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

Our projects

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.

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

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.

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 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 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 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.