The Future is Collective was a Watershed programme of work propelling community and climate activism by offering support and development to freelance creatives (2021-2022). The project was supported by Arts Council England. 

We delivered the programme in partnership with Bristol + Bath Creative R+D, the University of Bristol through MyWorld, and Bath Spa University through the Immersive Promotion Design consultancy. 

The Future is Collective explored the possibility that lies in two interwoven emergencies - the global economic crisis and climate breakdown. The programme aimed to propel community and climate activism by offering bespoke and targeted support to a cohort of freelance individuals, whilst connecting the wider sector and sharing new work with audiences. 

As part of this programme Watershed was able to offer paid work to freelancers, including a core cohort of Rife Resident Editors and Content Creators, and Associates specialising in Producing and Audience Development. Meet the cohort here.

The Rife Content Creators and Resident Editors worked together to create and publish new content. You can view content created here

“Having industry-experienced people on hand was great for me as I wasn’t sure how to gain that kind of access, I’ve become more confident in asking questions and approaching people that interest me.” Rife Content Creator

At the end of the project, the Associates shared some reflections which can also be found at the bottom of this page in the project blog section. 

This cohort received a bespoke package of professional development support, whilst their work on the programme simultaneously supported the wider sector, including the Associates offering one-to-one and group Mentoring and advice sessions on Producing and Audience Development to freelancers. 

The programme also included a series of events that aimed to upskill, energise and connect the South West creative sector. Beneficiaries included Pervasive Media Studio and BFI Film Hub South West communities as well as the wider freelancer community in the South West. Bursaries were offered to enable freelancers, who would not have been able to attend due to financial barriers, to participate. Watershed worked in partnership with Channel 4, Inside Film, BFI Film Hub SW, The Festival of Nature, UWE, Bristol & Bath Creative R&D, EcoMuvi, Climate Spring, WECIL, Upstarter, Gritty Talent, Climate Outreach, Storytelling for Climate Justice, Super 8, Media Molecule, Climate Story Lab and The Artist Wellbeing Company to offer a range of 24 workshops, talks and networking events.

“I wasn't sure what to expect and didn't know how relevant the workshop would be for me. But it was incredibly useful and has given me loads of tips for the next stage of my career. The workshop leaders were brilliant, patient and knowledgable. It seemed to really help everyone take a more objective look at their own work.” Workshop Participant

Key Stats:

  • 49 one-to-one advice sessions accessed by over 35 individual freelancers on Audience Development & Producing. Freelancers rated this support on average as 4.8 (scale 1 poor, 5 excellent)
  • 24 workshops, talks and networking events
  • 314 workshop and networking event participants
  • 146 days of paid employment created for freelancers

Imagining Possibilities talks

Associate Producer, Chi Thai, programmed some short talks and workshops about sustainable creative practices and climate storytelling. This online talk event was aimed at creatives working in screen based media including video games, film and immersive, and is available to watch back here. 


The Future is Collective ran between September 2021 and September 2022. 

The Future is Collective was made possible thanks to public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England. 

Project blog

Studio themes