Wednesday morning. I attend the first of Julie’s Bicycle’s Wednesday Webinars on environmental reporting for arts and cultural organisations. I’m not the most digitally up-to-date and webinars are new to me. This one is how to compete an Industry Green Tool entry. I watch a live on-screen demo whilst listening to Luke Ramsay from Julie’s Bicycle talk it through and answer questions.
The webinars are continuing through to May; some (including this one) will be repeated and there are other specialist sessions and ideas for discussion. For more details visit the Julie's Bicycle webinar page.
In the evening I attend – not virtually this time but in person - an event at the Science Museum entitled Can Games Save The Planet? It’s an intriguing concept. The event is curated by Dr Paula Owens as part of her project as a London Leader - a project run by the London Sustainable Development Commission. The games themselves are engaging and fun. I win a beer at Eco Bingo but lose Carbon Play Your Cards Right.
It’s very well attended and, at the bar, I learn about some new innovations (the Isle of Wight has been designated as Britain’s first eco-island ) and new technologies (I’m handed a fully biodegradable biro - who’d've thought?). I also have an interesting conversation with Andy Brown from Carbon Conversations (appropriately enough) about what makes people engage with an issue. His point is that to achieve behavioural change, you need more than the tools and resources – you need the desire and willingness to make those changes.
I fail to talk to Rachel Briscoe, co-Artistic Director for FanSHEN Theatre Company. I meet her instead the next evening at Oval House. We talk about the event; about webinars and biodegradable biros. I mention Andy Brown’s comments. Rachel agrees and says that we need to enthuse and engage. She says that abstractions and technologies won’t save the planet: people will.
Afterwards I think how does that translate to arts organisations? Yes, many arts organisations are developing their business and artistic practice; their strategic thinking and even, in a few cases, their artistic vision – but do artists and arts organisations have a larger role? Can they use their profile, their cachet; their iconic status to create a shift in public perception? Personally, I think they can, but we shall see.
Ian Rimington is London Relationship Manager, Theatre, at Arts Council England and leads on Environmental sustainability for the organisation.