Creative sector research, strategy and advocacy

We foster creative ecologies. Our work empowers communities to leverage the cultural and economic dividends of their creative exertion.

What we’re doing

Future Tense is currently undertaking the following projects.

Creative Ecologies is a collaborative investigation into what makes Australia’s creative landscapes tick. The aim is to understand what it takes to build thriving creative communities and then develop tools to foster their growth. The first stage of the project collected the perspectives of cultural practitioners and policymakers from across Australia and proposed a number of conditions for success. Click here to access the report.

Activating Construction Sites is a program of artistic intervention run in collaboration with curator Grace Leone. The project transforms the public faces of construction sites from an inconvenience into opportunities for engagement with those who interact with them. The temporary works are a way of making meaningful contributions to urban life. Currently, works are being developed for a number of sites across RMIT’s CBD campus in Melbourne.

The Great South Coast Creative Industries Strategy is being developed to guide the growth of the sector across Victoria’s southwest. Regional Arts Victoria is leading the project on behalf of the local councils that make up the region and the state government. As part of the process, Future Tense is mapping the region’s creative ecology and providing input into the strategy. Click here to follow and contribute to the project via its dedicated website.

Who we are

Future Tense was founded by Jan van Schaik, Fjorn Butler and Leith Thomas on a shared understanding of the value creative practice brings to communities and economies.

Jan is an experienced educator, researcher, and designer. He is an award winning architect specialising in public buildings, the founder of the WRITING & CONCEPTS lecture series and publications, and a board member of NETS Victoria. He has provided design services, strategic advice and governance to companies, NGOs, community groups and arts institutions both internationally and within the cities and regions of Australia. After hours, Jan collects contemporary art.


Fjorn is an artist and community organiser. She has extensive experience working for and liaising with local Indigenous communities in Victoria on consultation and engagement projects. As an artist she works primarily in sound, performing under the name Papaphillia. She has coordinated, managed and overseen community-based projects that cross disciplinary and cultural fields, including the facilitation of artist and sound workshops, advocacy campaigning and community building.


Leith is an accomplished communications strategist. His expertise is in the articulation of complex ideas and the facilitation of meaningful dialogue between disparate audiences. He has provided strategic advice, led engagement programs and delivered communications plans for a range of corporate, government and not-for-profit organisations. Leith is also the co-founder of Sabbatical Records, and founding member of the groups True Radical Miracle and Dead Boomers.