British Council Creative Economy

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The Creative Economy team supports people around the world to shape and share a creative and prosperous future.

What we do

The British Council's Creative Economy team works with the next generation of artists and creative entrepreneurs around the world to tackle today’s challenges.

Working in more than 30 countries a year, we provide the research, tools, space and connections that creative communities need to experiment, learn and flourish.

We connect ideas and experience from the UK with emerging global cultural leadership; building networks and supporting collaboration, for long-term impact, mutual benefit, and greater international understanding.

By working with policymakers we support their work at a strategic level, ensuring the conditions are in place for creative individuals and organisations to grow, reach their potential and effect relevant, sustainable change.

Our core team is based in the UK and we work with British Council colleagues all over the world and we draw on a large network of freelance experts.

Why we do it

The future is already here. It’s just not evenly distributed yet.
William Gibson

The UK pioneered the concept of the ‘creative industries’ in 1999 and they are an increasingly important driver of UK growth. The £111 billion per year Gross Value Added (GVA) that the creative industries contribute exceeds that from the automotive, aerospace, life sciences and oil and gas sectors combined.

Globally the creative economy is recognised as a source of innovation, economic growth, personal wellbeing and community cohesion, but harnessing their potential can be a challenge.

Digital technology means this sector is developing quickly, opening up new possibilities for creative experiences while disrupting old models. Shifts in the global economy, technology and urbanisation are causing rising inequality alongside these new opportunities.

Together with emerging creative leaders, communities and policymakers, we develop relevant, diverse and future-facing creative economies, with long-term links to the UK.

We believe innovation flourishes when diverse perspectives, disciplines and skills meet. People from the creative industries can bring much-needed critical reflection, ingenuity and empathy to some of the most complex problems facing the world today.

How we work

The UK team works with our global network to identify new projects and opportunities. We do this through mutually supporting strands:

Hubs and communities

New spaces where people can design, test, scale and launch imaginative and enterprising ideas together are popping up around the world, as part of how work is changing. Managing and supporting these valuable, but fragile, communities is crucial but challenging.

We bring together the people from these hubs to build stronger creative economies through sharing ideas, experiences and skills.

Creative enterprise

A growing number of creative companies around the world are microenterprises with fewer than 10 employees.

Many of these enterprises have significant social impact, but often lack formal business skills, professional connections and peer networks. We support them to develop the skills they need to build strong and sustainable creative enterprises.

Tech and interactive

We enable people to use technology as a creative medium. Enhancing existing skills and inspiring the uninitiated, we offer artists ways to engage with emerging markets or give audiences new ways to share their own ideas.

Part of exploring new ways of telling stories and design; our tech and interactive strand also encourages people to think about different ways of living and working, now and in the near future.


We bring together leading policy and creative economy practitioners from across the world to share intelligence and insight and to act as critical friends providing a global perspective on our work.

Our network of high-level stakeholders provides best practice examples of how to work with and through the creative industries and are advocates for our work globally. 

Collaboration matters to us

We design programmes together with people and organisations from across the UK and around the world.

Using a solid foundation of traditional research and peer learning we develop programmes that widen people’s choices, develop their talents and change attitudes. The individuals and communities we work with go on to take both formal and informal leadership roles in their regions.

This approach is complemented by our ongoing dialogues with policy makers in the countries where we work. This has led to long-term change at government level, for example, cultural industries and enterprise hubs being included in national strategies.  

How you can get involved

We’re always interested in hearing from creative people and organisations doing incredible work in the arts, media, design and technology in the UK.

Our blog is regularly updated with information about programmes, latest opportunities and research findings.

Access our toolkits, research and resources online.