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Globe and National receive share of £7m fund to boost cultural links with China

Sion Daniel Young in the National Theatre's War Horse. Photo: Simon Annand Sion Daniel Young in the National Theatre's War Horse. Photo: Simon Annand
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Shakespeare’s Globe and the National Theatre are among British companies that have been awarded a share of a £7 million fund aimed at strengthening cultural ties with China.

The fund has been announced by chancellor George Osborne and seeks to open up British arts and culture to Chinese audiences.

The Globe has been given £740,000 to tour a production of The Merchant of Venice and for the theatre’s education arm to create a training programme for arts organisations in China to develop learning and community programmes.

The NT will work with the National Theatre of China to develop a national tour of War Horse, following the production’s current performances in Beijing and Shanghai. The show, which will benefit from £250,000 funding, will be produced, operated and performed by 90 Chinese artists and technicians, trained as part of a skills exchange between the two national theatres.

Other theatre investment includes £500,000 each for the Royal Opera House and the Southbank Centre. The ROH will be supported in creating a training programme for Chinese students to travel to London for intensive training courses, while the Southbank will host a new Love China Festival annually over the next three years, which will celebrate the UK’s cultural links with China through workshops, exhibitions and performances.

The fund, announced by Osborne in Beijing on September 21, also includes money for the British Library to display iconic literary exhibits in China and £1.3 million for the Tate’s exhibition – Landscapes of the Mind: British Landscape Painting – to be presented in China.

Osborne said the funding would strengthen the Chinese profile of British culture, which he described as “a key element of our global economic and political influence”.

“As we enter a golden decade of UK/China relations, reinforcing cultural links is vital, and will also support the UK economy through promoting trade and tourism between our two great nations,” he added.

The funding follows a £1.5 million government investment into the Royal Shakespeare Company, made in 2014, which will enable the translation of the full works of Shakespeare into Mandarin.