One thing which I haven’t been able to get out of my following our time in Budapest, is the British Council questionnaire. I’ve always known that their agenda is essentially a diplomatic effort, but I was amazed to see it presented so bluntly by young Hungarian recruits, funded by British Council Hungary, asking visitors if Of All The People In All The World had ‘improved their perception of Britain’.
Seemed a big ask of anything, let alone a theatre company. Thing is, when I sneaked a look at the answers, most said ‘yes’. I now hear that the thinktank Demos are claiming that culture can solve international disputes, based partly on research gathered from the British Council.
I’ve been used to making claims about the arts before – finding it sitting in regeneration/health/education agendas – but this is a new one. We appear to be involved in resolving the war on terror.
What makes this job more worrying is how vulnerable we are to dodgy translation. I massively enjoyed the confusion of a Hungarian radio reporter when Jack appeared to be telling her that he formed the Stan’s Cafe as a ten year old boy.