A new research report produced by a collaboration between CAT and a number of other organisations in Wales argues that arts have a huge role to play in creating a cultural shift in our approach to climate change and sustainability. The report is officially launched today at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff, Wales. It was funded by Arts Council Wales.
‘Culture Shift’ gives an overview of the many pioneering sustainable arts initiatives currently operating across Wales. The report is a witness to what is going on already. It is also intended as a statement of intent and a call to action. It highlights the power of the arts to contribute towards or even take a leading role in the transition to a life-sustaining society. It is hoped that this report will contribute towards future arts policy within the context of the Welsh Government’s ‘Well-being of Future Generations’ Bill’. The report draws attention to how a growing number of artists are leading a paradigm shift in values and relationships around access to future resources.
Paul Allen, one of the authors of the report, leads the Zero Carbon Britain project for the Centre for Alternative Technology. Paul recognises a major role for the arts in transforming the way that society faces up to climate change. The report says:
“The Centre for Alternative Technology’s report, Zero Carbon Britain, shows that sustainable living within the finite resources of our planet is practically possible – however, it is the cultural challenge of making it ‘thinkable’… that we are now facing.”
It contains recommendations to the Arts Council of Wales regarding future arts policy in supporting the development of such pioneering practice. It is backed up by case studies and interviews from many artists and organisations and builds on the results from a sector wide survey conducted in Spring 2014. The appendices to the report give the survey data in more detail as well as naming many projects, formative books, articles, useful resources, contacts and organisations.
Although concentrating on Welsh activity the research is framed within the context of the wider changes and inspirations Welsh artists are drawing from those outside – including Artsadmin, Julies Bicycle, Tipping Point, Platform, Creative Carbon Scotland, People United, Encounters and Case for Optimism.
The work was undertaken by a team of artists and specialists in sustainability. These are; Fern Smith – actor and director and co-founder of Volcano Theatre, Sarah Woods – writer and performer, Emily Hinshelwood – poet and performer, Paul Allen – Communications Director for the Centre for Alternative Technology and Rhodri Hugh Thomas – actor, writer and sustainable development specialist with Cynnal Cymru-Sustain Wales.
“Emergence bid for and succeeded in the tender, not as consultants but as artists. We aimed at the process and outcome as being a creative collaboration between artists and those working in the field of sustainability designed to include as many voices as possible. We see this report very much building on and contributing to a growing narrative that appears to be gaining momentum and confidence across Wales, the UK and beyond. We hope that ‘Culture Shift’ will be a working document. We hope that it will serve as an impetus for others to join the conversation and to support those already doing this work.
Fern Smith, creative producer Emergence
“This is an important report and the issues it raises are worthy of debate. We are very conscious of the need for organisations such as ourselves to show leadership and commitment. The support and encouragement of the arts sector to continue the excellent work that is already going on is vital. Wales’ arts sector has already taken a lead on this and this report attempts to document, record it and share it.”
Sian Tomos, Arts Council of Wales
“Wales – a creative culture where artists are in abundance – is one of only three democracies willing to hold themselves legally accountable for promoting principles of sustainability. It is no surprise, therefore, that this leading edge report comes from Wales. Without artists how can we ever fully feel our way into a sustainable community or create the relationships that sustain us through difficult times?”
Margaret Wheatley, activist and author
Emergence is a Volcano collaborative project. It is designed to develop a low carbon, resource efficient arts infrastructure and to enable the arts to be a crucible for new ideas and thinking. Core partners on Culture Shift are Volcano, Cynnal Cymru-Sustain Wales, Awel Aman Tawe and Centre for Alternative Technology.