What do experts and cultural leaders say?
Over four weeks in October 2016, we invited cultural workers, educators and researchers for their views on the future. Below are the anonymous responses from around sixty individuals.
Drivers for Change
Climate change and negative impacts on peace and resource security
Concern about worsening inequality
Impact of Brexit for children and young people – reduced subsidies in disadvantaged areas and businesses leaving the UK
Financial cuts to the cultural sector:
“There has to be means of providing the knowledge, tools and spaces to foster creativity. All of this requires funding.”
“Fewer jobs due to population explosion, and technological advancement means fewer people needed to carry out manual work.”
Digital remote outreach has a role to play: a chance to work towards overcoming practical obstacles to participation (i.e. transport and parking)
Positive use of technology:
“Virtual Reality”, “Sharing economy”, “Creative thinking”, “A shift towards peer-to-peer trading, information sharing and manufacturing know-how”, “Affordable technology”, “Nanotechnology; automation; genetics”, “Space travel, driverless cars, solar and wind power
The future of Education in the face of Brexit:
Concerns that Brexit equals reduced funds for HE and research
Universities cutting numbers of international students
Likely reduction in access to international talent pools
Increase in demographic clashes between older Conservative people and younger, more liberal and open-minded people
Growing expense for young people – university fees and housing costs: financial constraints meaning less uptake of creative subjects if young people believe they will not recoup their investment.
Educational reform narrowing the curriculum, with creativity not valued as its economic contribution suggests it should be:
“Forgetting that creativity is an ITERATIVE process.”
“Underestimating the importance of context, and assimilation in aesthetic learning”
“Presuming that the mental furniture of young people is basically the same as adults without the knowledge.”
Education offers opportunities if teachers have agency:
“We need to create context-responsive learning and enable people to learn from what is around them. [Let them] think for themselves collaboratively, not as high-stakes achievers.”
“The ability of choosing, empowering their curiosity and sense of discovery. On the other hand, you need access to creative communities, space and inspirational information to flourish.”
Enthusiasm for the true potential of young people:
“In the future, I see young people being curious and inquisitive about the world around them, carving out unique personal identities in their families, communities, and the world.”
“They will discover the distances – between humans and nature, between people and communities, between action and ideas – and will collaborate to bridge them.”
The vote to leave the EU having negative effects on social cohesion in the UK.
A swing to populist politics, increasing tolerance
“Our growing disconnect from nature.”
Threats to ‘internet freedom’
Role of technology in opening up potential for understanding diverse cultures and allowing freedom of expression.
Technology ‘shrinking the world’ was seen as both an opportunity (to overcome division) and a sadness (a loss of distance and a sense of the unknown)
Imagining Future Scenarios
“Employment in traditional institutions (like companies) will be tougher, with fewer rights for those lower down the hierarchy.”
“Lifestyles will be dominated by efficiency maximisation systems, reducing individuality and humanity.”
“Increased use of robots and AI will mean reduced need for people to do routine work, so they will be able to spend more time being creative and working collaboratively on things that enhance ‘Humanness’ and enable people and planet to thrive.”
“Technology will be embedded into our bodies and minds; any devices/vehicles that require charging will do so wirelessly.”
“Energy will be harnessed from sun, wind and water so we won’t need messy fossil fuels or risky nuclear power stations.”
“Some people will find ways of working in new organisational set-ups: cooperatively owned businesses, peer-to-peer networks, etc.”
“Traditional finance and business ownership systems will fail, changing the faces of work and investments, potentially to bring more fun for the lucky ones, if less security for some.”
“A greater reliance on technology will be disempowering.”
“Schools will be freed from top-down, supply-led, test-driven ‘fact learning’, and into curiosity-driven, demand-led investigative learning.”
“They will becomes totally holistic and focused on wellbeing and helping children to become healthy, happy members of society.”
“Exams will no longer be necessary.”
“A new power hierarchy based on knowledge markets” (though also potential for exclusion)
“Access to things and experiences will become less tangible and more virtual through advances in neurological and biological technologies.” (Potential for negative impacts too)
Inequality and environmental pressures affecting our resources for work and leisure.
“The boundary between work and free time will cease to exist as we spend our time doing what makes us happy and helping others, trading our skills, time and goods freely.”
“I see younger people heading East, not West.”
Imagining a single day in the future
Growing inequality making technology inaccessible to more people, however much it advances
Advances in technology could make it more difficult for young people to control it and be entrepreneurial with it.
“Technology offering opportunities to tackle external problems – we can create what we need, when and where we need it, with new materials and distributed tools for manufacture.”
“The increase in computing power set against the continuing drop in hardware price.”
Concerns that if education is not creative enough, it will not allow children and young people to adapt to new technologies.
Creativity will be valued by young people but may not be encouraged:
“Creativity will be contagious/addictive like drugs, and centralised power won’t like this.”
New technology will both stimulate and require creativity.
“Technological possibilities will grow, enabling us to access culture and knowledge from the past, and to remotely experience art or artists from anywhere.”
Making with the hands/traditional making may be valued as “a link to the past and a route to a sustainable future”.
The distancing effect of technology
An addiction to money and turning culture into commodity will deprive people of genuine cultural experiences.
Technology will enable us to communicate with people anywhere – acceleration of learning and tolerance of others.
We will value social contact in local and natural places
‘Maker spaces’ will be a resistance against the distancing effect of technology.
The chance to overcome emotional factors and ensure young people are able to express themselves creatively:
“Accessibility and co-creation of culture by and for young people.”
“Harnessing and valuing young people’s talents.”
“Culture will be interactive and experiential.”
Thinking about current barriers to creative and cultural opportunities
The shrinking of the learning environment – school feeling more like a prison in “small, square rooms”
“Huge mountain of debt – will be a massive deterrent to creative careers and study, especially for young people from particular backgrounds”
“Those young people who are not in or able to access London are left with less opportunity.”
“The financial constraints to developing models of engagement.”
“The erosion of all practical obstacles to participation: transport, parking, traffic, etc.”
“More creativity in politics, across businesses and administrations.”
“The truly influential will be the genetic engineers and my only hope is that they reformulate our violent tribal chemistry.”
“Lack of understanding of creativity as something you can do for yourself and for relating to things bigger than yourself.”
“Decreased value placed on creative skills and cultural opportunities”
“Education system focused on outputs and narrow understanding of what constitutes good education and success.”
Ask heads to welcome cross-curricular digital, arts and science projects.
“Pour money into Artists [residencies] in a Schools programme that is process-led and has multiple outcomes from performance, craft, digital and musical.”
“Ask Education Secretary Justine Greening to make the arts more important in policy and make wellbeing the aim of education.”
“Keep pushing politicians to fight for STEAM instead of STEM agenda – to value Arts Education by increasing political support, and by funding work in informal and formal learning settings.”
“Fear of not being good at it from all sides: the teachers who don’t have the confidence to support young people, the parents who just want their children to earn a decent living and end up influencing them to pick things that are ‘safer’. Young people hearing messages that they are unskilled and won’t be needed for jobs in the future, which takes away their motivation.”
“Education has become a competitive space and is treated as a sport. We’re limiting funding. We’re overburdening out children with anxiety for becoming ‘useful engines’ of our society as quickly as possible.”
“Ignorance. Passivity. Desperation. A lack of belief and or motivation. No notion of the possibility of building your own future.”
“Historically, it has often been barriers and difficulties that have led to extraordinary creativity.”
“I’d ask parents to be braver and let their children feel free to choose their own path – create an environment where it is safe to fail.”
Educators and cultural leaders need to be more open to change.
“Acknowledge and listen more to young people…even when they don’t [understand] how things work, because they have the key to solve problems we cannot tackle with our own experience.”