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Arts and ecology

  • Date: 13 September 2006
  • Artform: All
  • Area: National
'This is the Public Domain' included in the RSA publication 'Land, Art: A cultural Ecology Handbook'. Balkin set out to irreversibly transfer a plot of land to public ownership. 'This is the Public Domain' included in the RSA publication 'Land, Art: A cultural Ecology Handbook'. Balkin set out to irreversibly transfer a plot of land to public ownership., Amy Balkin

The arts can offer innovative and imaginative perspectives on complex and challenging issues such as climate change and environmental concern.

We seek to encourage recognition of artists' unique insights into critical issues of our time and help the arts in England demonstrate best practice regarding ecological impact.

Best practice

We are addressing the energy management of their own offices and business processes. In particular, by contributing to DCMS initiatives such as its carbon footprint benchmarking exercise for funded bodies, measuring and reducing our own carbon footprint and developing staff training and better travel policy.

We have developed a free toolkit to help arts organisations understand and reduce their energy use too. The webtool at www.artsenergy.org.uk calculates a baseline measurement of how much energy a building uses. It then looks at organisational practice, building and equipment to identify places where improvements and savings could be made.

The final module of the toolkit offers an action plan that can be completed annually to keep track of what savings have been achieved and to plan for future changes.

Not only can a programme of energy management reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but it can also reduce running costs by 10–20%.

We also work with partners to help the arts to lead change. Key partners include Julie's Bicycle and the Mayor of London.

Creative insight

We have also supported a range of projects helping artists develop and share creative insights into how we relate to our changing surroundings. Some examples incude:

RSA Arts and Ecology
Arts & Ecology is a partnership that has been developed between Arts Council England and the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA). It is a centre and catalyst for the insights, imagination and inspirations of artists in response to the unprecedented environmental challenges of our time, with a focus on their human impact.

Activities supporting, promoting and debating artists' explorations into the causes, implications, repercussions, and constructive possibilities include:

  • artists’ commissions addressing a range of issues from waste and consumption to conflict
  • interdisciplinary debate
  • the development of a new website

Cape Farewell
Cape Farewell pioneers the cultural response to climate change. Working internationally, they bring artists, scientists and communicators together to stimulate the production of art founded in scientific research. Using creativity to innovate, we engage artists for their ability to evolve and amplify a creative language, communicating on a human scale the urgency of the global climate challenge

TippingPoint
TippingPoint aims to 'harness the power of the imagination to help stabilise the climate'. We offer a range of activities centred on exposing creative artists to the enormous challenges of climate change; at the heart of this lies a series of meetings involving very high quality, intense dialogue between artists, scientists and others close to the heart of the issue. These encounters provide a chance to explore the broader cultural challenges precipitated by climate change.

Julie’s Bicycle
Julie’s Bicycle is working to reduce the UK creative industry’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Working with leaders from across the arts and Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute they undertake research and strategies to support sustainable change. Available resources include benchmarks, case studies, information on climate change and Industry Green standards (IG marks) tailored to specific industries.