Please download your copy here (and head straight to page 22-23!)
The 2016 Nick Reeves Award was presented to ecoartscotland and The Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) in recognition of their outstanding contribution to the field of environmental arts, including the LAGI Glasgow Design Competition.
This article by Robert Ferry and Elizabeth Monoian explores how “The great energy transition will make our cities more beautiful and more just”.
The Land Art Generator Initiative is growing fast and seeking dynamic leaders for new Board positions in 2017.
If you think that may be you, please get in touch with us!
Click here for more information
This is an exciting time for exploring the impact of new energy technologies on our landscapes, cities, and cultures, and we would love to have you join us as we implement innovative solutions to site-specific energy needs.
As we continue to expand our impact around the world, we are looking for three new Board members who have experience and passion in areas of business planning and implementation, philanthropy, intellectual property, law, non-profit governance, fundraising, organizational development, and finance especially within the disciplines of arts and culture, energy, and environmental protection.
Board members may reside in any geographic location—in the United States and around the world. If you know someone who may be interested, please forward this newsletter to them.
LAGI brings forward human-centered solutions for sustainable energy infrastructures that enhance communities as works of art in public space. Land art generators educate the public, inspire the next generation, celebrate local culture, and contribute renewable electricity to the grid to meet the existing demand loads of neighborhoods and cities.
For look back on 2016, check out our most recent publication, Powering Places, which is now available at your local bookseller. Click on this link for online purchasing options.
Participating teams 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.
|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)
The opening keynote will be given by Robert Ferry and Elizabeth Monoian (The Land Art Generator Initiative) who are based in Pittsburgh (USA), with Chris Fremantle (eco/art/scot/land) from Aberdeen (Scotland). Chris is also Senior Research Fellow with IDEAS at the Robert Gordon University.
Title: Powering Places: wild, wonderful, and sexy energy landscapes
What if the path to our postcarbon future was equitable, empowering people everywhere to improve their lives on their own terms and in harmony with nature?
The “gloom and doom” narrative of climate activism (rising sea levels, increasing storm intensities, corral bleaching, mass extinction, desertification), while based in scientific fact, can be polarizing and paralyzing. By presenting examples of utility-scale renewable energy infrastructures as public art and considering community energy projects as community art projects, the Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) is helping to inspire the general public about the beauty of our sustainable future with the aim of influencing accelerated climate action.
The presentation will showcase what can happen when thousands of creatives around the world respond to an open call to design our clean energy landscapes. The global conversation that LAGI has initiated on the shifting aesthetics of sustainable infrastructure has created a collective force that is resonating with governments, universities, design professionals, corporations, and the public.
We will discuss the influence of renewable energy design on city planning and public policy, and demonstrate the potential for community energy infrastructure projects to be positive cultural contributions to neighborhoods and towns—new civic landmarks for the twenty-first century, economic development drivers, and educational venues—all while helping to power the new energy grid.
The Land Art Generator Initiative has become one of the world’s most followed sustainable design events and is inspiring people everywhere about the promise of a net-zero carbon future. LAGI is showing how innovation through interdisciplinary collaboration, culture, and the expanding role of technology in art can help to shape the aesthetic impact of renewable energy on our constructed and natural environments.
The goal of LAGI is to design and construct a series of large-scale site-specific public art installations that uniquely combine art with utility scale clean energy generation.
follow LAGI @
Chris Fremantle founded eco/art/scot/land, which describes itself as a ‘resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers’. It has become recognised as one of the foremost purveyors of knowledge within the escorts sector.
Chris has been working with LAGI on the LAGI Glasgow project
We have received a host of nominations for the first arts and green energy awards supported by The Institution of Civil Engineers.
This award is designed to recognise the crucial role that creative practitioners play in challenging, deepening and broadening the energy debate. We welcomed nominations from a range of art-forms.
- art.earth – Feeding the Insatiable
- Bridge Way Ltd – The Rumour Mill Animation
- Centre for Alternative Technology – The Extraordinary Story of Humans, Energy and Happiness
- The cSPACE Trust- Active Energy
- Deep Time Walk App
- Demand Energy Equality – Energy Tree
- GENeco – Creative Partnership
- Ilfracombe Performance Space Ltd
- Invisible Dust – Human Sensor
- Kaleider – Ancient Sunlight – Stories From The Oil Age
- Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) – Glasgow
- The Sol Cinema
- Stories of Change – The Open University (Stories of Change Project)
- Stories of Change project – Windywhirly Things
- WREN – Midsummer Feast
Feeding the Insatiable: real and imagined narratives of art and energy for a troubled planet is an international summit taking place in November. It brings together artists, philosophers, future thinkers, engineers, architects and designers in a disciplinary melting pot where all can set aside their established thinking to explore a host of creative ideas around energy consumption and generation. The programme includes workshops, papers, conversations, performances and an exhibition.
There is also a residential short course (Regenerative Art) to be run by The Land Art Generator Initiative who also provide the opening keynote. Immediately before the summit is an invitation-only think tank exploring public policy issues around public art and the aesthetics of renewable power generation.
An organising committee comprises some of the brightest people and organisations from across the world working in this field of practice. In turn they have brought together a fantastic field of presenters and workshop leaders.
At the summit we will also formally launch the ICE Art and Energy Prize, a major commission for a piece of permanent public art within a city in the southwest of England that generates the power it needs and returns excess power to the grid.
These events are produced by art.earth, an emerging force within the arts and ecology movement. art.earth has a genuine commitment to sustainable practice, to advocating and exploring what we mean by ‘sustainability’ and encouraging and supporting artists who work with ecologies and care for our planet and demonstrate this through their creative work. The art.earth website is run on servers using 100% renewable energy, and we do everything to help those who get involved in our work to behave responsibly and consider the importance of their travel.
For more information visit feedingtheinsatiable.info
BAFTA winning, Oscar Nominated Producer Chris Hees has teamed up with multi-award winning animation Director Bexie Bush to create an accessible and unique 24-set stop-motion animated film that will ignite public interest in the debate surrounding the future of energy. Supported by the Stories of Change Initiative and based at the John Smedley Factory in Lea Mills the project brings together creatives, academics and the manufacturing industry.
The evolution of film festivals, as well as multi-media platforms, has seen the power of the short form medium continue to grow and its audiences with it. Bexie as Director and Chris as producer can boast over 200 different international film festival appearances, with 60 awards won between them, and all in just a period of one year. Though these festivals vary in size, what you do have at every one of them is a captivated and interested audience who are ready to stay with and watch a story unfold, making this a fantastic platform for The Rumour Mill. The film will also be used as a tool for discussion by the Open University’s Stories of Change project and shown on the internet.
The images of the animation portray the working environment of John Smedley while The cheerfully outspoken staff at John Smedley’s factory come together to discuss the future of energy in this candid, humorous and thought provoking film, brought to life with the tactile beauty of stop-motion animation.
The extraordinary story of humans, energy and happiness, is a multi media presentation delivered by Paul Allen from CAT. The current collaboration with composer pianist Lola Perrin adds an emotional force to propel the meaning of the presentation, driving the spoken words with carefully constructed architecture.
The extraordinary story of humans and energy began over 400 million years ago with the formation of fossil fuels. For thousands of years human societies lived on their annual sunlight ration, until the discovery of fossil fuels, that had a massive effect on how we see ourselves and our relationships with our friends, family, communities and the natural world. On one hand such a transition brought us the incredible advances of medicine, science, education and entertainment. But on the other hand, we must now live with, or bury, the pain of the destruction, exploitation and capitalisation of our natural spaces and the people who inhabit them.
Although it has become a deeply pervasive source of anxiety, society has created taboos against the public expression of such anguish, leaving many paralysed, overloaded with information – sleepwalking through the shopping malls. Over time, this build-up of collective anxiety has transformed the way contemporary culture portrays our future: from an exciting new world of progress to one of darkness and uncertainty. Whenever contemporary culture looks ten or twenty years ahead, we now paint dystopia and ecological collapse.
If people can’t imagine a positive future, how will they create it? The Zero Carbon Britain project has been developed by CAT to help us to think differently. We must, of course, acknowledge that fossil fuels have enabled a fantastic transformation: fuelling the embryo of human society, much like the yolk of an egg fuels the development of the chick. But we know fossil fuels cannot go on forever, as burning them releases the massive amounts of carbon dioxide locked away when they were formed, and the peaking of conventional oil and gas supplies will also cause increasing turmoil in the economies and societies that still depend heavily on them.
The next chapter the story of humans and energy must begin now. Our tools for energy capture are now no longer limited to soil, canvas and wood; we now have an incredible array of renewable technologies that can capture enough energy from our annual sunlight ration to more than meet our global needs. The conclusion of the story of humans and energy is still unwritten, but is has become clear that our 21st century challenges can no longer be met with a 20thcentury approach, including how we think about the future!
Zero Carbon Britain – Rethinking the Future is available to download free of charge
The presentation has been delivered at: workshops at TippingPoint (x2), Barbican, Royal Opera House, Young Vic, National Theatre, Case for Optimism (x9), the book ‘playing for time’, the Radio4 afternoon theatre’s ‘Getting to Zero’, plus an on-going strategic collaboration with Arts Council Wales.
The cSPACE Trust– Active Energy
“When electricity prices prevent older people from heating their homes, and the Thames is just down the road, why aren’t we using it to power our city?” was a question posed by a member of The Geezers Club at an East London AgeUK centre. Artist Loraine Leeson first met the Geezers in 2008 through a research project on ‘democratising technology’. The group recollected developments in tidal and wave power several decades previously, which they were surprised to have seen scarcely developed. Eight years on, the project is still going strong. The group has enlisted professional engineers, investigated how turbines might function on the Thames Barrier, developed designs in a university prototyping laboratory, tested a small-scale turbine in the Thames opposite the Houses of Parliament and are currently installing a stream wheel to drive an aerator for fish in the Lower Lea. Along the way they have run renewable energy workshops for a secondary school, produced a wind-driven lightwork for an AgeUK meeting centre, convinced their sheltered accommodation provider to consider alternative sources of power for its new buildings, held exhibitions in the UK and US, contributed to university research, presented at conferences, and supported a seniors group in Pittsburgh to initiate their own project.
An important element of the project’s success is that it is led by its ‘participants’, who provide access to local experience and are pre-eminently able to engage a wider audience. The project is also grounded in arts-led creative facilitation, key to drawing out ideas and generating inspiration. While the arts cannot institute the technologies, they are an effective means of fostering new collaborations and bringing issues to public attention. The influence of Active Energy has already spread nationally and internationally and provides an ongoing model for how the arts can facilitate citizen-led innovation grounded in local knowledge.
The Deep Time Walk is a 4.6km history of the living Earth. This unfolding takes you from 4.6bn years ago to the present day, with each metre walked representing one million years. This project has engaged audiences on the south coast of Devon for the past ten years. Now, for the first time, the new Deep Time Walk App breaks away from Devon’s geographic location and enables anyone with a smartphone, anywhere in the world to experience this.
Using the power of the human body, walkers are able to gain a unique perspective of humanity’s place within deep time by listening to a narrative between a scientist and a philosopher as they travel across deep time. The final 20cm of the 4.6km walk represent 200,000 years – roughly the time during which our species, Homo sapiens, has been on Earth. In the final 1/5th of a millimetre (200 years), you witness the miniscule time that has elapsed since the start of the industrial revolution. In doing so, you start to fathom your infinitesimal and unique place in time and space, and humanity’s impact on the planet. This project enables the energy debate to be understood within the context of deep time.
We have assembled a broad and experienced team to produce the Deep Time Walk App. The scientific script is based on up-to-date knowledge gathered by renowned Devon based ecologist Dr Stephan Harding, from Schumacher College. The award-winning playwright Peter Oswald (who also lives in Devon) has written the poetic script. Our hope is that the Deep Time Walk evokes a profound shift in perspective, awakening us to our magnificent ancestry and the vitally important wisdom embedded in deep time, as we humans struggle to deal with our self-created crises of climate change, degradation of nature, and social disruption. This change of perspective requires nothing less than a profound shift in worldview. This new worldview is the fertile ground from which innovative solutions to the many crises facing humanity can grow
The Bristol Energy Tree was – and remains – a highly unusual project.
It brought together local energy educators and activists, a drugs rehabilitation charity, a local bio-mimicry sculptor and Bristol’s central science museum to create a truly cross-sectoral and highly creative public energy art piece. From start to finish the project sought to maximise social value, and bring members of the public from all walks of life into the conversation about energy, climate change, fuel poverty and renewable solutions.
Through a two year programme of work with the Bristol Drugs Project, members of the charity’s recovery programmes were trained to build DIY solar PV panels, comprised of reclaimed PV cells discarded from the industrial process. Through the workshops often marginalised citizens were invited to learn practical skills, socialise and participate in the creation of an eye-catching new energetic public art piece.
Each DIY panel formed one of 36 solar ‘leaves’ adorning the final 20ft steel Energy Tree sculpture erected in Bristol’s Millennium Square during Bristol’s Green Capital Year. The Tree stands as a testament to the radical difference of renewable power, inviting the public to engage with energy production at a human scale, entangled with natural forms: challenging the traditional, dirty, industrial and remote connotations of contemporary power generation.
You can just plug right in too, with free phone charging ports in-built to the sculpture’s design. As a now permanent feature of the At-Bristol estate, the Tree is regularly used in onsite education, such as school visits, and free public and school DIY solar PV workshops were run for 12 months after installation – with At-Bristol staff left with the skills to run more.
Every day hundreds of members of the public enjoy the Tree’s aesthetic and symbolic contribution to Bristol’s city centre, while its imagery has been used in national press and beyond to symbolise the rapid and exciting growth of UK renewables.
GENeco and Young Bristol have collaborated on a unique and exciting project to raise the community’s awareness of recycling, by producing a range of creative, eco-inspired artwork within the newly refurbished GENeco offices. The masterpieces included a large wall mural, a photography project and a bottle cap garden, all of which followed an energy-conscious theme.
Local freelance artist, Nick Halahan, conducted sessions to teach the young people the various artist techniques that were to be used. GENeco then provided site tours through its reputable Education Programme, to teach each of the youth groups and Young Bristol staff about the diverse renewable energy and recycling processes that take place. This would inspire their work as they channelled their ideas into imagery based around sustainable energy.
Coordinating this project has helped to strengthen the connection between GENeco and the local area and its young people. It has also instilled the younger generation with the importance of renewable resources on this strained planet, as they realised a range of waste streams are actually a valuable source of energy. The Youth Groups thoroughly enjoyed their involvement with the projects and engaged with all of the underlying concepts – learning a huge amount.
The project has improved the local people’s awareness of problems associated with waste disposal whilst providing them with an understanding that effective solutions are available. We hope that the young people and staff will spread the word of their involvement to their friends and families, extending the reach of our cause.
When community theatre groups were approached by Emmanuel Church in Ilfracombe to take on extensive rooms under the building as a rehearsal and performance facility, there was great enthusiasm as the town had no dedicated facility. In August 2015, volunteers formed a not-for-private-profit company, Ilfracombe Performance Space Ltd, and opened the SPACE Ilfracombe.
They soon found out was that the 118-year-old stone building was north facing and lay at the bottom of a hill, making it very cold and damp. Old gas heaters in the building had been disconnected.
Meanwhile the facility was being used by actors, dancers and performers, who froze during the winter.
The company started out with no money, so started on an urgent round of community fund raising and gratefully received funds and grants from the Methodist Church, Ilfracombe and District Lions, Ilfracombe Town Council and North Devon Council and others.
This enabled it to install infrared heaters in the main hall in January 2016 to raise the ambient temperature to a comfortable level. In September 2016 more infrared heaters in are being added to the entrance hall, kitchen and toilets. The opportunity was taken to replace old inefficient fluorescent tube lights with LED strip lighting.
Infrared heaters were selected because of their energy efficiency, both for being environmentally friendly and to keep energy consumption and costs as low as possible.
As a community-based performing arts facility, the SPACE is currently exploring ways to promote this energy-conscious approach to artists, performers, audiences and the wider community.
‘Human Sensor’ is a new artwork and performance by visual artist Kasia Molga. She created wearable costumes for performers that enabled the public to ‘see’ how air pollution is affecting our cities. The dancers wore the costumes that were programmed with the air pollution data each day. Changes in pollutants together with sensors on the wearers breathing made the wearable’s change colour.
‘Human Sensor’ was commissioned and produced by art and environmental organisation Invisible Dust and Manchester European City of Science July 2016.
Excitingly ‘Human Sensor’ was shown on the Manchester Arndale Centre media screen where the public could interact with the performance through tweets and photos. Thousands of people viewed the street performance live at different times of the day showing how the commute affects our air.
Molga worked closely with air pollution scientist Professor Frank Kelly, King’s College London to develop the technology.
Invisible Dust created a paid training programme for graduates where they learnt about the art, science and technology of ‘Human Sensor’. They then helped on social media, information and education workshops.
The legacy is a raised consciousness of air pollution for firstly Manchester and internationally (see press). During the talks participants talked about organising a new Manchester clean air campaign. Also the generation of new skills and commitment to environment of the young trainees.
The wearable technology that Molga has created is unique and has international importance. The Press included The Guardian, BBC, The Washington Post, French TV, Metro International, Nature magazine and London Evening Standard
Ancient Sunlight – Stories From The Oil Age is a beautiful, hardback book. In it, across multiple different paper types, are a collection of “books”: The Books of Food, Technology, Love, Leadership, Justice and a blank Book of Me (as an invitation to readers to consider their own stories from the Oil Age).
The book is co-authored by 281 young people who worked with artists to explore the Oil Age, what they take for granted and what a future without oil might hold.
Each book is different in form, led by a different artist across 7 schools and 2 libraries, and is a genuine co-authorship between the collaborators who have produced poetry, prose, printmaking, and a play.
We have produced a limited edition run of 500 hand sewn, hardback books for the participants and public to buy.
The book captures the thinking of the 281 young people and their teachers and families about their place in the world, and some of the world’s greatest challenges. And presents it in an accessible and poetic manner available for sale to the public. We know it has influenced participants’ GCSE submissions.
As a nod to the mediaeval collection of literature The Exeter Book (considered as important as the Doomsday Book), Ancient Sunlight is a collection of stories of now. We hope that in 100 years readers will hear the voices of today’s young people of Exeter facing the challenges of the time with hope.
The Land Art Generator Initiative has transformed the engagement of the creative sector with renewable energy over the past seven years. Artist, designer and architect involvement with renewables was largely characterised by small scale community projects and the LAGI Open Competitions starting in the UAE in 2010 have dramatically altered our understanding of the possibilities. The open-access portfolio exceeds 800 concepts across a wide range of contexts (Parkland, Landfill Site, Brownfield, City Centre, Shoreline) involving not only wind and solar but bio, wave and tidal and the many exhibitions have profiled this for audiences internationally. LAGI asks creative practices to put renewables at the heart of place-making with the intention of achieving social change reimagining how we live with energy generation in the heart of our communities.
Other initiatives include Youth Camps and Competitions, including in Pittsburgh 2015 with young people of colour in a disadvantaged community who participated in visits to a wide range of energy production sites, ‘design studio’ activities and resulted in a new built feature in the community incorporating renewables.
Working with LAGI in Glasgow we have been able engage a large part of the creative community and developed three new approaches to the LAGI concept for a regeneration site in the heart of the city. This was exhibited in the Scottish Centre for Architecture and Design. We are currently moving into detailed design for the LAGI Glasgow project. LAGI is a major creative contributor to the transition to a low carbon economy
The Sol Cinema is a unique mobile movie theatre powered entirely by solar energy.
We tour all over the UK with smartly dressed usherettes, red carpet, inspiring films and of course popcorn. We perform each year at Glastonbury festival and other major and minor events. We educate people about the use of solar through an entertaining and engaging way.
We recently hosted the Welsh Rugby team for BBC sports. We put solar directly in front of people who would not necessarily be thinking about its uses.
We perform on High streets, on beaches, fields in all weather. Our usherettes show people into the cinema and when everyone is seated comfortably, she explains about how the cinema is entirely powered by the Sun. People are always amazed to discover just how possible it all is to use the power of the Sun.
Our award winning cinema then grants audiences a wonderfully unique experience for short films. Many of the films explore sustainable living and renewable energy.
The Sol Cinema has generated a lof ot TV, radio and national newspaper coverage. All the articles publicise the fact that our cinema is entirely solar powered. We have demonstrated to thousands of people how a simple solar system can power laptops, sound systems, video projector and lights.
Sol Cinema has performed all over the UK. We have generated local and national media coverage which always highlights our renewable energy aspect. The BBC have even headlined us as the ‘Worlds’s smallest solar powered cinema’.
We have shown that it is possible for anyone to bring renewables into their own life in which ever style or size they want.
The Stories of Change project has collaborated with arts practitioners to widen and re-energise the debate around energy and climate change, using creative practices to give a voice to communities seldom heard in energy debates. This application is based on three initiatives run as part of the AHRC-funded 2016 Utopias Fair.
LONDON: Working with fanSHEN theatre company and a team of young Londoners we developed and ran Model London workshops at London’s City Hall and Somerset House to encourage Utopian thinking around the future of energy systems. Participants modelled their ‘energy utopia’ with large quantities of Lego, Plasticine and building blocks.
ENGLISH MIDLANDS: Utopia Works transformed Derby Silk Mill Museum back into a factory for the day. Our ‘energy hack’ saw diverse participants working in or with industry take part in wordsmithing, letterpress printing, photobooth, archive and prototyping workshops. The creative making processes enabled discussion and shifts in thinking on the future of energy and industry.
SOUTH WALES: With community partners, we staged a three-day Energy Utopia festival at Ynysybwl comprising a Story Studio, showcasing community-generated creative material, where people shared energy stories, bookended by a Village Voices concert with artists and performers responding to the theme of energy and an open-air premiere around a fire-pit of Louise Osborn’s Play for Voices based on stories from our communities.
These activities were designed to create legacies: for participants; for physical and digital audiences; and by feeding into our forthcoming workshops with leading players, to inform the future of UK energy policy.
Emily Hinshelwood is a poet, creative writing teacher and community energy supporter. She was commissioned by the University of South Wales, as part of the Stories of Change project –https://storieseverydaylives.wordpress.com/2016/04/19/windywhirly-things-book-launch/ – to engage the small community of Tairgwaith in South West Wales in creative writing activity to explore issues of shifts in energy consumption and production.
Working closely with the research team at the University of South Wales, Emily delivered a range of creative workshops at the local community centre, attracting people who had never written anything before and sparking a wide interest in the issues around energy.
The sessions enabled local people to share stories and write about their experiences, thoughts and feelings related to the impact of energy shifts on themselves, their families and their local community. The writing produced was published in an anthology : “Windy Whirly Things”, which was distributed throughout the village and has been taken across Wales, the UK and beyond as part of the Stories of Change research programme. There was a very well attended community event held to launch the book, where workshop participants read extracts of their work to a very engaged audience.
The book will be part of an event to be held at the Senedd (National Assembly for Wales) in Cardiff Bay early 2017, when politicians and policy makers will come together with artists and members of the public to share the findings of the project – the book has also been circulated amongst academics and the public at several events across the UK.
Midsummer Feast with its core theme of energy took place in June and early July 2016, celebrating the meeting-point between arts and energy. The participatory arts and cultural activities included community workshops, performances, exhibitions and associated activities across the media of creative writing, theatre and visual arts and film. Together formed a festival exploring the fun and inspiring aspects of energy. 7 artists received paid work. 21 volunteers were involved. 444 people took part in a creative activity. 3667 people watched or experienced a creative event. Midsummer Feast was aimed to be of interest to our whole Wadebridge community – it sought to produce work which would be quality, empathic and fun. The energy theme was purposely left wide open so that people could bring their own ideas to it – and this worked well..
Midsummer Feast bought about the creation of a community theatre group who are planning future events. One individual from the writing workshops was empowered to take the lead on running another such event in the future. Three of the artists who collaborated in Midsummer Feast are discussing a future collaboration. Approximately 60 people have indicated that they will take part in such activities in the future – taking part in a play; writing and performing their work; showing as part of an exhibition.
The significance of the project locally, regionally and nationally is that it demonstrates how to engage, by using a variety of creative and artistic strands, a broad spectrum of a community in thinking often in a novel way about all aspects of energy
Yesterday I spent a fascinating afternoon with Creative Carbon Scotland and Land Art Generator Initiative at their Beautiful Renewables event in Edinburgh. The event brought together engineers, planners, community energy groups, artists and architects to develop an understanding of what is involved in the development of an energy generation project and what each of the events participants might need or be able to offer in the project’s successful delivery.
Without exception there was a recognition that artists offered something of value to community energy projects but that to get the most out of the collaboration, artists need to be involved EARLY! Perhaps even before a project’s specifics are dreamt up at all.
So, I am suggesting that every community energy group invites an artist (or creative practitioner to use a term that more actively includes, dancers, musicians, theatre makers, writers etc) to join its board.
I can see why this may not seem like an obvious thing to do, but I’m going to outline here why I think it’s a good idea and then, because I am really quite serious about it, I’m going to outline a little ‘role specification’ to help you in actioning this challenge!
Every community I have ever encountered seems to have a creative practitioner in it somewhere, and whilst artists are just ordinary members of a community, they can also often be characterised by some interesting qualities:
- A relationship with an audience of some sort – a network of people who are not the ‘usual suspects’ for a community energy group
- The repeated experience of developing a new idea from early conception to completion
- Thriftiness and entrepreneurial spirit
- An inquiring mind – Ability to think laterally – non-linear thinking
- Experience applying for grant funding
- An appreciation or understanding of aesthetic values – we care about the look and feel of things
- Experience of doing something that many people don’t understand!
- Perhaps some experience in developing participatory arts practice that will engage communities in the development of projects early on!
- Perhaps some experience of running events and workshops
- Perhaps some experience of marketing and comms
- And sometimes even an interest in making the world a more resilient and better place.
Obviously this list is not exhaustive, but I think it’s a start. (please feel free to add other interesting qualities in the comments below!)
What you probably shouldn’t ‘expect’ from an artist joining your community energy group board, (though you may be surprised!) is:
- A deep technical knowledge of the various renewable energy technologies, electrical engineering or climate science – but this is a good thing – groups need to be able to communicate to a broad audience
- A deep understanding of energy policy, legislation, the planning process and building control – some artists developing public artworks might know about this, but no-one can be an expert at everything!
So why isn’t there an artist on every community energy group board already?
Well, there are some, and I think they’ve made a difference – in particular I think of Lizzy-Jane Grose at Wadebridge Renewable Energy Network (WREN) and Chris Amey at Transition Newton Abbot (I mention these people because I know them, but I am always keen to share details of others here, so get in touch if you know of other examples I could/should share!)
But, over the last 4 years running Regen SW’s arts and energy programme, it seems to me that:
- The vast proportion of artists don’t know what a community energy group is and why they might be interested in getting involved and
- Community energy groups don’t understand the benefits and/or they are worried that working with artists might be somehow expensive, distracting, irrelevant, challenging, you get the gist.
Yes! working with artists will be challenging in a GOOD WAY! and Yes!, it IS likely to change the way a community energy group works / thinks/ does. and Yes! it may help community energy groups to overcome a number of the hurdles that a barriers to the development of community energy projects at the moment, namely – who may be prepared to spend time on this stuff? how can we get broad community engagement, support and buy in for new projects? how can we make the energy debate engaging and interesting? how can we have more fun and how do we ensure we consider the aesthetic impact of our activities?
So, a person specification for community energy group boards:
Board member advert – Creative Practitioner
AWESOME Community Energy’s board are seeking to appoint one new member to ensure we have the capacity and skills to develop sustainable energy projects in our AWESOME village/town/locale. This individual will be an experienced creative practitioner with a strong connection to AWESOME. The is an unpaid voluntary position. Reasonable expenses are paid. Board members are expected to attend four board meetings per year, but also to participate in the life of the organisation between board meetings, advising the staff team and acting in an ambassadorial role for Awesome Community Energy. Board meetings are currently held weekday afternoons in AWESOME. Positions are advertised for a period of 3 years (term may be renewed).
About AWESOME Community Energy
AWESOME Community Energy was launched in xxxx, and has a staff team of xxx (fte). We have a track record of AWESOME Projects. We also have a growing network of supporters and affiliated groups. AWESOME Community Energy aims to: (INSERT aims here saying something like ‘develop community energy projects for local community benefit and resilience’
About the role
We are seeking to recruit a creative practitioner to our board, and expect that different candidates will bring a range of skills and experience to AWESOME Community Energy:
- Commitment to the objectives of AWESOME Community Energy
- Willingness to act as an ambassador forAWESOME Community Energy
- Willingness to fulfil the duties and standards of conduct required of a board member of an organisation that is currently seeking charitable status
- Interest in community energy issues
- Fundraising (e.g. from individuals, partnerships with business and/or civil society organisations, EU funding and/or sales of goods and services).
- Partnership working
- Strong and diverse networks
- Events, media and communications or PR, including social media.
- Developing significant arts projects from concept to culmination.
- Board level experience, ideally at a charity or company of a similar size to the Equality Trust.
Expertise & knowledge:
- Creative practice in any art-form
- Understanding of participatory arts practice
- Energy and/or environmental issues or environmental campaigning.
- Lateral and creative thinking
- Aesthetic understanding
- Ability to understand and interrogate financial reports
- Strategic planning skills
- Risk management skills
- Analytical skills
- Management / project management
- Ability to operate as part of a team
How to apply:
Please submit a CV and a covering letter by XXX, stating why you wish to be considered for the role, to this AWESOME Person by email: AWESOME @ AWESOME.
Your covering letter should show how you meet each of the relevant requirements in the person specification
Prospective board members who best meet our requirements will be invited to speak to some of our existing board members on XXX.
Picture credit: ‘Boardroom Table/8 Person See Saw(Modern Steel sculptures)’ by Jane Clarke – Nine foot long interactive sculpture. A polished boardroom table pivots on four, empty oil barrels. 4 office chairs face another 4 across the table top. they are in various states, some smart others not.
Scotland on Sunday features the Land Art Generator Glasgow exhibition, opening at The Lighthouse, Glasgow on 9 June.
Name checks for Wind Forest – ZM Architecture, Dalziel + Scullion, Ian Nicol of Qmulus and Peter Yeadon, previous LAGI participant who joined the Scottish team; Water Gaw – ERZ Landscape Architecture, Alec Finlay and their overseas team member Riccardo Mariano; Dundas Dandelion – Stallan-Brand Architects, Pigdin Perfect, the Glasgow Science Festival and their overseas partner Matt Rosenberg.
All three proposals imagine renewables at the heart of making Dundas Hill into a new place to live and work. Wind Forest conceptualised this as 10 habits to create a habitat.
REMINDER: Workshop with Creative Carbon Scotland on 8 June. Booking here
Previous story in The Scotsman here.