As we gear up to see in the New Year there will be plenty of people who will be glad to see the back of 2020.  Our New Year celebrations are being curtailed with many areas of the UK now in Tier 4 restrictions and many public events cancelled.  The fact that we end 2020 with truck drivers having to manage new border control requirements from 11pm tonight makes me wonder whether even at the eleventh hour, 2020 hasn’t finished with us yet.

A brief review

I don’t want to spend too much time reviewing 2020 on a macro-level, other than to note it will be a year for the history books, my stories about the year are all segmented into various restrictions applied to our lives.
  • In Lockdown 1 the co-founders of 4iforum came together for the first time and began dreaming about a response to the pandemic.
  • As the restrictions were lifted was launched and we faciliated our first forums. One month later we changed our business model and our first patron came on board.
  • When local restrictions (in Wales) and tiers (in England) were introduced we hosted our first symposium with Dame Wendy Hall.
  • During the firebreaker (in Wales) and lockdown two we hosted our second symposium with Lord Mark Price and began planning additional products to add to our portfolio  We had our first sell out forum.
  • During lockdown three we continued to see a growth in sponsored seats being filled and planned for January and February forums.  Our new product plans continue to be developed.

Fear and Hope

One of the things I have been pondering is the prevalence of fear and hope.  Hopes of a return to normal were quickly dashed after the first few weeks of Lockdown 1, as we end the year there is little hope we will emerge from Tier 4 restrictions until February and possibly later.  The hopeful talk from ministers of schools reopening are beginning to look more ridiculous.  The fear of catching CoVid depends on what media you consume but the government reaction to the ‘new strain’ is causing even the most gungho among my friends to pause for thought.  It’s the first time I am questioning the wisdom of sending my own kids back to school. Testing, vaccines and restrictions – for some its overwhelming, for others compartmentalised.  But we carry on.

2021 has a whole load of unknowns which make me feel fearful – Brexit and how prepared the UK is for the changes, vaccine roll out, my son’s GCSE exams after almost of year of missed in class teaching, health system collapse and work, income and extra costs.

But there is hope too – vaccine roll out and a possible end to restrictions by Easter, the opportunity for a holiday, abroad, sunshine and joy, gathering with family and friends again, eating out and… growth for 4iforum.

Roaring Twenties

I’ve always been fascinated by the Roaring Twenties, flapper dresses, women’s rights and all that Jazz. It is fascinating that one century on, history might repeat itself.  Is our twenty-twenties going to be able to repeat the prosperity and panche that emerged from the dark days of the Great War and the Spanish Flu pandemic. In the decade between 1920 and 1929 wealth more than doubled, new technologies emerged and society changed immeasurably.  The world traversed a huge cultural civil war (sound familiar?) with signficant political change, nativisim and hysteria thrown into the mix for good measure (also… sound familiar?).  Did the people dealing with the 1918 pandemic believe that there would be such good days ahead? 

2021 - A Roar or a Whimper

So what will 2021 and beyond bring? 

With Brexit, yellow hammer predications and the emergence of new strains of CoVid it could be more of 2020 but worse.  We might continue to crawl forward scrabbling to survive, entering a decade of depression and gloom.

However, with Trump being compared to Hoover I’m finding it hard not to anticipate that maybe, just maybe our Twenty-Twenties might be about to roar. 

It’s true that arts and culture are shaped by our experiences and I have no doubt that just as music defined the Jazz Age, that we will experience a resurgence of music, theatre and art after a very dark winter for our cultural capital during the CoVid era.  Personally I predict an explosion of bright colours and a joyous cacophony of sound.  I hope that I am right about the riotous revolution about to come.

2020 has changed work and business forever and accelerated change that was already happening.  The slow death of the high street has instead become a massacre and I expect a continuing revolution with more shocks to come. But I also expect there to be an emergence of new community focus to our towns and cities.  Hospitality, that has borne the brunt of the economic impacts of lockdown will, I think, be released into an orgy of experiences. The 1920’s may have been defined by the mass consumer culture, I think the 2020’s will be defined by the participation culture.  Taking part will replace taking home.

I think the cultural civil wars will continue, but I am hopeful that the crazier elements will burn brightly before being extinguished.


No one knows for sure what 2021 will bring.  After all this time last year no one predicted that the newly elected Tory Government would begin a programme of universal income or that lockdown, furlough, tiers and vaccines would dominate national conversation.

I hope that I am right about the Roar. I’m certainly intent on lending my talents and my voice to help make it so.


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