An urgent programme to reimagine the future of arts and culture

20th July – 11th September 2020


But what are we fighting for? A return to how things were or a fundamental reset?

CULTURE RESET is a practical rapid response programme to inspire more relevant and impactful cultural organisations and practices.

Born out of the devastating impact of Covid-19 and inspired by the urgent need to accelerate change and respond to the experiences of a broader diversity of people, it will provide expert support and dynamic stimulus for 192 arts and cultural producers, makers and directors across the UK.

Applications are now closed. The programme runs 20 July to 11 September 2020.

Each participant will leave the programme with an expert and peer-reviewed action plan to reset their creative approach – it could be for a specific project, for their general artistic practice or across an entire organisation.

We’re looking to recruit cultural workers who care about the wider sector in which they work, and who want to play a part in its transformation. This is about supporting a fundamental reset, and we’re looking to support a movement that contributes to that change.

Participation is funded by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch) and open to the full range of the cultural sector. We want to hear from arts producers, museum and gallery curators, theatre makers, artistic directors, festival producers, library managers, literary editors, musicians, visual artists, choreographers, composers, writers – anyone with the agency to commission and create cultural experiences.

Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.

Arundhati Roy, April 2020


CULTURE RESET combines intensive creative online laboratories with a dynamic set of provocations and reflections from directors, artists, writers, academics and producers internationally. It has been devised to offer the support, stimulus and guidance to facilitate immediate action.

Each participant will have access to:

  • A 4-week intensive of facilitated group work to design and test your knowledge, grow your new ideas and plan your action;
  • Weekly provocations by international innovators and thinkers;
  • Up-skilling in civic action, understanding place and audience mindset, social impact and myth-busting in collaboration and co-creation;
  • Access to an exclusive suite of resources curated and selected by arts leaders and producers
  • A one-to-one coaching opportunity to map your own next steps.

You might be asking:

If my organisation is to survive, we must connect more meaningfully with our context and communities. Where do I begin?

How do we make radical change happen whilst dealing with this crisis – what is it realistic to expect?

I know that my organisation has to feel essential for these times and for the communities it serves, what changes do I need to make to create that shift?

I know that relevance is important, but I don’t know how it might affect my creative practice. Where do I start?

How can I put engagement at the centre of our artistic programme, rather than confine it to our learning or events offer?

Does relevance always mean co-creation?

How can I persuade my organisation that relevance is essential, not a nice-to-have?

CULTURE RESET is a people make it work project funded by The Gulbenkian Foundation and the people make it work team.

The programme is designed and created by Claire Doherty and David Micklem – both leading creative producers and artistic directors – who have been dedicated to progressive, impactful approaches to culture and relevance over the past 20 years.

David and Claire are joined by a further 10 outstanding facilitators from across the spectrum of the cultural sector – all of whom have real-world experience of producing cultural experiences and making space for new ideas and new voices.

Relevance isn’t the pair of lead boots restricting creative flight or the target you are guiding your parachute to land on. It is the air current on which to fly. You have to understand what those currents are doing to navigate and know how to respond and adapt your approach.

Claire Doherty

We’re urgently convening this gathering to support arts and culture made by, with, and for EVERYONE. For too long this approach has been seen at the edges of practice, siloed, departmentalised, marginalised. And as such, too much of our culture is seen as irrelevant by too many people. We have an opportunity, now, to plan for a reset – a fundamentally new approach to deciding what counts as culture, where it happens, who makes it, and who gets to experience it.

David Micklem

We know that many people in the cultural sector want to create work that connects more deeply with the interests and stories of their communities, but have not had the space, support or sense of urgency to prioritise this work and to identify how to operationalise it within their own organisation, network, context or practice. We have commissioned this programme to fill that gap, and enable people from all backgrounds, contexts and art forms to work out their version of relevance, and identify concrete steps they will take in their organisation to bring relevance to life for their audiences and communities.

Richard Watts

The programme will give rocket fuel to a leading cohort of creatives and cultural producers facing uncertain and demanding times.


New contributors to the programme announced:


Sharmaine Lovegrove,  

Publisher and activist, head of Dialogue Books (imprint of Hachette) and co-founder of the Black Writers Guild demanding real, sustainable change to the mainstream publishing world. @sharlovegrove 

Nato Thompson 

Curator and writer, Artistic Director at Philadelphia Contemporary, and formerly Chief Curator at Creative Time, New York. @natothompson Follow his Insta lives – Let’s Talk Alternatives 

Marcus Faustini

Inspirational Brazilian writer, theatre director, educator, filmmaker and cultural activist. He is the mastermind behind the educational methodology “Agência de Redes Para Juventude” (Network for Youth Agency) which has transformed the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, and has now been adapted and adopted with partners across the UK.  @marcusfaustini 

Jasmine Wahi 

Social Justice Curator at the Bronx Museum, activist, founder and Co-Director of Project for Empty Space @browngirlcurator

John E. McGrath 

Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Manchester International Festival(MIF), the world’s first festival of original, new work and special events. He has a reputation for large-scale site-specific work, digital innovation and extraordinary community involvement, and will also be the Artistic Director of  The Factory, the new world-class cultural space currently being built in the heart of Manchester. @JohnMIF

Jackie Wylie 

Artistic Director and CEO, National Theatre of Scotland @_jackiewylie  

John Akomfrah 

Artist, film-maker writer John Akomfrah CBE (born 1957) was one of the founders of theBlack Audio Film Collective (BAFC), a group of artists and filmmakers active between 1982 and 1998, dedicated to examining issues of Black British identity through film and media.He made his debut as a director with Handsworth Songs, which won the Grierson Award for Best Documentary in 1987. In 1998 he co-founded Smoking Dogs Films, with Lina Gopaul and David Lawson, and has since pursued an individual and distinguished film practice. @smokingdogfilms



Vicki Igbokwe


Thanh Sinden


Raidene Carter


David Micklem

Programme Director

Samenua Sesher


Hardish Virk


Claire Doherty

Programme Director

Shreela Ghosh


Annette Corbett


Michele Taylor


Judith Knight


Gregory Nash


Sandeep Mahal


Zara Rush

Programme Producer

Richard Watts

Programme Sponsor


If you have further questions please check these FAQs or get in touch using the contact form below


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