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15 March 2015

FutureFest & Future Things

Moulding an imagined future with our friends at Nesta became an incredible curation of ideas at this year's FutureFest.


Nesta, the UK’s innovation foundation, are the amazing minds behind FutureFest: a weekend festival of ideas, talks and interactive performances to inspire people to change the future. This year, the British Council partnered on one of their six themes, Future Global, helping to curate an international programme around the future of Lagos and Johannesburg in 2060.

FutureFest took place at the Vinopolis in London on Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 March 2015 and focussed on six themes: Future Thrills, Future Music, Future Money, Future Machines, Future Democracy and Future Global. Speakers included the likes of Edward Snowden, Vivienne Westwood, Owen Jones, Jon Ronson, George Clinton and Dr. Morgaine Gaye.

This year, FutureFest asked what the future would be like for the rest of the planet and paid particular attention to the African continent. With Africa being home to some of the world’s most exciting innovators and imagineers, we thought we would look at tech innovations and mega-hubs in places like Lagos and Johannesburg and how they will make a real impact on the future of the continent.

Lagos 2060: Futures not Fiction, was inspired by the science fiction collection Lagos 2060 which speculated what it would be like to live in Lagos in the future after Nigeria gained independence from the UK and given its growing population and position as a regional catalyst. This formed an informal debate within the programme, chaired by Geoff Ryman (lecturer & Science Fiction writer), and included discussions with Ore Disu (Nsibidi Institute), Bumi Thomas (singer/songwriter) and Ayodeji Alaka (OsanNimu).

Post African Futures was an exploration of new cultural movements in places like Johannesburg, focussing on digital media as an expressive artform of this. Our very own Joel Mills (Senior Music Programmer at the British Council) chaired this discussion with Tegan Bristow (interactive media artist & lecturer at Wits School of the Arts).

FutureGlobal performances were led by the amazing trio of Bumi Thomas, The Venus Bushfires and Jally Kebba Susso. Spoek Mathambo and Fabian-Carlos Guhl chatted about their innovative approaches to technology and music. Thomas Aquilina exhibited his pictures from the 6 months he spent travelling in Africa along the longitude of 30 degrees east. While Ayodele Arigbabu (co-author of Lagos_2060) and Segun Adefila curated the Interactive Newsstand of the future with local artists in Lagos.

Particular thanks to Jessica Bland, Josh McNorton and Pat Kane of Nesta, Marc-André Schmachtel and Lien Heidenreich-Seleme of the Goethe-Institut, CcHub and all associated artists for what has been an invaluable partnership which will continue into the future.

For further exploration of this theme see Jessica Bland’s recent piece in The Guardian.