Since 1934, the British Council has existed to create a basis of friendly knowledge and understanding between the people of the UK and the wider world. Our work in the arts has been central to this mission for more than 80 years, seeking to find new ways of connecting with and understanding each other through creativity.
Our programme utilises the world-leading innovation and creativity of the UK to make a positive contribution to the people, institutions and governments of the countries we work in. We create opportunities, build connections and engender trust, making a lasting difference to the security, prosperity and influence of the UK. Our international seasons help us to create a modern, vibrant and creative image of the UK amongst millions of people in fast growing economies, encouraging more trade, investment and tourism.
Our work in the arts has grown substantially over the last five years. We now operate in over 110 countries around the world and work across eight disciplines covering the full breadth
of the UK creative industries. In 2015/16 our work in the arts reached 10.9 million people on the ground and a further 186 million online and through the media.
The ambition for our programme has also grown. By 2021 it is our aim to have increased the number of cultural connections between the UK and the world, doubling the scale of international activity of the UK culture sector. To achieve this our programme will span five key pillars:
Sharing UK arts with the world – introducing audiences around the world to the best of UK creativity and creating new opportunities for artists and organisations to work internationally. We will also support reciprocal work into the UK.
Fostering collaboration and networks - supporting creative people to collaborate and experiment with new ideas and developing sustainable ways of working for long-term prosperity.
Arts for social change - extending safe spaces for culture, creative exploration and exchange; building trust, enabling dialogue and presenting marginalised voices; and supporting the protection of cultural heritage and expression of cultural identities.
Capacity building - strengthening the arts sector worldwide by developing its capacity to innovate, reach new audiences and develop skills.
Policy and research - shaping cultural policy and sharing research with the cultural sector in the UK and overseas.

Our full set of our 2021 ambitions and how we plan to achieve them can be found in our refreshed strategy for the arts here.
Over 2016 - 2017 we will be launching a series of publications on our regional programmes.
If you would like to get in touch to discuss our programme please email us at



Art form directors

Led by Director Arts Graham Sheffield CBE, we have seven central teams based in our London office, which serve different disciplines and sectors. They are headed by art form directors:

Architecture, Design, Fashion 
Sarah Mann

Creative Economy 
Beatrice Pembroke

Briony Hanson

Cortina Butler

Cathy Graham

Theatre and Dance 
Neil Webb

Visual Arts 
Emma Dexter

Cultural Skills
Simon Dancey

Regional Arts directors

Our artform directors and their specialist teams work with arts colleagues in nine regions, each with a Regional Arts Lead:

Americas David Codling
(Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Jamaica, Mexico, Trinidad & Tobago, United States of America, Venezuela)

East Asia Katelijn Verstraete
(Australia, Burma, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philipines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam)

European Union Silke Pillinger
(Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Irish Republic, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland)

Middle East and North Africa David Elliott
(Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestinian Territories, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen)

South Asia Jim Hollington
(Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Iran, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka)

Sub Saharan Africa Tom Porter
(Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe)

Wider Europe Gregory Nash
(Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Georgia, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine, Uzbekistan)