Artists are visionaries, innovators and storytellers who can communicate complex ideas in singular, compelling and memorable ways.

This is why DICE championed the role of the artist in addressing social challenges, but also in helping us convey the themes and hopes of our work through artistic media.

So when we received a commissioned paper by Professor J.P. Singh of George Mason University about the DICE programme and cultural relations approaches to international development, we decided to convene a group of 12 artists from six countries to meet with Professor Singh and help us understand and interpret his paper.

The artists produced powerfully evocative and engaging works that are collected in a booklet called Imagining New Approaches: the DICE Artist Commission, which is available for download at the bottom of this page. 

Some of the works of art are also included in the video at the top of this page which provides an introduction to this exciting collaboration. 

Additionally, the works of art were to be featured in an exhibition at George Mason University's Founders Hall Gallery from 29 April to 13 May 2022. 

The source of inspiration

Professor Singh’s paper that inspired the works of art is called The Cultural Relations of Negotiating Development: Developing Inclusive and Creative Economies at the British Council. It can be downloaded via a link at the bottom of the page. 

It focuses on the DICE pilot programme to help us better understand how cultural relations approaches can contribute to international development efforts.

In his paper, Professor Singh explores topics such as paternalism, the principle of the hiding hand, and ecological approaches to development, and he analyses the DICE approach of promoting creative and entrepreneurial approaches to address social and environmental challenges.

The artistic interpretations 

The artists recruited to help us make sense of these themes came from Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan, South Africa and the UK – the six countries in which the DICE programme operated.

Bringing these artists together with Professor Singh and his text was itself an act of cultural relations. The discussions between and among the artists and academic were fascinating and illuminating – as were the works of art that were produced as a result of these encounters.

These pieces illuminate some of the broad themes in Professor Singh’s paper but also explore some of the nuances in cultural relations approaches to development. They capture the excitement, creativity and ideas that this unusual collaboration generated.

We hope that the art and the paper inspire us to think about how cultural relations approaches can enhance support for reducing inequalities and building trust between people, while generating creative and impactful solutions to some of the shared social and environmental challenges we face.

About the commission

'Everybody’s saying it: we need a new economic story, a narrative of our shared economic future that is fit for the twenty-first century. I agree. But let’s not forget one thing: The most powerful stories throughout history have been the one told with pictures. If we want to rewrite economics, we need to redraw its pictures too, because we stand little chance of telling a new story if we stick to the old illustrations.'  Kate Raworth, Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist

The commission comprised:

  • a briefing and dialogue with the DICE Team and Professor J.P. Singh and the artists who have been commissioned
  • further discussions about the text with the artists to explore what aspects they were interested in visualizing – both as a group and individually
  • two rounds of submissions from the artist – with feedback provided by the DICE team 
  • publication of the artists' work in a booklet.


To undertake the commission, we selected artists who are:

  • working in one or more of the following media: illustration, painting, graphic design, animation, poetry, graphic novel, comic strips, etc.  
  • excited by the DICE programme ideas 
  • interested in interpreting this academic paper visually and prepared to grapple with its complex ideas
  • able to create works of art that help tell a story / show a perspective on DICE and J.P. Singh's analysis
  • proficient, native or fluent in reading English (so as to be able to navigate the text)
  • comfortable with and mindful of deadlines 
  • welcoming of constructive criticism with respect to their work
  • able to attend a briefing workshop with other commissioned artists, the DICE team and Prof. J.P. Singh
  • able to create and deliver in February - March 2021.