Graham Sheffield CBE (born 1952) is Director Arts for the British Council. He was previously Artistic Director of the Barbican Centre in London.
Since taking up the role of Director Arts in 2011, Graham has led the British Council’s arts programme through a period of major expansion including the launch of a fund to support Cultural Heritage around the world in partnership with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport; supporting artists in the Middle East; and major seasons of arts work such as Transform in Brazil to link the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games host countries. in 2016, Graham launched the British's Council's refreshed Arts strategy 'Art Connects Us'.
Graham spent three years consulting to the new Luminato Festival in Toronto and, in 2010, a brief period in Hong Kong as CEO of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority. He has been Chair of ISPA (the International Society for Performing Arts), Chairman of the Royal Philharmonic Society, and became Chair of Help Musicians UK, the UK's largest independent music charity, in 2014, when he also joined the board of Rambert Dance Company.
Graham was born in London, studied Classics and Music at Tonbridge, and graduated as BMus (Hons) at Edinburgh University in 1975. After a short spell studying stage management, he joined the BBC as a Music Producer on Radio 3, initially programming all recorded opera on the network. During his twelve years at the Corporation, Graham produced several documentaries and dramatised features, as well as programmes on Indian Classical Music (Ragas and a Republic) and a major series on Arthur Rubinstein. He produced Music Weekly with Michael Oliver from 1982 to 1987. One programme "Tasting Notes" won the Sony Radio Award for Best Feature in 1990.
From 1990 to 1995, Graham worked at the South Bank Centre as Music Projects Director, planning the South Bank's own presented music series and partnering with the resident orchestras and ensembles. In 1993 he founded the Meltdown Festival, which continues to this day.
In 1995 Graham moved to the Barbican, where in partnership with John Tusa, he worked to build the Centre's reputation across the art forms. 1998 saw a major year long initiative called Inventing America, as well as the start of a regular international theatre season called BITE (Barbican International Theatre Events), introduced to replace the departing resident Royal Shakespeare Company.
Graham has been recognised with a CBE for services to the Arts in 2010, a lifetime achievement award in 2015 from ISPA, and a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government. He is a Doctor of Arts at City University, London.
Sheffield is also a regular writer, lecturer and broadcaster on arts-related issues.