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? is comprised of 30 chapters operating across the UK, who each meet regularly in their own local community and together at quarterly meetings. All are supported by a small core team working a total of 3.5 days a week and a Steering Group of sector leaders. 

What Next? meetings are a place where people come together to share, debate and take collective action on issues facing the local and national cultural sector. Meetings are typically 1 hour long and frequently have guest speakers to share a particular perspective on a topic. The ethos of the meetings is to engender open, positive and inclusive conversations with Chatham House rules. 

Four times a year the chapter chairs come together for a national meeting and communication across the movement is maintained through email and video conferencing. 

As a movement, we initiate conversations with community leaders, 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.

Past projects include research for the Gulbenkian Inquiry for the Civic Role of Arts Organisations, challenging a risk averse culture via Risks, Rights and Reputations with Index for Censorship and Cause4, and supporting national cultural initiatives including Season for Change and Get Creative. 

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