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Cross-sector collaborations & our approach to innovation

Exploring the importance of cross-sector collaborations and the positive impact that they can have within arts organisations and our arts community

In recent years FutureEverything has been involved in a number of wide-ranging projects and activities, often merging art, design, communities and digital innovation. Usually we work with art and digital culture to explore, investigate, and respond to contemporary issues and the impact of technology in society and culture. 

Through projects such as the recently launched FutureFocus, we are bringing people together to share ideas, connect and collectively imagine better, more considerate futures. We have been working with artists like Helen Knowles on Trickle Down – A New Vertical Sovereignty, exploring value systems and wealth disparity, and Kasia Molga, Scanner and the GROW Observatory on (de)Compositions, inspiring people to consider the importance of soil for our survival. But we have also been working with industry organisations to consider technological challenges and opportunities bringing in different perspectives, such as with our recent E-Waste Makerspace project at Cisco Live!, an interactive makerspace repurposing e-waste and provoking conversations around the circular economy.

Art is not just about the creation of physical structures, it’s about culture, values, ethics and many other things that can expand our horizons, enable us to interrogate the world, and knit together the fabric of our society.

We like to adopt thought provoking and critical approaches to our practice, asking those questions that make it possible to cultivate meaningful answers, often manifesting in the production of art that shapes ideas worth sharing, but also art that enables people to participate and take action. We believe that art can also be about having difficult and sometimes uncomfortable conversations, and we recognise that partnerships can often be challenging and slow to develop. But we feel that it’s important to allow space and time to collaborate with other sectors, as well as to allow time to experiment with new ideas and not be afraid to fail.

It’s with this approach in mind that we embarked on a journey to curate and produce Innovate Manchester, a complex programme committed to showcasing the innovation that is happening within our city region, Greater Manchester. One might wonder why FutureEverything, an Arts Council NPO and social enterprise, is involved in an industry-focused programme. Although our core work is in the arts, we strongly believe that bringing art to other sectors can help build synergies and opportunities, create spaces to learn from each other, as well as inspire companies to push their thinking in different directions leading to innovative approaches.

For an art organisation that wants to see change in many areas that we explore critically, stepping outside of our space and being part of the wider conversation can enable us to become a catalyst for change.

Our purpose and interest in curating and producing the Innovate Manchester programme is multi-faceted.

From sustainable products, green and inclusive cities and urban infrastructure, to ethical technologies and human-centred design, the Innovate Manchester programme is looking at a wide spectrum of topics, which are relevant to and affect everyone in society, not just the few people who can make decisions in these areas. There is an urgent need for wider and diverse conversations to happen here and it’s important to include people from arts and culture backgrounds too. FutureEverything, which is operating in the nexus of art, culture, technology, science and society and collaborates with not only creative professionals but also citizens, local authorities, academia and other sectors, is bringing to this a unique perspective and aims for an inclusive and bottom up approach.


We are not here just to raise awareness or talk about these issues, but to enable solutions!

For each theme, the Innovate Manchester programme includes a webinar session with industry and academic experts, followed by an Innovation Lab. The Innovation Labs are the most important element of this programme and a great opportunity to enable different organisations and people to come together, to work collaboratively and act on the challenges presented through the webinars. Over the last 3-4 years, FutureEverything have been running action-research workshops with organisations and programmes such as CityVerve, Manchester’s first Smart City Demonstrator, GROW Observatory, a soil and climate action citizens’ observatory across Europe, CREATE IoT, a European Large-Scale Pilot, as well as innovation workshops for the University of Manchester, the North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership (NWCDTP) and more. 

This is an ongoing exchange and collaboration programme for FutureEverything, and an ongoing learning process. We are working hand-in-hand with businesses and other sectors to explore how art, design and critical thinking can help create more ethical and socially innovative strategies to engage with key-stakeholders and communities. You can read more about the Innovate Manchester programme, our speakers and what is next on the project  microsite.

Our Next Innovate Manchester Event