What we do

Find out about the British Council’s Theatre and Dance team, including our key areas of work and major projects

Rosalind blue SM HR James Cousins Co ph David FoulkesJames Cousins Company challenges the perception of gender roles as part of the British Council's Shakespeare Lives season in Korea. Photo: David Foulkes.

Welcome from the British Council’s Theatre and Dance team. We’re a group of performing arts professionals with specialist knowledge about international opportunities for theatre and dance.

We share contemporary UK performance and develop relationships with other countries through projects such as tours, workshops and collaborations.

We believe an internationally connected performing arts industry creates inspiring work and makes the world a better place.

Explore this part of the website to learn what we do, how we work, and check out our frequently asked questions.

You can also get an overview of what’s happening in UK theatre and dance, meet the team  and contact us if you have any questions.

 Overview of our work

Rambert lead workshop of emerging artists in Colombia 2 photo Lukas JaramilloRambert leads a British Council workshop for emerging artists in Colombia. Photo: Lukas Jaramillo

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.

Our public arts programmes often challenge outdated perceptions of the UK. We have specific priorities in different parts of the world. For instance, in East Asia one of our focus points is arts and disability, and a key concern in South Asia is to help improve opportunities for women and girls. These priorities enable us to build lasting relationships and make a real difference.

We work in five key areas:

  • Sharing UK arts with the world
  • Fostering collaboration and networks
  • Arts for social change
  • Capacity building
  • Policy and research

Our theatre and dance activity encompasses tours, workshops, outreach programmes and collaborations. We work across the spectrum of contemporary performance, including new writing, contemporary dance, devised performance, live art, outdoor arts, circus and new approaches to classic works.

As well as developing projects, we offer information and advice to UK creatives who are interested in working overseas, and to international arts professionals who would like to work with the UK.

 Our major projects


Claire Cunninghams The Way You Look at me Tonight at Southbank Centres Unlimited Festival. Photo by Rachel Cherry 5Claire Cunningham performs at the Unlimited Festival, which showcases some of the best new work from disabled artists. We partner with Unlimited to commission new international collaborations. Photo: Rachel Cherry

  • Edinburgh Showcase
    We hold a biennial platform of outstanding UK theatre and dance alongside the Edinburgh Festivals, with performances, talks and networking events. The Edinburgh Showcase is the single biggest opportunity for British theatre companies to introduce their work to international promoters. Since 1997, the event has given hundreds of companies the opportunity to tour internationally, building new relationships and opening up new markets for UK performing arts.

  • Unlimited
    We partner this initiative to commission new work from disabled artists. We bring international delegates to the Unlimited Festivals to see performances, take advantage of professional development opportunities and develop new projects with UK companies. Unlimited aims to embed art made by disabled artists within the UK and international cultural sectors.

  • International playwrights
    For over 20 years, we’ve worked with the Royal Court Theatre to hold intensive workshops with writers in more than 70 countries. We partner the BBC World Service on the International Radio Playwriting Competition. We also work with other partners to develop playwrights, such as Traverse Theatre and the Bush Theatre. These initiatives encourage emerging writers outside the UK to develop their voices and reach new audiences. 

  • Streaming performances
    We work with partners such as The Space and Black Theatre Live to share films and stream performances on this website, enabling audiences all over the world to experience contemporary UK theatre and dance.


Find out more:


> Read more about the British Council’s work in arts and in other areas.

> Get an overview of our arts work in East Asia, EU EuropeSouth Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Wider Europe.

> For more about our theatre and dance work, see how we work and check out our projects and blogs.

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