About What Next?

What Next? is a movement bringing people together to articulate, champion and strengthen the role of culture in our society.

What Next? are a national movement of arts and cultural organisations, artists, funders, policy makers, institutions, and individuals who come together regularly to articulate and strengthen the role of culture in society. We’re interested in how we can act together to make change happen and how we can hold an authentic conversation about value with decision makers, the public and each other.

Over the last four years the What Next? movement has grown organically to encompass 35 chapters around the UK, each meeting regularly and bringing together individuals, organisations and institutions to work on locally significant issues, and to consider how to contribute to wider action. Each chapter identifies its own priorities as well as collaborating with others and working as a national movement. Some are headed by cultural leaders, some by young professionals at the start of their career. All activity is open to anyone who chooses to attend. Chapter Chairs step forward to take the initiative to set up each What Next? Group. What Next? is sustained by an extensive voluntary effort and buy-in - from Chairs, attenders and collaborators across this picture - and then also by a minimal enabling structure of paid freelance support at the core.

This structure has enabled What Next? to become a catalyst for fresh thinking and new policy ideas, and to engage with Ministers, politicians and civil servants from different national, local and devolved governments, experts, activists, policy makers, peers and colleagues from many dimensions of civil society, policy making and political life. It has built new relationships, understanding, and best practice between colleagues, and new levels of trust, openness and externally engaged action within the sector. Combined with the political lobbying skills offered by What Next? adviser Rosie Luff of Hanover Communications, What Next? advocacy and case making have had an impact on government policy and on funding decisions, particularly in 2015 Comprehensive Spending Review when we took a delegation to Treasury and ran a national campaign aimed at back-benchers #Arts4Britain.

Thomas Small, Artistic Director of Shaper/Caper and BBC Radio 2 Artist in Residence, Chairs this first What Next? Chapter in Scotland with the hope that more Chapters will spring up around Scotland.  Thomas first learnt about What Next? during his fellowship on the Clore Leadership Programme.  Thomas and Yolanda Aguilar, Assistant Director of Shaper/Caper, have worked with closely with Lee Lappin at Dundee & Angus College to host the meetings of this group.  We are looking to bring together cultural leaders from across Scotland. 

We are looking to meet once a month and it has been proposed that we will meet on the last Tuesday of every month from 7.30pm to 9.00pm.  

All welcome! If you want to join us, please email thomas@shapercaper.com to check the venue and meeting time.  


Future meetings:

Tuesday 25th October 7.30pm to 9pm

at The Space, Dundee & Angus College, Kingsway Campus, Old Glamis Road, Dundee DD3 8LE



7.15pm – Arrivals, Tea & Coffee

7.30pm – Welcome, introductions and catch up on last meeting

7.40pm – Topic 1 – Discussion Groups:

 How can we ensure the benefits of cultural regeneration are felt by the many and not just the few, and what role should citizens and cultural organisations ‎play?


8.00pm – Feedback from each group

8.20pm – Topic 2 – Discussion Groups:

How do we get the message across that what we all do is amazing and important (and worth funding)? How can we ‘big up’ and shout more loudly about what we are all doing in order to reach more people?

8.40pm - Feedback from each group

8.55pm – Wrap up and action points

9.00pm - End