Leah Zakss

Music Programme Manager

Leah has over 20 years’ international music experience and a lifetime’s love of visual arts and literature. She studied piano and clarinet, later completing a combined degree in Art in a Community Context and Music at Roehampton, which covered a diverse range of studies from printmaking and public art commissioning to studio composition and ethnomusicological fieldwork.

Since joining the British Council in 2001, she has developed music programmes and partnerships across the Middle East, North Africa and Asia. She spent 2006 acting as Head of Music, and was also seconded to Beijing as Director of Arts, China. Among many projects, she co-curated Sound And The City, which saw Brian Eno and six other leading artists create new work for Chinese urban spaces. She also founded the long-running Musicians in Residence, China programme with the PRS Foundation, which has now been extended to Brazil.

Previously, Leah was a booker, fundraiser and tour producer with SASA Music, working with a wide range of European festival, venue and club promoters. She developed the agency's roster of artists, which included Buena Vista Social Club, guitarist Justin Adams, French-Tunisian electronic artist Smadj, Rajasthani circus troupe Musafir, and broadcaster DJ Ritu.

She has worked for arts festival producers including The Big Chill, WOMAD and Arts Worldwide. She has been an independent artistic assessor for Arts Council England, is an adviser to PRS Foundation and has programmed international showcases with Wales Arts International and Sage Gateshead.

Leah is especially interested in the relationships between art, medicine, science and humanities, and is a Trustee of London Arts in Health Forum. She sings with the London Latvian Choir and holds a collection at the British Library's Sound Archive.