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New international ‘Equity Series’ partnership announced for the British Council and Hay Festival

Credit: Hay Festival

The new Equity Series will run from 2023-2026 and will involve international events across: Hay Queretaro (Mexico); Hay Arequipa (Peru) and Hay Cartagena (Colombia).

Between 25 May and 4 June 2023, the British Council has been supporting a programme of events at the world’s leading festival of ideas across literature, Hay Festival.

This year, the British Council programme has been centred around the topic of equity, as well as featuring up-and-coming writers from the UK and across the world.

The new Equity Series is aimed at supporting and promoting the contributions to cultural life of historically under-represented groups. It will see UK speakers at each international festival, an exchange project between one of the UK writers and a local writer, as well as a podcast developed from all three festivals. Details of the writers involved will be announced soon.

The collaboration between the British Council and Hay Festival also embraces Spain, where it supports the presence of emerging and prominent writers, artists and thinkers from the UK at Hay Festival Segovia. The themes of cultural exchange, new voices, diversity and equity run through the British Council’s programme in Segovia mirroring the events taking place at the Hay Festivals across the ocean.

Chief Executive of the British Council, Scott McDonald said:

“Following last year’s pilot, it’s a real pleasure to be able to announce a new series of conversations, that will take place at those festivals over the next three years.

“As inequality continues to exist globally, we believe that creating a space for intercultural exchange empowers diverse groups, creates cross-cultural conversations to facilitate collective problem-solving, and amplifies the voices of individuals – helping them to raise awareness and build solidarity between groups. These events are designed to support cultural contributions from historically under-represented groups, and to address urgent themes.

“The series will begin with events at the Hay Festival in Mexico in September, and over three years we aim to create South-to-North conversations between writers, addressing topics such as gender and identity, race and ethnicity, neuro- and physical diversity, and socio-economic challenges.”

Sinead Russell, Director of Literature at the British Council said:

“From the series, literature fans can expect to hear from writers representing a range of voices and perspectives on the theme of equity, beginning this year with a focus on gender and sexual identity.

“We look forward to working with Hay to offer these writers the opportunity to share their work with new audiences around the world, and to create a platform through which international conversations about important topics can be started and shared.”

Hay Festival CEO Julie Finch said:

“Hay Festival is a beacon, an international symbol of hope for the collective, creative imagination and a better future. We believe that ideas can change the world with the support of the British Council globally, we can reach wider and further, coming together to offer different perspectives through literature, art, ideas and creative expression, we can find truth and hope.”