Festivals, peace camps and environmental sustainability

With the summer in full swing, Ian Rimington recommends holiday reading and looks at how our National portfolio organisations have been progressing with sustainability.

It’s a little over a year since we introduced sustainability requirements into our funding agreements. This was the first time any arts funding body in the world had done this and, to an extent, we were in uncharted waters – particularly since we were asking this of an enormous range of organisations – well over 700 – everything from galleries to circus artists; opera to carnival; theatres to street artists; museums; training networks; buildings; partnerships and consortia.

Nevertheless, we set ourselves the ambitious target of getting everyone on board in just over twelve months.

And, remarkably, working with our sustainability partner, Julie’s Bicycle, we seem to have achieved that.

Whilst  Julie’s Bicycle have been checking and analysing data, here at the Arts Council we’ve been sifting through annual submissions and finding more about some of the things that the sector have been doing.

What we’ve discovered is thrilling. Large numbers of organisations are investing huge amounts of enthusiasm and creativity. Artichoke’s “Peace Camp” developed a sound system with no generators and used the production to contribute towards environmental initiatives such as the ecological mapping of one of the island sites. Bow Arts in East London set out to embed sustainability principles in service delivery across all their departments. And now they are looking outward at what sustainable development means to the communities they work with.

And many, many others such as BAC; National Theatre; Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment; Sage Gateshead have all seen the value of engaging and are making a difference.

Meanwhile, as the summer festival season is upon us - I’m fresh back from Latitude -  it’s good to be reminded of a recent audience survey of festival goers on green issues, in which 43% said that they had ‘changed their behaviour as a result of green initiatives or ideas they had discovered at festivals’

Other events I’ve attended over the summer include the 2 degree Festival at Artsadmin; a Tipping point event about Climate Change and uncertainty (or at least I think I attended it...) and the launch of a new report on engaging the centre-right with Climate Change – absolutely not filled with the usual suspects!

Finally, here are some articles and links we have liked:

Art and climate change. The future is uncertain; it is also inspiring

30 sec NASA video of global temperature changes

The role the culture sector must play in making positive environmental change


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