Creative sector research, strategy and advocacy

We believe engagement with the arts can have a transformative impact on communities. Our work aims to maximise the social and economic benefits of cultural investments and foster environments where creative practices can thrive.

What we do

We bring clarity to complex situations and develop actionable recommendations for governments and organisations to seize the opportunities available to them.


Our services:


Engagement and consultation

Strategy development and guidance

Opportunity analysis and feasibility assessment

Place making and activation

Investment Management Standard facilitation

Business case development

Our projects

Prahran Town Hall Business Case


Future Tense is working with the City of Stonnington to develop a business case for transforming the Prahran Town Hall into a cultural hub. This project builds on previous visioning work endorsed by Council in 2023 and aims to establish a thriving home for the creative industries south of the Yarra – and reclaim Prahran’s status as one of the core engines of Melbourne’s creative sector. This work is scheduled to be completed in 2024. 

Making Change Creative Industries Strategy Management


Regional Arts Victoria and Future Tense have been appointed by the G21 to manage their Making Change Strategy. This includes delivery of the Change Makers networking, as well as the identification of new opportunities, partnerships and funding models across the sector. For more information visit This engagement runs through to 2025.

Golden Plains Creative Ecology Mapping


Future Tense partnered with Ashtree Projects to undertake a Creative Ecologies assessment of Golden Plains Shire. This process documented the assets, actors and activities that make up the Shire’s creative sector and examined how—and how well—it works. The findings were used to drive the implementation of the Shire’s Arts and Culture Strategy.

East Gippsland Culture and Creativity Strategy


Future Tense worked with East Gippsland Shire Council to develop a ten-year strategy to guide its investment in the region’s cultural life. The Strategy articulates a shared vision for the creative future of the Shire and outlines how Council will contribute to realising it.

Creative Indigo Arts and Culture Strategy


Future Tense worked with Indigo Shire Council to develop a new five-year strategy to set a vision for the creative life of the region and guide its contributions. The Strategy was adopted by Council in March 2023 and can to viewed here.

Vision and Roadmap for Saltwater Community Centre


Wyndham City Council engaged Future Tense to develop a vision and roadmap for transforming the Saltwater Community Centre in Point Cook into a community arts centre. Centre users and key Council stakeholders were engaged to explore possibilities. The resultant vision outlines how Saltwater can build on its strengths and grow a thriving creative community in Melbourne’s urban fringe.

Better Together local business workshops


The Apollo Bay Chamber of Commerce wanted to reconnect and recharge local businesses after the COVID slump. Future Tense was engaged to devise and facilitate a process to break down silos across the Apollo Bay business community and empower participants to collaborate and unlock the potential of collective action. The Better Together workshops established a mechanism for business owners to identify and address challenges using the resources already at their disposal – to help businesses help themselves.

South West Creative Infrastructure Pipeline


Creative Victoria commissioned Future Tense and Regional Arts Victoria to develop a framework for assessing and prioritising a region’s creative infrastructure needs over a 10-year time horizon. This process was then piloted across the South West, working with the five councils and various state and regional authorities.

Creative Horsham Strategic Plan


Regional Arts Victoria and Future Tense partnered by develop an arts and culture strategy for Horsham Rural City Council. Future Tense undertook foundational research to inform development of the Plan. This included an extensive strategy and policy scan and online survey of creative practitioners across the region. The Plan is still in development and due to be delivered in 2022.

UNESCO Creative City of Design Guiding Principles


Future Tense was engaged by the City of Greater Geelong to develop guiding principles for the region’s designation as a UNESCO Creative City. This involved extensive consultation community and cross-sector stakeholders and close work with Council and the project advisory group. The result is a guide for how businesses, organsiations and the community can use design and creativity to achieve a sustainable and resilient future. You can read the guiding principles here.

The Great South Coast Creative Industries Strategy


Future Tense worked with Regional Arts Victoria on this project, mapping the creative ecology of the region. This has included detailed population, economic and institutional assessment of the region. This work was used to develop the strategic opportunities outlined in the plan. The report and strategy can be assessed here.

Hamilton Gallery Service Review


Future Tense undertook a detailed review of Hamilton Gallery’s operations and developed a strategic path for Council to follow in enhancing the institution and building engagement with the local community. The outcome was a practical and actionable strategy that worked within the constraints of the context.

Activating Construction Sites


Developed in conjunction with curator Grace Leone, this program engaged students at RMIT to create temporary artworks for display across the University’s CBD building sites. The intention was to transform construction sites from an inconvenience into opportunities for engagement and make meaningful contributions to urban life. This included establishing a curatorial framework, and processes for guiding the development and production of the works. You can read about and see videos of the artwork here.

The Creative Ecologies Initiative


This national research project was instigated by Future Tense to understand what it takes to build thriving creative communities. The overall aim of this project is to develop an open access online tool policymakers and practitioners to use in fostering their growth. More information can be found at

Moyne Arts and Culture Strategy


Future Tense is working with Moyne Shire Council on a new Arts and Culture Strategy. This will be first time the Shire has had a dedicated plan to drive its support of the creative sector in over a decade. The Strategy will aim to strengthen and grow the region’s creative communities, building on their strengths and creating new opportunities. Click here for updates on the project. The draft Strategy is scheduled for public exhibition in May 2024.

Centre for Cultural Collections Business Case


Future Tense worked with Bendigo Art Gallery, DJAARA Aboriginal Corporation and La Trobe University on a business case for a shared collections storage, preservation and education facility. This is a unique collaborative initiative aimed at bringing collections management and conservation expertise to regional Victoria. 

Prahran Town Hall Utilisation Review


Future Tense was engaged by the City of Stonnington to undertake a review of the proposed redevelopment of the Prahran Town Hall and provide advice on the optimal way to realise the Council’s aim of transforming the site into a premier arts, cultural and community facility – both locally and within the wider context of Melbourne’s creative landscape. The goal of this work was to establish a guiding vision and purpose to drive the redevelopment works and subsequent activation of the site.

Darebin Community Awards Review


The City of Darebin commissioned a review of its Community Awards to consider possibilities for further aligning it with their Community Vision. Future Tense reviewed existing data on the Awards, assessed comparable programs, and conducted targeted consultations with internal stakeholders, Advisory Committee Members, and past Award recipients to provide a roadmap for transforming the Awards.

Ballan and Spargo Creek Mineral Springs Public Art Projects


Future Tense worked with Moorabool Shire Council and Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation to establish and run a commissioning processes for the development of public artworks reflecting Traditional Owner values and history at the two mineral spring sites near Ballan. Wadawurrung cultural firm MURRI : YUL where the appointed artists. Their works were installed and launched in April 2023.

National Wool Museum 30-year Vision and Business Plan


A major revisioning project for the National Wool Museum in Geelong, where Future Tense has undertaken extensive reviews of strategies, policies and urban frameworks, benchmarked global best practices, engaged closely with stakeholders, and explored possible directions and implications, and undertook spatial planning for enabling infrastructure upgrades. The result is a new vision and purpose for the Museum and a detailed plan for its implementation. The Vision was adopted by Council in 2022. You can follow the project here.

Moorabool Arts and Culture Strategy


Future Tense worked with Moorabool Shire Council to develop its first Arts and Culture Strategy. We applied the Creative Ecologies framework to establish an evidence base for development of the strategy and undertook significant and sustained community and stakeholder engagement. The resulting strategy was strongly supported by the community and adopted by Council without challenge. The Strategy can be viewed here.

Blak Pearl Art Studio


Blak Pearl is a community-led creative studio in Fitzroy providing a culturally safe environment for local Aboriginal peoples who cannot access mainstream spaces. This project evolved from work Future Tense director Fjorn Bastos has undertaken with community leaders. A two-year pilot will launch in early 2022. You can read more about Blak Pearl here.

Colac Office and Cultural Centre Needs Assessment


Future Tense was commissioned to investigate Council’s future service needs, provide advice on required infrastructure and test the feasibility of different models. This involved detailed consultations with Council, the local health services, state government agencies and community organisations. We gained an understanding of the complex operational circumstances and governance arrangements, developed a range of strategic paths forward, and distilled those into clear options for Council and stakeholders to consider.



+Concepts is a presentation and performance series exploring the insights practitioners have into their own creative and cultural practices. It provides an opportunity to explore these insights in a public forum in a mode consistent with their practice. Started in 2016 by Jan van Schaik, it has hosted over 120 performances from Australian and international practitioners in metropolitan and regional venues in Victoria, NSW, Queensland, Western Australia, and the ACT. Find out more and see videos of the presentations here.

UNESCO Historic Urban Landscape (HUL) toolkit


Future Tense, in partnership with Ludowyk Evaluation, was tasked by the City of Ballarat to develop the framework for a practical toolkit for municipalities wanting to implement the UNESCO HUL approach to city management in their LGA. This required extensive consultation, synthesis and workshoping across disparate (and at times conflicting) stakeholders in order to deliver a solution that worked for Australian LGAs and fit with the international framework.

Drug Harm Minimisation Roundtable


Future Tense facilitated a roundtable with key stakeholders of the Rainbow Serpent Festival to work through their differences and develop a unified approach to minimising the harm of drug use at the festival. This brought together festival management, police and emergency services, health services, topic experts and local council representatives. This event required detailed planning and strong moderation.

Who we are

Future Tense was established in 2017 by architect Jan van Schaik, community organiser Fjorn Bastos and public affairs advisor Leith Thomas and draws on the unique combination of their skills and experience.

Jan van Schaik

Jan is an experienced educator, researcher, and designer. He is an award winning architect specialising in public buildings, the founder of the +CONCEPTS lecture series and publications, and the designer of Lost Tablets. 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 Butler

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 Thomas

Leith is an accomplished strategist. His expertise is in the articulation of complex ideas and the facilitation of meaningful dialogue between disparate audiences. He has worked across corporate, government and not-for-profit sectors and an accredited facilitator of the Victorian Department of Treasury’s Investment Management Standard. Leith is also the co-founder of Sabbatical Records, and founding member of the groups True Radical Miracle and Dead Boomers.