Guest Blog

The impact of FutureGaze: yesterday, today and tomorrow

11 October 2023

We've gazed into the future for two years with our online lunchtime series, FutureGaze. Now it's time to reflect on how far we've come.

Caroline Parkinson, host of FutureGaze and Director for Creative at the Edinburgh Futures Institute, recounts the journey of this initiative and what she hopes to achieve in (you guessed it) the future. Read her guest blog below to find out more.

In the beginning...

FutureGaze was an idea that surfaced a year into the pandemic in Spring 2021. After what must have a felt like a bombardment of decisions that the creative and cultural sector had to make in the wake of every wave of changing restrictions, I just felt a time-out was needed.

Time out to breathe, reflect, consider and gaze into the future in a guided discussion with experts on various subjects that I hoped tapped into collective concerns. It was designed to take cognisance of the pressure of the new digital working day of back to back online calls.

So we thought FutureGaze could be like the radio, turn it on at lunch time for an hour, have the company of a wider creative family, and even though we were on screen, you didn’t have to be. Just grab a sandwich, a coffee and sit and listen to the debate and think along with everyone. We hoped the experts airing the subjects would provide some insight, and in so doing share the weight of collective concerns and maybe shine a light onto what the future may look like.

An online community

From the very start people signed up and listened in, and at the end those who were free to type would raise and question that I would pose, and in parting many would leave a note of thanks, or how much they had enjoyed the discussion and that gave us confidence to keep going. We have had a consistent level of engagement and I hope we have provided that space for thought, a problem shared, inspiration, maybe even ideas about a way forward and a good go at what the future could look like.

I suggested we start with right where we were, (most of us), working from home – and how we were working. For many our daily lives had changed so much. I had seen that Andrew Dobbie of Made Brave had implemented a different way of working in the design agency within days of the lockdown and shared it on social media to shine a light on how he had revolutionised the way they work. Flexi-time desk, flexi-leave, flexi-desk – check it out.

Imagining the future

From the first one on the Future of Creative Work we went on to: the Future of Artistic Practice, the Future of Digital Culture, the Future of Sustainable Creation, the Future of Creative Innovation, the Future of Creative Investment, the Future of Creative Impact.

And for our next one on 25 October 2023 we will explore the Future of Creative Inclusion with Melanie Hoyes, British Film Institute and Nicola Osborne, Creative Informatics Cluster to discuss how we can design publicly-funded initiatives to be as open and inclusive as we can, and help achieve our shared concern to ensure access to and diversity in the creative and cultural sector.

What's next?

Looking back on the series to date, there have been some notable suggestions out of a number of the sessions that could influence policy and change our futures. For instance when discussing the activity within tertiary education in innovation how can this influence the curriculum in secondary schools; why we measure what we measure when it comes to reporting impact and could this be better; and how we might be better versed in and tap into investment and R&D tax credits to support our creative exploration and business development. And when the next one concludes I plan to summarise the points made by our experts and present to policy-makers to advocate for these changes to be considered.

I hope through FutureGaze sessions the chats with experts have been a help to everyone that has taken time out with us, and I hope we have shone a light on possible futures in all these subjects and provided ideas on how we might navigate from here to there. But one thing has become ever more clear, and we already knew this, we need each other’s creativity and our collective knowledge for the best possible illumination of the way.

Join us online on October 25th for our next free FutureGaze discussion. Book tickets here.