Julie’s Bicycle recently released the latest findings from Arts Council England’s environmental reporting programme.
Julie’s Bicycle has been working in partnership with Arts Council England since 2012 to inspire environmental action across the arts and culture, and in 2015/16 engagement was higher than ever.
Sustaining Great Art: Environmental Report 2015/16 demonstrates how the sector continues to reduce environmental impacts despite a growth in cultural activity, while environmental action is driving benefits to financial resilience, business planning and staff well-being.
Ben Twist is Creative Carbon Scotland‘s Director and he has a brilliant blog. This article is copied from from Ben’s strategy blog which is well worth following!
Over the summer Creative Carbon Scotland focused more than we have in the past on talking to people and organisations working on climate change and sustainability about the role of the arts in their field (as opposed talking to people in the arts about climate change).
We’ve been doing a lot of thinking (and I’ve covered some of this in one of my other blogs) about the particular role of the arts in working on carbon reduction and adaptation to a new society. My part of this has been to do a number of talks to various groups, from an event at the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation during the Edinburgh Festivals to a TEDx talk at Heriot Watt University.
I’ve refined my talk over the summer and the structure now goes something like this:
- We’re facing a major social change: either we achieve the carbon reduction targets implicit within the Paris Agreement – in which case our relationship with energy and fossil fuels will have to change radically – or we don’t achieve them – in which case issues such as migration, changing food supplies, resource related conflicts and so on will bring about major social change (as they are already).
- The Mexico City Declaration by UNESCO provides a useful definition of culture in a broad sense as effectively the way we live in the world.
- Using that definition, climate change is as much a cultural issue as a scientific or technical one: it is a function of our culture, our way of living in the world, which is a culture of consumption. We dig up resources, use them and throw them away, and this latter stage is a major cause of climate change. In order to avert more climate change, we need to shift to a culture of stewardship.
- This would have useful implications not only for environmental sustainability and climate change but also social sustainability (climate justice but also equalities more broadly) and economic sustainability (perhaps abandoning the search for endless economic growth and following up some of the principles of Tim Jackson’s Prosperity Without Growth, for example).
- So how do we achieve this cultural shift?
- Culture in a narrower sense – what we generally call the arts, but this includes design, film and media, museums and heritage etc – is the expression of culture in the wider sense used above. Art has often been said to ‘hold a mirror up to society’. But it is also therefore a way of understanding, interrogating and changing the wider culture.
- The German playwright Bertolt Brecht wrote, ‘Art is not a mirror to hold up to society, but a hammer with which to shape it’!
- Working with the arts is therefore a useful way to work on achieving the cultural shift.
- There is often an assumption that the role of the arts in areas such as these is to communicate complex ideas more effectively and particularly to engage the wider public emotionally rather than factually. This is indeed a useful role of the arts, but they can do much more. I have a slide which provides a (non-exhaustive) list of ways in which the arts work.
I think there are interesting ways in which artists can contribute to addressing climate change through making artistic work – CCS is involved for instance in a project led by the RSPB on developing awareness of the importance of the peat bogs in the Flow country as carbon sinks.
And there are also ways in which artists can use their skills, knowledge and ways of thinking in non-artistic projects and settings. After one talk, someone who has been attending the meetings of the Local Advisory Committee of the European Climate Change Adaptation Conference in 2017 came up to me. ‘I realise that’s what you’ve been doing at the meetings,’ she said. ‘You’ve used your role as an artist to make us think about and discuss things we wouldn’t have discussed otherwise.’
This was encouraging, as that’s what I do, although I hadn’t really thought of it as such in that particular situation. And in a way, that’s the point: I was being a member of a group and using the skills I have as a (former) theatre director, just as others in the group use their skills as academics, project managers etc.
This is all part of a strand of our work at CCS called Culture/SHIFT: the artistic and conceptual work that we do alongside, and inextricably linked to, our more practical and technical work supporting cultural organisations to reduce their carbon emissions. There’s more information about this here.
We’re always interested in more people working on climate change and sustainability attending our Green Teases and other events – following our most recent Arts & Sustainability Residency we’re thinking about reserving places for non-artists next year.
Our message must be getting through: we’ve been asked to run a session on this subject at the SSN Conference on 1 November. We’ll run through some of the ways in which we think the arts can support climate change and sustainability work and help participants to think about how this could be useful in their work. Sign up now!
|A message from Land Art Generator Initiative.
There are still a great many of our fellow citizens who do not recognize the seriousness of the climate change threat, despite the increasingly dire and catastrophic warnings from the scientific community.
The Land Art Generator Initiative is calling positive attention to the great energy transition by making its benefits visible to communities around the world. We are confident that this uplifting approach is more effective than stories of doom and gloom at reaching those who are still not yet convinced of the science, or who may be tempted to protest new solar and wind installations because they fear they are not visually pleasing.
At LAGI, we are celebrating the beauty of our renewable future by bringing creative minds together to design culturally relevant energy infrastructures that help neighborhoods and people directly. The next few years bring us the opportunity to expand our efforts in cities and in communities as a counterpoint to the likely absence of climate-oriented policies at the federal level.
The world that we would like to see emerge in the coming decades is one in which the mass proliferation of clean energy systems will also lead to some of the 21st century’s greatest works of civic art and social projects.
Our approach to sustainable energy should be suitable to and respectful of places and people. That is what LAGI is expert in, and it informs our unique approach to every project.
We write about this in our latest book, Powering Places, which is now available at your local bookseller. Click on this link for online purchasing options.
In addition to thoughtful essay contributions1, the book details over 60 of the most interesting entries to this year’s LAGI design competition.
Example spread from Powering Places
Teams around the world were challenged to create a piece of civic art that also acts as sustainable and renewable energy and drinking water infrastructure for the city of Santa Monica, California. The result is an astounding sampling of innovative and artistic solutions that employ the latest wave, tidal, wind, solar, and other technologies.
1 Thank you to the Powering Places essay contributors:
Craig Watson (Director, California Arts Council)
Julie’s Bicycle is launching Creative Climate Leadership, a new leadership development programme.
Creative Climate Leadership is a pan-European programme for artists, creative professionals and policymakers to explore the cultural dimensions of climate change, and take action with impact, creativity and resilience.
Through a series of events, policy labs, flagship training courses and an alumni network, the programme will put culture at the heart of the international response to climate change.
The first Creative Climate Leadership Training Course will take place 27 – 31 March 2017 in Wales, UK.
This five-day intensive course is for artists and creative professionals who want to take a lead on tackling climate change.
The week will:
- Explore the role of culture and creativity in responding to climate change and environmental challenges;
- Bring together a range of expert guest speakers to share case studies, research, approaches and practical solutions for achieving environmental sustainability in the cultural sector;
- Enable each participant to develop their leadership and ideas;
- Prepare participants to apply their learning and new skills when they return home, and support ongoing learning and exchange through an alumni network.
The course is facilitated by Julie’s Bicycle (UK) and PiNA (Slovenia), two pioneering organisations in the fields of culture, climate change and sustainable development in Europe. It will take place at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth, Wales, an education centre demonstrating practical solutions for sustainability.
Applications will be considered from all creative disciplines and art forms. We will also consider applicants from organisations that work directly with the cultural sector, such as networks, associations, funding bodies and policymakers.
The course will be conducted in English, and costs are £1,000 for UK applicants and €1,200 for international applicants. A limited number of bursaries are available for freelance applicants.
For more information and application guidelines visit: www.creativeclimateleadership.com/apply
The deadline for applications is 10am (GMT) Monday 16th January 2017.
Join our Twitter Q&A
Want to learn more and talk to the course facilitators?
Two opportunities for artists to work within Exeter over the next 12 months on socially engaged and action research led projects.
Opportunity 1: West Exeter Riverside Artist Residency
East Devon District Council is seeking an artist or artist collective with a background in
socially-engaged practice to develop research and new work in response to the river Exe and the Exe Riverside Valley Park in 2017, following a period of time spent with and around
the communities of Exwick and St Thomas.
The Exe Riverside Valley Park forms part of a major wildlife highway linking Exmoor to the sea, and the aim of this project is to create artist-led public events and artwork in the public realm that encourages greater use of the whole Park by local residents, strengthening the relationship between residents of Exwick and St Thomas and the surrounding landscape.
The physical outcomes of the residency are intended to help increase understanding and awareness of the importance of the area’s biodiversity among local residents and encourage active use and engagement with the Valley Park, including the lesser known areas.
The project will result in a series of action research during the Spring and Summer/Autumn of 2017 leading to a physical creative intervention in the public realm at the end of Summer 2017.
Project budget: £18,000 ex vat.
Submissions to be sent in electronic format only to Suzanne Heath (firstname.lastname@example.org) by 9am on Thursday 8th December 2016.
Opportunity 2: Living with the River Exe – Artist Research
East Devon District Council is seeking to appoint an artist to work with the city residential,
scientific and environmental communities to explore and imagine new approaches to living and working with the River Exe and its catchment against the backdrop of the £31m flood defence scheme currently under way in Exeter.
The commission is intended to encourage cross-disciplinary conversations to take place
between artists, scientists, researchers and organisations such as the Environment Agency, University of Exeter, stakeholder organisations and local authorities.
Through this project, the artist will explore the myriad of issues around flooding and water
management, past and present, with a particular focus on the catchment of the river Exe and the Exe Riverside Valley Park. The intention is for the artist to investigate and respond to the politics, policies, impacts and potential solutions that surround this complex, long term problem in Exeter.
The artist will generate a wider conversation in the city, sharing their findings through a seminar event in 2017 developed with the University of Exeter, and creating a new piece of work that either enables and supports the artist’s research (such as a blog) or documents their thinking and conclusions (such as a film, book, performance or physical installation).
This project will use art and an artist’s response to raise awareness and understanding, and stimulate local discussion and debate about flooding in Exeter.
Project budget: £15,000 ex vat.
This is the same information as Opportunity 1.
Submissions to be sent in electronic format only to Suzanne Heath (email@example.com) by 9am on Wednesday 7th December 2016.
A message from Mark Goldthorpe
I thought that this new group – organised by Deborah Tomkins (Weatherfronts 2016) – would be of interest to anyone in Bristol and surrounding areas. Please contact Deborah direct – and of course, if you know of others who might be interested then I’m sure she would be happy for you to pass this on.
Climate Writing Group (Bristol)
If you write about climate change and/or the environment (or are interested in doing so), and would like to meet up with other writers exploring these issues, please get in touch! Monthly meetings starting in 2017: discussion, critique, sharing information, support. All types of writing welcome – fiction, non-fiction, poetry, drama.
Deborah Tomkins firstname.lastname@example.org
There is also the original writing group that emerged from this year’s Weatherfronts, which meets monthly in London. For further info, contact Darragh Martin on email@example.com
You might also be interested to know that on 14th November at Free Word in London, Brit Bildoen – Danish author and participant in Weatherfronts 2016 – will be reading from her latest book (Seven Days in August) and speaking about the relevance of climate in her writing.
Artsadmin’s next 2 Degrees Festival will take place in June 2017. As a key part of the festival programme we are opening a call for proposal for a new participatory project. With the support TippingPoint, we are offering one commission of £7,500 for an artist to develop and produce a new project for 2 Degrees Festival 2017 that aims to inspire, connect and empower people to create solutions for a sustainable future.
2 Degrees Festival is Artsadmin’s biennial celebration of art, environment and activism. The programme invites artists to present cutting-edge responses to climate change, urging us all to act now to build a more positive future.
- Applicants can be individuals or groups/collectives
- Applicants must be based in the UK
- Proposed projects must take place during 2 Degrees 2017, the week of 12-18 June 2017
- Applicants must propose a new project
- Applicants and proposed projects can use any art form but the audience must have an active or participatory role
- Artists who are currently produced by Artsadmin may not apply
Download the Open Call PDF here for full information including how to apply.
Application deadline: Midday, Friday 11 November 2016.