What does culture mean to you? 
What inspires you? 
What stirs your imagination?

What Next? is a movement bringing together arts and cultural organisations from across the UK, to articulate and strengthen the role of culture in our society

We want to encourage a response from our audiences about their points of view on how arts and culture impacts on individuals and society. This could be in a multitude of different ways including health, wellbeing, education, social mobility, citizenship, economic development, town centre regeneration, community cohesion and inclusion.

There's no right or wrong answer, we'd just like to get your views.

Below are some responses from people we've spoken to, so take a look and let us know how you feel.

Comment below, or add your comments to the What Next? group

Ahmed Hassan

Arts is a part of everyday life, everybody does art in one form or another, the only difference is some do it consciously and others do it unconsciously. If I speak about how it has affected my community, it has opened the eyes of the youth and adults in my community. Coming from Somaliland/Somalia where art is loved, cherished and it's a major part if our culture.

As a whole people didn't think we could continue it here in the UK, so by us being supported by NTW and doing a national show, it has shown our community that we can continue doing art any where we are in the world and express our feelings through art. Adding to my earlier point the youth believed subjects like drama and poetry are for privileged people, most of the youth in Butetown who are British born Somali/Yemeni,Jamaican. Their parents have a culture that's different to the child's, the child has a mixture of cultures such as youth culture, hip hop culture, but not so much the culture of their parents or their place of birth.

They need to be supported with their ways, but also guided with how their parents lived and about youth like them that have become successful in Britain. Role models is definitely a key factor. But since De Gabay a lot of teenagers are choosing subjects such as drama and creative writing. How it has affected me as an individual is it's put me in contact with people I'd never speak to and I'm sure they'd never speak to me. So through art it's breaking barriers and widening the community from local to the wider community.

As a youngster I saw drama as a free lesson understanding arts has shown me how ignorant I was. We are doing a lot if artistic development throughout the community such as schools, youth clubs and community centres. 

Arts is a form of expression, it inspires, empowers and connects individuals. Everyone has a light shining bright within them, people from every nation in the world, it's through arts and culture that we as individuals get to understand and appreciate people from all backgrounds. As we all shine as individuals within the arts and world we collectively make an impact within the communities and the people around us.

Hassan Panero

There are many ways arts & culture can relate to influence the population and vice versa.  Personalities are built on a set of blocks that we all pickup whilst we travel along the routes of life. Creativity is finding innovative ways of using trash/treasures and amongst all the items people would normally walk past, it is the misunderstood among us that makes outcasts, but art bridges that gap that makes it special if the right attention is directed towards them, we all have unique ways of thinking, so it is the expression that we value as individual's.To create a platform for people to join is the commonalities we require as artists

John Williams

I think arts and culture are such an integral part of a society because it's a foremost of identity. Each different culture has a different form of expression which distinguishes them from everyone else, makes them individual from other societies, which in turn makes them a part of a wider group.

As odd as it sounds it creates individuality for a society, it's what can make them different to everyone else and can also make people feel like they are included as part of a group. Nobody ever has to feel alone in the arts because there will always be someone else out there who might just like the same weird things. The arts is also vital in respect to expression. This may seem like an obvious answer but if you look closely the arts is a form of expression for people who would never associate themselves with the arts. Protest I feel is a good example, a form of expression which can take a variety of forms but each has a link to the arts and performance.

Each in there own way is trying to make a difference, trying to bring about a change and simply through people expressing themselves and their views. Again we can go back to the inclusion I previously mentioned via protesting you immediately include yourself into a group of individuals you may never have spoken to before or even considered yourselves similar.

Via the arts you have expressed yourself for change and helped create and be involved with a new society and this is just the beginning there are endless other possibilities that the arts have, you just have to study it deep enough.

Terry Chinn

I grew up in a small town in South Wales that never had a professional theatre culture (or a cinema for many years,) but sustained an opera company, three talented musical theatre  groups and two  little theatres .


People LOVED working on performances, LOVED the rehearsing, LOVED the socialising , without this participation in the town it is almost unimaginable to think how miserable the town would be .


I don't think there is a quick fix if you want to build a creative and social economy in the remoter parts of Wales. Creative apprenticeships may be part of the answer, more artist led spaces in the empty shop units would help, raising our game by working with visiting artists, and having the open door of NTW TEAM is all going to build up our networks all over Wales.

Kelly Jones

The arts are incredibly important in helping society develop easily transferable interpersonal skills. The arts communicates with a wide range of ethnicities and diverse communities and often tackles the taboo. It helps give people a voice and often the most inspirational Art we see has come from working with a community and finding our their story, it is only then we see the true impact Art has on a society. It brings a togetherness, a buzz and a new found motivation to explore. 

Laura Thomas

I believe that arts and culture has the potential to have very positive impacts on individuals and communities. If arts companies/artists make a conscious decision to make a difference to society and create opportunities for them to get involved then there are endless results as to how this can benefit people. On the other hand, if companies/artists are making work for people who are already involved in such activity then how will their work ever be able to grow and gain new ideas?

I currently work with a dance and drama company who make it their number one aim to involve communities and build on their talents. The effects I have seen on the people I teach are proof that arts and culture can have a positive impact on people. I have witnessed improved confidence, self-belief and a new awareness of personal achievements amongst the attendants of the company’s classes. Many of the classes also focus on social, mental and physical wellbeing and I feel that some people benefit from learning this through arts, in a creative and fun sense, rather than traditional teaching/schooling etc. I think that arts projects can be moulded to suit any type of social group/person and encourage healthy and positive actions.

Christina Handke

"You can't just give someone a creativity injection. You have to create an environment for curiosity and a way to encourage people and get the best out of them" - Ken Robinson

What is art? What is culture? These questions have been lingering around dinner tables, university halls, coffee shops, books and centuries of people creating, making and sharing.

Whereas it is safe to say that, as relevant as these questions are, the ultimate and absolute answers to these questions will probably not be found today, not in this message, there is something else that can be done: Let us remember the last time art, whatever this means to us, moved us, changed us, challenged us. Let us remember how art, whatever this means to us,  can bring together communities and strangers like it did at the last street festival around the corner of your house.

Let us remember the last time reading a book, a poem, a story allowed you to escape, to recharge your battery. Remember how looking at a painting, how drawing, how watching children draw has made you feel. How a film moved you and made you want to become a better person, a different person. How a song made you dance and forget the world around you. How a stand-up comedian made you laugh until your stomach hurt and a spoken word poet made you cry. How a piece of theatre made you angry and how listening to the first essay your daughter ever wrote at school made you feel filled with love.

Today, let us not try and define art, culture, creativity, let us rather think about how it has made our lives a little better, how it brought you together with strangers, what it can do for your health, your community, how it can make you curious, educate you, heal you, your children, your friends and think about how, right now, for yourself  and everyone around you, for everyone who needs it, you could create an environment that will allow art and culture and creativity to help you and them lead the best lives you all could possibly lead.

Buddug James Jones

The arts have a vital role to play within society. Growing up in a rural community in West Wales, the arts was what tied the whole community and what sculpted the town's calendar. Be it the town's 'eisteddfod' or Christmas celebrations, we always had something to look forward to and it would tie all the generations together. It's clear that Wales's rural areas use the arts as a way to tie communities together and improve individuals wellbeing and to keep the town 'alive'. This is something I see many theatre companies aim to achieve through their community engagement work.

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Comment by Michelle Carwardine-Palmer on June 30, 2014 at 16:12

A great response to the latest What Next? movement's question about the personal impact of arts and culture on us as individuals.  What does it mean for you?

Comment by Laura H Drane on June 25, 2014 at 14:24

Great post, thanks Rhian and all!

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