What is What Next?

(top) Bourgeois & Maurice – Norfolk & Norwich Festival 2014. Photo: Chris Taylor. (bottom) City Textures, Abby McFaul and Stef Kalife, 2015. Photo: Gorm Ashurst

What Next? is a free-to-access UK wide movement. With chapters across the UK, we bring together freelancers and small and large arts organisations to inform, debate and shape the future of the arts and culture. 

Our Vision:  Arts and Culture play a vital role in creating a more equitable society.

This will be achieved when:

  • All people have access to arts and culture, and the sector reflects the full diversity of our communities.
  • The arts and culture sector takes greater ownership of its public sector role, improving quality of life for all

Our Mission: With chapters all over the country we bring together freelancers and small and large arts organisations to inform, debate and shape the future of the arts and culture.  

Our Values:

  • Democracy: creating models for open and purposeful conversation
  • Equity: creating conditions for a more equitable movement and society
  • Leadership: building the conditions for everyone in our movement to make change
  • Creativity: embedding and celebrating creativity across our movement
  • Generosity: sharing our skills, expertise and resources with each other
  • Trust: building relationships and a more resilient sector.

How we Work:

  • we facilitate conversations within the arts and culture sector, politicians, funders, partners, activists and the public 
  • build knowledge, relationships and resilience in the arts and cultural sector
  • lobby for the arts and culture, creating collective responses to policy proposals and national and local strategies
  • create national campaigns and collective resources to effect the things the movement cares about.

What Next? comprises 31 chapters operating across the UK, who each meet regularly in their own local community and together at monthly meetings. All are supported by a small core team and a Steering Group of sector leaders.

Everyone is encouraged to get involved with What Next? by joining your local chapter, setting up a new chapter or following the movement on social media.

  • Art is as complex as we are. It is hard for any one of us, artist or not, to understand who we are and what we genuinely do and art, which comes out of this creative chaos, reflects our situation and helps us recognise its variations, how we connect and disconnect with other people, places and ideas.
    Siobhan davies, artist and choreographer



The arts and culture enhance every aspect of our lives: the vibrancy of our cities, the identity of our rural communities, the future prospects of our children, the quality of our democracy, the sustainability of our environment, the employability of our workforce, our ability to make sense of our own experience and to empathise with others.

We need to make the connections between these apparently diverse experiences through new kinds of campaigning, of advocacy and of collaboration.

We argue for the contribution that the arts and culture make in strengthening every aspect of the national economy, as we do for the contribution to our social wellbeing and cohesion.

We all speak for ourselves but, as a national movement, we coalesce around the highest common denominator of ideas and needs that we can act on. We believe that if we act together, we can maximise the effectiveness of our resources, our arguments, our ideas.

Turning a Little Further community production. Photo: Helen Murray