See Britain through my eyes is a Foreign Office series of video clips where English people and foreigners talk about the UK and about what they have found there -a place to study, a place to work or a place of refuge. They speak about their experiences of living in the UK and about their feelings towards their home or adoptive country.
In this new installment, Jonathan Mills talks about his experiences while directing the Edinburgh International Festival.
Watch the five-minute clip and answer the questions below.
1 What nationality is Jonathan Mills?
2 When did he come to the UK?
3 When did the Edinburgh Festival start?
4 Why was Edinburgh the only possible location for the Festival?
5 What's the main reason why the Festival was so successful?
6 Why does Jonathan mention the Olympic Games and the World Cup?
7 How many visitors does Edinburgh recieve during the Festival?
8 What five adjectives does Jonathan use to describe British society at the end of the clip?
You can check your answers while reading the transcript here.
I'm an Australian and I'm an artist. I'm a composer. I've lived in the UK for the last four years. I came here to do a job. I'm the Director of the Edinburgh International Festival.
There seems to be a common perception, let's not beat around the bush, that the UK is up itself. I'm here to tell you that nothing could be further from the truth. This is an incredibly diverse, incredibly welcoming meritocracy.
Edinburgh in August is, I think, a great example of what the UK can do and do very well: let its hair down. The Edinburgh Festival was started to offer people hope at a time that had been seen to be so hopeless after the Second World War.
In 1947, the Edinburgh Festival started when the landscape in Europe was horrific. There was no town, no part of Europe that had been unscathed by the bombing. It couldn't be held in Coventry, it couldn't be held in Manchester, it couldn't be held in Birmingham or London because the places were bombed to blazes.
Edinburgh stages Scotland's first international music and drama festival. I think one of the reasons it was so successful was that not only did people open their minds and receive really interesting culture from places they'd hardly ever heard of, let alone been to. 2,000 artists taking part in a total of 174 performances. But most important of all, they opened their hearts. And there was the most extraordinary sense that we should share what we have. We should share our food, we should share our shelter. But perhaps most important of all, we should share our culture.
The Edinburgh International Festival is an extraordinary phenomenon by any statistical comparison. Only two other events that are held in the world sell more tickets than we do the Olympic Games and the World Cup. We sell 2.8 million tickets to these festivals in August. 875,000 people come to a city that has a population of about 450,000. Edinburgh more than trebles in size and there is not a square inch of this city that is not teeming with people doing the craziest things.
The place literally erupts with all kinds of energy and all kinds of artistic endeavors. The enthusiasm of audiences is palpable. There's a great appetite for culture and there's a great appetite for cultures that are not just European. And I think that's one of the really important things to recognize about the UK.
This is a multicultural society of enormous success. It comes from the ground up. It's because people actually want to have this happen. It's because individual citizens who are free in a very robust democracy have said, "This is important to us. We want to celebrate together. We want a great cultural life." And you can see that all over the UK in spades. The number of orchestras and theater companies, ballet companies, they're literally coming out your ears. And I think they make it the very special place that it is today, diverse, welcoming, open, open-spirited, and curious.