A stage performance in Mexico. Two people embrace against a backdrop of colourful flowers.
Outburst Americas at Mexico’s Cumbre Tajín in Papantla

In the Americas our work aims to connect with the region’s diverse and innovative cultural offer to build up professional skills in the sector. Through programmes delivered across 12 countries, we are supporting three key areas: social inclusion, young people’s empowerment, and international connections.

The Americas is one of the most unequal regions in the world (as per the Gini index), with increased urban marginality, violence and insecurity, and a continuing decline in living standards. It also has historically complex social dynamics because of its colonial past and multiculturalism (indigenous, European and African-origin populations), which at the same time contributes to its rich diversity and shared cultural heritage.

Social inclusion and wider participation by strengthening civil society

Our work and projects in this area collectively aims to promote cultural rights and improve social inclusion. The priority focus areas of this work and programmes are: urban peripheries and rural communities (Busca tu Espacio); enhancing skills and participation in the cultural sector (Backstage to the Future); working with rural communities (Crafting Futures), developing and supporting routes to cultural production and consumption; increasing LGBTQ+ participation and cultural representation across the region (Outburst); and increasing women's participation in digital culture through mentoring and residency programmes.

Supporting young people to build skills, resilience and networks

Culture can be a vehicle for social cohesion and community dialogue as well as for the development of professional pathways for young people. The projects we support in this area focus on supporting young people from disadvantaged backgrounds with safe spaces for creative expression and self-development. The projects that we support inspire knowledge-sharing, develop cultural networks, increase employability, and challenge exclusion.

International connections – opportunities for emerging artists and organisations to develop their international outlook

In all the work we do, we aim to make connections and partnerships that build new international relationships between the most innovative UK artists and institutions and those in the region. We encourage the creation of new work and the development of networks for the exchange of practice and training.

Social inclusion: Outburst and other projects

Outburst - Americas

Outburst is a celebration of queer arts and performance that takes place annually in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The vision of Outburst is to create a bold, brave and innovative platform for new local and international queer arts, performance and brilliant creative ideas. To  support the LGBTQI art scene and communities in the Americas, we have worked to develop a network of producers, artists and curators. Find out more about our work bringing Outburst to the Americas and how it is challenging prejudice, supporting the development of artists and creating change. 

Other projects
The global programme Crafting Futures, which we deliver in Mexico, Cultural Heritage for Inclusive Growth in Colombia, and Indigenous Contemporary in Canada are promotiong social inclusion and inclusive sustainable development.

Young people: Backstage to the Future – Caribbean

Backstage to The Future (BTF) is a live events/festivals skills training programme that aims to provide disadvantaged youth from San Andres and Providencia (Colombia), Jamaica, Cuba and Venezuela with alternative pathways and job opportunities. The programme aims to contribute to social and economic development of the individuals involved.

Backstage to the Future also builds capacity in the live events and performing arts infrastructure in the Caribbean. It addresses specific core gaps within the creative industries and is designed to develop and nurture future live event producers, entrepreneurs and technicians across the cultural sector of the above-mentioned countries.

This programme seeks to strengthen interaction with international peers in the Caribbean and the UK to foster intercultural understanding, connections, mutual respect and exchange among young people with different cultural heritage and identities.

BTF continues the British Council's sustained commitment to creative responses to global challenges, and capacity building of the cultural sector in Colombia and the Caribbean.

Download Backstage to the Future evaluation and results 2018 (pdf)
Past Projects:
Cámara Chica in Cuba;
Storytelling for Peacebuilding in Colombia;
Run Free in Jamaica;
Busca Tu Espacio in Venezuela.

Young people: Arts Against Violence

Arts Against Violence is a project that aims to contribute to positive social change in Venezuela by reducing levels of violence through the arts and supporting the empowerment of young people at risk, recognising the fundamental role that young people play in the development of the country.

Arts Against Violence creates bridges between civil society organisations (CSO), cultural initiatives and community leaders to positively impact community development, the skills of young people, and peace. Arts Against Violence intends to build on the remarkable results of the EU-funded Busca tu Espacio project.

See also