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

To find out more about the call and apply click here. To find answers for Frequently Asked Questions please see below.

Updated: 29 July 2021, 16:00hrs BST

Who can apply?

Key eligibility information:

The open call is open to artists, cultural professionals, organisations, festivals, as well as creative sector researchers working across all art forms. Organisations in participating countries (see below) can apply for grants of between £5,000 - £30,000. 

  1. Research: Applications may be made by an individual artist, cultural professional or creative sector researcher. The research must take place in or across the eligible countries

  1. New Connections : Applications may be made by cultural professionals, festivals, and creative sector researchers working across Africa and the UK. 

  1. New Art Co-Creation: Applications may be made by organisations, festivals, hubs. Individuals are not eligible in this category and should apply in Research or Catalyst categories.

  • There had to be one lead applicant from the eligible primary countries, but this need not be a UK organisation. 

  • We accept applications for multilateral projects, with the focus on the programme being delivered mutually across the primary African countries listed below and the UK.

  • The funding must be split at a minimum of 60/40% between the lead partners. Particular attention in the application should be taken into showing mutuality between the lead partners.

  • Should secondary partners be selected in the Collaborative Artmaking category, no more than 30% of the total budget may be assigned to the secondary partner.

  • Previous British Council grant recipients may apply with new projects. We will not support double funding of projects already funded by the British Council

Eligible countries

Research: Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Uganda, United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales), Zambia, Zimbabwe

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

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

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

What funding is available

How many grants will be awarded?

  • Research: 5-10
  • Catalyst: 5-10
  • Collaborative Artmaking: 10-15

More information about the types of projects we are looking to fund:

Research - up to £5,000

These grants are for artists or organisations to research and develop proposals for projects or creative sector research. The grant could be used to scope out projects, test ideas, or hire researchers to investigate an issue or topic that organisations are hoping to explore in upcoming work. This research must be shared with the British Council. Sharing research with the public is recommended but not required.

New Connections  - £5,000-10,000k

Catalyst grants are earmarked for new and exciting ideas, ones where experimentation is at the core of the artistic offer. This is a chance for artists and organisations in Africa and the UK to experiment on the next ideas in cultural exchange. We anticipate that the grant would be used to deliver at least one public event.

Collaborative Artmaking - £20,000-30,000

Grants to support larger-scale collaborative projects by individuals or organisations. 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.

Example project types:

  • Virtual art residencies
  • Virtual and physical exhibitions or showcases
  • Virtual conferences
  • Online art and cultural archives
  • Creative collaborations 
  • Research and development of project ideas
  • Digital games
  • Mixed, augmented and virtual reality projects

What is ODA funding?

The Cultural Exchange open call is classed as Official Development Assistance (ODA).

Official Development Assistance is a term coined by the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to measure aid. 

All selected Cultural Exchange Open Call projects are required to demonstrate that they are making a positive contribution to the social and economic development to the ODA country involved in the application. They should aim to further sustainable development (development that is likely to generate lasting benefits for the population of the country to which it is provided) or improve the welfare of the population. 

For more details about ODA, see OECD's website.


What costs will the grant cover

1. Eligible Direct project costs include

  • New staff positions to deliver the project
  • Additional hours for existing staff to deliver the project
  • Training costs
  • Professional fees
  • Translation and interpreter fees
  • Equipment and materials
  • Activities relating to learning, advocacy and community engagement
  • Evaluation
  • Project promotion through communications
  • Extra costs for your organisation, such as new online subscriptions, new computers or extra rent
  • First-party insurance costs
  • Up to 25% of the budget can go towards organisational overheads.

We believe artists should be paid fairly and this should be reflected in the budget in relation to any artist costs.

2. Ineligible or Limited Travel Costs

Due to the continued uncertainty of international travel between SSA and the UK, the following restrictions apply for each category:

  • Research - No international travel costs allowed
  • Catalyst - No international travel costs allowed
  • Collaborative Artmaking - Limited international travel costs with contingency to mitigate possible future restrictions.

How will projects be assessed

Applications will be judged under each category as follows:


Research Outline and Contribution 50%

  • Indicate your research outline, focusing particularly on the connection between the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa and the UK. 
  • Does your research help to create new narratives between the countries of SSA and UK. By this we mean, research that highlight / amplify less heard stories, information, networks and perspectives of SSA in the UK and the UK in SSA.

Diversity, research viability, positive contribution - 40%

  • Estimated cost breakdown and timescales for the research
  • The project needs to demonstrate a realist connection between budget, timeline and outcomes
  • The usefulness of the grant to further development of an artistic project or of the creative sector you are researching.

Prior Work 10%

  • This section should include descriptions of your relevant previous works/projects in relation to your proposed research.

New Connections:

Outline and Contribution 50%

  • Demonstrate clear project concept and activity outline. 
  • Demostrate how the proposed project is creating new connections between the partners and audiences.
  • The proposed New Connections project should demonstrate a positive contribution to the social and economic development of the participants in the countries of Africa and the UK.

Project viability, sustainability 40%

  • Estimated cost breakdown and timescales that are mutual between partners

  • The project needs to demonstrate a realist connection between budget, timeline and outcomes

Prior Work/Project - 10%

  • This section should include descriptions of your relevant previous works/projects in relation to your proposed project.

New Art Co-Creation :

Proposal and Collaboration - 50%

  • The proposed new art co-creation should be relevant to the local context of the partner countries and the art form 

  • Project outputs show cultural exchange between the partner countries

  • Evidence of developed discussions between partner organisations

Positive Contribution and New Narratives - 20%

  • Demonstrate making a positive contribution to the social and economic development to the ODA country or countries involved in the application.

  • Does the project contribute to new narratives between countries of SSA and the UK

Project viability, diversity, and sustainability - 30%

  • Evidence of a commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion
  • Usefulness of the grant to further development of the activity in the future
  • Estimated cost breakdown and timescales that are mutual between partners and realistic

Project Examples





Should you require assistance with input on the application form please contact oluchi.iwuoha@ng.britishcouncil.org with subject SSA Arts Cultural Exchange Accessibility.

Accessability budget support will not negatively affect your applications scoring. Applications focusing on disability arts will receive additional favourable scoring for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI).

Find a captioned version of our SSA Arts Opportunities Webinar here.

Additional accessibility budgets for disability arts are welcomed and available up to 20% for each category. Research (up to £1 000), New Connections (up to £ 2 000), New Art Co-Creation (up to £6 000).

Find out more about on Disability Arts International website where we aim to share the ways arts organisations are increasing access to the arts for disabled people as audiences and visitors.

Contracts and Due Diligence

To better understand how the British Council's standard grants contracts look like, you will be able to download our contract templates below.

  • Research and New Connections - Short Grant template
  • New Art Co-Creation - Long Grant template

All projects above 10 000GBP (New Art Co-Creation) are required to undergo due diligence checks before contracting will begin.

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