What artists and arts institutions can do

Content on this page:

Resource sites and reports
Inspirational sites, news and stories
What musicians can do

First of all, simply: Take a stand

As an artist, or as an arts institution, you can make a huge difference and become part of the solution by simply taking a stand on this frightening and overwhelming issue of climate change, in particular when you then make it public and visible to everyone that you have taken this stand.

For instance, as a musician: when you perform, dedicate a song to the climate safety cause, and talk about it to your audience. Mention what is happening, what you are thinking and doing about it, and how they too can become part of the solution. Mention time and place of activities they can take part in.

Similar to how 40 American corporations in the business world did it when they signed the Climate Declation – you could unite with other artists, arts institutions, arts organisations and arts communities in your country and make a similar declaration. Or… you could simply announce a Climate Statement in your next newsletter or on your Facebook page.

Tell them what you will do to combat carbon emissions. Give your audience ideas as to what they can do at an individual level. Tell those who are eager to start fighting for the future of this planet that they are not alone. We are millions thinking that same way.

Below you will find just a little selection of inspirational stories and sites about why going green and thinking strategically about sustainability makes a lot of common sense not only for environmentalists, but also in an artistic perspective.

Keep an eye on the news-pages and in the newsletters of the following organisations which all work in the field of arts in relation to sustainability and climate change.

Resource sites and reports

“The role of arts in addressing climate change solutions is understated in IPCC reports.
There is increasing engagement of the arts in climate change transformations.
Transdisciplinarity and knowledge co-creation are areas of growing activity in this field.”

~ Highlights from report published in Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability Volume 31, April 2018, Pages 71-79:

» ScienceDirect report – 2017:
‘Raising the temperature’: the arts on a warming planet


Culture|Futures is an international collaboration of organisations and individuals who are concerned with shaping and delivering a proactive cultural agenda to support the necessary transition towards an Ecological Age by 2050.

» Home page: culturefutures.org
» Facebook page: www.facebook.com/culturefutures

Examples of news stories from Culture|Futures:

Canada: ‘Carbon 14: Climate is Culture’ exhibition
20 October 2013 | Collision of science and art. On 19 October 2013, Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum, one of the largest museums in North America, opened ‘Carbon 14’ — an art exhibition and four-month programme of theatre plays, talks and seminars about climate change. … Continue reading →

Conference about efficient, liveable and sustainable cities
7 October 2013 | Today cities consume an estimated 75 percent of the world’s energy, and emit more than 80 percent of greenhouse gases. By the year 2050 approximately 75 percent of the world’s population are expected to be residing in megacities. With an … Continue reading →

‘Eco-sustainable public art’ mapped in new database
31 August 2013 | With searchable artwork themes such as ‘Atmosphere’, ‘Energy’, ‘Renewal & Regeneration’, and ‘Waste, Recycling, Consumption’, a new ‘Curating Cities’ database was launched on 30 August 2013. It maps “the increasingly important and emerging field of eco-sustainable public art.” The ‘Curating … Continue reading →

Danish capital awarded for sustainable design solutions
30 August 2013 | On 29 August 2013, the Danish capital Copenhagen received an Index Award – the world’s biggest design award – for the city’s climate adaptation plan because, according to the jury, it provides “a unique and robust framework for a massive … Continue reading →

Art about climate change: a new trend
27 August 2013 | “Wow, I wish I knew someone dealing with climate change. How is it that no artists are working with the most compelling issue that affects all of us?” Jane Tsong said this to Robby Herbst when he asked her if … Continue reading →


Cultura21 is a transversal, translocal network, constituted of an international level grounded in several Cultura21 organisations around the world. It was launched in 2007 as a platform for the promotion of a cultural change in the sense of a sustainable, social ecological change process, i.e. for a cultural evolution of societies and lifestyles.
The term ‘sustainability’ expresses the close connection between social justice, peace, democracy, self-determination, ecology and quality of life. In order to reach these goals we need a cultural strategy of sustainability, that is based on the assumption that the media, the arts, education, communication and organisational forms as well as human emotions play decisive roles in processes of social change.
“The goal to overcome the global crisis and the debate on sustainability need new approaches. In recent years, the cultural dimension of development has been pointed out by several actors engaged in the discussion of sustainability. The global crisis has cultural roots. Thus its resolution requires cultural approaches. The path towards a more sustainable development of contemporary societies is closely connected to a postcolonial re-thinking of the western civilization model.”
» Read more: cultura21.net/concept

The activities of Cultura21 at the international level are coordinated by a team representing the different Cultura21 organisations 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.
» Home page: cultura21.net
» News page: cultura21.net/cultura21-news

Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts

The Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts is an intentional for-profit organization based in the U.S. It provides “a network of resources to artists and arts organizations by researching, creating, gathering and distributing information with partnering information sources, and through the development of special initiatives designed to enable sustainable practices while maintaining artistic excellence. The center views sustainability in art-making through environmentalism, economic stability, and strengthened cultural infrastructure.”
» Home page: sustainablepractice.org


Julie’s Bicycle: Sustaining Creativity

Julie’s Bicycle makes environmental sustainability intrinsic to the business, art and ethics 
of music, theatre and the creative industries. Julie’s Bicycle is a not for profit organisation making sustainability intrinsic to the business, art and ethics of the creative industries. Founded by the music industry, with expertise from the arts and sustainability, Julie’s Bicycle bridges the gap between the creative industries and sustainability. Based on a foundation of peer-reviewed research, the organisation sustain creativity, enabling the arts to create change.
Julie’s Bicycle works with over 1,000 arts organisations across the UK and internationally, large and small to help them measure, manage and reduce their environmental impacts. Their free online IG Tools allow you to monitor your environmental impacts easily. Designed and developed by experts from within the cultural sector, they are shaped specifically for the creative industries.
For those further along their sustainability journey, their Industry Green Certification is the leading mark of recognition for environmental achievment in the creative industries. An Industry Green star rating demonstrates to your partners, suppliers, audiences and competitors your commitment to sustainability.
Julie’s Bicycle have a huge range of online resources available from our website. Download tools, standards, guidance and information on networks for free from their Resources section.
» Sign up to their newsletter: juliesbicycle.com/blog
» Home page: juliesbicycle.com


Sustainable production guide and screen arts resource

A new free resource, ‘The Sustainable Production Guide’, provides up-to-date, comprehensive information on how to embed environmental sustainability at the heart of art institutions’ production process.

“This guide is for artistic directors, producers, directors, production managers, lighting designers and technicians, set designers and builders, costume designers, and performing arts practitioners across the industry seeking to understand and reduce their environmental impacts.”

Featuring profiles of environmental best practice in production, key resources and hands-on actions, the guide provides production professionals with all the tools they need to place the environmental alongside financial and artistic considerations.

» You can download your copy of the guide here (PDF, 48 pages)

– or via theJulie’s Bicycle website.

Sustainability toolkit on its way
The report is published by Julie’s Bicycle, which provides sustainable services for the UK theatre and music industries. Among other projects over the next year, Julie’s Bicycle will be supporting Creu Cymru in an ambitious sustainability project involving 18 theatres and arts centres from across Wales. The input from Julie’s Bicycle will include a series of events and a bilingual sustainability toolkit.

» Read the full story here


UK: Certificate improves arts institutions’ environmental performance

“Understand, commit and improve.” That is what is requred from the increasing amount of British arts organisations and institutions which undertake the so-called ‘Industry Green’ certification.

The Industry Green certification was developed for the music, theatre and the wider creative industries to recognise commitment and achievement in managing and reducing carbon. It was developed by Julie’s Bicycle, a not-for-profit organisation working with the arts and creative industries to cut carbon emissions and make environmental sustainability a core component of their work. Established in 2007 by the music industry, Julie’s Bicycle has since extended its remit to the performing arts, visual arts and fashion.

With an audit report of the organisation’s environmental performance – covering energy, waste, water and travel – the Industry Green certification process is providing ever more organisations in the UK with the evidence to shout about their environmental successes. A certification of one, two or tree stars show staff, suppliers, artists and audiences that here is an organisation which is committed to going green.

Three stars to three organisations
In 2013, the outstanding three stars have been awarded to the opera institution Glyndebourne and the theatre production company Lyric Hammersmith both for the second year in a row – and they have been joined for the first time by Battersea Arts Centre.

Lyric Hammersmith is committed to becoming more environmentally friendly by reducing our carbon emissions by 10 percent each year

Nine British arts companies were successfully awarded the two star rating: Live Theatre, Northern Stage, The Sage Gateshead, Tyneside Cinema, Seven Stories, Greenwich Theatre, Hampstead Theatre, Soho Theatre, Young Vic.

And a one star certification goes to twelve organisations across the UK: Centre for Life, Dance City, Theatre Royal, Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums, Glasgow Film Theatre, Almedia, Bush Theatre, Donmar Warehouse, Royal Court, Theatre Royal Stratford East, Tricycle, Norwich Theatre Royal.

The Industry Green certification is compatible with, and complimentary to other environmental certification schemes including BS8901, ISO20121, ISO14001 and the Carbon Trust Standard.


industry-green-cover200“UNDERSTAND your environmental impacts
for compliancy
carbon emissions
the story
your brand
a community of companies working together to green the industry”
» See who is currently certified

» Download the Industry Green brochure (PDF) for more information.

» More info: juliesbicycle.com/industry-green



Screen arts resource site: The Media Greenhouse

Supporting environmental sustainability for the British screen arts, Media Greenhouse is a new resource from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, BAFTA. This resource has been compiled by an industry consortium for the promotion of sustainable working practises across the media production industries.

The site contains lots of reports, guidelines, tips, and more than 30 case studies to get inspiration from.

For instance the story about how the production Grimes on the Beach sought to embed sustainability into every area of production and achieved financial savings as well as a 50 percent saving of the carbon footprint.

About how you can save carbon and energy use in a news studio, how you can save money and reduce waste by using pre-used materials to build your set and donating them after you’re done, how you can save money and carbon when leading from the top or taking a holistic approach to sustainable production, how you can provide sustainable transport for crews on the move, how you can switch to rechargeable batteries, save money and avoid sending nasty chemicals to landfill, and many more examples from the tv and film production world.

“BAFTA’s industry-leading position on sustainability recognises the need for economic, social and environmental security within the film, television and game sectors, whilst acknowledging the demands in meeting creative excellence,” writes BAFTA.

» mediagreenhouse.co.uk

Inspirational sites, news, events and stories

» Julie’s Bicycle – 19 October 2018:
Don’t look away now: What the IPCC’s take on 1.5 °C means for us

“The arts can play a role of fleshing out social scenarios showing that other worlds are possible, and that we are going to be living in them. Imagining other forms of living is key to producing them.”
~ José Luis de Vicente, curator

» Medium – 11 May 2018:
The Role of Art in Addressing Climate Change

» Centre for Climate Safety – 21 April 2017:
Harnessing the power of the arts for change
“What arts can do is create a climate where action becomes necessary,” says festival director Guy Abrahams of the ART+CLIMATE=CHANGE festival which opened in Victoria, Australia, on 19 April 2017. In The Sustainable Hour on 94.7 The Pulse, he explained about the festival’s aims and intentions – and he told about an exhibition and its related events in Geelong.

» The Guardian – 27 March 2016:
Environmental art is on the rise – with a little help from Leonardo DiCaprio
Olafur Eliasson, Shepard Fairey and Tomás Saraceno are among a growing group of artists creating works that draw attention to the effects of climate change

» The Guardian – 27 January 2015:
13 ways the arts and sport can inspire action on climate change
“Isn’t it time creative types and sports stars did more to tackle climate change? Our expert panel suggest how.”

Where are the influencers?

“Celebrities have the power to shape their time. Sadly, in this era they’re failing us. (…) It’s time celebrities adopt a more drastic approach. Here’s how:

• Name and shame: Publically name and shame offenders of climate change. Calling for change has fallen under deaf ears for too long. Point the finger at who is behind this and rally the masses to stand against them.

• Boycott business: Celebrities publically refusing to do business with those accused of neglecting the environment can crimp bottom lines and is sure to deter offenders.

• Call for ‘ecocide’ prosecution: A term I heard used by Polly Higgins – criminalize the destruction of the environment and make it punishable in the same way as genocide.

These are desperate times. They call for desperate measures. We have seen positive steps, but at this rate it won’t be enough and time is running out. We’re standing behind a padlocked door and Hollywood holds the key.”
~ Basil Saab in Daily Climate on 26 September 2014

Where are the influencers?
“Celebrities have stayed largely silent on climate change and other important issues of our era. It’s time for them to get more vocal – and involved.” Opinion-piece by Basil Saab


A poetry slam for climate change? Why not? This one took place in March of this year in London and included poetry and other performances by Sabrina Mahfouz, Deanna Rodger, Raymond Antrobus, Zia Ahmed and David Buckland, alongside climate change experts from the LSE. The event explored climate change in the UK.

» Read more on:  www.energyforlondon.org

» and on:  www.capefarewell.com

“…scientists are being told to use art and poetry to win public support in the battle to curb climate change. Dame Julia Slingo, the chief scientist at the Met Office, has called for a radical overhaul of the way climate scientists go about their business, arguing that they need to make their reports less turgid and more engaging.
We have to look increasingly at what society requires of us… We increasingly recognise that to reach the general public we have to use all sorts of different channels of communication.
And it’s not through tables and graphs. Sometimes it is through art, through music, through poetry, and storytelling and that is increasingly something we have to think about – how we communicate in a more humanist way.”
Dame Julia, speaking at a gathering of leading climate change scientists at the University of Exeter

Blog: Artists and Climate Change

In the blog Artists and Climate Change, Chantal Bilodeau writes about and collects contributions from the artistic community on the vexing problem of climate change. Chantal Bilodeau is a New York-based playwright and translator originally from Montreal, Canada.

Chantal Bilodeau explains how she became interested in the idea of writing specifically on artworks that focus on climate change:
“I have been working on a cycle of plays about climate change and I guess I became curious about what other artists were doing with that same subject. Plus, I believe the arts have a significant role to play in how we move forward with our new reality so I felt it was important to gather the information in one place and make it accessible to as many people as possible.”

Chantal is working on a six-play cycle – ‘The Arctic Cycle’ – that explores six regions of the Arctic: United States, Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Norway and Russia. The Cycle uses the power of storytelling to investigate the many challenges posed by climate change.

» artistsandclimatechange.com

More about artists on this website

Musicians taking action:

Climate Safety Info – 9 August 2013:
Concerned musicians communicate climate problems
It is still below the radar of popular music in the mainstream media, but musicians are beginning to act, react and take action on climate change issues. About the oil industry’s method of ‘fracking’ alone, over 500 songs have been composed and published as music videos.

What musicians can do

Artists taking action:

Climate Safety Info – 30 May 2013:
Uprise among artists against ‘dirty oil money’
Art and oil. More and more artists are starting to speak up against the fossil fuel industry and the arts institutions which receive donations and sponsorship from oil companies.

One author in action:

Climate Safety Info – 26 February 2013:
Authors and global warming: why don’t they care?
Norwegian author Jostein Gaarder is out with a new book, ‘Anna – A fable about the Earth’s climate and environment’. Fiction, in other words, about climate change. Something we haven’t seen much of among international bestsellers til this date. But, when you think about it: Why is that so? Wouldn’t you expect authors, of all people – with their writing skills and visionary minds – to be the first ones to understand that the planet badly needs their contritution to a global Carbon Awareness Campaign?

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