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About Arts

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Arts is a cornerstone of the British Council’s mission to create a friendly knowledge and understanding between the people of the UK and the wider world. We find new ways of connecting with and understanding each other through the arts, to develop stronger creative sectors around the world that are better connected with the UK.

We believe arts and culture are vital to prosperous, secure societies, and that offering international cultural connections and experiences strengthens their resilience. We are uniquely able to make a difference thanks to our extensive and diverse networks in the UK and internationally, enabling us to respond to the individual context of each place within which we work. 

Through our UK and worldwide network of experts, we support business to business connections, working in partnership to create programmes that responds to the needs of local markets. We foster collaboration; share arts work with the world; build resilience and creative responses to crisis; shape policy; and develop skills and livelihoods. Our programme of seasons and focus countries allows us to rapidly develop relationships between the UK, major trading partners and important emerging economies. These seasons build a modern, dynamic and creative image of the UK and develop new audiences for British culture around the world.

Our work in the arts has grown substantially over the last five years, delivering more impact and reaching more people around the world than ever. As we now look to the future, we are inviting our partners to help shape our strategy. An illustration of our refreshed vision and examples of our work are available to download here. If you would like to share your thoughts or discuss our vision in more detail, please get in contact by emailing us at

If you are interested in our work in a specific country around the world, you can select your country from the homepage map.

Main photo credit: Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2015. © Photo Cristiano Corte. Find out more about the British representation at the Venice Biennale here.

Art form directors

Led by Director Arts Graham Sheffield CBE, we have seven central teams based in our London office, which serve different disciplines and sectors. They are headed by art form directors:

Architecture, Design, Fashion 
Vicky Richardson

Creative Economy 
Beatrice Pembroke

Briony Hanson

Cortina Butler

Cathy Graham

Theatre and Dance 
Neil Webb

Visual Arts 
Emma Dexter

Cultural Skills
Simon Dancey

Regional Arts directors

Our artform directors and their specialist teams work with arts colleagues in nine regions, each with a Regional Arts Lead:

Americas David Codling
(Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Jamaica, Mexico, Trinidad & Tobago, United States of America, Venezuela)

East Asia Katelijn Verstraete
(Australia, Burma, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philipines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam)

European Union Silke Pillinger
(Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Irish Republic, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland)

Middle East and North Africa Stephen Stenning
(Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestinian Territories, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen)

South Asia Jim Hollington
(Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Iran, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka)

Sub Saharan Africa Lisa Phasha
(Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe)

United Kingdom Simon Dancey
(Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland)

Wider Europe Gregory Nash
(Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Georgia, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine, Uzbekistan)


Sponsorship of the British Council Arts programmes offers a unique opportunity. We can work with you across countries, regions and artforms to create an original way to meet your objectives.

To discuss how we can work together, please contact:

Su Moore,

Head of Sponsorship Development, Arts

Our work in arts