Notes on a National Movement // Call out for a Freelance Chapter Chair

16th January, 2019
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Visual minutes from previous What Next? Sheffield meetings

What Next? is a movement bringing together arts and cultural organisations across the UK, to articulate, champion and strengthen the role of culture in our society. We work together and seek alliances beyond the cultural sector to become a catalyst for fresh thinking and new policy ideas. Through advocacy, campaigning and collaboration we engage people in different conversations about how and why arts and culture are important.

The Guild is about to take the What Next? Sheffield chapter under its wing and we are looking for a freelance Chapter Chair to help us achieve this (see below).

In order to find out about the role of the Sheffield chapter we asked previous Chapter Chairs Malaika Cunningham and Teo Greenstreets to tell us more:

The future is not some place we are going to, but somewhere we are creating,…the paths are not to be found, but made, and the activity of making them changes both the maker and the destinations

John Schaar, Futurist

From Teo: The need for a collective open space for future building has never been greater. The seismic shifts around us in how we live as part of the wider natural world, and how our future is currently being forged are large, complex and hard to relate, things that demand collective reflection. 

What Next? is a national movement which aims to explore how the arts and cultural sector fits into these global and local challenges, e.g. recently publishing lobbying material in regards to Brexit.

In our previous editions of What Next? Sheffield we placed much emphasis on creating the space where the elephants were welcomed into the room. We aimed to create a space that could promote reflective responses to national and local issues that engage feeling, senses and intuition. We tried to see what some of the underlying causes of challenges here in Sheffield might be, seeing things systemically as well as on the surface, yes a talking shop, but one to grow insights rather than ranting.

We put effort into specific things like initiating structures than can promote collective support, e.g. the development of the Sheffield Creative Guild and meeting a structural gap for creative independents.

Sheffield's creative ecology is unique with its own brand of challenges and these are things which require a space for discussion. However, many of our challenges are also national, or even global, ones. This is what really makes the What Next? space special; joining national and global debates from Brexit to migration to climate change to inequality and relating them to our creative futures in Sheffield.

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Visual minutes from previous What Next? Sheffield meetings

From Malaika: As an early career theatre practitioner working in Sheffield, hosting the What Next? movement between 2013 and 2017 was an incredibly enlightening and useful position for my career. It allowed me a voice and a role within the strategic cultural conversations happening within the city and a unique understanding of the sector’s ecology. It also gave me a seat at the table in national conversations, in London, Manchester and Leeds, connecting me with other practitioners and some high profile leaders who were concerned and moved by the same issues as me.

Following my involvement with What Next? Sheffield I was on the board for the Sheffield Creative Guild. I also helped to coordinate a national network of organisations and practitioners working with refugees, in association with Battersea Arts Centre. The role of Chapter Chair also directly contributed to my acceptance onto the Clore Emerging Leaders course and to a number of theatre directing jobs.

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Visual minutes from previous What Next? Sheffield meetings

Sheffield Creative Guild is looking for a What Next? Sheffield Chapter Chair to work with us over 12 months to:

  • Take over responsibility for running the Sheffield What Next? chapter
  • Promote the voice of the sector both locally and nationally on relevant issues
  • Devise and deliver three What Next? meetings in Sheffield to provide opportunities for information sharing, networking and lobbying
  • Evaluate and document the meetings
  • Link to the national What Next? movement and attend and report back on two national meetings (usually in London)
  • Promote the work of the local What Next? group 

Required skills/experience

  • Ability to work independently
  • Some experience of event planning and delivery
  • A genuine interest in community building and finding different ways for all views to be heard
  • Understanding and interest in the civic role of the arts
  • Knowledge and understanding of the sector and its relationship with wider society
  • Must be sociable and confident to host events
  • Some experience of marketing and publicising events


  • Freelance contract
  • Eight days over 12 months (six days in Sheffield and two days to attend national meetings)
  • The fee is £960 (£120 date rate)
  • There is a budget to cover travel expenses to the national meetings

This project is being generously funded by Sheffield City Council

How to apply

Please email a CV and a statement of suitability (no more than 500 words) to Rebecca.Maddox@sheffield.gov.uk by 12pm (noon) on the 4th February 2019.

If you have any questions about this role or What Next? please get in touch with Malaika on malaika@thebareproject.org

You can download the What Next? guide to chairing a chapter here.

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Visual minutes from previous What Next? Sheffield meetings