Message from David Lan
Thank you for being part of this What Next? conference. No one planned What Next? It began because it was needed. It seems to be an experiment. It changes as it grows, responding to what its members bring to it. It’s not an organisation. It has almost no structure. Someone called it a movement. We’re happy to go with that.
I chair it because I was asked to. I thought about it for quite a while and then said yes. But it’s not mine, or even ours. It’s a very simple idea: that, by acting together, arts organisations can enhance the national conversation about the value of art and culture, and can make connections between all the different things we do which may seem separate but have the same intent: to enable people to achieve their potential.
What Next? does not have a single point of view. All member organisations speak for themselves. If it’s anything it’s a catalyst.
It started with leaders of arts organisations meeting for an hour every Wednesday morning at 8:30. We quickly came up with all kinds of ideas none of us had had on our own. We invited specialists to talk to us: community leaders, politicians, funders, academics, business people. Similar meetings are now taking off in Manchester, Liverpool, Coventry, Cambridge, Cardiff, Newcastle and the South West.
Our group would like to stay connected but we don’t want to set anyone else’s agenda. We have found that if these meetings are held in a particular way – open, positive, collaborative, forward looking, and of a limited size – a particular ethos emerges. We’d like to try to pass this on.
So the conference begins with a series of What Next? style meetings where colleagues from across the country can discuss issues of importance to us all. We will invite specialist speakers to join us and to challenge and enhance our thinking. We will share ideas for future collaborative action, advocacy and engagement. We hope to pool expertise.
In the afternoon we will gather together, share three ideas and invite suggestions for others. We’ll end the day by asking ‘What Next?’ for the movement and making plans for the next six months. Our afternoon session will be live streamed on this page, we look forward to you joining the conversation.
Artistic Director, Young Vic
Chair, What Next?