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Royal Support as French & British Business Build Community Links to Celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Entente Cordiale

Published 01-30-04

Submitted by Business in the Community

LONDON - On Thursday 29 January 2004, HRH The Prince of Wales, President of Arts & Business and Business in the Community, will launch a programme of corporate activity which will build links between companies and their communities in France and the UK.

The initiative is a joint venture between the French Chamber of Commerce in Great Britain, Business in the Community, and Arts & Business, in celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Entente Cordiale. The programmes are designed to encourage and extend the involvement of French owned companies in community programmes in the UK and build activity of UK companies based in France.

The programme will be launched at the London office of BNP Paribas during a 'Seeing is Believing' visit and will involve the Patrons of the French Chamber of Commerce in Great Britain - who make up many of the major French companies operating in the UK. Hosted by Pascal Boris, Chief Executive of BNP Paribas and President of the French Chamber of Commerce in Great Britain, the business leaders will visit schools and community projects where French businesses are making a positive impact. At the launch, Sir John Holmes, Her Majesty's Ambassador to France, and Gérard Errera, The French Ambassador to the United Kingdom, will both be speaking. The centenary celebrations of the Entente Cordiale will be opened in April by Her Majesty The Queen.

Pascal Boris, Chief Executive of BNP Paribas and President of the French Chamber of Commerce in Great Britain commented: "French companies in the UK are strongly committed to improving people's lives through collaborative efforts with Business in the Community and Arts & Business. The French Chamber of Commerce in Great Britain is marshalling the resources of its members to deepen this commitment further. I sincerely hope that this commitment, and the concrete projects which will result from it, will form an enduring legacy of this year's celebrations of the Entente Cordiale."

The Prince of Wales, through his Presidency of Business in the Community over the last 17 years, and through his Seeing is Believing programme, has involved over 3,000 business leaders from the 700 member companies that make up Business in the Community. It has proved to be a very successful programme in securing the commitment of business leaders to working to improve their positive impact in the communities in which they operate.

Business in the Community members include many French owned companies who have developed sustainable community programmes in the UK and some of these will be seen on the day.

HRH The Prince of Wales has been Patron of Arts & Business since 1987 and President since 2000. Arts & Business is keen to encourage French businesses here in the UK and across Europe, to develop sustainable and creative partnerships with the arts. Sculpture produced by the employees from BNP Paribas and school children, in association with the sculptor Nick Davis, shows what can be achieved when business, artists and the wider community work together. Arts & Business encourages business and the arts to become more firmly intertwined, drawing strength from each other, based on a continuous exchange of knowledge and skills.

A series of events are planned for 2004, which will include similar Seeing is Believing visits in France for UK companies to visit schemes and community programmes. Also a number of community projects are expected to be piloted both in France and in the UK. Further information will be released throughout the year. Arts & Business will extend their network through CEREC* the European network of Arts & Business.


* CEREC Comité Européen pour le Rapprochement de l'Economie et de la Culture

Media Enquiries to:

Jonathan Tuchner, Head of Media at Arts & Business on 020 7940 6412 or 07970 224471

Vicki Arnold, PR Manager at Business in the Community on 020 7566 8767 or 07919 991515

Edwina Frawley, Press Officer at BNP Paribas on 020 7595 2215 or 07785
906155

Stephane Bossavit, Managing Director at the French Chamber of Commerce in
Great Britain on 020 7304 7030

MEDIA COVERAGE of HRH The Prince of Wales's visit is by Royal Rota. For more information please contact Rebecca Packham, The Prince of Wales's Press Office on 020 7024 5729

Background

In 1996 HRH The Prince of Wales and French President, M. Jacques Chirac, visited Easterhouse in Scotland, one of the biggest housing estates in the UK, to meet the volunteers, a study scheme in a local school and to meet the residents at Lochfield Park Housing co-operative. Through this and subsequent visits, The Prince of Wales, Chirac and businesses have shared and learnt how residents and business work together to regenerate the local area in both France and the UK.

Case Studies

Throughout the day of HRH The Prince of Wales's Seeing is Believing visit, delegates will see the following companies involved.

BNP Paribas

Member of Business in the Community and Arts & Business.

The delegates on the Seeing is Believing visit will first go to Christ Church Bentinck Primary School in Westminster. With approximately 185 pupils, it has a rich cultural diversity and a high number of pupils whose first language is not English and who live around two major housing estates with social need. BNP Paribas has been involved in the school for the last 3 years providing them with over 50 volunteer reading partners. The reading and numeracy schemes which BNP Paribas have been involved with, both here and at another school since 2001, provide an opportunity to spend half an hour each week helping pupils with essential skills. In 2003 BNP Paribas staff also took part in BNP Paribas' 'Artist in Residence' programme, organized by Arts & Business. Pupils also participated and carved clay tablets which were then cast in bronze in the school playground itself before being attached to a sculpture which is on display in the bank's offices.

BNP Paribas has worked in depth with the arts in the UK. In recent years their work with the Royal Academy and the Tate has spread the reach of the arts throughout the business and into the wider community. They also have an impressive in-house art collection.

Contact details: Edwina Frawley, Press Officer at BNP Paribas on 020 7595 2215 or 07785 906155

Herbert Smith

Member of Arts & Business

Despite the excellent track record UK business has had in the development of partnerships between business and education through reading and numeracy partners, there are too few initiatives focusing on the learning of language skills. Business in the Community is therefore planning to develop a pilot 'Language Partners' scheme in London and a number of other locations.

Through this programme, volunteers from companies - including native speakers - will be involved in a range of ways in supporting languages learning in both primary and secondary schools, mentoring both individuals and groups of students. It is hoped through this pilot, to increase significantly the involvement of business in this crucial area, develop greater interest in the learning of languages and help raise the level of language skills in young people. Staff at Herbert Smith - an international law firm which works with Tower Hamlets Education Business Partnership - will be at lunch with their pupil mentees to discuss with delegates the benefits of the mentoring language scheme.

Working in recent years with Arts & Business on its sponsorship of the Whitechapel Art Gallery and English National Ballet, Herbert Smith has become more involved in building close relationships with the arts. Herbert Smith has its own in-house collection of works of art, including pictures by artist Diego Ferrari, who worked with staff on a collaborative project during the firm's sponsorship of the Whitechapel. Herbert Smith has recently announced its sponsorship of the forthcoming Cecil Beaton exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, which opens on 5 February 2004.

Contact details: Alex Charlwood, Media Relations Manager at Herbert Smith on 020 7466 3917

EDF Energy

Member of Business in the Community and Arts & Business

The delegates will hear about the challenges faced by an inner-city school on their visit to Lilian Baylis. They will be shown the impact business can have in tackling some of the key issues and specifically, EDF Energy's 'Helping Hands' employee volunteering scheme will be highlighted at the school. Established in 2001, EDF Energy's 'Helping Hands' UK scheme invites every member of staff to volunteer. In 2002 the scheme saw 24% of the company's employees take part, which provided 15,000 hours of voluntary activity in the community. Activities include reading and mentoring programmes in schools, team challenges, fundraising as well as employee payroll giving. The scheme was the winner of Business in the Community's Award for Excellence for Neighbourhood Renewal in 2003.

EDF Energy are keen supporters of the arts and are currently working with Arts & Business across the country. Key recent projects include their work with the London Jazz Festival, DAISI in the South West and the Tate Modern. In particular their Cultural Diversity workshops - linking in the Jazz Festival and supported by Arts & Business - showed a creative use of the arts to meet business needs. Having just moved offices, EDF are looking at how to bring art into the workplace.

Contact details: Isabel Brown on 020 7752 2173

Publicis

Member of Business in the Community

The delegates will visit The Connection at St Martin's, a homeless day unit in central London. The Connection at St Martin's will help an estimated 7,500 homeless people over the coming year, making it one of the largest organisations of its kind in the UK.

The delegates will also learn about the Business Action on Homelessness campaign, launched by Business in the Community in 1998, to enable businesses to have a direct impact on homelessness. The focus of the Campaign in the last 2 years has been to prepare homeless people for the world of work through 2-day business-led training programmes (Ready for Jobs), followed by a minimum of 2 week work placements (Ready for Work) and, ultimately, opening up job opportunities in order to help integrate homeless people back into society. Publicis is a founder member of Business Action on Homelessness and helped set up the Ready for Work programme. To date, 12 homeless people have been on the Ready for Work at Publicis, of which, 3 have been subsequently employed by Publicis. Through the Business Action on Homelessness UK campaign more than 800 homeless people have been through the 2-week placement programme which has resulted in 40% getting jobs.

Contact details: Kerry O'Connor on 020 7830 3474

Notes to Editors

Arts & Business
Arts & Business is the world's most successful and widespread creative network. We help business people support the arts and the arts inspire business people, because good business and great art enrich society.

Since 1976 Arts & Business has been the meeting point for the cultural and business communities. Through our 17 regional offices we offer a complete resource to enable arts organisations and business to develop creative and responsible partnerships for their mutual benefit and that of the wider community.

For further information, please visit: www.AandB.org.uk

Business in the Community
Business in the Community is a unique movement in the UK of 700 member companies. Our purpose is to inspire, challenge, engage and support business in continually improving its positive impact on society.

Together, our member companies employ over 15.7 million people across 200 countries. In the UK, our members employ over 1 in 5 of the private sector workforce.

For further information visit: www.bitc.org.uk

French Chamber of Commerce in Great Britain
French Chamber of Commerce in Great Britain was established in 1883 to promote trade between France and Great Britain. Today the FCCGB is the leading organisation for business development between both countries. It has in excess of 600 corporate members across the UK of which 60 are Patron members. Overall, French member companies employ 220,000 staff in the UK.

Its activities are threefold:
(i) to assist French companies (particularly SMEs) in establishing and developing their activities in the UK and has recently started helping UK companies wishing to grow their business in France.
(ii) to organise prestige social events for the French business community in the UK and to help member companies to grow their network.
(iii) to develop business education as a partner in the European College of Business and Management. It employs 20 permanent staff and its management board (the Bureau) is made up of 12 senior executives from major British and French companies. There are currently 1,800 French companies operating in Great Britain. www.ccfgb.co.uk

Entente Cordiale - The Centenary

The Entente Cordiale was a colonial-era agreement signed by the British Foreign Secretary, Lord Lansdowne, and the French Ambassador, Paul Cambon, in London on 8 April 1904, with the aim of settling long-standing disputes between the UK and France, in countries such as Morocco, Egypt, Siam, Madagascar, the New Hebrides, West and Central Africa and Newfoundland. But it had a wider significance in that it also represented a shift from a history overshadowed by conflict and rivalry, to a sustained era of rapprochement and alliance. For example, the agreements were crucial in paving the way for Franco-British diplomatic and military cooperation in the lead-up to World War One.

Today, one hundred years on, the Centenary gives us an important milestone to recall what we have been through together, to celebrate what we have achieved and, while acknowledging our differences, to recognise that there is a lot more that unites us than what divides us.

Further details about the Entente Cordiale can be found by looking at:
www.entente-cordiale.org.uk

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