Phyllida Barlow exhibition artwork in Venice
Installation view, folly, Phyllida Barlow, British Pavilion, Venice, 2017. Photo: Ruth Clark ©

British Council. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth.

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 work in arts creates new relationships between artists, organisations and audiences to develop stronger creative sectors around the world. We help artists to break new ground, support creativity and innovation, increase capacity by building skills to support livelihoods and cultural enterprise, extend safe spaces for creative exchange and contribute to research and policy.
Our work in the arts has grown substantially over the last five years. We operate in over 100 countries around the world, across eight art forms covering the full breadth of UK creative industries. In 2016–17 our work in the arts reached 15.5 million people face-to-face and a further 198 million people 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 - 2018 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 Kate Arthurs, 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 
Sevra Davis

Arts and Society
Stephen Stenning

Briony Hanson

Cortina Butler

Cathy Graham

Theatre and Dance 
Neil Webb

Visual Arts 
Emma Dexter

Regional Arts directors

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

Americas Pablo Rossello
(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 Codling
(Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestinian Territories, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen)

South Asia Dana MacLeod
(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 Claire De Braekeleer
(Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Georgia, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine, Uzbekistan)