British Council Creative Economy

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UN Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development

The UN year focuses on the critical role of the creative economy in promoting innovation, inclusive economic growth, and opportunity for all. Read on to find out more on why and how we’re celebrating it.

World’s oldest cave painting, discovered January 2021, Indonesia, Science Advances © A. A. Oktaviana, ARKENAS/Griffith University licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0


We welcome the designation of the UN Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development. At its core, the year celebrates individual creativity, artistic expression and the diverse cultures that inspire them.

This is an opportunity to build upon the work the British Council has been doing in this space for over a decade. Connecting partners, old and new, from across the globe we will raise awareness, kickstart collaboration and build understanding of the creative economy as a driver of sustainable development.


Addressing the Sustainable Development Goals

With our partners, we will convene and participate in conversations about how to draw upon the magic, complexity and impact of the creative economy to tackle the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly issues of income inequality and the climate emergency. We look forward to learning, sharing ideas and listening in the spirit of openness and generosity. 

Connecting the dots

We have been building meaningful cultural relations by exploring concepts of creativity, the arts, economics, development, sustainability and the intersections between them through a wide range of programmes and research.

Collaboration and exchange

We have forged connections across the globe and brokered mutual exchanges in over 60 countries. We are proud to have a growing network of pioneering artists, creative social entrepreneurs, policy makers and investors. 



  • What can we learn from artists and creative entrepreneurs about how best to nurture our local communities, create livelihood, and foster deep creative expression?
  • How can we draw on expertise from all players in the creative economy to collectively solve some of society’s most complex challenges?
  • How do we measure artistic, social and economic value and impact, and who is defining the values that we measure?


  • What do artists and creative practitioners need in order to strengthen their practice and their livelihood?
  • How can we, as the UK’s cultural relations organisation interested in intercultural dynamics and process, meet those needs?
  • How can we best support intermediaries - hubs, art centres, accelerators, universities, incubators and networks - to have a greater impact in their communities?
  • How can we marry ‘bottom-up’ inclusive community development with ‘top-down’ policy decisions?


  • How can we inclusively and creatively connect practitioners, intermediaries, policy makers and researchers?
  • How can creativity, economies and sustainability impactfully co-exist?
  • How do the processes of intercultural dynamics, collaboration, dialogue, co-design faith, and identity help to build more inclusive, creative and sustainable economies?


  • Whose stories have we not been listening to that would provide us with hope and ideas, inspiring us to imagine a creative economy that contributes to and embodies sustainable development?


We will regularly update this page with events and publications in which we are a part as the year unfolds.


Drivers of Change – Celebrating the creative innovators of the Philippines and beyond

This will be a four-day online gathering from 16 to 19 March 2021 in partnership with the Design Center of the Philippines 
Watch the Facebook Livestream


Research exploring the place of culture in the Sustainable Development Goals through research, policy and practice. It analyses where arts and culture as a sector and as a creative process can fit within a number of goals.

Article on the British Council’s work creating knowledge on the link between cultural relations and the Sustainable Development Goals. Indicates several ways to link activity at a local level with global policies.

Report on new ways of funding the creative economy, focusing on developing a just, sustainable and profitable global creative economy through impact investment.


Culture and Development

Culture and Development is an area of work in which we explore the value of arts, culture, creativity and heritage for international development that is long-term and sustainable.

Creative Spark

The Creative Spark: Higher Education Enterprise Programme is a five-year initiative to support international university partnerships to develop enterprise skills and the creative economy across seven countries in Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan), South Caucasus (Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia) and Ukraine through UK support.

Developing Inclusive and Creative Economies (DICE)

Developing Inclusive and Creative Economies (DICE) was a global programme that imagines and activates new forms of cultural and economic agency. DICE does so by placing creativity, experimentation, co-design, social purpose, action research, and international connection at the heart of its work.

You can read more about our current Creative Economy programmes here.


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