What Next?

What Next? is a national movement bringing together arts and cultural organisations from across the UK, to articulate, champion and strengthen the role of culture in our society. Sheffield Creative Guild is proud to act as chapter chairs for What Next? Sheffield.

Each local chapter feeds into the national work of the movement through a series of meetings at which members of the creative industries (and anyone with an interest in and passion for the arts) can come together to share, debate and take collective action on issues facing the local and national cultural sector.

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Courtesy of Joseph Houlders and What Next?

The What Next? movement began as a conversation. In 2011, as they processed the reality of the harsh cuts to the arts that the recession and banking crash would lead to, colleagues at London’s Young Vic and their peers found that they had questions for the government: what was its strategy and plan for culture in the long term? Once the economy recovered, would the government restore funding for the arts? Or was this as much an ideological decision as an economic one?

This climate of worry and doubt led to regular meetings at which the conversation developed into one focused on creating positive change. Together, could those working in the cultural sector and those who loved the arts find a new way of working, through a mature dialogue on the issues facing arts, culture and society?

In 2013, a conference was held to propose the beginning of a national movement, which drew over 700 attendees from new chapters of What Next? that had formed across the UK. In July of that year, the Sheffield chapter of What Next? was first launched.

Over the next three years, What Next? Sheffield held a series of meetings to discuss topics affecting both the local and national cultural sector, such as ‘How Can We Articulate the Value of Art’ and ‘What Does a Vibrant Economy Look Like?’.

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Courtesy of Joseph Houlders and What Next?

We have taken a hiatus from hosting What Next? events during lockdown, but are looking at arranging our fourth event for the Autumn. In the meantime, you can read our minutes of previous meetings.

As well as the cultural sector, as a movement What Next? initiates conversations and unlikely alliances with community leaders, politicians, funders, academics and businesses and uses the findings of those conversations to lobby government and create real change. This is a fantastic chance for citizens to be a part of that conversation and to improve the cultural sector in both Sheffield and the UK.

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Courtesy of Joseph Houlders and What Next?

If you’d like to be further involved in the What Next? movement and events, you might consider joining the Foodhall team as a volunteer. Foodhall is a volunteer-run organisation and we’d love to support their work by inviting some of our friends and members to help out at the events, as well as participating in the discussions. Contact [email protected] with any queries.