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Our work in arts

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How we work

We promote Scottish cultural talent and assets as a distinct part of the UK’s cultural offering. Through this Scotland becomes more visible and better connected to the right people and places.

Established in Edinburgh in 1946, British Council Scotland was instrumental in the creation of the first Edinburgh International Festival in 1947. Since then we have continued to bring international academics, policymakers and artists to Scotland and take counterparts abroad.

The principle focus of our work lies in:

  • internationalising major Scottish events
  • helping to manage Scotland’s contribution at major international events
  • enabling more Scottish professionals to attend international festivals and events
  • ensuring that Scotland is represented internationally in major UK bilateral programmes 
  • negotiating cultural partnerships for Scotland
  • cultural diplomacy.

Most of our activity takes place overseas in collaboration with our colleagues and local partners (such as festival and artistic programmers, venues, producers and other arts organisations) and we tend to work with networks and agencies rather than individual artists. 

We design specific programmes appropriate to the regions in which we work. These are planned according to the British Council objectives, local aims, interests and needs.

We are not a funding organisation in the accepted traditional sense but work with partners to deliver programmes and use our grant to invest in strategic areas. Although we are approached with many exciting ideas for projects, we are only able to collaborate on a limited number of partnerships each year. 

For more information on our work in the arts please email us or have a look at our way of working document. You can also learn more about our global work in arts.

Celtic Connections

Now in its 20th year, the festival has grown into the largest showcase of Celtic, world and roots music in the UK.

Tilting Axis

Tilting Axis brought together over thirty delegates to debate and explore how Caribbean art practices can be sustained and connected within the Caribbean and globally.

Alchemy Glasgow

For the first time, Southbank Centre's annual cross arts festival was launched in Glasgow and ran between 21 and 24 May 2015.

Scotland + Venice 2015

The Venice Biennale is the largest and most prestigious visual arts exhibition in the world.

CURRENT | 不合时宜: Contemporary Art from Scotland

As part of the UK-China Year of Cultural Exchange, British Council has been working with Cooper Gallery and Shanghai Himalayas Museum on a major programme of contemporary art from Scotland.

Momentum delegates Marina Salandy Brown and Nicholas Laughlin with Lorna Duguid (Creative Scotland), August 2014


Momentum is the Edinburgh Festivals International Delegate Programme, taking place in Edinburgh during August.

Katy West - India Street

Strategic Partnership: Creative Scotland and British Council

Strategic partnership between Scotland’s national leader for the arts, screen and creative industries (Creative Scotland) and the UK’s international cultural relations body (British Council)

Past arts activity

Find out about our past events and projects

Mark Wallinger's White Horse sculpture, outside the British Council offices in London

Our global work in arts

We work across various art forms and with the best of British talent to develop artistic programmes and opportunities for collaboration in Scotland.

Our work in Scotland

The Edinburgh Festivals

Performers at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Discover Edinburgh's twelve major festivals.

Call for Participation: Venice Architecture Biennale 2016

Initial expressions of interest must be received by 12pm on 11 September 2015.