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What Next? A national conversation on new ways to champion the arts and culture

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The What Next? Conference has now been rescheduled for 29th of April in Central London 11:00 - 15:30.

We will post details of how to sign up and register next week.

Thanks so much for your patience - it's going to be a fantastic conversation.



Update: What Next? Postponed due to overwhelming demand.

Dear colleagues,

Everyone who signed up to attend should have received the following e-mail at the begining of January, but we just wanted to make sure the word had spread! 

We really look forward to seeing you all in April!

What Next?

Thanks so much for signing up for the What Next? Conference in London.

An extremely large number of people have agreed to come together to share innovative ways in which we can champion art and culture.

In fact, the response has been so strong that the venue we had booked is too small – and hundreds of enquiries are still pouring in.  Which is great! 

However, we don’t want to turn anyone away. We want to make sure that everyone's voice is heard. 


So we have decided to postpone the conference until later in the year, to plan for a bigger event and to find a larger space.

We now intend to hold the conference in early April

Meanwhile, we are suggesting that smaller regional What Next? conversations take place in the week of the 5th of February - or when convenient - hosted by colleagues across the country. If these meetings were to discuss regional and local needs, interests, new ideas and priorities within the national context, we can ensure that they feed into the London meeting.  We feel that this is a good way to create an extensive and inclusive network as well as a strong future plan for What Next?

If you run a cultural organisation and would like to host a February What Next? meeting and, subsequently, weekly What Next? meetings for your colleagues, please let us know. We will be very pleased to support you in setting up and structuring the meetings and will send colleagues from the current group to talk about how our meetings have been focussed thus far. We will also put you in touch with colleagues from your area who have contacted us and expressed an interest in this work.

If this postponement presents any implications for you then please do let us know by e-mailing

We very much look forward to seeing you in London later in the year.

Best wishes,

David Lan, Nicola Thorold, Bryan Savery and Lizzie Crump

for What Next?

What Next? is a growing collective of arts and cultural organisations that meets to promote engagement with and support of the brilliant cultural work that happens day-in day-out up and down the country.  We know many other colleagues are doing the same.

The Olympics and Paralympics gave us a great opportunity to showcase what we all do. Now is the time for us to join together to ensure that arts, culture and creativity continue to be valued and supported by the widest possible number of people.

There is a need for new kinds of campaigning, advocacy and collaboration. If we act together we can maximise our resources, contacts and, most important of all, our ideas to find better ways to communicate the power of the arts and culture to everyone in Britain.

We are inviting anyone in the arts and culture to a conference and a conversation at 11:00am on February 5th to discuss the best way for us to build a collaborative, national campaign.

It will be held at a central London location which we will confirm once we have a better idea of numbers.

If you have a new campaign idea that colleagues across the country could get behind, e-mail us at: by January 3rd. We will aim to share some of these at the meeting.


Who we are:

What Next? is constantly growing - and we would love you to be part of it.

Current supporters include:

Stephen Daldry, Artist

Judith Knight, Artsadmin

David Jubb, Battersea Arts Centre

Tom Morris & Emma Stenning – Bristol Old Vic

Nicholas Allott, Cameron Mackintosh Ltd.

Sue Hoyle, Clore Leadership Programme

Dave Moutrey, Cornerhouse

Lizzie Crump, Cultural Learning Alliance

Ruth MacKenzie, Cultural Olympiad

Betsy Gregory, Dance Umbrella

Gavin Stride, Farnham Maltings

Graham Devlin, Independent

Charlotte Jones, Independent Theatre Council

Martin Smith, Ingenious

Deborah Bull, King's Cultural Institute

Mark Ball, LIFT Festival

Mark Borkowski, Mark Borkowski

Sandy Nairne, National Portrait Gallery

Nick Starr, National Theatre

Erica Whyman, Northern Stage and Royal Shakespeare Company

Richard Mantle, Opera North

Marcus Romer, Pilot Theatre

Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp, The Place

Bryan Savery and Topher Campbell, The Red Room

Dominic Cooke, The Royal Court

Kasper Holten and John Fulljames, Royal Opera House

Marcus Davey, Roundhouse

Nicola Thorold, Roundhouse and World Stages London

Fiona Gasper, Royal Exchange Manchester

Vikki Heywood, RSA

Liz Thompson, Royal Shakespeare Company

Anthony Sargent, The Sage Gateshead

Alistair Spalding, Sadler's Wells

Jude Kelly, Southbank

Sam Jones, Tate

David Brownlee, Theatrical Management Association/Society of London Theatre

Mhora Samuel, The Theatres Trust

Anneliese Davidsen and Purni Morell, Unicorn

David Pountney, Welsh National Opera

David Lan, Young Vic and World Stages London (Chair)

Lucy Woollatt, Young Vic




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