Friday 07 October 2016


Six top names from creative and cultural institutions across the UK have joined the British Council to advise on its arts activities.

The leading figures have been recruited as members of the Arts Advisory Group, which exists to support the British Council, advising the Arts leadership team on how the British Council’s vision and strategy are developed. Its members, who are unpaid, serve as a channel of professional advice within their areas of expertise and offer valuable insight, identifying opportunities for collaboration between the British Council and the UK’s arts and culture sector. 

Graham Sheffield CBE, Director Arts for the British Council, said: “I am delighted to welcome these new additions to our Arts and Creative Economy Advisory Group.  Each will bring a wide range of fresh ideas and experience to the organisation’s global arts strategy.”

The new appointees join an existing group of eleven, which is currently chaired by John Newbigin OBE. They are:  

Dave Moutrey is the director and chief executive of HOME, the centre for international contemporary art, theatre and film in Manchester and the former director and chief executive of the Cornerhouse Manchester.

Simon Groom is the director of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and has previously worked as head of exhibitions and collections at Tate Liverpool. He has also worked with the British Council on projects in Japan and Venice. 

Justine Simons OBE is Deputy Mayor for Culture and the Creative Industries in London. She has worked in culture in both a policy and practitioner role in the capital and internationally for 20 years. She has worked as a British Fashion Council advisor and founded and chairs the World Cities Cultural Forum which gathers leaders from 30 cities. 

Ruth McCarthy is the co-founder and creative director of the Outburst Queer Arts Festival in Belfast. She has also worked for the GAZE International LGBT Film Festival and for BBC Northern Ireland. She recently worked with the British Council in the Americas to develop an understanding of queer arts and societies in Brazil and the Caribbean. 

Vivien Bird has worked in the literature and education sector for most of her career including most recently seven years as the CEO of BookTrust, a charity that promotes reading among children and families. She has worked with the British Council as an advocate for reader development at conferences in Egypt, China and Taiwan and gave support to the council’s Brazil Transform cultural exchange project.

Indhu Rubasingham is artistic director of Tricycle Theatre in North London. Under her leadership the theatre received an Olivier Award for ‘Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre’. Prior to this she worked as a freelance theatre director for over twenty years in venues across the UK and abroad.

Following the British Council’s triennial review in 2014 it was agreed to increase the size of the advisory group from 10 to 15 in order to ensure a wider representation of voices and expertise.

The members were selected through an open recruitment process and external advertising.

The group meets at least three times a year to discuss new trends and opportunities for the Council and members also act as advocates for the British Council’s work.

Contact Peter Hawkins on 0207 3893061 or

Notes to Editor

For more information on the British Council’s Advisory Groups and a full list of members, visit:

The advisory group reports to the Executive Board, and its formation or disbandment are the Chief Executive's responsibility. The group's functions are solely advisory. It has no decision-making or executive powers.


About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We create international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and build trust between them worldwide.

We work in more than 100 countries and our 8,000 staff – including 2,000 teachers – work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year by teaching English, sharing the arts and delivering education and society programmes.

We are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter. A core publicly-funded grant provides 16 per cent of our turnover which last year was £973 million. The rest of our revenues are earned from services which customers around the world pay for, such as English classes and taking UK examinations, and also through education and development contracts and from partnerships with public and private organisations. All our work is in pursuit of our charitable purpose and supports prosperity and security for the UK and globally.

For more information, please visit: You can also keep in touch with the British Council through