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De kunstschool als ecosysteem

FAST45 - Futures arts school trends 2045

Koenraad Hinnekint

In 2045, the world will look very different. Although we cannot predict this future, we can shape it. The question is how to prepare today for higher arts education in the future. How can we imagine multiple futures and reflect on how higher arts education will deal with complexities and uncertainties? Can we map these [un]known futures? And what knowledge, structures, or policies do we need to create a sustainable and desirable future for students and staff in higher arts education institutions in 2045? These questions are the starting point for the Erasmus+ Knowledge Alliance FAST45 (Futures Art School Trends 2045). This article gives a concise overview of the project’s objectives and anticipated outcomes. The text concludes with four future scenarios for higher arts education and an invitation for the multiplier event FAST45 Futures [Un]known.

In 2045 zal de wereld er heel anders uitzien. Hoewel we deze toekomst niet kunnen voorspellen, kunnen we haar wel vormgeven. Maar hoe kunnen we ons vandaag voorbereiden op het hoger kunstonderwijs in de toekomst? Hoe kunnen we ons meerdere toekomstbeelden voorstellen en nadenken over hoe het hoger kunstonderwijs zal omgaan met complexiteiten en onzekerheden? Kunnen we deze [on]bekende toekomsten in kaart brengen? En welke kennis, structuren of beleidsmaatregelen hebben we nodig om een duurzame en aantrekkelijke toekomst te creëren voor studenten en medewerkers van instellingen voor hoger kunstonderwijs in 2045? Deze vragen vormen het uitgangspunt van de Erasmus+ Kennisalliantie FAST45 (Futures Art School Trends 2045). Dit artikel geeft een beknopt overzicht van de doelstellingen en verwachte resultaten van het project. De tekst sluit af met vier toekomstscenario's voor het hoger kunstonderwijs en een uitnodiging voor het multiplier event FAST45 Futures [Un]known.

Shaping unknown futures

For any decision you make, you’re using an image of the future based on what you expect will happen. And if your images of the future are fuzzy and incoherent, then your decisions will be fuzzy and incoherent. (Reed D. Reiner)

Is it possible to anticipate the uncertain future of higher arts education? Moreover, what kind of knowledge, structure, or policies should we establish in 2023 to ensure a sustainable and desirable future for students and staff in higher arts education institutions by 2045? Rooted in these questions lies the fundamental mission for the Erasmus+ Knowledge Alliance FAST45 (Futures Art School Trends 2045).

This Erasmus+ Project1 acknowledges the potential of higher arts education to cultivate creativity and imaginative thinking for shaping the future. A consortium of seven European higher arts education institutions joined forces with three partners from the creative industry and business and two European network organizations for higher arts education to lay the groundwork for a roadmap to sustainable advancement.2 The FAST45 Knowledge Alliance aims to envision the arts and higher arts education in a future world transformed by the fourth industrial revolution, globalization, and climate change. In a three-year-long research project (January 2020 – December 2023), the consortium partners explored possible and probable futures in which participation, research, and education in the arts play a more meaningful and integrated role. Knowing that many developments will radically reshape the world in 2045, the partners collected knowledge, created and tested methods for futures thinking, and broadly implemented them in cross-disciplinary labs. The project’s final result is an Art School Futures Roadmap unfolding policy recommendations from{for] the future.

This article focuses briefly on the project’s research actions and summarizes the project’s outcomes. Subsequently, it closes with a brief presentation of four scenarios for higher arts education in 2045 and an invitation for the multiplier event FAST45 [Un]known futures.

At the moment of writing, the consortium is still working on publishing the results. All results will be accessible online from November 2023 on the FAST45 website fast45.eu and FAST45 learning platform learningplatform.fast45.eu.

Project activities and outcomes

In the first set of project activities, the FAST45 partners addressed the need for operational support to substantiate the process of futures thinking in Higher Arts Education Institutions (HAEI) and the need for knowledge to rethink the role and position of HAEI in society. Each partner conducted three interviews with experts in domains connected to futures studies or futures thinking and inventoried literature that substantiates ideas and visions of possible, probable, or preferable futures for IHAE and the employment of artists.

The FAST45 team identified key factors, emerging patterns, and subtle indicators that could impact HAEI. I will highlight some of them to demonstrate their significance and indicate the broad range of domains they entail:

(1) Artists will play a crucial role in shaping new human values and experiences in a posthuman and postdigital world.
(2) Artists may soon be able to create experiences without needing an interface by tapping directly into the human brain.
(3) Higher arts education should prioritize a slower approach that allows students and faculty staff to reflect and develop their unique artistic style or research rather than rushing through project after project.
(4) Some artists may not be interested in technology or virtual art forms and may prefer to work with real people and public spaces while embracing traditional artistic techniques.

Furthermore, the FAST45 team developed an inventory of inspiring and promising practices in art-related employability and a trans-professional environment of science, technology, and the arts. We summarized all information into five easily accessible narratives. For example, the narrative Enhanced Learning Experiences in the Arts and the Mandate of Learning Technology explores future scenarios in technology-enhanced learning.

The outcome of this first set of project activities is an explorable knowledge base (FAST45 Art School Futures Data Map). This data map helps to shed light on the gap between the current situation, desirable futures, and the unknown by identifying artistic, educational, technological, and socio-economic innovative practices and trends. It also provides evidence of why these activities and trends might impact HAEI. The objective of this data map presented as an online tool is to enable and inspire futures thinking.

In the project’s second phase, our activities included addressing the need for operational support and knowledge to establish future scenarios and determine policy and decision actions for strategic progress. We organized Art School Futures Labs and developed a Learning Platform to achieve this.

The labs consisted of a Summer School held in August 2022 at the University of the Arts Zurich and two half-day workshops in the Fall of 2022 organized in each individual institution of the consortium. During this Summer School and the workshops, students and staff collaborated to envision the future of higher arts education. The objective of organizing Art School Futures Labs is to enhance futures thinking and imagining alternative futures inside and outside HAEI (i.e. in partnership with students, lecturers, researchers, and heads of programmes, departments, or institutions and in collaboration with external public and private partners from social and economic domains).

The FAST45 team also created a Learning Platform that contains guidelines for organizing Art School Futures Labs and a seminar series called “Pedagogical Life and the Digital University of the Arts”. These Guidelines serve as a work template and strategy framework to promote futures thinking in IHAE. It helps to plan actions and provides users with a methodology for developing futures images and scenarios. With these guidelines, we offer cross-referenced information to support the process of futures thinking in IHAE and provide guidance for individual institutions to establish and organize Art School Futures Lab with their stakeholders.

In the Spring of 2023, a seminar series called “Pedagogical Life and the Digital University of the Arts” was organized as a series of online webinars for educational staff and researchers at HAEI.3 In the webinars, we explored various forms and aspects of pedagogical life that could inform or instruct our future understanding of the learning platform. As a contemporary pedagogical form that connects physical and virtual learning communities, the learning platform is increasingly associated with corporate training and workplace learning models. However, this seminar series delved into the tension between physical and virtual forms of arts pedagogical practice and life. Through critical reflection on this tension, we also discussed the possibilities within digital forms of higher arts education.

We focused on the project’s main goal during the third set of project activities. The FAST45 team worked on futures images to showcase the differences between the present and future of higher arts education and to highlight potential choices and their consequences. HAEI will need these images to prepare for long-term planning and decision-making.

FAST45 presents four futures scenarios for HAEI 2045, based on images developed in the Art School Futures Labs. The four scenarios are a set of possible, probable, or preferable futures for the employment of artists and the role of HAEI in society. They lay the foundation for a discussion/debate on possible policy and decision actions on both a national and international scale that informs and facilitates transformative leadership for strategic steps forward.

The aim is to provide an Art School Futures Roadmap on the principal and specific features, challenges, or problems about long-term strategic planning and decision-making in HAEI. It will consist of a discussion document and policy debate that empower HAEI to anticipate an unknown future and actively help shape it. The Art School Futures Roadmap will be presented at the final multiplier event FAST45 [Un]known Futures.

FAST45 Art School Futures Labs

In the fall of 2022, we organized twelve half-day workshops and a Summer School using a futures workshop approach for HAEI (i.e. Art School Futures Labs). In these labs, students, teaching staff, researchers, heads of programmes, departments, or institutes, businesspeople, and other external stakeholders of IHAE discussed the following questions: What do present signals suggest as forces or drivers that push HAEI, their research, educational programmes, or third mission activities to change the future? What imaginations, vision, and dreams about possible and preferable futures attract us to act and transform how HAEI exist to their multiple stakeholders and, more generally, society? How do shifts in paradigms relevant to the arts or higher arts education make us reconsider what we teach our students and how we teach them? How do global megatrends such as digitalization, demographic shifts, climate crisis, labour shortages, economic shifts, and civil, civic, and equality movements urge us to reimagine new paths?

The Art School Futures Labs were designed to help participants scan future horizons, identify tailwinds, headwinds, shoal waters, and seas of opportunity; and find answers for futures (un)known (Lehikoinen & Tuittila, 2023, Art School Futures Lab Guidelines. FAST45 outcome to be published online November 2023). In this way, participants co-created ideas and visions for futures images and scenarios for the education and employment of artists.

The labs explored possible actions and strategies to promote desirable futures and help prevent undesirable futures for HAEI. In the first part of the lab, participants focused on understanding what is likely to happen or change in the future (trends, emerging issues, futures signals), especially the question of what new opportunities, challenges, or risks will appear. Through co-reflection and speculative thinking, participants identified what specific themes or issues are relevant concerning the future of HAEI. What follows is a list of considered themes and topics in the labs: emergent artistic ideas and practices; transformations in cultural and creative ecosystems; making a living: careers and expanding professionalism in the arts; pedagogies and learning in higher arts education; research in higher arts education; institutional structures and hierarchies in higher arts education; decentralization, collaboration, and transdisciplinarity; deconstruction of binary oppositions (e.g. urban vs rural; global vs local); diversity: people, disciplines, topics, partners; future learning spaces in and alternatives to art schools; ubiquity; accessibility, equity, and inclusion; life-long learning; technological transformations; arts university’s role in society; community engagement and partnerships; environmentalism; artistic freedoms; social activism and protest; political advocacy; well-being and mental health; utopias and dystopias; neoliberal ideology in higher arts education; sustainability and climate change; political change.

During the second part of the lab, the participants utilized the compiled information and ideas to imagine and co-create future images (snapshots) of possible futures. The participants assigned meanings to these images and discussed their relevance for HAEI. Finally, they transformed all of the future images (along with written and recorded descriptions detailing the importance of each image) into an artefact for the FAST45 Futures Archive.

Throughout this article are some images of this reverse archaeological collection featuring 43 artefacts from the future, along with their explanatory labels. These items offer a glimpse into what may come to pass. The captions provide a summary of each artefact’s explanatory label.

Four Futures Scenarios

The FAST45 team used the Futures Art School Data Map and the Art School Futures Labs to create a set of Futures Scenarios for higher arts education. First, I will briefly explain the methodology used to analyse the data. Finally, I will summarize the four developed scenarios.

To develop scenarios, the partners first filtered all gathered data into four categories: mega-trends, trends, emerging issues, and weak signals. They then conducted three qualitative analyses on the resulting dataset of 1,145 items, which we called building blocks for scenario development.

What do present signals suggest as forces or drivers that push higher arts education institutions, their research, educational programmes, and third mission activities to change the future?

The first analysis aimed to organize all building blocks of content. For this analysis, we used three categories. Firstly, we structured the building blocks into "domains" to define general fields of influence or dynamics. We used codes such as culture, economy, education, energy, environment, governance, politics, and technology. Secondly, we selected for each building block one or more "factors" to define the relation of a building block to specific fields of influence or dynamics in HAEI. These factors comprised codes such as administration & management, art & design practice, curriculum & programme, learning & interaction, mindset & values, organization & facilities, relations & communication, and research. Finally, we categorized all building blocks into "themes" frequently discussed in the labs. Here, we used codes such as acceleration & transformation, adaptability & flexibility, identity & ownership, interdisciplinarity, neoliberalism, polarization, posthumanism, social & cultural diversity and well-being. The second analysis organized building blocks according to levels of impact and uncertainty, aiming to determine their potential power for the future of HAEI and any unknown or uncertain consequences. We used the following codes: high, medium, or low level of impact, and high, medium, or low level of uncertainty. In a final analysis, all partners structured the building blocks into the three domains of the Future Triangle (i.e. weight of the past, push of the present, and pull of the future) and Jim Dator’s model of Futures Archetypes4 (i.e. continued growth, collapse, disciplined, and transformative), both central concepts in futures studies and futures thinking. This first analysis resulted in an Excel file facilitating easier access to the varied contents of the data set of 1,145 items.

During the second phase to develop the scenarios, a small team of colleagues worked in a three-day boot camp at the University of the Arts Helsinki, using a specific methodology to write futures scenarios.5 The three analyses described above formed the basis for this boot camp, during which the colleagues structured and restructured all building blocks to create a set of key concepts. These concepts were then used in the next phase to write four scenarios exploring possible futures for HAEI.

All ideas and concepts in these scenarios are based on the original data set and could be combined differently to consider alternative perspectives for HAEI’s future. To select concepts for the scenarios, we used quantitative parameters (e.g. the building blocks most frequently or exceptionally articulated in the dataset) and qualitative parameters (e.g. groups of building blocks sorted out according to categories and codes used in the three analyses). As such, the scenarios present, on the one hand, what occurred most frequently or rather exclusively in the dataset and, on the other hand, what appeared in alignment with the overall synthesis of the performed analyses.

The text of the scenarios consists of five parts:
(1) the main drives and trends for the scenario,
(2) a description of the operational environment,
(3) the path towards this scenario,
(4) a description of the higher arts education landscape, and
(5) illustrative personas.

Below is a summary of the four fu­tures scenarios.

Scenario 1: Open Spaces

Higher arts education institutions are crucial in nurturing creativity and innovation. These educational entities aim to create inclusive and collaborative work environments that are globally connected. Open Spaces, as they are called, prioritize building solid relationships with diverse communities, recognizing the importance of these partnerships. By emphasizing individual lifestyles that entail self-reliance, uniqueness, abstract thinking, privacy, and personal goals, the partners within Open Spaces foster a deep respect for individual and local needs.

Open Spaces provide a setting that encourages people to explore their passions and pursue opportunities that bring them joy. They acknowledge the value of personal growth and fulfilment throughout each individual’s journey. Higher arts education actively addresses societal, environmental, sociocultural, and technological challenges, moving away from traditional art practices and craftsmanship. Instead, the focus is on engaging with these inquiries as the central aspect of artistic development.

In essence, Open Spaces function as centres of artistic ingenuity, empowering individuals to engage with the world creatively while addressing the complex challenges faced by society and the planet. These institutions serve as hubs for fostering creativity, encouraging collaboration, and navigating the wicked problems of our time. By embracing openness, diversity, and the integration of various disciplines, higher arts education strives to create a thriving international community where creativity and innovation can flourish.

Scenario 2: Slow Eco-life

Higher arts education institutions have become active contributors to sustainability goals, dedicating themselves to addressing urgent issues such as ecological crises. They embrace innovative approaches by incorporating regenerative and indigenous practices, fearlessly embarking on ventures that involve collaboration between different species. This exploration of new artistic and citizenry paradigms occurs within the planetary boundaries.

In these institutions, hierarchies have been flattened, allowing students to play a vital role in decision-making processes. The emphasis lies on achieving consensus, flexibility, and the community’s well-being. Rather than perceiving slowness and degrowth as hindrances, they are embraced as creative catalysts. Constantly questioning what is essential becomes a fundamental aspect of artistic development, renouncing excess and embracing resource scarcity as integral parts of the artistic process.

By actively engaging with these principles, higher arts education institutes will evolve into transformative spaces that nurture holistic artists and conscientious citizens. They are committed to addressing complex global challenges and cultivating a deep sense of responsibility towards the environment. Through their commitment to sustainability, collaborative practices, and the cultivation of mindful creativity, these institutions will inspire a generation of artists to harness their creative potential to envision and co-create a more harmonious and sustainable world.

Scenario 3: Phygital Frontiers

In 2045, the convergence of quantum cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and neurotechnology will have revolutionized various aspects of daily life, education, healthcare, and the arts. These cutting-edge advancements will have paved the way for personalized learning experiences and the seamless integration of physical and digital realms, resulting in a new hybrid environment known as the phygital realm.

One notable development is the concept of “cyborgification”, where artists augment their bodies to push the boundaries of artistic expression, posing thought-provoking challenges to societal norms and ethical considerations. Integrating AI-powered tools enables real-time analysis and personalized guidance in the learning process. Moreover, generative technologies have brought about a paradigm shift in artistic research, opening up new possibilities and expanding the horizons of creativity.

With the rise of decentralized autonomous organizations, educational institutes’ governance will also have transformed. These new entities are managed through automated processes and oversight from human agents responsible for decision-making, proposing solutions, and upholding ethical considerations.

Ethical norms and legal frameworks face unprecedented challenges with the proliferation of technology-driven art and art-driven technology. As a result, fresh perspectives and innovative legislation are required to navigate this evolving landscape and ensure the responsible and ethical use of these transformative technologies.

In 2045, society finds itself at the intersection of technological progress and artistic exploration, necessitating a holistic approach that embraces innovation while upholding ethical principles and legal safeguards. The future calls for a dynamic and adaptable framework that fosters creative expression and responsible use of technology and promotes the well-being of individuals and society.

Scenario 4: Profitable Endeavours

Amid an increasingly neoliberal climate and the rise of right-wing politics, artists, arts organizations, and arts universities find themselves compelled to navigate a business-oriented landscape while facing challenges to academic and artistic freedom. Despite certain opportunities, such as customized education, university-business partnerships, and impact-focused research, economic constraints persist due to diverse needs and austerity measures.

While some universities benefit from cross-border mergers, resulting in increased competitiveness, access to degree programmes in higher arts education remains predominantly limited to privileged individuals. Although affordable micro-credentials have emerged as a solution to address immediate employment needs, they fail to bridge the opportunity gap in comprehensive degree programmes, ultimately narrowing perspectives within artistic thinking, art-making, and research.

However, amid these challenges, informal networks and agile alliances outside traditional arts universities have begun to take shape. These networks organize arts education and foster artistic inquiry at the grassroots level, leading to an upsurge in artistic and intellectual achievements.

In this ever-evolving landscape, artists, arts organizations, and arts universities must navigate a complex terrain that requires adaptability, resilience, and the forging of alliances within and outside formal institutions. By embracing alternative networks, fostering inclusivity, and advocating for artistic inquiry and freedom, they can create spaces for diverse voices and perspectives to thrive, ensuring the continued vitality of the arts even in the face of adversity.

FAST45 Futures [Un]known

This article gives a brief overview of the Erasmus+ Knowledge Alliance FAST45 and its objectives, activities, research actions, and outcomes. The project’s focus on envisioning the future of higher arts education in the context of the fourth industrial revolution, globalization, and climate change is forward-looking and innovative.

The work in the project involved various stages, including inventorying knowledge, conducting interviews, organizing webinars and labs, exploring trends and weak signals, developing scenarios, and creating an online knowledge base and learning platform. The four scenarios – Open Spaces, Slow Eco-life, Phygital Frontiers, and Profitable Endeavours – present intriguing potential futures for HAEI in 2045. Each scenario highlights how HAEI might evolve and adapt to the changing world.

The emphasis in these scenarios on collaboration, integration, transdisciplinarity, sustainability, technology, political issues, and ethical considerations reflects the complexity and broad diversity of challenges that higher arts education may face in the coming decades. It’s particularly interesting to see how the scenarios address issues such as the role of societal shifts, work and private life balance, environmental concerns, technology and computing, artistic research, and the balance between artistic freedom and political or economic realities.

The involvement of various stakeholders, including students, staff, external partners, and experts from various domains and industries, in envisioning these scenarios is crucial to ensuring a well-rounded and comprehensive exploration of possible futures.

If you have any questions or anything specific you would like to discuss further about the project or its outcomes, please feel free to contact us at koenraad.hinnekint@luca-arts.be.

The FAST45 consortium invites higher arts education leaders, educators, creative practitioners, researchers, artists, students, cultural workers, and policymakers to participate in a two-day programme of future thinking and policy-making FAST45 Futures [Un]known. Together with all participants, the FAST45 consortium will unfold the FAST45 roadmap and policy recommendations in the closing part of this multiplier event (7 December 2023, 11:30 AM – 01:00 PM), Cinematek, Brussels).


Koenraad Hinnekint

is a researcher and educational developer at LUCA School of Arts. He coordinates the Erasmus+ project Knowledge Alliance Higher Arts Education, Creative Industry, and Business – Futures Art School Trends 2045.



  1. Erasmus+ is the EU’s programme to support education, training, youth, and sport in Europe. Within this EU-funded framework, Knowledge Alliances are transnational and result-driven research projects to strengthen Europe’s innovation capacity and foster innovation in higher education, business, and the broader socio-economic environment. Knowledge Alliances intend to develop new, innovative, and multidisciplinary approaches to teaching and learning, stimulate entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial skills of higher education and company staff, and facilitate knowledge exchange, flow, and co-creation.
  2. The FAST45 consortium comprises partners from HAEI, which includes Céfédèm Auvergne Rhône-Alpes, Estonian Academy of the Arts, LUCA School of Arts, Film University Babelsberg KONRAD WOLF, Technological University Dublin, University of the Arts Helsinki, and University of the Arts Zurich. Additionally, it also includes partners from the creative industry and business, more concretely, Xenorama Collective for Audio Visual Arts, Microsoft Ireland, and Conexiones Improbables. The consortium also included two European network organizations for higher arts education, namely, Association des Conservatoires, Académies de Musique et Musik Hochschulen (AEC) and European League of Institutes of the Arts (ELIA).
  3. See learningplatform.fast45.eu/dialogue.
  4. The Four Futures framework, also called Futures Archetypes is a model developed by James Dator (former director of the Hawaii Research Centre for Futures Studies at the Political Science Department, University of Hawaii). Dator developed this framework to show that all ideas and concepts about the future fall into four categories. The first, "growth", says that the systems and ways of being continue to develop along their current trajectory. The second, "collapse", indicates that a current trajectory suddenly stops. Well-known systems and ways of being fall apart. The third, "discipline", refers to the idea that new forms of restraint and control are imposed on the present order to prevent our systems and ways of being from collapse. The fourth, "transformation", says that entirely new systems and ways of being are found, meaning we fundamentally change and transcend the present order.

    See Dator, James. “Alternative Futures at the Manoa School.” Journal of Futures Studies, vol. 14, no. 2 (November 2009), pp. 1-18, jfsdigital.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/142-A01.pdf.
  5. Aalto, Hanna-Kaisa Teoksessa, and others (eds.). Tulevaisuudentutkimus tutuksi – Perusteita ja menetelmiä. (Getting to know futures studies – Fundamentals and methods), University of Turku, Turku School of Economics, 2022, urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-952-249-563-1.