GALA is a partnership between 19 cultural organisations that has enabled a collaborative investigation of the role of environmental sustainability for the arts and design sectors. In March 2015, the Green Art Lab Alliance (GALA) will be meeting for its third and final meeting in Glasgow.
This week, we heard from Mareile Zuber (DutchCulture|TransArtists) about her thoughts on the GALA project.
CCS: What organisation do you represent in GALA and how did you find yourself involved?
Mareile Zuber (MZ): DutchCulture|TransArtists is the centre for international cultural cooperation in the Netherlands. Among other issues related to international cultural collaboration, we focus on residencies. Through our work we are stimulating and strengthening artists’ mobility in the Netherlands and internationally. We facilitate to share expertise and offer tools and services on artist-in-residence programs and related issues. In the last years sustainability came up as a trending topic within the residency field and together with Julie’s Bicycle we took the initiative for this project. DutchCulture is the coordinator of the European project Green Art Lab Alliance, responsible for the administration of the project, but also facilitating the partners to find strategic partnerships and creating a well functioning network.
CCS: What is the significance of GALA to you and how has the project contributed to your work?
MZ: Working in the cultural sector and focusing on sustainability means pioneering, at least in the Netherlands. That’s why it is so important (to me personally, DutchCulture in particular and cultural organisations in general) to have international partners, to exchange ideas and best practices. Through the GALA project the various definitions (based on cultural differences and contexts), challenges and opportunities and ways of dealing with sustainability in the arts became much clearer to me. The growing network of organisations joining and supporting GALA and the great spin-off of the activities show that there is interest and urgency to collaborate on this issue. We hope that the GALA project can be a catalyst for activities/initiatives that have been started in the Netherlands and that through international exchange, we will bring sustainability to the cultural national agenda.
CCS: What is your favourite memory, moment, discussion or thought that you’ve taken from past GALA general meetings?
MZ: What is really amazing within the GALA project and partnership is the great enthusiasm of all partners. Even partners that were not sustainability experts when we started felt the urgency to do something and got inspired by the work of the others. It is so nice to see that there is such a great openness and willingness to share knowledge and to collaborate. The activities that have been realised and the multiple spin-offs from the project are amazing. There has been a lot of attention drawn to GALA from different regions of the world that I would have never expected.
CCS: What role(s) do you think the arts/artists can play in building a more sustainable society?
MZ: Science won’t win over the climate change sceptics – this has been proven in the last years. The facts are there, but some still don’t get the message…artists have the power to reach out to the hearts of people and can translate the facts to our daily lives. So in this sense the role of the arts is crucial to build a more sustainable society.
CCS: What are your hopes for the final GALA general meeting in Glasgow this coming March?
MZ: I hope that we will find ways to continue the joint efforts of the GALA partners for a more sustainable cultural sector. It would be great of we could create new partnerships and collaborations, further building on our network.
Creative Carbon Scotland is a partnership of arts organisations working to put culture at the heart of a sustainable Scotland. We believe cultural and creative organisations have a significant influencing power to help shape a sustainable Scotland for the 21st century.
In 2011 we worked with partners Festivals Edinburgh, the Federation of Scottish Threatre and Scottish Contemporary Art Network to support over thirty arts organisations to operate more sustainably.
We are now building on these achievements and working with over 70 cultural organisations across Scotland in various key areas including carbon management, behavioural change and advocacy for sustainable practice in the arts.
Our work with cultural organisations is the first step towards a wider change. Cultural organisations can influence public behaviour and attitudes about climate change through:
Changing their own behaviour;
Communicating with their audiences;
Engaging the public’s emotions, values and ideas.
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