Researching the Future

By Kirsten Laugesen Van Dam, Bespoke Mayone

Our research and overall process were informed and guided by Bespoke’s Futures Design Framework. This methodology integrates tools, methods, and mindsets from the design process and theoretical frameworks from strategic foresight practice. It is a collaborative approach to understanding the changes and forces emerging in the present and identifying new areas that are shaping a given landscape or sector.

Therefore, it was essential to invite a wide range of perspectives and voices into the process. Starting with the research phase, we engaged with over 300 participants, including sector experts and their stakeholders, leaders in museums, trend experts in business innovation and technology, and academia. Through collaboration and engagement, we developed and validated four distinctive scenarios to better understand the possible impact on the European Cultural Heritage Sector.

Firstly, desktop research and horizon scanning were conducted to identify a diverse range of signals of change within the European Cultural Heritage landscape. The world is full of early signs of change, and scanning the horizon will lead to relevant future directions, developments, new behaviours, new business models, technology, values, and audiences happening globally in arts, culture, and cultural heritage.

Through a collaborative sense-making workshop, we articulated 16 insights (trends), clustered around five emerging domains of change. These domains highlight areas of interest when looking at the Future of Cultural Heritage:

I. The Why: Institutional Values Innovation: the belief and value system that the sector aims to preserve and protect;
II. The How: Business Models & Finance: the suggested approaches and processes for the sectoral transformation;
III. The With Whom: Partnerships & Collabs: the collaboration and partnership potential within the CH sector and beyond;
IV. The Who: Social Behavior: the proposed changes in behaviour, habits, and routines that will ease transformation;
V. The What: Creation & Creativity: the forms and types of CH that can facilitate the sector’s transformation.

The insights (trends) can inspire the Cultural Heritage Sector, generate actionable points of departure, serve as a strategic foundation for scenario work and inform the framework for the development of Future scenarios for the Cultural Heritage Sector. We have complemented that scenario framework with key drivers, where we define a key driver as a “factor that is considered to have a determining influence over the direction the future will take.” The future state of the cultural sector will be a composite of the various drivers identified and can have different influences on the existing insights and trends, accelerating some or creating others that are altogether new.

After this, we continued with a scenario process. The scenario approach involved extrapolating the impacts of those drivers through several steps and describing future situations (scenarios), where several key impacts combine and describe the path from any given present to these future situations. These future situations cover the “edges” of the scenario funnel. In the end, ten scenario skeletons were developed based on different future projections, of which four scenario narratives were selected to explore and develop, based on consistency, plausibility, and distinctiveness to represent the future.

Lastly, in a participatory way that included different perspectives, Future Dialogues Workshops were hosted in three European countries to collect the opinions and reflections of cultural heritage stakeholders, educators, and experts in technology and business model development. Inspiring conversations between participants who shared their thinking about how one might respond to each scenario were held, and collaboratively enriched and explored the scenarios, discussing the impact and what this would mean for future competencies. In the end, Bespoke analyzed the reflections and impacts mapped in the responses, their relationships, and outcomes, and developed four final scenarios from these inputs. The scenario narratives represent the collective opinion and dominant views of the group as a whole. These scenarios aim to inspire and rehearse what might lie ahead for the European Cultural Heritage Sector.

Download the Future Scenario Book here and you can find regular updates on our work by signing up for our ezines or following our social media channels.



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