So, what have we been up to!

During the last three months we’ve welcomed new team members to FutureEverything to help us plan and deliver a genre-busting programme of events, interventions, workshops, commissions and schemes. We’ve also said a very sad farewell to Tom Rowlands who leaves us after three years. Alongside our festival and numerous innovation and design events Tom helped deliver our landmark programmes in Europe and Asia. He’ll be missed, but we’re excited to hear about his adventures which start in South America.

After delivering three festivals in Manchester, one in Singapore and one in Moscow in just 24 months FutureEverything, with the full support of our funding partner Arts Council England, we have decided to take a festival break in 2017. We’ve been running our festivals exploring the complex relationship between art, technology, society and digital culture for over 21 years now, and have welcomed thousands of you to our installations, performances, labs and conferences. We will return with a revitalised festival in spring 2018 featuring cutting edge commissions, new ways of collaborating, new venues, and a refreshed and interactive discussion format.

You might already have an idea of what we’ve been up to with CityVerve, Manchester’s IoT demonstrator, but if not, here’s a refresher and Drew’s explanation of our Human Centred Design (HCD) approach. We’re trying to find out the real problems that people have within the city, help develop technologies that will actually be useful and bring these ideas alive through art and culture.

We’ve been holding a number of workshops to bring HCD to the CityVerve project teams, and held Intervention workshops with our brilliant Community Champions to speak face-to-face with local communities about problems including transport and social isolation. If you’re interested in finding out more, Vimla wrote an introduction to our Community Champions and their work asking communities around Manchester what they want for the future of the connected city. You can read more of our blog posts about our CityVerve journey here, and if you’d like to have your say, join us on the 30th November to have your say on the future of privacy and the Internet of Things.

Last month we invited applications for FAULT LINES, a new commissioning and talent development scheme funded by Arts Council England’s Ambition for Excellence fund. We’re planning to bring a cohort of artists through a unique journey that will critically engage the public with art, design, science, innovation, technology and society in brand new ways. This is unlike anything we’ve ever done before, so it’s safe to say we’re all excited by the possibilities this scheme will create. We were inundated with exceptional applications, and are due to announce our selected artists in the next fortnight, so watch this space.

Do you grow your own food, have a family farm or have an allotment? This month we kicked off the GROW Observatory, which aims to underpin smart and sustainable custodianship of land and soil with accessible citizen science and verification of soil moisture data collected by existing European satellites. Ultimately the project will help shape global policy level response to the demands of future food production. We’re pleased to be involved with user research and innovation for the project.

That’s it from us for now, but as you can see, we’ve got a very busy year ahead! We’ll update you on our next steps in the coming weeks, and can’t wait to share our new developments with you. As always, if you have any questions about anything we’re up to, just drop us a line, we’d be happy to hear from you.

Vikas Shah, Chair of FutureEverything Board – ‘It’s a tremendously exciting time for FutureEverything. Our team has been strengthened by the addition of a number of recognised experts in their field, who will be led by Andy Stratford, our new Managing Director. This team will be delivering our work for governments, private-sector and for cities to help make discoveries and insights at the intersection of art, science and technology.’