On Monday 17th October 2016, What Next? held their second National Event with over 300 colleagues joining together to generate ideas and make new connections. The key topic was building local ecologies within a national context.
The event addressed a range of topics, bearing in mind these three questions:
=> How do we change ourselves?
=> How do we make the case for the cultural sector?
=> How do we enable a fairer society?
There were 13 simultaneous conversations to start the day, held in various venues across the city of Manchester. Contributors to those sessions included Dave Moutrey (Director, HOME), Cathy Graham (British Council), Andrea Stark (Director, Foundation for FutureLondon), Matt Fenton (Artistic Director, Contact Theatre), Dr Maria Balshaw (Director of the Whitworth, University of Manchester and Manchester City Galleries), John Newbigin (Chair, Creative England), Polly Hamilton (Vice-Chair, Chief Cultural and Leisure Officers Association), Alistair Spalding (Artistic Director, Sadler’s Wells), Mags Patten (Arts Council England) and Jamie Beddard (actor, writer & director).
They addressed key challenges the sector is facing, including; How to engage with Devolution, Changing the narrative around climate change, Brexit means Brexit, Supporting Young and Diverse Talent, Working with Local Enterprise Partnerships and What does Civic Responsibility mean for arts organisations?
Part two ‘Making Connections, Taking Actions‘, was a facilitated speed networking session, offering attendees the opportunity to initiate conversations with new contacts and take away fresh ideas.
In the afternoon, the plenary session was hosted at HOME. It included a keynote speech from Matt Hancock, snapshots of activity from What Next? chapters across the country and contributions from Elmi Ali (poet), Ayesha Hazarika (political commentator and stand-up comedian), Peter Bazalgette (chair of Arts Council England), David Jubb (Battersea Arts Centre), Mike Emmerich (Economist) and Andrea Stark (Foundation for Future London), amongst others.
Watch the videos from the plenary session here.
Thanks to the generous support of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, we were able to support 75 colleagues to attend the event by offering bursaries to contribute to travel and subsistence costs.