Tuesday 30 January 2018


Graham Sheffield CBE announced to staff today that he is to step down as Director, Arts at the British Council from June. During his seven years at the helm of the UK’s leading international arts programme, he has led a global vision putting the arts centre stage in cultural relations. 

Graham has overseen a period of significant innovation in arts programming, helping the British Council to reach 731 million people worldwide last year, including through cultural seasons in India, UAE and Korea. He was a driving force behind large partnerships such as Shakespeare Lives, a global celebration marking 400 years since Shakespeare’s death in 2016. Artists across all art forms reinterpreted the world’s most famous playwright to take Shakespeare to 50 million people around the world.

Sir Ciarán Devane, Chief Executive, the British Council said, “I would like to thank Graham for his leadership of our global Arts programme and the transformation of our work and reputation across the Arts scene. We are now starting the process of looking for someone to take on the role and are fortunate to have an exceptional team in place to lead our arts activities, help build their future and develop further partnerships across the sector.” 

Plans for recruitment will be announced in due course. In the meantime the British Council arts programme will continue to be developed by the arts senior team.

Graham intends to reconnect more closely with his first love, music, through his role as Chair of Help Musicians UK and arts consultancy. He also plans to spend more time with his partner in the United States.

Notes to Editor

For more information, please contact karolina.szlasa@britishcouncil.org

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About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We work with over 100 countries in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. Last year we reached over 65 million people directly and 731 million people overall including online, broadcasts and publications. We make a positive contribution to the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust. Founded in 1934 we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. We receive 15 per cent core funding grant from the UK government. britishcouncil.org