Communities of a New Future was a three-part series of online conversations for creative hubs. It explored opportunities and challenges brought about by the global pandemic. Held from May to July 2020, the webinar was a partnership between the British Council and Thames International, supported by Adobo Magazine, DTI-Design Center of the Philippines, Whiteboard Journal and Kakiseni.

We connected 500 creative hubs from 34 countries globally. Through participating in our online forums, the creative hubs shared their short-, medium- and long-term transformative solutions for creative hubs. Hub leaders and creative practitioners joined the discussions on:

  • exploring the various ways in which hubs and creative communities respond to the current pandemic and crisis
  • rethinking how we work, give value and create meaningful interactions with our communities as well as learning about the skills and mindset needed to make digital transformation happen
  • taking a broader perspective on the attempt to anticipate the future of cultural engagement, the opportunities and challenges these changes will have on creative hubs and their communities. 


Communities of a New Future featured speakers from Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and United Kingdom such as Creative Cardiff’s Sara Pepper, Thames International’s TJ Parpan and Penang Art District’s Stephanie Kee. They shared their insights on how different parts of the world are responding to Covid-19. Here are the key learnings from the three-part forum:

  • Mental health, well-being and professional support were at the core of the responses of creative hubs. They supported artists in providing essential services to front liners and developed programmes that can be implemented at home.
  • The transition is difficult for both the cultural sector and its audiences as hubs faced the challenges of online engagement. In the digital arena, accessibility, innovation and collaboration are critical in creating new ways of working and reaching new audiences.
  • Data is increasingly becoming critical to the hubs’ sustainability. Data should be used not only to improve efficiency, but also to show compassion to the community especially during this time. It is important that government leaders develop a culture where a data-driven mindset can flourish.

Learning and resources

We have put together resources from the forum which compiled insights, surveys and other practical information on sustainability of hubs. Through these, we hope to continue mutual learning, exchange of ideas and future collaborations among hub leaders.

Many Studios' Co-Founder Natalia Palombo: 'We learned that people have different ways of engaging. Some people engage well physically, but not as much online, and vice versa.'
DJ Hogi Wirjono: 'How do we imitate human connections in this digital world? It's the best time to offer unique experiences to our audiences through innovations and collaborations.'

What are the short-term responses of hubs?

Hubs are coming together during these times to inspire, share creativity digitally and support one another. Adobo magazine provided insights on the various responses of hubs from around the world to the pandemic. Read the article here.

What are the lessons on digital transformation?

‘Digital transformation is not optional. It is the way forward.’

We had an extended conversation with Rags2Riches and Thingsthatmatter founder, Reese Fernandez-Ruiz, as she took over our Instagram to share more first-hand experience on engaging the community as a social entrepreneur. Through this, Reese answered questions we didn't have the time to cover during the second forum on digital transformation. Watch here.

With the significant shift to digital space, Adobo magazine also highlighted culture and people-driven success through this article.

Which skills are in demand?

From data analysis and visualisation to language skills and translation, check out the other top skills that forum two participants need and have for the digital transformation of their hubs. Access the report here.

What is the future for hubs?

Reimagining the future of hubs involves a review of community-centred initiatives, data driven decision-making, and existing policies and trends. Read this article by  Adobo magazine.

Communities of a New Future aimed to be an inspiring look at how hubs around the world are persevering, transforming and reimagining through this time.

External links