The Royal Court Theatre works with emerging writers in Chengdu, China as part of the International Playwrights programme, which encourages writers all over the world to address subjects that they feel are urgent in their societies. Photo: British Council
We work with our global network of offices in over 100 countries. Colleagues in each country lead on their arts programmes, with specialist advice and logistical support from our Theatre and Dance team in the UK.
Our projects usually start through conversations with partners in the country we’re working in. By speaking to them, we understand which artists, projects or productions from the UK will help to achieve our joint aims.
We also invite international delegates to events such as the Edinburgh Showcase and the Unlimited Festival. Our aim is to inspire producers to work with UK collaborators. We sometimes partner with them on follow-up projects after their visits.
It’s useful for UK contacts to keep us updated about their projects and ideas, so that we can keep them in mind if suitable opportunities come up. However, it’s unusual for a British Council project to be initiated from the UK.
In the UK, we look for artists, practitioners and organisations who are making outstanding work and have the potential to attract international interest. This includes both established companies and artists who are working internationally for the first time.
We work with artists whose work we have seen first-hand and who exemplify the innovative and diverse nature of current UK practice. We seek practitioners who have something new to say, are experimenting with form, helping others to develop themselves, or exploring a difficult issue in a creative way. See our directory of artists and companies we’ve recently worked with or recommended.
Outside the UK, we work with producers and organisations who are making a meaningful impact in their countries and who are interested in introducing their local networks to something new.
It’s helpful for artists and partners to think of us as a producer or co-producer. Approach us as you would any other prospective partner: invite us to get to know your work and understand this process usually takes some time. Be realistic – appreciate your project might not match our priorities, and don’t expect us to step in at the last minute.
Don’t be discouraged if we can’t work with you immediately. It might take time to get to know your work or find suitable opportunities. And bear in mind there’s more talent around than we have resources to work with. The best way for us to support you might be to offer you advice and information or to tell our contacts about your work.
We run open calls for some projects, including the Edinburgh Showcase and Unlimited. We also offer bursaries for UK artists and producers to attend industry networking events overseas. These bursaries are open to minority ethnic practitioners and disabled practitioners. They aim to help groups that are under-represented in UK performing arts build international connections.
Check out current British Council arts opportunities.
See our FAQs for further advice.