British Council Appoints New Director

Graham Sheffield has been appointed the new director of The British Council  he succeeds Rebecca Walton who was acting as interim Director of Arts in the UK’s largest international cultural relations organization.Sheffield’s extensive arts management and creative experience will ensure that the arts remain at the heart of the British Council’s mission to strengthen ties between the UK and people in over 100 countries.” Sheffield has been involved in several high profile jobs in the UK and internationally. His role as CEO of the West Kowloon Cultural District in Hong Kong was considered important enough for promotion to this key position. He has also worked as Artistic Director of the Barbican Centre and Chair of the City of London Arts and Culture Forum. The arts are at the heart of the British Council’s cultural relations work around the world.  Whether it is in Egypt or India, the USA or China, international projects in the visual arts, music, drama, literature, architecture, film and the broader creative industries have the power to shape people’s understanding of the UK. International collaborations with institutions and artists bring British creativity to the attention of huge audiences and unlock creative and commercial opportunities for the next generation of artists.    Speaking of his appointment, Graham Sheffield commented: “I am looking forward with enthusiasm to working with all British Council colleagues and the sector at large to deliver a programme that will continue to inspire, enrich and engage people across the world. The current Anish Kapoor exhibition in India, the cultural programme at last year’s Shanghai Expo and the Russian market focus of the forthcoming London Book Fair are just a few high profile examples of British creativity making a difference internationally.”  A summary of the British Council’s arts programme of work for 2011 can be found here:  Graham Sheffield was previously Chief Executive Officer of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority in Hong Kong, leading the development of one of the largest arts infrastructures and programming projects ever envisioned.   Graham was Chair of the City Arts and Culture Forum, responsible for strategic coordination and policy for the City of London’s extensive arts portfolio, including its cultural plans for 2012 and beyond.  He was Chair of the Royal Philharmonic Society (2007-2010), and also consulted to the Luminato Festival of Arts and Creativity in Toronto. Further to this he has also been the Chair of the International Society for the Performing Arts.   In 2009 Graham was appointed Advisor Arts and Creative Economies to the British Council, and joined the Advisory Committee for Index on Censorship.He was awarded CBE in the 2010 New Year’s Honours’ list for services to the arts.  Graham’s earlier career was as Music Director at the South Bank Centre and a Senior Music Producer at BBC Radio 3.Sheffield will take up his post at the beginning of May.