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Seeking New Opportunities...

From Islington to Yarmouth With Love: A Report from What Next? Central

What Next? (Yarmouth and Lowestoft)

Fresh back from a whistle stop trip to Saddler’s Wells yesterday for a meeting of the What Next? regional groups, here’s just a taster of the inspirational stories, ventures and ideas currently fomenting:

Together we can turn Yarmouth and Lowestoft into Islington! (joke).

A Growing Movement:

WN? Sunderland reported early attendances of around 80 people – all meeting in a local record store! The massive response shows how much enthusiasm and talent is out there. WN? Cardiff talked about the recent successful ‘Cardiff Without Culture?’ campaign which received 2.5 million impressions and restored the local authority’s proposed cuts to Cultural Services. WN? Sheffield has been taking practical action in the form of the sheffieldcreativeguild.com using methods like http://www.timebanking.org/ amongst others to grow local creative economies. Well worthy of a glance for Creatives here on the easternmost side of East Anglia… 

Whilst WN? is not seeking to grow exponentially, it will be seeking finance to create a supporting role to encourage capacity in local groups. This could be fund-raising support, advice or networking but will ultimately enable local chapters to grow in the ways we need to. Generating new kinds of activity, business-models, trading initiatives and new ways of working across a variety of civic functions all need to be supported and encouraged.

Culture and Civics:

On the subject of ‘civic functions’, What Next? is soon to launch it’s consultation partnership led by Calouste Gulbenkian (UK) into the Civic Role of Art and Culture: Questions like: What is it? What can it be? What are good examples of it in practice? How should we grow it? abide. There will be some funding available to choose examples from around the regions of how arts and culture are being used (or not) for civic functions. This could be an opportunity for Yarmouth and Lowestoft to look into new – and old –  ideas like guilds and creative networks, ‘time banking’, #culturebanking and new virtual ways that arts and cultural work can help to fulfil ‘civic functions’ and increase opportunity, inclusivity and participation. There is £40,000 available to facilitate WN’s involvement. WN? Yarmouth and Lowestoft will form part of the reference group on this enquiry.

Not All Talk: Get Involved?

There’s also opportunities for groups in the regions to generate activity around these ideas and to finance new initiatives. Come along to the next WN? meeting and help make a plan for action…? 

Currently, the admin time allowed for managing WN? is about 4 hours a week and none of this work is financed. What Next? (Yarmouth and Lowestoft) is seeking help from local arts organisations and individuals who can help with things like minor admin tasks, taking minutes (not usually essential), providing meeting venues and generally growing arts and culture opportunities in the area – and we also want to hear from artists, business owners, professionals and creatives who’d like to come to a meeting and talk about what they do – or want to do! – to other like-minded folk…

What Next? aims to be about promoting arts and culture through ‘building unlikely alliances’ – so it’s really important to spread the message and join up with as wide a variety of other interests as possible. Please share…!

I look forward to meeting you at a WN? event soon…

Liam Murphy

Chair WN? Yarmouth and Lowestoft.


http://www.whatnextnorfolk.org.uk – ‘sister’ group meeting weekly in Norwich

http://www.whatnextculture.co.uk – National Site.


It’s not complicated at all:

When you put your money in a bank, you hope for some interest back on it. It’s an investment. When you put money into a business, you hope for a dividend. It’s an investment.  When you pay your tax, you hope the local A and E department will save your life. It’s an investment. When your firm spends money training new recruits – you expect them to work for you. It’s an investment. Yet art is still  ‘it’s own reward’ and it’s funding is, literally, ‘a lottery’ – or else relies on some outmoded C.19 system of ‘patronage’. We can do much better.

Through the mechanisms of intellectual property rights, licensing, equity shares, crowd-funding and guided donation, it is possible to create some residual benefit when a piece of work ‘hits the big-time’ or even has just a small amount of success and to recycle some of that success back into the grass roots from which it grew and to strengthen these roots in order to grow, knit, weave, sing louder, write better, make new work… etc.

This is what #culturebanking proposes to do. Everyone had a ‘grass-root’.  What organisations like the Arts Council and others are now asking (via #64millionartists) more than ever before is:

How can we do this?

#culturebanking – have your say….