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Bridges, not walls

Amidst all the talk of exits and walls, BOP pressed on with building bridges says MD Paul Owens in his review of 2016.

BOP is British, European and global – and equally proud of being all three! Founded in Manchester, we now have offices in London, Edinburgh, Liverpool and Shanghai. The members of our talented and diverse team hail from 8 different countries and between them speak 12 languages. We stand for and stand up for openness, inclusivity and collaboration, as the following selected highlights from our work in 2016 show:

  • The 5th World Cities Culture Summit, co-organised by BOP, which brought leaders from 25 cities together in Moscow, considered the dilemmas posed by globalisation and growth – against the background of Brexit and the US elections. Read here about what cultural leaders in cities are doing in response to these dilemmas.
  • In the UK, we worked in over 25 locations with clients across England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Most of our projects involved either developing new cultural facilities (Paisley, Wolverhampton, Belfast), increasing access to cultural opportunity (BFI Film Academy, Tyneside Cinema, Liverpool Biennial), or building the capacity of local sectors (games in the West Midlands, fashion in East London, theatre across the UK). There has rightly been soul-searching in the cultural and creative sectors about the social and economic divisions exposed by Brexit. But we know from work with clients across the UK that there is a huge amount being done every day to open access and extend opportunities. It has never been more important to recognise and build on this work.
  • As proud Europeans, we are delighted to be working on the evaluation of the European Union’s Creative Europe programme. The early results are reminders of how important European support has been to the creative industries of the UK and of the necessity of maintaining European ties, regardless of the exact nature of the eventual Brexit settlement.
  • Continuing the European theme, we worked for the first time with the Asia Europe Foundation (ASEF), helping to plan the future of their impressive cultural information service. As we enter the new world order, we will depend increasingly for multi-lateral organisations like ASEF, and its dedication to promoting greater cultural understanding, to maintain peace and prosperity.
  • In the same way, the (woefully under-acknowledged) work of the British Council, will be essential as Britain seeks to re-define its role in the world. This year we have completed an innovative project on how to assess the impact of cultural projects in development settings for the British Council. Next year we will be considering the future of the Council’s UK-based work – in the context of Brexit.
  • Our business in China continues to grow with a focus on projects encouraging cultural trade and collaboration. This year we have worked on: museums and performing arts, crowd funding, and IP-based trade. Early in 2017 we will be announcing a new joint venture to take forward these opportunities.

Finally, the most thoughtful response to this year’s political upheavals comes from Frank Cottrell-Boyce (screenwriter, novelist and the literary brains behind the 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony). His generous and inclusive vision of the role of culture and creativity in these uncertain times will inspire us here at BOP in 2017.

We wish all of our clients, partners and followers across the world a Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year!