The Arts and Creative Economy Advisory Group advises the Arts leadership team and influences how the British Council’s vision and strategy are developed. 

The advisory group reports to the Executive Board, and its formation or disbandment are the Chief Executive's responsibility. The group's functions are solely advisory. It has no decision-making or executive powers. 

The members of the group are listed below.

Our Arts and Creative Economy Advisory Group members

John Newbigin - Chair

John Newbigin is Chair of Creative England. John is also Chair of the cultural web publisher Culture24 and of Cinema Arts Network. As Special Advisor to the Minister for Culture, Rt Hon Chris Smith MP, he was closely involved in developing the UK government’s first policies for the creative industries. He was Head of Corporate Relations for Channel 4 Television. He was a policy advisor to the Leader of the UK Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition, Rt Hon Neil Kinnock, MP. 

Claire Whitaker OBE

Claire Whitaker OBE


Claire is one of three directors of Serious, which produces live music in the UK and abroad. She has over 25 years’ experience at senior management and board level. She was awarded an OBE in 2015 for services to Jazz, and was also awarded a British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors Gold Badge. She is the Chair of The Royal Commonwealth Society, a Trustee at the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, and a member of the Greater London Authority London Music board.

Dave Moutrey

Dave is currently the Director and Chief Executive of HOME. Prior to this he led the successful merger of The Cornerhouse and the Library Theatre Company to form HOME. Throughout his career Dave has been involved in the management and marketing of arts organisations. He spent eight years as Chief Executive of Arts About Manchester, two years as Marketing Director for City of Drama and managed Abraham Moss Theatre for six years. He is also a qualified drama teacher.

Indhu Rubasingham

Indhu has been Artistic Director of the Tricycle Theatre since 2012. Her first production was the multi award-winning Red Velvet by Lolita Chakrabarti, which transferred to New York in April 2014 and London’s Garrick Theatre in January 2016. Handbagged was first produced at the Tricycle Theatre in autumn 2013, winning an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre, before transferring to the West End in 2014 and subsequent National Tour in 2015.

Justine Simons OBE

Justine is Deputy Mayor for Culture and has played an integral role in the cultural revitalisation of London. She was awarded an OBE in 2015 for services to culture, oversaw the building of the Fourth Plinth Commission, and is the Chair of the World Cities Culture Forum. Justine played a lead role in the cultural programme for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Prior to this she worked in the field of contemporary dance, producing, commissioning and running festivals and venues. 

Ruth McCarthy

Ruth McCarthey


Ruth is the Artistic Director of the Outburst Queer Arts Festival. She has been a cultural activist for 27 years and is passionate about promoting social change through arts engagement. She is currently working on global partnership development with British Council around queer arts, particularly in South America and the Caribbean. She worked in BBC television and radio production for 10 years before leading the Creative Development team in BBC Northern Ireland. 

Simon Groom

Simon is the Director of the Scottish National Gallery. With a degree background in English Literature and overseas experience in Japan and Italy he returned to study Art history at the Courtauld Institute of Art in 1999. He then worked for 3 years as a curator at Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge and became Head of Exhibitions at Tate Liverpool. He has most recently been promoting Scotland’s reputation as a leading international centre for contemporary art. 

Vivien Bird

Viv has worked in the education and literacy sector for most of her career, most recently as the CEO of Book Trust. A former Chair of EU Read, she has twice been mentioned by the Bookseller as one of the top 100 most influential people in publishing. She was senior policy advisor to the European Literacy Policy Network and still serves on their transitional committee. She has worked with the British Council as an advocate for reader development in Egypt, China, Brazil and Taiwan. 

Arts and Creative Economy Advisory Group member Rachel Holmes

Rachel Holmes

Rachel Holmes is the author of Eleanor Marx; A Life. She has worked with and for British Council literature festivals since 2000. Since 2012, she has been the UK chair of the Iraq Literature Festival and was director of Literature & Spoken Word at London’s Southbank Centre. In 2009, Holmes piloted the first Palestine Writing Workshop established by the Palestine Festival of Literature. In 2010, she received an Arts Council cultural leadership award as one of Britain’s Fifty Women to Watch.

Arts and Creative Economy Advisory Group member Ian Livingstone

Ian Livingstone CBE

One of the founding fathers of the UK games industry, he co-founded Games Workshop in 1975; was co-author of the multi-million selling Fighting Fantasy gamebooks, was formerly chairman of Eidos plc, and is a key advisor to the Government on games-relevant issues. In 2010 was asked to act as the Skills Champion by Ed Vaizey, looking at how the UK could be transformed into the world's leading talent hub for the video games and visual effects industries.