The Heinrich Böll Stiftung has started yet another interesting project referring to arts and sustainability. Artists from six mainly southern countries are invited to discuss the meaning of the right to a good life. Based on the fact that our daily lives and our ways of achieving a “good life” always influence the environment in a more or less negative or positive way, these artists ask themselves a simple question: Can “we find ways of living that contribute to more social equality and justice and that improve community participation and involvement?”
SurVivArt is meant to be a bridge to get to know perspectives on this question from people from the global South. On the website www.survivart.org you find an overview and detailed descriptions of these highly interesting projects, e.g. a social theater in Lagos, which is exploring the impact of climate change on daily life..
Cultura21 is a transversal, translocal network, constituted of an international level grounded in several Cultura21 organizations around the world.
Cultura21′s international network, launched in April 2007, offers the online and offline platform for exchanges and mutual learning among its members.
The activities of Cultura21 at the international level are coordinated by a team representing the different Cultura21 organizations worldwide, and currently constituted of:
– Sacha Kagan (based in Lüneburg, Germany) and Rana Öztürk (based in Berlin, Germany)
– Oleg Koefoed and Kajsa Paludan (both based in Copenhagen, Denmark)
– Hans Dieleman (based in Mexico-City, Mexico)
– Francesca Cozzolino and David Knaute (both based in Paris, France)
Cultura21 is not only an informal network. Its strength and vitality relies upon the activities of several organizations around the world which are sharing the vision and mission of Cultura21
ecoartspace participated in this year’s Americans for the Arts Public Art Network annual conference in Seattle (June 17-20, 2009), curating a Green Room workshop and also facilitating an afternoon roundtable session on selecting artists for “Green” public art projects. The theme of this year’s conference was Renewable Resources: Arts in Sustainable Communities.
Approximately 80 people attended the morning Green Roomsession rotating through 5 tables in 3 half hour sessions covering most aspects of greening the arts including Communications, Operations, Programs, Facilities, and Public Art. Ian Garrett, Executive Director of The Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts (CSPA) and teacher of Sustainable Theater and Technology at CalArts (Valencia, CA), led the operations or office procedures sessions. Jennifer Orr, who is the green team leader for Bumbershoot: Seattle’s Music & Arts Festival, led the communications sessions. Michael Crowley, member of the Broadway Green Alliance in New York City led the facilities sessions along with one of the very first LEED attorney’s, Janet Kim Lin, with Bullivant Houser Bailey in Seattle. Michael wrote his award winning thesis in Arts Adminstration from Goucher College entitled Somewhere That’s Green: Environmental Stewardship in Performing Arts Organizations. Betsy Bostwick, Public art Manager for Clackamas County Arts Alliance and recent graduate of the Master’s program in Arts Administration from the University of Oregon (Eugene), led the public art sessions. Bostwick wrote her thesis on Going Green with Public Art and published an article for the Community Arts Network on Greening Public Art Policy in 2008. And, Patricia Watts with ecoartspace who led the programs sessions shared one of her most prolific exhibitions, Hybrid Fields, in terms of high community participation and engagement with a broad audience on issues of sustainability. This was a group show of artists addressing food issues both in the gallery and in the public sphere.
In the afternoon roundtable, a group of 20 artists and administrators discussed the artist selection process for LEED buildings and alternative transportation projects, led by artist and project manager Vaughn Bell withSDOT, Rebecca Ansert with the LA County Arts Commission, and again ecoartspace founder and west coast curator, Patricia Watts.
Overall the junior arts administrators (and some veteran administrators like Barbara Goldstein from San Jose who participated in the Green Room) were pleased that becoming sustainable was the thematic. And, being in Seattle we were surrounded by established public artists like Lorna Jordan, Buster Simpson, Dan Corson, and many others from the Pacific Northwest (Portland, OR) who have been creating sustainable artworks for years! However, the general feeling by most public artists was a real concern that if arts administrators are interested in greening everything from the selection process to what materials are being used to create works, that the focus is being taken off of the art. Many artists feel there are already so many limitations to doing public art that if they have to work in this theme or only use recycled materials, that they are not really creating ART. This is obviously debatable.
As of recent, funding has become stalled on many public art projects nationwide and everyone is sitting/waiting for stimulus funding to feed public art projects through transportation and water infrastructure projects. Public art programs that have already established an interest and built relationships with Environmental Services departments are poised to do some interesting projects in the coming years. A few exciting highly anticipated examples are the San Jose Water Pollution Control Plant, Brightwater Wastewater Treatment Facility, and the City of Ventura’s Harbor Wetland’s Project. And, in Canada, A Public Art Plan for the Expressive Potential of Utility Infrastructure.
In summary, it appears the time for public art that addresses environmental issues has finally arrived and artists who have been doing ecological art or sustainable art will have a better leg to stand on when applying for these more integrated and functional projects. Let’s keep our finger’s crossed. And, give special thanks to artists like Buster Simpson who won this year’s Public Art Award and who paved the way for all of us.
Art, Community and Environment investigates wide-ranging issues raised by the interaction between art practice, community participation, and the environment, both natural and urban. This volume brings together a distinguished group of contributors from the United States, Australia, and Europe to examine topics such as urban art, community participation, local empowerment, and the problem of ownership. Featuring rich illustrations and informative case studies from around the world, Art, Community and Environment addresses the growing interest in this fascinating discipline.