British Council  Arts SSA
British Council  Arts SSA

Our work in the arts aims to promote the UK’s diverse culture, creativity and innovation overseas.

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


Our innovative programmes in Botswana, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe aim to create cross country connections between Southern African countries, Sub Saharan Africa and the UK by creating opportunities for urban 18 - 35 year old creatives and audiences through storytelling, insight and connections. With digital engagement at our core across our programmes we do this to build greater exposure for contemporary practice and culture between Southern Africa and the UK and for young people to tell their stories. Our key focus areas are on Insight / Opportunities / Communities within the arts in Southern Africa.

Insight - Listening and Brokering: We grow and broker partnerships for mutual understanding and shared purpose to better connect the contemporary UK and Southern Africa.

Opportunities - Art and Skills: We support the professionalisation of the creative sector (Southern Africa and UK) in artistic, digital and entrepreneurial fields. We do this through co-creation, collaboration, projects and experiential exchanges between the countries.

Communities - Networks and Perception Change: We deepen and build a greater understanding and connection between creative contemporary UK and cluster countries so they may collaborate effectively on artistic, social and economic activities.


Since 1934, the British Council has existed to create a basis of friendly knowledge and understanding between the people of the UK and the wider world. Our work in the arts has been central to this mission for more than 80 years, seeking to find new ways of connecting with and understanding each other through creativity.

Our programme utilises the world-leading innovation and creativity of the UK to make a positive contribution to the people, institutions and governments of the countries we work in. We create opportunities, build connections and engender trust, making a lasting difference to the security, prosperity and influence of the UK. Our international seasons help us to create a modern, vibrant and creative image of the UK amongst millions of people in fast growing economies, encouraging more trade, investment and tourism.


Our work in the arts has grown substantially over the last five years. We now operate in over 110 countries around the world and work across eight disciplines covering the full breadth
of the UK creative industries. In 2015/16 our work in the arts reached 10.9 million people on the ground and a further 186 million online and through the media.


The ambition for our programme has also grown. By 2021 it is our aim to have increased the number of cultural connections between the UK and the world, doubling the scale of international activity of the UK culture sector. To achieve this our programme will span five key pillars:


Sharing UK arts with the world – introducing audiences around the world to the best of UK creativity and creating new opportunities for artists and organisations to work internationally. We will also support reciprocal work into the UK.


Fostering collaboration and networks - supporting creative people to collaborate and experiment with new ideas and developing sustainable ways of working for long-term prosperity.


Arts for social change - extending safe spaces for culture, creative exploration and exchange; building trust, enabling dialogue and presenting marginalised voices; and supporting the protection of cultural heritage and expression of cultural identities.


Capacity building - strengthening the arts sector worldwide by developing its capacity to innovate, reach new audiences and develop skills.


Policy and research - shaping cultural policy and sharing research with the cultural sector in the UK and overseas.


Our full set of our 2021 ambitions and how we plan to achieve them can be found in our refreshed strategy for the arts here.


If you would like to get in touch to discuss our programme please email us at



British Council Film links UK films and filmmakers to new international audiences, profiling the innovation, diversity and excellence of British films around the world and finding opportunities for creative exchange. 


From electronica to jazz, traditional to folk, and classical to indie, we work across all genres of music. The Music team also has its own weekly radio show, The Selector, featuring the best new music from the UK. 

Architecture, Design and Fashion

Back of the Envelope is our Architecture, Design and Fashion team’s blog which shares news from the UK sector and new project developments from around the world.

Creative Economy

Find out more about the British Council’s work in Creative Economy to support our network of creative entrepreneurs, cultural leaders and policy makers and opportunities to get involved.


The British Council Literature site includes information about what we do, the projects that we work on, news from the UK Literature and publishing communities, a worldwide Festivals Directory and resources to work with contemporary British Literature in the classroom.

Drama and Dance

We promote the best of the UK’s performing arts sector through a range of activities and events including tours of new productions, workshops and residencies, seminars and conferences, showcases and UK study visits for overseas practitioners. Find out more about Drama and Dance.

Visual arts

We promote British visual arts through a range of activities and events including touring exhibitions, workshops, seminars, and conferences. Explore and read about our Collection of around 8,500 works of British art.