British Council’s drama and dance director reveals global vision

Natalie Woolman

Neil Webb has been appointed as the British Council’s new director of drama and dance, and has said he wants to create more opportunities for UK companies to collaborate with artists worldwide.

Webb currently leads the organisation’s Asia Pacific arts and creative industries programme, and was previously its director for arts for mainland China and Hong Kong.

His work overseas includes coordinating English National Ballet’s first tour of Vietnam and the cultural programme for Tony Blair’s visit to Beijing in 2005.

Speaking to The Stage, Webb said: “We all know the changes and flurries that the British Council has been through in recent years but it is a really good time [now] and the arts is firmly back as one of the three priority areas of the British Council’s work, so that is very encouraging. Strengthening the relationships with the UK sector is the number one priority.”

He said he hoped that in five years’ time the British Council would have forged stronger links with the UK theatre industry and developed more partnerships with a broader range of institutions across the country. He added that he wanted there to be “more opportunities for the UK sector to present their work and collaborate with their counterparts”.

In his new role, Webb will work under Graham Sheffield, the British Council’s director of arts, who was appointed to the position in 2011.

Earlier this year, Sheffield said that “the arts are now back at the heart of the British Council’s mission”.

Sheffield said he was “delighted” that Webb was joining his team in London, adding that “his extensive experience working overseas as well as his knowledge of the UK drama and dance scene will be an invaluable asset”.

The British Council has also just launched a new drama and dance website, which is designed as a resource for arts professionals worldwide and includes information about its current projects.

For more, visit www.british

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