Monday 17 August 2020

Three new members have been appointed to the Advisory Committee of British Council Scotland following an open application process. They join their colleagues on the Committee in acting as advocates for the British Council’s work in and on behalf of Scotland, advising senior staff, and helping Scotland connect with and contribute to the wider world.

The new members (listed below) represent a variety of backgrounds and demonstrate the reach and scope of British Council Scotland’s work across education, arts and global engagement.

  • Asif Kahn: Director, Scottish Poetry Library
  • Alan Mackay: Vice-Principal International at the University of Edinburgh
  • Mariem Omari: Co-founder and Artistic Director of Bijli Productions

The Scotland Advisory Committee is chaired by Dame Seona Reid an arts administrator, formerly Director of Glasgow School of Art and now serving as a non-executive director on a range of boards including National Theatre of Scotland and Tate.

Welcoming the new appointments Dame Seona said,

“I’m delighted to welcome Asif, Alan and Mariem to the Scotland Advisory Committee. They will bring a wealth of highly relevant experience, creativity and knowledge to the Committee and the British Council’s work in Scotland, supporting the international ambitions of the education and arts sectors and helping to ensure that the British Council’s global work is informed by a distinctive Scottish voice”. 

British Council Scotland Acting Directors Lucy Young and Norah Campbell added,

“We were honoured to receive such a high number of strong applications and we’re looking forward to welcoming the new appointees, whose depth of experience could not be more relevant as we face today’s global challenges. 

“This is a vital time for British Council Scotland as we find innovative ways to help keep organisations and communities globally connected through the pandemic and beyond. Through their breadth of knowledge, the new members will enrich our work in bringing international and intercultural experience to life for people all-across Scotland”

While 2020 has brought with it significant challenges for the arts and education communities in Scotland and around the world, British Council Scotland is working to help facilitate exchange and mobility opportunities and bring-to-life education programmes and creative work in a digital format. This year the Scotland team is engaged in activities which include delivering the first digital Future News Worldwide 2020 youth journalism conference, a special edition of the Edinburgh International Culture summit and working with the higher education sector to research and publish an update to the report on the Distinctive Assets of the sector in Scotland. The forthcoming digital Momentum programme will connect creative expertise and practice from around the world with Scottish counterparts from visual arts and literature – continuing to build relationships for the longer term.


Notes to Editor

Notes to Editors

Short biographies:

Asif Khan, Director Scottish Poetry Library

Asif is the Director of the Scottish Poetry Library. He is an associate of Arts Council England’s Powerbrokers International Leadership Programme. Previous roles include senior national policy advisor for the Bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade cultural commemoration and lead officer for Bristol’s programme in support of European Year of Intercultural Dialogue. Asif hails from Dundee and studied film with marketing at the University of Stirling.

Alan Mackay, Deputy Vice-Principal International and Director, Edinburgh Global, University of Edinburgh

Alan provides strategic leadership on internationalisation and works with senior leaders to advance the University’s international ambition and partnership. He directs the University’s international operation and has over twenty years of experience in international higher education. Appointed Deputy Vice-Principal International at the University of Edinburgh in 2012 and prior to joining the University he worked for the University of St Andrews. 

Mariem Omari, Co-founder and Artistic Director of Bijli Productions,

Mariem Omari is a writer and activist committed to promoting stories that strengthen the voice for human rights and equality. Her first play, ‘If I Had A Girl...’ focused on honour violence in Scotland. She was one of the National Theatre of Scotland’s Starter for 10 to develop ‘One Mississippi’ on men and trauma, and in 2019 she wrote ‘The Trojans’ based on the stories of Syrian refugees, and ‘Paper Memories’, her first children’s play, based on stories of migration and displacement. She is Co-founder and Artistic Director of Bijli Productions, whose mission is to create work that enables people to see diversity differently by exploring current social issues. 

About the British Council: The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We build connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and other countries through arts and culture, education and the English language. Last year we reached over 80 million people directly and 791 million people overall including online, broadcasts and publications. Founded in 1934 we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. We receive a 15 per cent core funding grant from the UK government.

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