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British Council Appoints West Kowloon Cultural District Authority CEO as New Director for Arts
Graham Sheffield. Photo: Morley Von Sternberg.

LONDON.- The British Council – the UK’s international cultural relations organisation - has appointed Graham Sheffield as its new Director Arts.

Martin Davidson, British Council Chief Executive said: “I am delighted to announce that Graham Sheffield has been appointed to the role of Director Arts. His 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."

Graham Sheffield has held a number of high profile roles in the UK and internationally. Most recently he was CEO of the West Kowloon Cultural District in Hong Kong and before that he was Artistic Director of the Barbican Centre and Chair of the City of London Arts and Culture Forum and of the International Society for the Performing Arts.

Graham will join the British Council at the beginning of May. The role of Director Arts involves providing leadership and direction to a team of arts managers and specialists in the UK and overseas as well as focussing on strategy and delivery of an inspiring programme across the art forms.

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.

Rebecca Walton, interim Director Arts, will take up another senior role in the British Council focussed on partnership and business development.

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 Artistic Director of the Barbican from 1995-2010. Under his directorship, the Barbican became one of the most innovative, dynamic and respected centres in the arts world, with an award-winning international programme.

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.

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