Future Connected Award 2023

Future Connected and the London Borough of Lambeth announced that Rachel Nelken, was the winner of the Future Connected 2023 £10,000 Award in March 2023.

The finalists included leaders of 10 Lambeth-based grass-roots cultural organisations who were awarded a place on the first Future Connected Programme as Fellows.  A panel of independent judges selected the most compelling business plan from an innovation and feasibility perspective. The £10,000 Future Connected Award is aimed at helping the Award recipient realise that plan. All participants who completed the programme received £1,000.

The winner was announced at a celebratory Gathering at the Southbank Centre on the evening of Thursday 2 March 2023 hosted by Lambeth Councillor Jacqui Dyer who also announced the winner. At the ceremony, the Poet Laureate for Lambeth, Abstract Benna, premiered a new work, Manifesto for Optimism, commissioned by Future Connected

“I am thrilled to have been awarded the first Future Connected Award for myself and my organisation, Raw Material Music and Media, especially alongside an extraordinary cohort of cultural leaders. The programme has been transformational for me in terms of clarity of vision and communication of our organisation and its values.”

Manifesto for Optimism

Poem by Abstract Benna Lambeth’s first Poet Laureate

Do you feel that?
There’s a physical force at the point
where the mind and the heart integrate
Towards a goal that I just can’t articulate
There’s no words, its a vision which surpasses sight
the seeds I’m sowing won’t show it but the harvest might
For me, doing, is only half the fight
It’s the knowing that keeps me up half the night literally
Celebrating what I haven’t yet physically
achieved because I see it soo vividly
There’s a shrine in my mind to every motivational meme
Each of these quotes are shaping a theme of self-belief

I wouldn’t say I’m an optimist,
I just opt to miss most of the boundaries that logic gives
There’s barely any logic here, rarely any reality check
Knowing what I bring to the table I’m just projecting
a future that I can actually get
even when I’m nervous, they’ll call it nerves
I call it a passionate sign that I’m walking in my purpose
But what do you do when the path turns to a maze
That you can’t seem to make it out
When the figure in the mirror becomes your strangest bout
When the doubts first appear
And not even a shot of Dutch courage helps to convert the fear
Into some sort of adrenalin that works I swear
Its worse when you’re the leader others look to and follow
when stress from tomorrow occurs

because as thinkers, as doers, as entrepreneurs,
some say we’re supposed to be knowers,
but even leaders follow, we follow an urge
its fuelled by the heart, it sits in the mind
as we do what we need to do
For the vision that surpasses sight
and our drive to see it through
I take pride in my resilience and ability to mute
the inner doubts if they grow
Because I’ve already felt every emotion the highs, the lows,
from 10,000 hours of crawling through the thick of it
The difference is between me and others, I just didn’t quite

The Judges

Nic Durston

CEO, South Bank Employers’ Group and South Bank Business Improvement District

Nic is Chief Executive of South Bank Business Improvement District and South Bank Employers’ Group – the not-for-profit organisation who champions South Bank, protecting and enhancing this unique area through creativity, collaboration, and effective delivery. Nic’s career spans urban regeneration, culture, heritage, and funding, with roles at the Heritage Lottery Fund, National Trust, English Heritage, Groundwork, and Westway Development Trust, as well as working as a freelance consultant whilst managing a local community centre.  He is an External Governor of Morley College London, and serves as Chair of the college’s Finance, Resources and Sustainability Committee. He has lived, worked, and studied in London for nearly 40 years. 

Website: www.sbeg.org.uk

Dean Ricketts

Founder, The Watch-Men Agency

Dean Ricketts built upon his background in fashion styling, music and image making and founded The Watch-Men Agency in 1989, a strategic marketing and creative agency specialising in ‘how people live in cities, or if you prefer ‘urban culture’. The agency has a strong reputation for reaching specialist audiences and opinion leaders, and boasts an impressive array of clients which currently include; Let’s Be Free, marketing services for Fuji instax Undisputed BBoy World Tour (road to the Olympics), consultancy for Nigerian theatre/film company Terra Kulture and the sneaker talk series “A Sneaker Society”.

Throughout his career, Dean has executed multiple strategic marketing campaigns at both local and global level which have included UK Transplant, Royal Navy, Electoral Commission, Home Office and Royal Air Force as well as creative work for Caterpillar, BFI, Sony PlayStation, Levi Strauss World Tour – working with The Fugees, OutKast & Jamiroquai, G-Star – Hypnotic Brass Ensemble tour and compilation album for their global stores, denim brand ROGAN and the launch of an ethically clothing label EDUN. He has consulted for The Fader, The Wire, i-D and Freeze magazines and written and styled for. The Sunday Times Magazine, i-D and The Face. He is also on the board of Jazz re:freshed, Jamaican Music Industry Association JaRIA and The World Reimagined.

Dean is a Trustee of The World Reimagined.

Website: https://thewatchmenagency.com/

Karen Napier MBE

CEO, The Reading Agency

Karen Napier MBE, is CEO at The Reading Agency. An experienced leader in the arts, cultural and education sectors, Karen has been responsible for leading and delivering major national funding projects including the £111m campaign to transform the Royal Festival Hall at London’s Southbank Centre. She works closely with The Reading Agency Board and team to develop and deliver its vision and mission of tackling life’s big challenges through the proven power of reading. 

Previous appointments include: Chief Executive at Wac Arts, Executive Director of the Swarovski Foundation, Chief Executive of the English National Ballet, Director of Development at the Southbank Centre and the first Associate Dean of Advancement at London Business School. Amongst non-exec roles, Karen Chaired Greenbelt Festival for many years, was a founding Trustee of Hofesh Shechter Company and was on LIFT and Go Live Theatre Projects (formerly Mousetrap Theatre Projects) Boards. She is currently a Trustee of Kiln Theatre and has an MA in Philanthropic Studies from Canterbury, Kent University.

Website: https://readingagency.org.uk/

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