We have developed the Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) Arts Cultural Exchange Open Call to provide grants to cultural organisations, festivals, artists, and creatives between the countries of SSA* and the UK to create art, build networks, collaborate and develop markets,​ and share artists’ work with audiences.

‘Cultural exchange between the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa and the UK is critical to the building of new narratives between our nations by connecting cultural professionals, organisations, artists and audiences through art’ says Ojoma Ochai, SSA Arts Regional Director at the British Council.

We have always supported international collaboration through our work in arts and culture, but as travel becomes more challenging due to the Covid-19 pandemic and with ongoing questions about the sustainability of international travel in the light of the climate crisis, we're now looking to facilitate that collaboration digitally. 

Our new Cultural Exchange Open Call, building on previous open calls related to mobility, exchange and art making launches on 26 July 2021, supports organisations and individuals in SSA* and the UK to develop new ways of working internationally - allowing cultural exchange to flourish despite restrictions on global movement. We will prioritise projects which contribute to new narratives between countries of SSA and the UK. By this we mean projects that highlight / amplify less heard stories and perspectives of SSA in the UK and the UK in SSA. Find out more about our New Narratives research.

The emphasis will be on collaborating virtually to research or deliver digital arts projects with a partner based in the target countries and the UK.

*Please see eligible countries below

About the call

The call for applications is open to:

  • artists, 
  • arts organisations, 
  • festivals,
  • arts professionals
  • creative sector researchers 

Working across all art forms (Architecture, Design and Fashion, Film, Literature, Music, Theatre and Dance, Visual Art).  

Individuals and organisations in participating countries (see eligibility criteria below) can apply for grants in three categories:

  • RESEARCH: Grants to undertake research between SSA and UK arts and creative sectors. Research may take the form of meeting with potential arts partners; finding out more about the arts ecosystem in a particular country; gaining an understanding of artistic trends; meeting artists and/or attending events and festivals. Applicants should share research outcomes in a public format of their choice, for example, a diary, blog, photoblog, an event, or a film. (Grants up to £5,000)
  • NEW CONNECTIONS: Grants to support new or early-stage collaborations between artists, arts professionals, and partners in SSA and the UK. Projects can include research and development but must include at least one public event, online and/or in-person (in line with COVID regulations in-country). Applications from organisations or individuals who have little or no experience of working internationally and are establishing new connections are particularly welcome. Grants between £5,000 - £10,000)
  • New Art Co-Creation: Grants to support larger-scale collaborative projects by individuals or organisations in SSA and the UK. Projects should result in new art being created and shared with audiences online or face to face. Applicants should already have established working relationships with their partners and a track record of delivering collaborative projects. Projects must include public-facing activities in the eligible countries. (Grants between £20,000 - £30,000)

See project examples on the FAQ page


The call-out is open to artists, cultural professionals, festivals, creative sector researchers working across all artforms/disciplines working with audiences predominantly from 18-35 years

Applications may only be made in the eligible countries. There is no preference whether the lead partner that applies is in Sub Saharan Africa or the UK.  Partner organisations are seen as mutual applicants.

The grant will be paid to one organisation, however, to ensure equitable distribution of funds between partner organisations, the budget should ensure a split of around 50% / 50% of the grant award between 2 partner organisations, or no more than 60% / 40%. 

Diversity: projects working primarily with Women, LBGTQ+ and/or Disabled artists will be favourably scored under the diversity section of the application.

Artforms/disciplines: Literature, Visual Arts, Music, Film (including Gaming, Virtual and Augmented Reality), Theatre and Dance, Architecture, Fashion, Design.

How many grants will be awarded

Our final selection will be balanced across eligible countries and artforms/disciplines across SSA and the UK. Indicative numbers for each category are:

  • Research 7-10
  • New Connections 5-10
  • New Art Co-Creation 10-15

Eligible countries

Research (OPEN): We are still accepting applications from Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan, the UK (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales). - Applications are now closed for Ethiopia, South Africa, Uganda, and Zambia. 

Both the New Connections and New Art Co-Creation require having one Sub-Saharan Africa and one UK partner.

New Connections (CLOSED): Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Uganda, UK (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales), Zambia, Zimbabwe

New Art Co-Creation (CLOSED): Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, UK (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales)

Webinar - Engage with us and find out more

Meet our teams across Africa and the UK who will elaborate on the application process, selection criteria and additional opportunities in our series of webinars. Details for August webinars TBC.

  1. Sub-Saharan Africa and the UK - 29 July 2021, 2pm BST  for all eligible SSA and UK countries

The recording will be made available here and at the link above after the webinar.

How to Apply

One partner (based in SSA or the UK - see eligible countries above) must complete an application form on behalf of the partnership.

Applicants must apply through our digital platform - application is now live!

Important dates

Open call data launched: 28 July 2021

Applications open: in August

Deadlines to apply: 

  • New Connections: Closed
  • New Art Co-creation: Closed
  • Research: Rolling application till 1 February 2022

Interviews: Shortlisted applicants may be invited to an interview at the end of September 2021.

Feedback: Successful applicants will be contacted by the end of October 2021, all applicants will be notified of their application status in November 2021, more details are available in the FAQ

Contracts are expected to be signed in November 2021. Delivery period for all proposed projects/research should be November 2021 to November 2022. An interim report is expected to be submitted at the end of February 2022.

More opportunities

We will soon be launching opportunities across our other programmes, from Creative Economy to Cultural Heritage. To stay updated subscribe to our newsletter, or visit our SSA Arts Opportunities page.

See also