Big conversations in the arts and sustainability space continue to proliferate. With further budget cuts for the arts announced, the question of financial sustainability remains acute. ‘How we can better value what matters,’ be it nature or culture has become a hot topic.
So what are we up to? Well, big conversations require big responses. We’ve just passed the first annual environmental reporting deadline for Arts Council England funded organisations. Over 700 organisations are participating, a step change on greening the arts in the UK. Our environmental sustainability team will soon be analysing this data, developing industry benchmarks and providing a rich cultural snapshot of sustainability data backed up by amazing arts practice.
We’re also working in partnership with a number of other fantastic organisations, and some city-wide initiatives all committed to taking change to scale. In Scotland, Creative Carbon Scotland have licensed our IG Tools and integrated them into their innovative Green Arts Portal. In Wales, we’ve completed the first stage of a sustainable venues project forCreu Cymru in partnership with Cardiff University and Cynnal Cymru, supported by the Welsh Government’s Sustainable Living Grant and inspired by the Emergence-Eginiad initiative.
Beyond these shores, we’ve just kicked off two pan-European projects. We’re co-curating the Green Arts Lab Alliance with Trans Artists. Funded by the EU Culture Programme, GALA will explore environmental sustainability in visual arts and design across multiple European countries. We’re also a partner for EEMusic – Upscaling Energy Efficiency in European Music Events Sector – funded by Intelligent Energy Europe. To support EEMusic our IG Tools will be translated into seven European languages!
The organisations we work with have also been doing great things. In January Latitude and Reading festivals achieved the prestigious three star Industry Green rating and were joined in April by Shambala. In March we went to see the students from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama perform Cabaret, the school’s first show to trial a sustainable production model. The Green Festival Alliance’s work on power proved so successful that the group has now transformed into ‘Powerful Thinking,’ an ‘industry think-do tank’ tackling sustainable energy in the event sector. They will be launching their ‘Know Your Power’ campaign soon giving festivals a unique opportunity to monitor and reduce fuel consumption.
With all this exciting activity, the public profile of sustainability in the arts continues to grow. Our Arts Director Catherine Langabeer appeared on the Danish equivalent of BBC Radio 4 (listen 10-12 mins from the end) and Alison Tickell wrote about environmental reporting in the arts for The Guardian. We’ve attended the Sustainable Events Summit, Pesky People and Future Everything’s Disability Meets Digital ‘unconference’ the Mitos’ sustainable cultural management conference and the Montenegro Green Culture Symposium. We’re also taking part in the ‘climate communication lab,’ providing expertise to environmental NGO’s on how arts and culture can help us create a new narrative on climate change. For those of you that missed ‘Green My Production,’ in March (See picture) you can watch a short film on our website.
And this surge of momentum is showing no signs of stopping. This summer, with the help of the Arts Council reporting data we’re mapping sustainability in the arts. We will be conducting the biggest survey ever done on sustainability in the arts to establish a benchmark for the sector. Keep your eyes peeled for the survey and the resulting report and event in November.