What Next? National Event

What Next? is a national movement that builds unlikely alliances through the arts and culture, and encourages local, constructive and positive discussions across the UK. Each Chapter have their own agenda – national remit with local focus on how arts organisations can work across the civic agenda.

A new Chapter had recently opened in Dundee and they invite you to join in the discussions at the next meeting on Tuesday 25th October at Dundee and Angus College, Gardyne Campus from 7.30pm to 9pm. The topics will be:

  • How can we ensure the benefits of cultural regeneration are felt by the many and not just the few, and what role should citizens and cultural organisations play?
  • How do we get the message across that what we all do is amazing and important (and worth funding)? How can we ‘big up’ and shout more loudly about what we are all doing in order to reach more people?

Last Monday, Claire from Creative Dundee attended the What Next? National Event at HOME in Manchester – a massive thanks to What Next? for the travel bursary. Gathering around 250 people from across the UK, the event played an important role in generating ideas, challenges and inspirations that help us develop strong local partnerships and relationships, with local authorities, communities, educators and commercial bodies – how do we build strong local alliances in an ever-changing political and social climate?

During the event, we have been encouraged to think about what we could do to make strong positive impacts within our local creative ecology and commit to clear actions. I took part in the ‘placemaking’ workshop with Poly Hamilton, vice-chair of The Chief cultural and Leisure Officers Association), David Micklem, co-founder of 64 millions artists, and Mike Lock, North Kesteven District Council‘s leisure and cultural services manager. We discussed on how we can galvanise private, public and community organisations to work together to celebrate and reveal creativity and culture, and those are the three points we could focus on in Dundee:

Lead collectively

First, we need to get the terminology right. In order to develop innovative partnerships with our local authorities and engage more with non-art organisations, we have to make sure they understand why culture matters by using a language that is relevant to the people we talk to. Through developing small projects and partnerships without pre-defined agenda, we can collectively find that point of compassion between private, public and community organisations – and then develop an authentic conversation. Only by co-designing our vision for the future, our events and projects with those who will be impacted by it, we will guarantee the success of our local initiatives.

We also need to collectively take responsibility to be less frenetic with project initiatives – do less and have a better coordination so we properly think about the longevity of our actions.

Develop local talents

Then, we need to be loud and proud – not underestimate our work! We should celebrate more our local champions and campaign to unlock people’s potential for creativity – start with what’s already happening and give project that are not funded (that happen by themselves) more visibility. David Micklem from 64 millions artists challenged us to imagine what would happen in terms of creating a sense of belonging if we were investing the 1,2 million national budget for arts and culture to employ 1,000 people at £25,000 per annum to act as “culture connectors”.

Engage with the private sector

Finally, we need to look more seriously at private investment, develop creative approaches for business engagement in arts/culture/creativity. Small investments from the private sector will unlock bigger ones. Let’s focus on how we can galvanise existing activities, build on the city’s creative vibrancy to attract new investments from and partnerships with the private sector. We also have to get better at measuring our impacts locally, nationally and internationally – show the private sector the incentives for them to invest in the local creative/cultural sector. The city’s image making is to unlock and en-light the city’s creative ecology and heritage that is relevant to both locals and visitors.

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Blackpool is an iconic seaside town which aims to ignite the nation’s imagination through presenting the best in popular culture – Poly Hamilton, vice-chair of The Chief cultural and Leisure Officers Association.