Ashley Smith-Hammond

The relationship between Scotland and China is growing ever closer.

Official tourism figures from VisitScotland reveal that the total average Chinese visitor spend to Scotland exceeded £43 million over the three years to 2016 and Edinburgh Castle alone welcomed more than 160,000 visitors from China in 2015.

Yet the rise in visitors from China is not simply due to Scotland’s traditional attractions such as whisky heritage and landmarks. Bonds are being nurtured thanks to an exchange of people and creative activity, such as art and performance, which the British Council recognises as being highly significant:

The two countries may be entering an era of closer engagement with cultural understanding and cooperation at its heart.

Across the miles

One recent example of this saw 5,000 paintings, photographs and historic treasures depicting Scottish landmarks such as Edinburgh Castle, Jedburgh Abbey, Linlithgow Palace, Loch Katrine, Ben Nevis and Glencoe shipped over to Nanjing Museum on loan from the National Galleries of Scotland.

Meanwhile, in 2014 the Scottish Dance Theatre embarked on an extensive tour of India and China as part of the British Council’s Impulse Season.

And in 2015 the Cooper Gallery at the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design collaborated with Shanghai Himalayas Museum to launch a two-year showcase of Scottish contemporary art in China called CURRENT.

At the end of 2015, organisers of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay reached out to Chinese visitors with a #Blogmanay campaign targeted squarely on the Chinese market. The team worked with Chinese bloggers and focused on channels like Weibo and Weixin.

Finally, just last year we saw multi-arts company Stillmotion from Glasgow head to Shanghai to dance for Chinese New Year.

Be part of the journey

Plenty of organisations are taking advantage of the growing Chinese interest in Scottish culture and the arts. For those looking to be part of this growing movement, there are a number of funding opportunities available to support your work.

The British Council has made a small funding pot available through the Connections Through Culture programme , which is set up to develop cultural collaborations between artists and arts organisations and support long-lasting relationships between China and the UK. Made In Scotland funding is also available from Creative Scotland to profile Scottish work to international audiences during the festival.

Have you seen a strong interest in your performances or exhibitions from Chinese audiences? We’d love to hear about your work!

Main image credit: Yangtze River Bridge by Ted McGrath (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)