British Council director allays concerns over restructure

The director of arts and creativity at the British Council is attempting to allay concerns from the design and architecture sectors, amid a furore over the organisation’s recent decision to dissolve its arts departments in favour of a single inter-disciplinary function.

‘We know that we have a job to perform on behalf of Britain. It’s not about replacing art with the aspirations of the creative [economy and] industries.

There’s a logistical relationship between arts and the creative industries. The question is, how can we benefit from being in conversation with each other?,’ says Venu Dhupa, director of arts at the British Council.

The British Council is to begin a consultation process with more than 300 representatives from a crosssection of the arts world, including design, on 4 February, taking the form of a series of events, forums, round-table discussions and on-line communication.

The organisation has so far refused to disclose details of its restructuring and subsequent relocation of sector specialist staff. Redundancies have not been ruled out.

‘We hope [there are] no [redundancies], but when you’re trying to make changes you have to recognise that not everyone will come with you. That’s a choice for individuals,’ comments Dhupa.

The consultation process has been prompted by a number of letters appearing in The Guardian newspaper over the past fortnight, voicing concerns over the British Council’s restructuring and apparent shift to a multidisciplinary cultural economy programme.

More than 87 leading figures from the design and architecture sectors, including Sir Terence Conran, senior design curator of the New York Museum of Modern Art Paola Antonelli, graphic designer Peter Saville, designer Ron Arad and architects Lord Richard Rogers and Zaha Hadid, were among the signatories.

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