Monthly Archives: November 2017

Green Arts Conference Report Published!

This post comes from Creative Carbon Scotland

On November 1st, Creative Carbon Scotland hosted our annual event for the Green Arts community. This conference report gives summaries and follow-up details for all of the sessions, giving you an idea of what took place on the day, and what the sustainable cultural sector is up to!

Green Arts Conference Report Published! 2This year’s conference had the theme of ‘Spotlight on Sustainability’: encouraging practitioners and participants to focus on the key actions and activities they are undertaking to contribute to a more sustainable society, and providing an opportunity to share and gain knowledge from those working in the field.

Read the 2017 Green Arts Conference Report now

The programme consisted of a range of plenary sessions, short (15 minute) talks from cultural sector peers, and workshops on key skills.You can see the full programme that took place on the day, and more information about the event here.

The Green Arts Conference is the annual conference for the Green Arts community: a gathering of members of the Green Arts Initiative and cultural green practice in Scotland, hosted by Creative Carbon Scotland. The Green Art Initiative is a year-round community of practice that spans the range of Scottish art forms, and focuses on providing support to organisations on both reducing their environmental impact, and increasing their positive contributions to sustainability. You can find out more, and join, here. 

The Green Arts Initiative is supported by PR Print and Design, and the Green Arts Conference was also supported by some of the best sustainable suppliers in the country: Take One Mediathe Green Stationery CompanyResource Efficient ScotlandGlasgow Wood Recycling and Vegware!

 


The post Green Arts Conference Report Published! appeared first on Creative Carbon Scotland.



About Creative Carbon Scotland:

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.

Go to Creative Carbon Scotland

Culture Strategy, Scotland – Culture & Climate Change

This post comes from Creative Carbon Scotland

In early November, Creative Carbon Scotland hosted a discussion as part of the Scottish Government’s consultation on the development of a new Culture Strategy for Scotland.

Joined by arts and sustainability practitioners working across a range of contexts, we focused on the connections between culture and climate change and the role of the arts in wider society, particularly in relation to environmental sustainability.

We convened the meeting around three key questions, relating the Scottish Government’s Culture Conversations questions to the issue of climate change. We also provided an online survey for those who were unable to participate in the event, some of the points from which are also included here.

In first part of the conversation we focused on the question:

What do you perceive as the role of arts and culture in contributing to a more sustainable Scotland at individual, organisational and strategic levels?

The key points arising from discussion were, the Culture Strategy could stress that:

  • There is a strong role for the arts in relation to the issue of climate change and the transition to a more environmentally sustainable Scotland including through the following means:
    • Ideas exchange
    • Influencing behaviour
    • Arts as rehearsal stage for contentious ideas
  • The arts can act as an agent of change and has a role to play in place making, community resilience and environmental education.
  • There is a need for work to take place across strategic, organisational and individual ‘levels’ – our strategic organisations need to be bold whilst the action and leadership of organisations and individuals enables and creates the spaces for these overarching organisations to make significant sectoral change.
  • There is a challenge in articulating what a sustainable Scotland looks like and therefore a need for the arts to help society imagine what needs to change and how – both now and in the future.
  • Sustainability criteria could help identify inherently unsustainable arts practices and activities, and be considered as factors when making funding decisions.
  • Scotland’s cultural sector has the opportunity to be a leader in embracing the international challenge of sustainability.

It was discussed that the arts and culture are already taking action and showing leadership on sustainability including through Creative Carbon Scotland’s work which supports engagement at strategic, organisations and individual levels. Examples include:

  • The introduction of Carbon Management Planning and the Environment Connecting Theme by Creative Scotland for Regular Funded Organisations which supports and encourages the sector in carbon reduction and addressing its role in shaping a more sustainable Scotland;
  • The Green Arts Initiative: a community of 190+ arts organisations based across Scotland committed to engaging in sustainability through their operations and artistic programmes;
  • The growing network of 600+ sustainability and arts practitioners engaged in building connections between culture and climate change, supported through Creative Carbon Scotland’s Green Tease events programme.

In this section we focused on the question:

Examples of good practice and opportunities for new collaborations across cultural and sustainable sectors

The key points arising were:

  • Addressing sustainability and climate change requires collaboration. It’s very difficult to adapt to climate change on your own, much like changing transport issues: it requires more parties and more structural change to take place. The Culture Strategy should incentivise collaboration within Scotland (i.e. much like how match funding works; how academic projects require community partners; how EU projects require certain partners). This would help to reduce silos of people working with the same partners all the time.
  • There are examples of successful projects which encourage people to engage with the natural environment and sustainability (e.g. using woodland as theatre, props sourced from woodlands, embedded within community, connecting arts practices and community renewable energy developments.) However, these struggled with funding as they didn’t fit into traditional sources of arts funding (e.g. Creative Scotland Open Fund, Trusts and Foundations, corporate sponsorship) which isn’t really focused on community projects or community/forestry funding which isn’t really focused on arts projects. The Culture Strategy could usefully support this sort of cross-departmental and cross-silo working.
  • The strategy could encourage the embedding of individuals for cross-pollination. For example, placing sustainability professionals in all Non-Departmental Public Bodies working in some aspects of culture (e.g. HES; Creative Scotland) and placing people used to working on longer timescales for climatic change (e.g. forestry professionals), to help shape strategic cultural planning.

Other examples discussed included the work of The Stove Network as an arts-led approach to the regeneration of Dumfries town centre (see contribution to the Culture Strategy online forum); The Embedded Artist Project model developed by American civic artist Frances Whitehead; and the work of Watershed+ in Calgary, Canada which includes artistic practices as part of any major infrastructural projects which take place in the city.

Finally we asked the question:

What are the priority areas to further the role of culture in bringing about transformational change to a more sustainable Scotland?

  • There is an absolutely essential role for art to “get out of its box, into other boxes, and get other people into art’s boxes”
  • We discussed that a priority area would be the incentivisation of true collaboration – a ‘duty to collaborate’. We acknowledged that this would be challenging but that it could be incentivised and implemented within a reasonably quick timescale. For example, embedding 30 artists in public bodies in 3 years, and vice versa. This could also work across all three ‘levels’ as previously discussed (e.g. Creative Scotland and Department for Energy and Climate Change; Scottish Chamber Orchestra and RSPB Scotland) and could also apply to other areas including health and education, therefore encouraging more ‘cross-sectionality’ generally.
  • The ability to collaborate is something which some artists are adept at, and the difficulties in this is often where good art thrives. Artists are also often not as bound to particular institutions as other collaborators, therefore able to bring their own interests to the table.
  • A way in which to ‘operationalise’ collaboration could be to require all Non-Departmental Public Bodies to make climate change one of their core aims and required to deliver cross-sectoral projects.
  • There’s an opportunity to better support environmental reportage in Scotland including large scale projects such as film, theatre and documentary literature.

As well as being published here these notes will be fed back to the Scottish Government via the Culture Conversations resource pack and will continue to inform and shape the work of Creative Carbon Scotland in supporting the role of the arts in contributing to a more sustainable Scotland.


The post A Culture Strategy for Scotland – Culture & Climate Change appeared first on Creative Carbon Scotland.


About Creative Carbon Scotland:

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.

Go to Creative Carbon Scotland

Opportunity: Grow Wild Community Project Funding

This post comes from Creative Carbon Scotland

Now open for applications!

Have you got a ridiculously exciting idea for a project that brings people togetherthrough activities that help connect their community and celebrate UK native wild flowers, plants and/or fungi? Well then, read on!

Grow Wild is awarding funding of £2,000 or £4,000 to groups and projects that:

  • Stand out from the crowd: listen to your beneficiaries – be creative together, try something new that reaches new audiences.
  • Focus on UK native wild flowers, plants and/or fungi, highlighting the importance of these species for the environment, and for quality of life.
  • Will engage one or more of these groups:
    • Young people aged 12-18
    • Students and young people aged 18-25
    • People living in urban areas
    • People experiencing hardship and reduced access to services
    • Adults that are less engaged with their community and environmental activities
  • Make sure your project is led by the community directly or by an organisation that addresses an identified issue or need.
  • Will encourage large scale community involvement, ideally in the hundreds!
  • Will deliver the project in a space or location that is accessible to the general public i.e. is not in a restricted or controlled area

Download the guidance document at www.growwilduk.com/content/community-project-funding-2018 for everything you need to know about the process of applying for Grow Wild community project funding. You will need to contact your local Grow Wild Engagement Manager to discuss your proposal and request the online application form – Stéphanie Baine on scotland@growwilduk.com or 07930477553.

Applications must be submitted by midday on the 15th January 2018.

Share your news!

This story was posted by Grow Wild. Creative Carbon Scotland is committed to being a resource for the arts & sustainability community and we invite the community to submit news, blogs and opportunities to the site.

The post Opportunity: Grow Wild Community Project Funding appeared first on Creative Carbon Scotland.


About Creative Carbon Scotland:

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.

Go to Creative Carbon Scotland

Opportunity: Arts Project Leader at RIG Arts

This post comes from Creative Carbon Scotland

RIG Arts are looking for a new Project Leader and tutor to help cover our Climate Challenge Fund projects mainly working in Greenock.

Start date: 11 December 2017.
End date: 31st March 2018.
Application Deadline Tuesday 28th November at 5pm
Hours: 30hrs/ week
Salary: £1468/month

Roles and responsibilities include:

  • completing project reports
  • keeping an accurate record of waste collected and upcycled/ recycled throughout the projects and translating this into carbon emissions
  • liaising with community groups, schools, housing associations, artists and other partners
  • delivering workshops in schools and with community groups
  • booking and assisting freelance artists for workshops
  • planning and coordinating events and
  • updating social media including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and our blog with visual and written documentation of the projects.

Applicants should have experience:

  • in working with Excel and Word and
  • in delivering classes both in primary schools and with community groups of a range of ages and abilities.

The successful applicant will work mainly from the RIG Arts studio in Greenock, PA15 1JG but will be required to travel to 2 primary schools in the area, as well as our Art Flat in Broomhill, Greenock and various locations within the Seedhill area of Paisley. They will receive 2 weeks of on-the-job training. Driving desirable.

More info about the projects and RIG Arts can be found on the RIG Arts Facebook pageRIG Arts Twitter, blog www.thebroomhillproject.com/plasticfantastic and website www.rigarts.org.

 


The post Opportunity: Arts Project Leader at RIG Arts appeared first on Creative Carbon Scotland.



About Creative Carbon Scotland:

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.

Go to Creative Carbon Scotland

Wind Turbines as Artistic Canvas

This post comes from the Artists and Climate Change Blog

This month, our Renewable Energy Artworks series continues with a focus on a German wind turbine manufacturer that supports local artists to use its turbines as an artistic canvas. 

When I first sat down to write this post, I intended to describe the background story of how three musicians ended up on top of a wind turbine in eastern Québec, through a collaboration between the international world music festival, Festival musique du bout du monde, and the wind energy think-tank TechnoCentre éolien.

Watch this sublime sunrise concert 80 meters above the ground – the first in the world – in the autumn-tinged mountains of Québec’s magnificent Gaspé peninsula that juts out into the Gulf of Saint Lawrence:

The three musicians from the coastal city of Gaspé are, left to right, Yvette Thériault (accordion), Balby Gadho (djembé) and Justin Garneau (oud). Secured to the top of a Senvion nacelle via (hidden) security harnesses, the trio performs an original composition by Mr. Garneau entitled Le 15ième lever du soleil (The 15th sunrise), inspired by Indian and North African music.

As I researched this post however, I discovered that these artists were not the first to use a wind turbine as an artistic canvas. Artists in Portugal and Australia have also collaborated with their local wind industry to create original works of art that, ultimately, will shift the public’s perception of the beauty and promise of wind energy in a rapidly changing world.

The common link between these three groups of international artists – in Québec, in Portugal and in Australia – is the German turbine manufacturer, Senvion.

Senvion has distinguished itself from other turbine manufacturers through its avant-garde and proactive community engagement strategy that has resulted in, among other things, bold and vibrant artworks that serve as icons of a new era.

Senvion, Portugal, Ancora, wind, Joana, Vasconcelos, Joana Vasconcelos, artist, WindArt, Beira

Joana Vasconcelos’ mural on a Senvion wind turbine in Portugal

For example, in 2016 Senvion commissioned two of Portugal’s most internationally renowned artists, Joana Vasconcelos and Vhils, to paint two 100-meter Senvion wind turbines for the 171.2 MW Âncora Wind farm in northern Portugal.

In my humble opinion, these are the most beautiful wind turbines in the world.

The video below describes Senvion’s WindArt project in Portugal:

In Australia, two 69-meter Senvion wind turbines were painted between 2013 and 2014 at Australia’s first community-owned wind farm – Hepburn Wind – by Melbourne artists Ghostpatrol (David Booth) and Bonsai. Watch the video below documenting the completion of the second turbine, which coincided with a “Sleep under the stars” family camping event at the wind farm:

I look forward to the day when more and more artists will be commissioned by the renewable energy sector – solar, wind, geothermal, hydro, biomass, biogas – to add their voices and vision of what our post-carbon world will look like.

Disclaimer: Over the past five years, I have worked as a contract photographer for Senvion on several of its Canadian wind projects, including four community wind projects: Viger-Denonville and Mesgi’g Ugju’s’n in Québec, and Gunn’s Hill and Oxley in Ontario. Even though these projects do not include any turbines painted by local artists, they are all majestically beautiful to me. They give me hope for the future. For my daughter’s future.

Joan, Sullivan, Joan Sullivan, renewable, energy, photographer, Canada, Quebec, winter, landscape, snow, wind

Winter landscape at the Mesgi’g Ugju’s’n wind farm in Escuminac, Québec, with Senvion 3XM turbines. ©2016 Joan Sullivan. All rights reserved.

______________________________

Joan Sullivan is a renewable energy photographer based in Québec, Canada. Since 2009, Joan has focused her cameras (and more recently her drones) exclusively on solutions to climate change. She is convinced that the inevitable transition to a 100% clean energy economy will happen faster – and within our lifetimes – by creating positive images and stories that help us visualize and embrace what a post-carbon future will look like.  Joan collaborates frequently with filmmakers on documentary films that explore the human side of the energy transition. She is currently working on a photo book about the energy transition. Her renewable energy photos have been exhibited in group shows in Canada and the UK. You can find Joan on Twitter and Instagram


About Artists and Climate Change:

Artists and Climate Change is a blog that tracks artistic responses from all disciplines to the problem of climate change. It is both a study about what is being done, and a resource for anyone interested in the subject. Art has the power to reframe the conversation about our environmental crisis so it is inclusive, constructive, and conducive to action. Art can, and should, shape our values and behavior so we are better equipped to face the formidable challenge in front of us.

Go to the Artists and Climate Change Blog

Aesthetics of Impermanence

This post comes from Ecoscenography

Sea_Change_fig.3.3

AN INTEGRATION OF PHENOMENOLOGICAL AND ECOLOGICAL AESTHETICS IN PERFORMANCE DESIGN

While much of my work these days is positioned outside of conventional theatre (in the realm of expanded scenography), my venture into sustainability began in more traditional spaces and practices. My latest academic paper: “The aesthetics of impermanence: an integration of phenomenological and ecological aesthetics in performance design” explores new ideas of aesthetics, using a design that I did for Sea Change at The Place, a contemporary dance venue in London in 2014. This post includes a moderated excerpt and summary from the recent paper. The full paper can be accessed here.

As a scenographer working across the fields of sustainability and performance design, the subject of impermanence and its impact upon environmentally responsible practice is both ubiquitous and complex. The ephemeral and specific nature of theatrical work means that most set and costume designs are only of value for the duration of the performance season—often a matter of days or weeks—before they are discarded. Even digital projection and lighting have hidden impacts that extend beyond a stage production. At first glance, the notion of designing for ephemerality while also considering a work’s extended ecological effects constitutes a certain irony—a contradiction of approaches rather than complementary perspectives that can enrich design aesthetics. However, whilst there are challenges to implementing sustainable approaches in theatre production, I propose that considering the impermanence of performance design and its aesthetic and environmental implications opens up exciting new avenues for exploration including new ways of designing for an ecological paradigm across disciplines.

Sea Change | Richard Osborne | Tanja BeerIn the field of the performing arts, considering the longer-term consequences of temporary design is rarely recognised as part of a scenographer’s responsibilities. Short-term decadence is generally not questioned in theatre design education, and is often encouraged if the budget allows for it. Scenographers are trained to work towards opening night. How we ‘get there’ or what happens to our sets and costumes after the production ends is often neither a priority nor a consideration. Our focus as designers have typically been to create ‘experiences of impermanence’—often extravagant spectacles with little regard for the more prevailing permanence of unwanted remains (seen and unseen) that persist long after the event.

Sea Change | Richard Osborne | Tanja BeerTraditionally, scenography has primarily been preoccupied with theatre design’s immediate visual, functional or experiential effects, with little regard for much else. While I propose that considering phenomenological aesthetics is key to any successful design, the ecological urgency of the last decade also urges us to consider the long-term impacts of our work. This entails developing a concern for the ecological impact of our ephemeral designs, including an interest in the often invisible (and more permanent) causations of material entanglement of sets and costumes—across bodies, substances and environments, well beyond the theatre. This shift brings up bigger questions of how we practice—of what it means to design for both the impermanence or ‘momentary spectacle’ of the theatre experience whilst also considering the more permanent and ecological implications of such work.

Sea Change | Richard Osborne | Tanja BeerIn my latest academic paper, “The aesthetics of impermanence: an integration of phenomenological and ecological aesthetics in performance design”,  I cogitate how engaging with both phenomenological and ecological notions of aesthetics can provide a context for ephemeral designs that also consider a longer view of effects. For example, how might the focus of visual and temporal aesthetics in the performing arts be expanded to acknowledge and incorporate a more explicit relationship with ecological values and ethics? Can the quality and success of theatre design be measured not only by the phenomenological or aesthetic experiences it yields, but also by the environmental and social systems to which it relates and contributes to over time? To consider a design’s greater ecological integrity, it is clear that scenography requires an extended aesthetic field that encompasses environmental, social and political advocacy.

Sea Change | Richard Osborne | Tanja BeerIn 2014, I conducted a practice-led research project through the design and development of Sea Change – a short dance piece about climate change by choreographer Richard Osborne – as part of the Resolutions Festival in London. Examining the relationship between materiality, ephemerality, sustainability and/in performance, my aim was to explore the potential of using both phenomenological and ecological aesthetics to guide the spatial design. By synthesising ideas of phenomenological and ecological aesthetics, Sea Change demonstrated how long term environmental considerations can be brought into the ephemerality of scenographic practice and how these two modes of consideration can also bring about a more unified design outcome.

Sea Change | Richard Osborne | Tanja BeerIncluding ecological aesthetics in theatre production and other temporary design practices requires that designers consider their co-extensive relationship with the living world beyond the experiential and ephemeral. This entails a concern for the ‘unseen’ effects of making temporary spaces and implies a kind of interaction with an ‘invisible design’ – that which may not be immediately evident in the making of the work (unrecyclable set elements, flame-retardant, spray paint and $2 shop props) but we acknowledge has causational potential to form a by-product of the ‘visible’ and ‘experienced’ (adding to landfill waste, air pollution and the production of child labour). At the same time, these ‘unseen’ consequences can also be acknowledged in a positive light, where the designer considers the evolutionary potential of a work to contribute to socio-ecological systems. This multifaceted and complex approach to performance design’s ‘aesthetics of impermanence’ remains at the crux of the sustainability challenge and will no doubt require substantial shifts in how we engage mentally as well as practically with the issue.

Sea Change | Richard Osborne | Tanja Beer

The full paper (including a summary of the learnings from Sea Change) can be viewed here.


The post, Aesthetics of Impermanence: An Integration of Phenomenological and Ecological Aesthetics in Performance Design, appeared first on Ecoscenography.


Ecoscenography.com has been instigated by designer Tanja Beer – a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne, Australia, investigating the application of ecological design principles to theatre.

Tanja Beer is a researcher and practitioner in ecological design for performance and the creator of The Living Stage – an ecoscenographic work that combines stage design, permaculture and community engagement to create recyclable, biodegradable and edible performance spaces. Tanja has more than 15 years professional experience, including creating over 50 designs for a variety of theatre companies and festivals in Australia (Sydney Opera House, Melbourne International Arts Festival, Queensland Theatre Company, Melbourne Theatre Company, Arts Centre) and overseas (including projects in Vienna, London, Cardiff and Tokyo).

Since 2011, Tanja has been investigating sustainable practices in the theatre. International projects have included a 2011 Asialink Residency (Australia Council for the Arts) with the Tokyo Institute of Technology and a residency with the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (London) funded by a Norman Macgeorge Scholarship from the University of Melbourne. In 2013, Tanja worked as “activist-in-residence” at Julie’s Bicycle (London), and featured her work at the 2013 World Stage Design Congress (Cardiff)

Tanja has a Masters in Stage Design (KUG, Austria), a Graduate Diploma in Performance Making (VCA, Australia) and is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne where she also teaches subjects in Design Research, Scenography and Climate Change. A passionate teacher and facilitator, Tanja has been invited as a guest lecturer and speaker at performing arts schools and events in Australia, Canada, the USA and UK. Her design work has been featured in The Age and The Guardian and can be viewed at www.tanjabeer.com

Go to EcoScenography

F*ck the System (And the Horse It Rode In On)

This post comes from the Artists and Climate Change Blog

The thing that’s so annoying about climate change is that it affects all of our systems—political, economic, environmental, cultural—so there’s no way to hide from it. The thing that’s so great about climate change is that it affects all of our systems—political, economic, environmental, cultural—so we’re forced to take a hard look at what works and what doesn’t, for whom, and why. The stakes are as high as in any good play: If we don’t change our ways, the status quo will, quite literally, kill us.

In the theatre, our internal systems are every bit as detrimental to the earth and other human beings as the larger systems of which we are a part. We waste resources. We hoard money at the top. We discriminate. We talk a lot about doing better and sometimes we do but on the whole, if we look at statistics like these and these and these—we’ve all seen them—we are not the model of responsible stewardship and inclusiveness that we would like to be.

Is it surprising? Yes and no. We are a product of this country, this culture, this moment in time. Many of us grew up, whether on American soil or abroad, with American values forced down our throats: Freedom is gold. Growth is infinite. The hero (preferably straight, white, and male) always wins. We have internalized these values and, consciously or not, they continue to inform our behavior.

To be fair, many artists and organizations are working tirelessly to address these problems. But while these efforts are laudable, they remain marginal. Once in a while we have a conference where we acknowledge them and reassert our desire to do better, and then little changes.

It’s worth asking why, even though these issues have been identified for decades, we as a field have only moved a few percentage points in the right direction. Granted, a theatre can’t fire its entire staff and start anew overnight, but theatrical seasons are put together every year. Every year, new creative teams are hired. Every year, there are opportunities to say fuck the system and be inclusive and fair. By now, we should have moved dozens of percentage points in the right direction. But no, we hover more or less in the same place. We pat ourselves on the back for talking about these things, and ignore the fact that our actions don’t support our words.

If climate change was solely about reducing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, the problem would have been solved a long time ago. The reason it’s so difficult to address is because it requires a complete overhaul of the ideology that made it possible. As we have seen in the recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia, patriarchy and white supremacy, which underpin our economic system and by extension, the fossil fuel industry, are well and alive in America. And the extreme violence and sense of entitlement of “Unite the Right” marchers show that those who feel they have most to lose (whether they are justified in that feeling or not) by switching to a new order won’t let go easy.

The same is true in the theatre. It’s not difficult to produce a female playwright or cast a person of color. What’s difficult is to recognize that cultural standards are not objective, and to stop coming up with “good” reasons for discriminating. “It’s not what our audiences want” is a cop out that enables theatre leaders and audiences alike to be sexist and racist. And if that’s where we stand, can we look at what happened in Charlottesville with a clear conscience? Can we honestly say that we had no part to play in creating the culture that made the alt-right possible? It doesn’t matter what we say in our plays if how we say it indicates in no uncertain terms that the only valid perspective on our society is that of the straight white man.

“The 2015–16 Season in Gender: Who’s on Top?” from American Theatre Magazine, September 21, 2015.

As I write this, hurricane Harvey is wreaking havoc in Texas and Louisiana, displacing tens of thousands of people, destroying houses and infrastructures, and bringing Houston, a modern industrialized city in one of the most powerful nations on earth, down to its knees. The climate change apocalypse we’ve been promised is here. I see the photos, watch the videos, read the articles and the posts on social media, and my heart breaks. I can only imagine the magnitude of the pain and sense of loss of those whose entire lives are now under water.

How much longer are we going to go on like this? How many more people have to suffer and die? We, as a society, need to take responsibility for both Charlottesville and Harvey. And we, in the theatre, also need to take responsibility. Artists make culture; that’s our job. Every day we put ideas on stage that either reinforce the status quo or challenge it. Every day we engage in practices that are either wasteful or sustainable. Every day we interact with each other in a way that is either oppressive or nurturing. We make choices and then we put those choices on stage for everyone to see. That’s what theatre is. Never mind the witty dialogue, clever blocking, and fancy designs. At its most basic, theatre is a sharing of beliefs and values that make a production possible, from who is involved to what resources are used to how people are treated.

A common reason for people to not take action on climate change is a sense of powerlessness—a belief that individuals can’t make a difference and that change has to come from the top. It is, of course, politically convenient for those in power to cultivate that feeling. Powerlessness keeps masses docile, money flowing in the right direction—from bottom to top—and power secure. But chaos theory tells us that a small change in a nonlinear complex system, which is what our highly-connected world has become, can result in large differences later. Think of the butterfly effect: Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?

Moreover, science also says that when just ten percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, that belief will always be adopted by the majority of the society. Ten percent. That’s one in ten artists. One in ten theatres. One in ten plays. Is that so out of reach? Can we not, in a profession that prides itself on the resourcefulness and imagination of its practitioners, find one in ten people to turn the tide? Can we not acknowledge the damage our systems are inflicting on our fellow artists, our fellow citizens, and on the earth, and start to chip at them?

I do see hope. When Native Americans gathered at Standing Rock to halt the Dakota Access Pipeline, they said fuck the system. When youth filed a constitutional climate lawsuit against the US government, they said fuck the system. When cities and states announced that they would uphold the Paris Agreement after Trump pulled out, they said fuck the system. And every time we march—for women’s rights, LGBT rights, Black Lives Matter, for the climate, for science—we are collectively saying fuck the system.

I see hope in the theatre, too. Caucasian actor Mandy Patinkin, who was set to replace African American actor Okieriete Onaodowan in the Broadway production of Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812dropped out after realizing he would be harming his colleague. There was an unexpected outpouring of support from audiences after the announcement that Paula Vogel’s Indecent—one of the rare plays on Broadway both written and directed by a woman—was going to close despite taking home two Tony Awards. And organizations like Broadway Green Alliance continue to serve and educate the field so we learn to be more sustainable and less wasteful.

And these are only a few examples. Hundreds of small theatre companies across the country, theatres too small to be counted in the statistics, are carving a place for those usually left out of our overwhelmingly monochrome and monogender theatre ecosystem, and are making efforts to use resources responsibly.

In addition to these individual efforts, institutional changes are desperately needed and funders could and should help. In July, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio gave New York’s museums and arts groups an ultimatum: Embrace diversity, or say goodbye to your city funding. When are funders going to hold theatres up to the same standard? On the other side of the pond, Arts Council England, working in collaboration with Julie’s Bicycle, has made environmental reporting a funding obligation for all major revenue funded programs over the last few years, with great success. Can more countries not come up with similar programs?

The burden of fighting for justice shouldn’t always fall on those already disadvantaged. Most of us in the theatre enjoy some form of privilege, whether racial or economic or both. Maybe once in a while, we should be willing to take one for the team. Maybe once in a while, we should have the courage to stand up for all of us, even if it comes at a personal cost. What if, for example, some of the most sought after male playwrights among us refused to be produced by theatres that don’t show gender parity? What if white playwrights required that the cast for their plays reflect the diversity of our society? What would happen then? What if playwrights and directors contractually required that the set be recycled at the end of a production? What if theatres had to disclose the gap between their highest paid employees and their lowest paid employees? We’ve been waiting for too long; our statistics have got to change. Our systems have got to change. And if it takes some form of disobedience, then so be it. Otherwise, we might as well have voted for Trump.

Naomi Klein is right when she says that this changes everything. We cannot address climate change without addressing the systems that are feeding it, and we cannot address those systems and still make theatre as if these were the good old days. The theatre community may only represent a small percentage of the population but because it is directly involved in shaping culture, it has a big percentage of the responsibility.

It’s not difficult. Let’s stop saying that it’s difficult. Let’s stop saying that it’s complicated. Let’s stop saying that it’s expensive or risky. Being rescued from your house by a helicopter because the water is up to your roof is difficult. Making the theatre more inclusive, sustainable, and fair is not.

Fuck the system. It’s rigged. It has always been. Sadly, it took a dangerous accumulation of CO2 particles in the atmosphere for us to finally face it, but here we are. Let’s not wait until the white supremacists are in power (oh wait, they already are…) or until we’re all under water to make a change.

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Chantal Bilodeau is a playwright and translator whose work focuses on the intersection of science, policy, art, and climate change. She is the Artistic Director of The Arctic Cycle – an organization created to support the writing, development and production of eight plays that look at the social and environmental changes taking place in the eight countries of the Arctic – and the founder of the blog and international network Artists & Climate Change. She is a co-organizer of Climate Change Theatre Action, a worldwide series of readings and performances of short climate change plays presented in support of the United Nations COP meetings.

 


About Artists and Climate Change:

Artists and Climate Change is a blog that tracks artistic responses from all disciplines to the problem of climate change. It is both a study about what is being done, and a resource for anyone interested in the subject. Art has the power to reframe the conversation about our environmental crisis so it is inclusive, constructive, and conducive to action. Art can, and should, shape our values and behavior so we are better equipped to face the formidable challenge in front of us.

Go to the Artists and Climate Change Blog

Beautiful Renewables

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

Wind Forest, ZM Architecture Team

Can renewable energy become not merely infrastructure but a feature of place-making? What can architects, artists and designers bring to the transition to a post-fossil fuel economy? Can creative approaches contribute to the commercialisation of new renewable technologies? These are some of the questions that the Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) is asking and why ecoartscotland partnered with them.

The exhibition of the Land Art Generator Glasgow project along with examples from other LAGI competitions is currently installed on the Concourse of the Sir Ian Wood Building, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen.

It has previously been exhibited in The Lighthouse, Glasgow; Exeter University Innovation Centre; and Tent, Edinburgh College of Art.

The LAGI Glasgow project focused on Dundas Hill, a former distillery and power station site just north of Glasgow City centre. Dundas Hill is now a regeneration site being developed by a partnership between Scottish Canals and BIGG Regeneration supported by Glasgow City Council.

The three short listed teams were led by architects and landscape architects (ERZ, Stallan Brand, ZM Architects) and involved engineers, designers and artists (Daziel+Scullion, Alec Finlay, Pigdin Perfect).

The Land Art Generator Initiative will be releasing the Brief for it’s next International Open Competition for a site in Melbourne in Australia in January 2018.

Chris Fremantle, who established ecoartscotland in 2010, is a Senior Research Fellow and Lecturer in Contemporary Art Practice at Gray’s School of Art. Outputs associated with this work have been clustered into a ‘project’ by the RGU Library Service on OpenAIR here. They include a chapter in the book of the LAGI Copehagen Open Competition in 2014, a conference paper at PetroCultures 2016 conference as well as the citation of the Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Managers (CIWEM) Art and Environment Award made in 2016.

 


About EcoArtScotland:

ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, cuorators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.

It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge ResearchGray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.

Go to EcoArtScotland

Guide to Sustainable Travel

This post comes from Creative Carbon Scotland

The Energy Revolution Guide to Sustainable Travel for Festival and Events was launched at the Festival Vision:2025 meeting at the Showman’s Show last month. Energy Revolutionis a UK charity that helps festivals turn travel miles into 100% clean energy through investment in renewable energy projects.

80% of the carbon footprint

With audience travel making up 80% of the average UK festival’s carbon footprint, tackling travel emissions is a key part of any festivals sustainability strategy. The new Sustainable Travel Guide, written by Chris Johnson (Shambala Festival, Powerful Thinking & Energy Revolution), explains the impacts of event-related travel and offers festivals and events practical solutions to start reducing the impacts of audience and supplier travel. The Guide is part of the resources that Energy Revolution offers to festivals and events in calculating, reducing, and balancing CO2e emissions from audiences, suppliers and artists.

Download your copy of The Energy Revolution Sustainable Travel Guide

Energy Revolution has enabled festival audiences to balance over three million travel miles so far with balancing donations being invested in renewable energy projects in India (wind power and reforestation) and Bristol (solar).

It’s easy and free for festivals to sign up to become a member of Energy Revolution – members receive further resources and guidance on making audience travel more sustainable including use of the Travel Carbon Calculator, help in setting up carbon balancing for their audience travel miles and an annual certificate celebrating the miles and kgCO2e they have balanced.

Contact hello@energy-revolution.org.uk for information on becoming a member. Check out the website for details on the renewable energy projects and participating festivals, suppliers and artists: http://www.energy-revolution.org.uk

 



The post Energy Revolution launch Guide to Sustainable Travel for Festivals and Events appeared first on Creative Carbon Scotland.



 

About Creative Carbon Scotland:

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.

Go to Creative Carbon Scotland

Anniversaries and Creative Resistances

This post comes from the Artists and Climate Change Blog

In the year since the election of That Person Who Should Not Have Been Elected, I have experienced, like many others in the States and beyond, a whirlwind of emotions: rage, worry, defeat, confusion, exhaustion, hope. I have been to theatrical events which have both evoked these feelings and expanded my empathy for people who voted in a way I thought unthinkable. I have gone out into the streets in protest more times than I have in all my previous years combined. In this moment of anniversary, I am focused not on the destruction that has been done at the hands of my government, but on the communities I’ve been a part of, on the insistence on justice, and on my reinvigorated connection to people and the land we share.

One year ago, I worked with Theater In Asylum on the The Debates, and wrote pre-election thoughts here. On that election night, my Debates collaborators and I formed the political theatre collective Back to Work, as a support network. Together we marched on Washington, built a Feminist Flashmob, and most recently, staged a reading of Sinclair Lewis’ It Can’t Happen Here from 1936. As part of nation-wide readings, Theater In Asylum and Back to Work collaborated on an evening of Lewis’ play with fundraising for relief efforts in Puerto Rico.

In It Can’t Happen Here, the editor of a liberal newspaper in small-town Vermont witnesses the rise of a populist, anti-labor, militaristic politician, all the way to the presidency. The editor and his family discover just how quickly fascism spreads, violence reigns, and the free press is silenced. A clear turning point is when the editor is forced to turn his position at the paper over to a member of the new administration. Lewis also looks at the education – or indoctrination – of youth as the grandson of the editor flaunts a uniform of the militaristic president’s party.

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Reading of It Can’t Happen Here, directed by Paul Bedard, in collaboration with Theater In Asylum and Back to Work Collective. Photo by Paul Bedard.

While the play certainly dates itself through pre-World War II references, the parallels to our current governmental situation – 80 years later – is uncanny. I was reminded of current events, littered with “fake news” buzz and political leaders acting against the interests of the people. The propaganda spewed by the president in Lewis’ play is reminiscent of Trump’s tweets. It is happening here. But, fortunately, rising fascism is being met with a persistent public voice clamoring to tear it down (especially as we’ve seen in last week’s legislative and gubernatorial elections)! In my experience of hearing the play, with a room full of people from all backgrounds, I felt the act of our collective resistance. When divisive and destructive energies occupy seats of power, I honor spaces of compassionate, receptive, and joyful energy as persistence.

This Fall also marks the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Sandy. While I was not living in New York at the time, the reverberations of the superstorm have been present in my two years of being here: from the subways, to rainwater management, to community organizing for the most vulnerable New Yorkers, often people of color affected by sea level rise from Brooklyn to Upper Manhattan. That is why on October 28th, I joined five thousand fellow New Yorkers to march across the Brooklyn Bridge. We marched in commemoration of the lives affected by Sandy as well as by this year’s disastrous storms in Houston, Florida, and Puerto Rico. The Sandy5 March indicated that New Yorkers remember, and recognize the link between policy and climate change. We do live in a progressive city, but there is still room to create more sustainable and just policies for more residents.

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Rally in preparation for the Sandy5 March.

As my friends and I marched, we enjoyed the abnormally-sunshiny late-October sun, the beats of musicians around us, and new and familiar chants. Turning the corners through Lower Manhattan, with more room to move and groove, the Sandy5 March brought a literal dance party into the streets. This instance of public, collective joy was so inspiring to me. I marched with people I knew, but at the same time saw thousands of unfamiliar faces, brought together by similar intentions.

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Marching across the Brooklyn Bridge.

I am propelled to keep moving, and re-energized by large public demonstrations like the Sandy5 March. I am also invigorated by the transmission of knowledge through international gatherings such as COPs (Conference of the Parties). As followers of this United Nations climate summit know, the 23rd Conference is currently underway in Bonn, Germany. It was two years ago, at COP21, that the Paris Climate Agreement was signed. Since the Trump administration’s rejection of the agreement earlier this year, state, local, and business leaders have stepped up to show the rest of the world that the United States still intends on being part of global efforts toward sustainability. Adding to these efforts, I am convening with local artists and friends as part of Climate Change Theatre Action, around art and conversation and food. These happenings are resistance, in the face of an authority that attempts to tear us apart. We will see what this COP brings. Regardless of what corrupted power does or says, the people, united, will never be defeated.

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Marching across the Brooklyn Bridge.

Take Action
Climate Change Theatre Action 2017 is in its final week. Find an event near you.

Join one of many campaigns for a resilient and renewable New York. Find out about the policy demands of the Sandy5 March here.

Tweet in support of the US People’s Delegation at COP23 in Bonn, Germany, and populate Twitter with demands to Trump for climate action.

Share in Climate Optimism.

______________________________

Julia Levine is a creative collaborator and vegetarian. Originally from St. Louis, Julia is now planted in the New York City downtown theatre realm. As a director, Julia has worked on various projects with companies that consider political and cultural topics, including Theater In AsylumHonest Accomplice Theatre, and Superhero Clubhouse. She is on the Marketing team at HERE Arts Center and is a co-organizer with Climate Change Theatre Action. Julia writes and devises with her performance-based initiative, The Food Plays, to bring questions of food, climate, and justice into everyday life.


About Artists and Climate Change:

Artists and Climate Change is a blog that tracks artistic responses from all disciplines to the problem of climate change. It is both a study about what is being done, and a resource for anyone interested in the subject. Art has the power to reframe the conversation about our environmental crisis so it is inclusive, constructive, and conducive to action. Art can, and should, shape our values and behavior so we are better equipped to face the formidable challenge in front of us.

Go to the Artists and Climate Change Blog