Head of Arts

2022, July 6
Head of Arts 6th July 2022

The British Council builds connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and other countries through arts and culture, education and the English language. We work in two ways – directly with individuals to transform their lives, and with governments and partners to make a bigger difference for the longer term, creating benefit for millions of people all over the world. We help young people to gain the skills, confidence and connections they are looking for to realise their potential and to participate in strong and inclusive communities. We support them to learn English, to get a high-quality education and to gain internationally recognised qualifications. Our work in arts and culture stimulates creative expression and exchange and nurtures creative enterprise. We connect the best of the UK with the world and the best of the world with the UK. These connections lead to an understanding of each other’s strengths and of the challenges and values that we share. This builds trust between people in the UK and other nations which endures even when official relations may be strained. We work on the ground in more than 100 countries. In 2019-20 we connected with 80 million people directly and with 791 million overall, including online and through our broadcasts and publications.

Role Purpose:

The Head of Arts is the most senior representative of Arts in the country and represents our work in Arts and creative industries externally.

The post holder will:

  • Lead implementation of a complex, high-value portfolio focusing on delivering the outcomes of our work in Arts and Culture through a suite of global programmes and partnerships working:

Impact AreasPurpose/Outcomes
Cultural Exchange
  • Enabling connection between UK cultural and creative industry professionals and organisations and their international peers and audiences, providing intelligence, and catalysing and facilitating creative collaboration, showcasing and touring.
  • Responding to high-profile events in the UK and in priority countries to leverage the cultural assets of the UK to support greater international cultural collaboration.
Creative Economy
  • Strengthening the conditions for creative and cultural industries around the world to thrive. Mapping and analysis of creative sectors overseas to help inform the UK’s cultural and creative industries on new and emerging markets and opportunities for mutually beneficial collaboration.  Supporting policy and practice that encourage creative enterprise.
Culture Responds to Global Challenges
  • Focuses on the transformative power of arts and culture. It supports artistic and cultural expression recognising its potential to challenge and change mind sets for a more inclusive and sustainable future.

  • Lead a specialist Arts team in the country (7 roles) and manage sector partner and stakeholder relationships.
  • Work with EA Regional Arts Director and colleagues across the region and in the UK, sometimes leading, to help deliver benefits in country from regional and globally led initiatives.
  • Provide Arts and Creative Industries sector expertise at a country level and feed relevant insight to Regional Arts Director.

Main accountabilities but not limited to the following:

Sector/subject expertise

  • Uses their own expert knowledge on the arts and creative industries, intelligence and insight from other sector stakeholders, opinion formers and funders to support the ongoing development of global arts programmes that meet the specific needs of the country/cluster while also providing value to a diverse range of UK arts and creative industry organisations.
  • Through ongoing relationships with rest of Global Arts Management Team, builds and maintains good understanding of UK arts and creative industry sector priorities as well as FCDO and other HMG priorities.
  • Represents British Council in country as a recognised, credible authority in Arts and the creative industries to external stakeholders and audiences.
  • Provides up-to-date and well-informed senior-level briefings on current and emerging themes in arts and creative industries in country.
  • Identifies and develops opportunities for the UK Arts sector to work in and collaborate with peers in country
  • Supports internal capacity building, ensuring that teams can access appropriate and cost-effective L&D opportunities and grow their sector knowledge and skills

Leadership & management

  • Champions matrix working in the Arts network, empowering, and enabling colleagues to collaborate on programmes, while promoting equity, diversity and inclusion
  • Provides specialist input and design to ensure activities under the Arts global programmes are relevant to the Arts and creative industry sectors in country.
  • Direct line management and matrix management support provided to Arts teams in country/across the region as required.
  • May be Senior Responsible Officer for smaller Arts projects/programmes
  • Monitors, reviews, and ensures that the portfolio is achieving agreed impact measures, and monitoring, evaluation and learning and reporting is in place against Cultural Engagement’s Strategy 2025 and FCDO key performance indicators.
  • Leads an inclusive organisational culture where staff have opportunities for continuous professional development.
  • Leads and inspires country arts initiatives which actively drive forward to the British Council’s anti-racism action plan. Is accountable for Arts portfolio in country delivering to EDI strategy (to mainstream EDI and become anti-racist in our cultures and practices within our organisation and in our programmes.)

Strategy and/or planning

  • Leads on planning process for country arts portfolio within region
  • Contributes to regional business strategy
  • Strategic leadership of design, development, delivery, and closure of projects and or programmes as needed
  • Develop and nurtures internal relationships across Cultural Engagement and in the wider organisation to ensure strategic objectives are aligned, understood, and achieved
  • Considers the role of digital products, services, and channels in optimising the impact and sustainability of the portfolio, working with regional marketing and digital colleagues.

Relationship & Stakeholders

  • Builds and maintains critical country funder and partner relationships relevant to the Arts, and wider cultural sectors, to maintain an excellent understanding of relevant themes and issues in the arts and creative industries. Uses this insight to identify new opportunities and partnerships for the British Council, influence agendas and build favourability for the UK.
  • Builds and maintains a broad, diverse, and dynamic network of key creative and cultural sector representatives in country, including artists, creative professionals, creative hubs, arts organisations, arts advocacy groups, intermediary and sector bodies, etc.
  • Builds and maintains the government and sector institutional relationships that will help open doors for artistic collaboration, cultural exchange and creative economy work.
  • Leads on relationships with a range of senior stakeholders and partners at a programme level, including representing and communicating about regional and global Arts programmes and the British Council at senior external level
  • Represents the British Council externally and internally, including in x-Embassy coordinating bodies as required.

Brand and market positioning

  • Promotes and positions the diversity of the UK arts and creative industries sector in country
  • Ensures British Council’s value proposition and support to the UK arts sector in country is clear, agreed and communicated.
  • Works closely with colleagues and experts in the SBU to feed market/customer insights into the programme development planning cycle, to ensure the British Council’s offer is market relevant, demand-led and consistent with the British Council and FCDO objectives.
  • Contribute to the development of internal and external communications materials to highlight impactful stories from the country Arts portfolio

Business Development and Delivery

  • Builds relationships with strategic clients/partners within area of influence.
  • Uses insights to understand current and prospective business development opportunities for the British Council.
  • Owns the pillar pipeline for the country, ensuring high quality pipeline data and documentation to the Partnerships and Contract Approvals Board.
  • Leads the development of bids, proposals, and business cases in country.
  • Leads and/or ensures appropriate assessment, technical and commercial quality assurance and evaluation procedures for programmes and tender submissions in country.
  • Provides direction and support on contract negotiations and delivery on individual contracts.
  • Ensures internal and client compliance including legal finance, procurement, contract management and reporting
  • Contributes to the development of internal and external communications materials to highlight impact and support positioning for new opportunities.

Programme management

  • Leads on country portfolio planning working closely with operational programme management colleagues
  • Leads on ensuring activities under the Arts global programmes are tailored to the specific needs of country/cluster, through collaboration with colleagues in globally dispersed programme teams
  • Oversees finances of the country Arts portfolio provides timely forecasts and can interpret complex financial information
  • Is responsible for addressing and acting on risks and issues escalated to them by programme management teams
  • Holds delivery partners, team members and consultants to account including supply chain management
  • Where applicable has responsibility for managing all country contractual obligations on programme or project
  • Designs governance frameworks and manages compliance on a project
  • Oversees procurement, grants management and due diligence on programmes
  • Can manage budgets and project finances or supports Finance Manager on bigger projects.


  • To actively Contribute to an inclusive and anti-racist organisational culture, being aware of your own biases, and taking action to mitigate against these. Ensuring people feel valued and are treated equitably, with support for people’s well-being and mental health.
  • Understand the British Council’s approach to equality, diversity and inclusion and how it applies to your role and make time for learning and development relating to EDI and anti-racism.

Role specific knowledge and experience:

  • Specialist knowledge and understanding of current trends and practices in arts and creative industries, preferably with a focus on UK and China
  • Experience of leading impactful high value national/ international arts projects
  • Experience of building partnerships with a diverse range of arts and culture stakeholders in country – including governmental and funding partners (trusts, foundations, institutional donors)
  • In depth understanding of the arts and creative industries in country
  • Experience of working in the arts and/or creative industries
  • Active and up-to-date network of diverse sector contacts
  • Experience of leading teams and championing inclusion and diversity of thought
  • Experience of maintaining effective external and internal programme/project governance structures
  • Able to lead digital events on basic platforms (Microsoft Teams) ensuring all corporate standards are met, including those for accessibility and safeguarding

Role specific skills:

  • Significant experience of working in and/or with the arts and/or creative industries sector
  • Active and up-to-date network of senior level sector contacts in UK and China
  • Experience of collaborating effectively with others to develop solutions to issues where there is not an established framework
  •  Experience of leading diverse and dispersed teams and championing inclusion and diversity of thought
  • Experience of establishing and maintaining effective external and internal programme/project governance structures
  • Experience of financial management – planning, forecasting, and reporting
  • Motivation and commitment to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and anti-racism, demonstrated through an understanding of the British Council’s approach and of equality considerations relevant to the role, and examples of behaviours and decisions or actions that contribute to a more inclusive organisational culture or to a more inclusive programme, product or services

Further Information:

Pay Band: 8

Contract Type: Indefinite

Location: China (Beijing Preferred)


  • First degree
  • Excellent writing and spoken English (CEFR level C1)
  • The role may include occasional travel within the country, region or overseas
  • Condition of Employment:

Local Direct Hire

Applications are welcomed from candidates currently in this location with a natural right to work. Applications are welcomed from candidates currently based in other British Council country offices. However, please note candidates must have a natural right to work in the country/territory, on a permanent basis, as immigration clearance and/or on-going visa support is not provided by the British Council for this role.  Relocation support is also not provided.

International Transfer

This role is also open to applicants who would need to relocate to undertake the role. Candidates who do not have a natural right to work in the country will be provided with immigration clearance and visa support.  Please note Visa approvals are beyond the British Council’s control so any job offer will be subject to securing the required right to work. Relocation support as set out in the British Council international relocation policy is available.

Closing Date: Thursday, 14 July 2022- 23:59 Singapore Time (GMT +8)

A connected and trusted UK in a more connected and trusted world.

Equality , Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Statement

The British Council is committed to policies and practices of equality, diversity and inclusion across everything we do. We support all staff to make sure their behaviour is consistent with this commitment.  We want to address under representation and encourage applicants from under-represented groups, in particular, but not exclusively, on grounds of ethnicity and disability.  All disabled applicants who meet the essential criteria are guaranteed an interview and we have Disability Confident Employer Status. We welcome discussions about specific requirements or adjustments to enable participation and engagement in our work and activities.

The British Council is committed to safeguarding children, young people and adults who we work with.

We believe that all children and adults everywhere in the world deserve to live in safe environments and have the right to be protected from all forms of abuse, maltreatment and exploitation as set out in article 19, UNCRC (United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child) 1989.

Appointment to positions where there is direct involvement with vulnerable groups will be dependent on thorough checks being completed; these will include qualification checks, reference checks, identity & criminal record checks in line with legal requirements and with the British Council’s Safeguarding policies for Adults and Children.

If you have any problems with your application please email askhr@britishcouncil.org

Please note: Applications to this role can only be considered when made through the Apply section of our careers website. Our ‘ASK HR’ email is only to be used in case of a technical issue encountered when applying through the careers website. Emails with supporting statements and CV/Resumes sent to this email address will not be reviewed and will be deleted.

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