The British Council – the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations – today announced that it will be increasing investment in its global arts programme to meet increased demand for UK arts, UK arts expertise and specialist skills in the creative industries overseas. This investment is based on the British Council’s belief in the fundamental strength of the arts and creative industries to the UK.
An additional £7m will be invested in each of the next two years on projects, working with the best of British creative talent to develop innovative, high-quality events and collaborations, linking thousands of artists and cultural institutions around the world. This represents an increase of one third in the British Council’s global programme on top of planned investment of 21.5 million. The additional funding has come, at no cost to the taxpayer, from the British Council’s self-generated income which makes up 75% of its annual turnover.
At the heart of the new investment strategy is the belief that the arts contribute vitally to the development of society, shared prosperity worldwide and mutual attraction and build trust in the UK globally. Research has shown a clear correlation between increased levels of trust in a country and an increased interest in trade, tourism and higher education links; at the same time as civil society, social cohesion and freedom of expression are strengthened through art and culture.
The investment announced today will directly support the prosperity of the UK’s creative sector, already estimated to be worth £17 billion to the economy each year. Through an increase in efforts to build connections and collaborations, new opportunities and markets will be developed for the UK, as well as building its overall reputation as a world leader. Through supporting new work in the arts we aim to expand the size of audiences for the UK’s cultural exports.
Graham Sheffield, Director Arts, British Council said: “This investment reflects our firm belief in the fundamental importance of the arts and creative industries to the UK; what they contribute intrinsically to the projection of the UK as a forward-thinking society, to the stability and cohesion of society itself, to personal well-being, to employability in the new economy and to growth and prosperity at home and abroad. We are an entrepreneurial public service and this investment offers support to the UK sector but also provides opportunities for people worldwide.”
To deliver its mission the British Council combines commercial, contract delivery and partnering skills, believing that a mix of public and other income is the best way for many organisations to deliver their benefits to individuals and societies. Over 75% of an annual turnover of £739 million is earned from services which customers pay for, education and development contracts and from partnerships. A UK Government grant provides the remaining 25%.
Areas of investment will include:
The Creative Economy:
The UK’s creative sector stimulates jobs, growth and innovation and is internationally recognised. We will invest in an expanded and comprehensive creative economy programme, to maximise benefit to the growing creative industries in the UK and in key overseas markets. By helping to shape thinking amongst policymakers while also building entrepreneurial and leadership capability, we will encourage collaborative, long-term change across sectors. Working with and through partner nations, we will co-create programmes to empower local creative talent, boost cultural policy, improve infrastructure development and increase international connections. This programme will include:
- In depth engagement in priority markets that include Indonesia, Turkey, Nigeria and Russia to foster development of the sector drawing on UK expertise
- Empowering creative talent globally, helping young creative entrepreneurs from the UK connect with their peers worldwide
Global Creative & Cultural Skills:
We will develop and market a skills and professional development offer from the UK creative and cultural sector matching the breadth of the UK’s expertise with significant global demand. This will include:
- Developing a range of partnerships with the UK education, skills and creative and cultural sectors
- Creating a global offer that meets demand for skills and training for the UK’s creative and cultural sector globally
- Building an online network of arts professionals worldwide that will provide regular information and market the UK’s skills and professional development offer globally.
The British Council Collection:
The British Council Collection is one of the most significant collections of 20th and 21st century British art in the UK. We will increase investment to enable us to acquire works by emerging British artists so that international audiences have access to the best of contemporary British art. In partnership with University College London, we will also develop a range of short courses in Arts and Heritage Management to meet international demand, and extend the number and range of exhibitions including visual arts, design, fashion, architecture and film, particularly for developing and emerging markets.