What we do

(top) Wolf’s Child, Norfolk & Norwich Festival 2015. Photo: Steve Tanner. (bottom) The People’s Tower, Norfolk & Norwich Festival 2014. Photo: Chris Taylor.

What Next? comprises 30 chapters operating across the UK, who each meet regularly in their own local community. We also host a UK-wide online meeting. The What Next? movement is supported by a core team and a Steering Group of sector leaders. 

Convening is at the heart of what we do. We believe that bringing people together in conversation has the power to inform, inspire and challenge people to do things differently in their own organisations, in our sector & in our communities. 

We convene space in local ‘chapters’ and in UK-wide meetings, to bring together the breadth of voices/leadership (freelancers, small orgs, large orgs and policy makers) within our sector, where challenge and possibility can lead to shared priorities and collective responses. 

Our convening leads to:

  • Advocacy: Shaping policy proposals & UK-wide & local strategies. We build the capacity (skills, knowledge & confidence) and access of those most impacted by policy (global majority, working class, disabled) to engage with policymakers in our sector and in government.   
  • Learning & modelling: Sharing and embodying systems leadership – We are a movement of peers in many different contexts with different specialist skills and experiences.  We build conditions for us to share good practice and to build systems leadership. 
  • Amplification: Championing actions that build equitable conditions for the arts & culture.  We work in close partnership with chapter chairs, sector organisations and other networks to champion and amplify campaigns across the movement. 

As a movement, we initiate conversations with policy makers, politicians, funders, academics and business people, and work with experts when we need to engage with specific agendas. We work collaboratively to write position papers and submissions to DCMS, HM Treasury, ACE, and other bodies about the value of culture to our society and economy, drawing on the consensus and arguments forged at meetings.