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Reimagining Public Administration: The Creative Bureaucracy Day

Festival of Ideas

£15, £20

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It is time to think afresh our ability to deliver for citizens. The challenges we face – from an aging population to a faltering health service; from uncertainty about the future of work to climate change – at a time of diminishing public budgets means we must find new ways to plan and deliver services. Often derided, our public bureaucracies are at the forefront of dealing with these challenges. Much good work is done. Many public servants are curious and creative, but suffer from risk-averse cultures. We all need to rethink what is done and how we do it especially in terms of valuing and cultivating imagination for the creation of alternative futures.

This first UK conference on this subject – hosted by Bristol Ideas, in collaboration with the Creative Bureaucracy Festival in Berlin – seeks to find new ways of solving some of these crucial challenges with inspiring people and presentations from a range of international speakers. The conference will explore who is doing important work to rethink public administration, both here and elsewhere in Europe and beyond.

The Berlin event – now in its seventh year – has triggered a movement of change with satellite events in other countries. It has become a collective gathering place for creative bureaucrats across the world with 1300 delegates attending its last event in June 2023. We look here at what we can learn for Britain as well for Bristol and the West of England.

Questions to be debated:

What is a creative bureaucracy and why is it urgent?

What are the challenges we are seeking to address?

What are the good examples we can look at from Europe and beyond?

How can we renew how public administration thinks, plans, and acts?

What is the vision/ visions for creative bureaucracies?

What does this mean for key challenges: housing and the environment?


09.30-10.00: Registration and coffee: Waterside 3

10.00-10.05 Introduction

Charles Landry, Comedia/ Creative Bureaucracy Festival – speak from lectern and introduces Poku. 

10.05-10.15: Challenge 1 Poku Osei on creating a better environment for social mobility – speak from lectern

10.15-11.15: Session One:  What is a creative bureaucracy? What are the challenges we need to address? What are good examples of creative bureaucracy work in Europe and beyond?

Host: Charles Landry

Johanna Sieben, director Creative Bureaucracy Festival: The issues, the ideas, and the impact – presentation from lectern

Robyn Bennett, head of international programming, Creative Bureaucracy Festival: Connecting creative bureaucrats across the world – presentation from lectern.

Tom Burke Co-founder, E3G: Why is it time to unleash Britain’s creative bureaucracy now.

Poku Osei responds.


Break – collect coffee and tea and take back to tables.


Andrew Kelly introduces Stephen Hilton

Challenge 2: Stephen Hilton – from lectern 

11.45-12.45: Session 2: How do we rethink public administration

Host: Geoff Mulgan

Immy Kaur, co-founder and director of CIVIC SQUARE

Idoia Postigo, director Bilbao Metropoli 30

Nikki Linsell, Chief Operating Officer, Public Practice

Stephen Hilton responds. 

Andrew Kelly thanks panel and lets guests know about lunch.


Lunch Break

13.35-14.40 Session 3: Creative Bureaucracy, housing, and the environment – What does having a creative bureaucracy mean for key issues today? 

Host: Andrew Kelly 

Tom Burke, E3G

Melissa Mean, Director, WeCanMake

Cllr Josie Parkhouse, Exeter City Council

Paul Smith, CEO, Elim Housing


Break: collect coffees and tea 


Challenge 3: Cleo Lake 

15.10-16.10: Session 4: How can we imagine new creative bureaucracies?

Leyla Boulton, senior editor, Financial Times in discussion with:

Gabriella Gomez Mont, former Chief Creative Officer of Mexico City

Sophie Howe, former Future Generations Commissioner for Wales

16.10-16.45 Session 5: How do we build creative bureaucracies? Open Discussion

Host: Robyn Bennett

Ticket price includes drinks and refreshments

In association with Creative Bureaucracy, Berlin

Robyn Bennett is the Head of International Programming at the Creative Bureaucracy Festival. Robyn’s experience lies in interdisciplinary cultural analysis, innovation ecosystems, systems thinking and strategic communications.

Leyla Boulton is the development editor for FT Live and a senior editor for the Financial Times. She started her career at the newspaper in 1990 as an FT correspondent in Moscow, before covering the environment and then Turkey.

Tom Burke is a co-founder of E3G – world leading strategists on the political economy of climate change, dedicated to achieving a safe climate for all – and chairs its Board.

Gabriella Gómez-Mont is the founder and CEO of Experimentalista, a novel type of nomadic and creative office specialising in cities to accommodate high-level, transdisciplinary collaborations across the world.

Stephen Hilton is a passionate advocate for regenerative economies, socially driven innovation, and equitable urban development. With a diverse background encompassing a Fine Art degree and an MSc in Social Research Methods, he is committed to addressing societal challenges. His impactful work at Bristol City Council earned him recognition as Local Government Innovator of the Year and Director of the Bristol Futures Department, focusing on sustainable, smart, and resilient urban development. His involvement in securing the title of Bristol European Green Capital 2015 highlights his dedication to environmental progress.

Sophie Howe was the first Future Generations Commissioner for Wales (February 2016- January 2023). Her role was to act as a guardian for the interests of future generations in Wales and to support the public bodies listed in the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 to work towards achieving the well-being goals.

Immy Kaur

Immy Kaur is a co-founder and director of CIVIC SQUARE. CIVIC SQUARE is a public square, neighbourhood lab, and creative and participatory platform focused on regenerative civic and social infrastructure within neighbourhoods.

Cleo Lake is a community engagement professional, researcher and creative artist/producer. She was Lord Mayor of Bristol 2018-2019 and in 2021 was the lead consultant, researcher and report writer for Project T.R.U.T.H. During her term as a Green Party Councillor, she was instrumental in getting a Reparations and Atonement motion passed at Bristol City Council for Bristol’s role in the Transatlantic Traffic in Enslaved Africans.

Charles Landry is the inventor of the Creative Bureaucracy concept and co-founder of the Festival in Berlin. He is the author of The Civic City in a Nomadic World, a book which looks at human nature in the context of modern society and asks questions about belonging and purpose.

Nikki Linsell is Chief Operating Officer for Public Practice. She is an architecturally trained operation, strategy and change management consultant specialising in social impact startups. She has co-founded and helped set up several built environment charities, and managed complex build projects and research across Europe, Asia and Africa in often challenging contexts.

Melissa Mean is Director of WeCanMake, a neighbourhood test-space in Bristol for imagining and making new ways to create homes that build social infrastructure and community wealth.

Geoff Mulgan is a Professor at University College London. He works on how to create and implement good ideas: the practicalities of action as well as longer-term questions of strategy and imagination.

Poku Osei

Poku Osei (BA, PGCert, MSc) is a respected social entrepreneur and the Founder and CEO of award-winning youth empowerment organisation, Babbasa.

Josie Parkhouse is a Labour and Cooperative Councillor and the Lead Councillor for the Climate and Ecological Crisis on Exeter City Council. The council declared a climate emergency in 2019 and was recently independently rated as one of the top five district councils in the UK for their work towards net zero.

Idoia Postigo is responsible for the creation of the Association for the Revitalization of Metropolitan Bilbao. Making use of her 30 years of international experience in urban planning strategies, Idoia’s work has positioned the Association at the centre of the metropolis’ urban development and an influencer of all the main actors responsible for it, especially public institutions and citizens.

Johanna Sieben is the director of the Creative Bureaucracy Festival, having joined the team in 2021. As the festival director, she is responsible for working on the audience experience of all guests and partners, identifying the best projects within the world of Creative Bureaucracy, and bringing these to a wider audience.

Paul Smith

Paul Smith is CEO of Elim Housing, a charitable social landlord based in Bristol. He previously served as a Bristol City Councillor from 1988 to 1999, when he was chair of the Environmental, Health, Land and Property and Leisure Services committees, and 2016 to 2020 when he was Cabinet Member for Homes and Communities.

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