in Europe’s external relations, i.e. a new style of cultural diplomacy, whereby Europe contributes to the international dialogue outside its borders. The Goethe Institute sees Europe mainly as a cultural project. Cultural relations are the driving forces of economic, social and human development and play a significant role in strengthening the structures of civil society. The Goethe Institute is convinced that Europe’s cultural foreign representation can only operate successfully if it puts its partnership and participatory principles actively into practice.
The Institut français is the agency responsible for the conduct of France’s external cultural actions, under the supervision of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs. It was created in January 2011 to channel new energy into the promotion of cultural initiatives outside France, working closely with France’s cultural network of 132 Instituts français and more than 400 Alliances Françaises under contract with the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs around the world. The Institut français promotes the emergence of contemporary works. It supports the dissemination of works and ideas. It encourages the circulation of projects in a spirit of exchange and cooperation. Last but not least, it emphasises the dialogue with foreign cultures via a policy of listening, openness and sustainable partnerships.
Based upon its experience, the Institut français strongly believes in art and culture as strategic tools for building bridges between people and communities. Through cultural cooperation one learns to explore and appreciate differences and similarities. Beyond the benefit of a better mutual understanding, culture is a laboratory for creativity and innovation and a catalyst for economic development in first world countries as well as emerging countries (cultural and creative industries, digital art, web 2.0). Through its involvement in the More Europe campaign, the Institut français – and its partners – shares the conviction that culture cements European identity. Culture is an asset that would enrich and strengthen the EU’s external relations.