Serious has a long history of collaboration with the British Council. One of our most important events with a social cohesion theme still very resonant with the political landscape today was Music Matbakh (Arabic for 'kitchen').
This event brought together musicians and singers from the UK, North Africa and the Near East to take part in a pioneering collaboration; the final line-up combining tradition with the cutting-edge, blending and contrasting ancient Arabic traditions with hip hop and electronica. The artists spent three weeks working on performances and recordings with musical director Justin Adams which was filmed, and an interactive website with video diaries enabled music fans in all of the countries involved to follow the work-in-progress. The project premiered in a range of UK venues before going on to tour to Tunisia, Morocco, Jordan, Syria and Egypt.
Wendy Smith, Head of Practitioner Development at Sage Gateshead, summed up their involvement as follows: 'Music Matbakh was fantastic and our musicians are inspired and thrilled to have taken part. The performance was both exciting and moving and it was amazing to see how much musical integration they achieved.'
In addition to this historic project, Serious and the British Council have continued to work together in a number of ways including:
• Producing the British Council's 75th Anniversary Concert at the Barbican in 2009
• Facilitating opportunities for international promoters and festival organisers to see British artists perform at the EFG London Jazz Festival
• Worked together on five collaborations for BT River of Music, as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.