In 2016, Arts Council England published the results of a comprehensive survey of the international work undertaken by its National Portfolio Organisations, the backbone of England’s cultural infrastructure.
Most National Portfolio Organisations took part in the survey, and their input gives the first robust snapshot of where, how and why the arts in England work internationally. Nearly two thirds of National Portfolio Organisations reported taking part in international activity, most often touring, undertaking co-productions or taking UK artists abroad.
For the majority, this was a growing and important element of their work.
• Theatre had the highest absolute number of National Portfolio Organisations working internationally
• Dance had the highest proportion of National Portfolio Organisations working internationally
• Music had the highest average number of international projects by each National Portfolio Organisation International work has become essential to many National Portfolio Organisations’ business models.
Six per cent of National Portfolio Organisations rely on international work for 75 per cent or more of their income. On average, international activity makes up 14 per cent of participating National Portfolio Organisations’ income.
The Royal Shakespeare Company, for example, tours internationally all year round. Matilda The Musical was taken to Australia, Broadway and 15 US states last year.
Sir Nicholas Serota Chair, Arts Council England, said the research highlighted how global exchange:
"enriches the art we make and experience – so that British audiences enjoy the best of the arts and British artists can continue to be part of the international cultural dialogue that has been critical to the spread of peace, prosperity and democracy."