A group of young people dancing energetically on stage
Oona Doherty, Hard to Be Soft. Photo by Luca Truffarelli

Six leading figures in arts and culture have been appointed to the Arts and Creative Economy Advisory group at the British Council.

As part of the group, chaired by John Newbigin OBE, the new members will help to shape the British Council’s global arts strategy.

British Council’s Director Arts, Skinder Hundal MBE said: “Our new advisors bring myriad cultural and creative perspectives representing interests, artforms and industry knowledge that will bring fresh insights, and extend and deepen our links across the UK cultural sector. I am looking forward to working with them especially in such uncertain times where contexts are constantly in a state of flux and their advice so vital and generous.”

John Newbigin OBE, Chair of the British Council’s Arts and Creative Economy Advisory Group and founder and first Chairman of Creative England, said: 'As well as offering advice and support to the British Council’s Arts and Creative Economy team, the Advisory Group ensures close links between creative professionals in the UK and the global work of the British Council. We are lucky enough to now have another six extraordinarily talented people with a rich variety of perspectives to help in that task.'

The new members are:

Angela Chan

Angela Chan is a diversity consultant and academic specialising in inclusive innovation. She has worked in the UK television industry for over twenty years, most recently as Head of Creative Diversity and Special Projects at Channel 4. Prior to that she was Independents and Diversity Executive for BBC Television implementing the broadcaster’s Nations and Regions and diversity strategies.

Angela is currently Head of Inclusion at StoryFutures, an immersive storytelling centre based at Royal Holloway University, and lead partner for a Festival 2022 project  telling under represented people’s histories using augmented and virtual reality. She holds an Executive MBA in the Creative Industries from Ashridge Hult Business School, a masters in Fine Art Photography, and a first degree in Social Anthropology from Cambridge University and serves as an advisor for the Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity and Natwest’s Ethnicity Board.

Emma Dabiri

Emma Dabiri’s work spans academia, media, and the arts. She is an internationally bestselling (Sunday Times and Irish Times) author of two books; What White People Can Do Next (2021) and Don’t Touch My Hair (2019). Emma is a research associate at SOAS University of London and a final year PhD researcher in Visual Sociology at Goldsmiths University. She has been published widely across national and international media, and has presented numerous documentaries on both TV and radio. Emma sits on various boards and advisory groups including the Wellcome Trust Anti-Racism Expert Advisory Group and is a Trustee of the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin.

Rafi Gokay-Wol

Rafi Gokay Wol is Director at the arts and talent management company HarrisonParrott where he heads the international projects and tours department. He has led a wide array of cultural exchanges and strategic partnerships in over 60 countries across six continents, promoting, developing and generating opportunities for creative talents, arts institutions and digital collaborations. Rafi is a Member of the DCMS UK-China Advisory Group and served as a Trustee of the National Foundation for Youth Music between 2012 and 2021.

Kerry Kyriacos Michael

Kerry is a British Cypriot. He heads up Kyriacos And Company, a production company making TV, FILM, and Theatre. He’s chair of MENA Arts UK, which empowers talent connected to the Middle East, North Africa and surrounding area. He was Artistic Director & CEO of Theatre Royal Stratford East for 13 years, forging new work from diverse voices, winning 2 Olivier awards and 9 nominations. He was Artistic Director of The Year in 2018, awarded the Freedom of the City of London and made an MBE for services to the Arts.

Kirsty Lang

Kirsty Lang is an experienced journalist and broadcaster with a special interest in foreign affairs and the Arts. She spent many years as a foreign correspondent reporting for the BBC and the Sunday Times from Eastern Europe and later Paris. She’s been a presenter on Channel 4 News, BBC World, and Radio 4s daily arts programme Front Row. She chaired the Orange Prize for Fiction, was a judge of the Independent Prize for Foreign Fiction in Translation, and was also a visiting Professor in the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University in New York.

Nabil Nayal

Dr Nabil El-Nayal is a Syrian-born British fashion designer and educator. Nabil is also the creative director of NABIL NAYAL, a luxury womenswear Ready-to-Wear brand, which showcases during London and Paris Fashion Weeks. Through support from international platforms such as the LVMH Prize, along with the British Fashion Council (BFC), Nabil’s award-winning design practice has grown to encompass manufacturing in London to supply demand from prestigious international fashion stores, such as Dover Street Market, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Joyce Hong Kong. Alongside his design practice, Nabil also leads the MA Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear course at the London College of Fashion (University of the Arts London), a position he has held since 2019. Nabil holds a practice-based PhD, which has enabled him to undertake extensive research into areas that include theories around creative practice and historical dress, often utilizing novel methods in a bid to extend and broaden understandings of ways of thinking and doing in design disciplines.

Nabil’s current research explores his Syrian heritage, allowing him to explore the rich culture of Aleppo whilst forging links with his dad’s family textile business, which still operates in Aleppo. This project will investigate Syrian craft skills by working closely with Syrian refugees in Zaatari, Jordan, who have been displaced due to the civil war. A key aim is to help build sustainable businesses for Syrian communities and contribute insights and understandings of Syrian textiles, a relatively underexplored area.

The six new members join existing members Marie Brennan (Norwich University of the Arts), Simon Groom (Scottish National Gallery), Philip Long OBE (National Trust for Scotland), Ruth McCarthy (Outburst Queer Arts Festival), Dave Moutrey (HOME and Manchester City Council), Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp CBE (Eclipse Theatre), Elena Schmitz (Literature Wales), Abdul Shayek (Tara Arts), Claire Whitaker OBE (Southampton’s Bid for City of Culture 2025) and chair John Newbigin.

About British Council’s work in the Arts and Creative Economy

Arts is a cornerstone of the British Council’s purpose to build connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and other countries. We find new ways of connecting with and understanding each other through the arts, to develop stronger creative sectors around the world that are better connected with the UK. 

Our work in Arts and the Creative Economy builds connections with the diverse cultural riches of the UK, creates new opportunities and inspiration for artists around the world and the fostering of new collaborations with their British counterparts. It strengthens perceptions of a modern, vibrant and creative UK among millions of people in fast-growing economies, encouraging more trade, investment and tourism. It also helps to bring together divided communities and provides creative ways of responding to global challenges by protecting heritage, human rights and a sustainable environment.