The British Council Music team works to create trust and understanding between the UK and the rest of the world through the medium of music. Working in over 100 countries across the globe, we develop and support music work in a variety of ways including: residencies for British musicians so they can experience new cultures and grow their audience, performance opportunities for musicians overseas, events that bring musicians of different cultures together to create new work, industry events to connect professionals around the world and encourage a healthy exchange of ideas, and education work in schools and professional development opportunities.
However, the British Council itself is not a funding body and we cannot respond to ad hoc requests for funding or touring support. We work very closely with other public bodies involved in supporting UK music overseas including Arts Council England, Creative Scotland, Arts Council Wales, Arts Council Northern Ireland and the Department for International Trade (formerly UK Trade and Investment or UKTI) and the equivalent bodies in the rest of the UK. Each body has its own purpose and we aim to support and complement each other rather than duplicate. In brief, you could say that the Arts funding bodies' main aim is to develop artists, the trade bodies are more involved in export and the British Council works with market-ready artists and organisations.
You can find out more about how these bodies work alongside each other and what opportunities currently exist for UK music in our report, Going International.
British Council Music
Our specialist music programme managers work closely with colleagues overseas to identify projects which will meet the British Council's strategic priorities in their country, often planning at least a year ahead. If you have been invited to perform overseas and would like to explore the potential for British Council support, we strongly recommend that the overseas partner approaches the local British Council Arts Office in the country concerned to discuss the project in general terms before submitting full details. Also the British artist, ensemble or music company should contact our Arts staff based in London to assess the likelihood of British Council support.
The one significant exception is the initiative which aims to support artists and musicians in their first significant experience overseas. There is an open-application scheme available in partnership with Arts Council England called the Artists' International Development Fund. Check the websites for Arts Council Wales, Arts Council Northern Ireland and Creative Scotland for other schemes.
Alternative Music Funding Options
Try the Arts Opportunities page on the British Council Arts website for various funding options and new opportunities. These are not all music opportunities but this page offers a great starting point in terms of what is available currently and which programmes will be looking for applications in the near future. The list is updated regularly.
Below is a non-exhaustive list of avenues to explore for advice and funding opportunities within the UK music industry. If you are aware any other relevant organisations or initiatives missing from this list then please email us at BCMusicEnquiries@britishcouncil.org.
Creative Europe Desk UK is an information and advice office which helps the UK’s creative, cultural and audiovisual sectors to access Creative Europe’s funding and opportunities. Led by the British Council and the British Film Institute, in partnership with Arts Council England, Creative Scotland, Welsh Government and Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Creative Europe Desk UK has offices across the UK in London, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Cardiff and Belfast.
Creative Europe is the European Union's programme to support the cultural, creative and audiovisual sectors. From 2014-2020, €1.46 billion is available Europe-wide to support projects with the potential to travel, reach new audiences and encourage skill sharing and development.
Help Musicians UK's Funding and Careers page can help you identify project funding, student funding, advice for careers and purchasing of new instruments.
Related to PRS, the Performing Right Society, is PRS Foundation, the UK's largest independent funder for new music of any genre. Through a variety of schemes it provides essential core support for creators, performers and producers. We work closely with PRS Foundation on our Musicians in Residence programme.
Youth Music work in the UK, a national charity investing in music-making projects for children and young people experiencing challenging circumstances.
The Music Education Yearbook and British & International Music Yearbook (both published by Rhinegold) have information on music scholarships and education grants within the UK and overseas.
The Musicians' Union has some great FAQs for general advice for music artists and promoters about legal issues, performers' rights, copyright, how to go about booking gigs and lots more besides.
Making Music is there to support, advise and provide resources for UK-based amateur and voluntary musicians.