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  • Writer's pictureClaire Venus

A collective promise with personal reflection of the Culture and Climate Change Event

I wanted to share where I am on with Climate Hope and what I think we can do as individual freelancers, cultural sector employees and artists moving forward.

(As far as I know) I was the only cultural freelancer to attend The Culture and Climate Hope day in July. I offered payments for other freelancers to attend but no one took us up on it.

Those who might have were busy on projects and the rest I didn't hear back from. Maybe they thought the day wasn't for them or it was at the bottom of their priority list? Maybe both things are true.

Here's some reflections and graphic art from the day incase you missed it.

Climate Change is a huge and daunting topic.

I'd like to break it down and to do that first quote The Uncultured who have provided some incredibly helpful guidance notes on how to answer the environmental responsibility questions posed by Arts Council in the 'Investment Principles' part of their Project Grant application form;

"We do know that the climate crisis is a systemic problem and no matter how well we clean our beans cans out, the use of fossil fuels remains the default and the effects of global warming will continue to disproportionately affect the Global South.

Our natural penchant for negativity and flippancy made us concerned that we were not the right people to share advice on how individuals working in the cultural sector could be empowered to make a difference with and through their work.

However, ACE explained they wanted something that could help people understand what already exists, and to point towards the useful things that people with actual

expertise have already done. So we’ve been on a magical fact-finding treasure hunt to understand what’s already out there:

• we’ve spoken to the ACE team in charge of Environmental Responsibility to gather as much information as we can

• we’ve looked at redacted examples of applications that have thought about ER successfully or not so successfully

• we’ve trekked through the seemingly endless forest that is the ACE website to gather up useful links or resources

• we’ve spoken to artists and producers much further along their Environmental Responsibility journey than us to find out what’s useful to them

• we’ve read anything that contains the word green in it.

Download the guide here."

Climate Change - it's (perhaps) not somebody's job it's EVERYONE'S job

What strikes me about the approach of The Uncultured is they have reflected on the bigger picture, explored some options with some experts and gathered opinion too. This is incredibly helpful work. I'm grateful of it and I won't be the only one.

At the Culture and Climate Change day we heard from experts, artists and creatives with a specific agenda on Climate Change/ Climate hope yet we still came away wondering how the partnerships within the cultural sector could support us all to make change...

How would we work together moving forwards. How could we slow down enough in a cost of living crisis to make a difference...Who would lead the charge? Is it far enough up any one agenda for us all to start seeing and being invited to take regular action?

Alnwick Garden were a brilliant host for the day and Mark Brassell shared with us that the team had looked for specific consultants to help them shift and change their carbon footprint without success. What happened next really interested me. They created a brand new role within the organisation to do the research and change the things they could. They also started working on their long term vision and decreasing their carbon footprint. They didn't change lots of things all at once, they started small.

Change one thing at a time... listen for the calls

Here are three things I've done recently to nudge Climate Hope in my own work. At the bottom there are 3 asks to you to follow up. If you attended the Culture and Climate Change Day and would like to share your own 3 things you are working on towards Climate Hope please email us to write a guest blog.

1. Sharing Information - Back in July I wrote this post after attending a session by the Digital Culture Network about how to make our online footprint greener. I wanted to do this work. No one paid me to do it but as a creative business owner I thought it was important to share what I'd learnt. Here are the statistics for the post. The open rate is LOWER than my average open rate but that doesn't make the work less important or relevant. It simply tells me not everyone has the capacity for it. As you can see there are 35 comments on the post - all are positive and grateful I wrote the post and shared my knowledge.

2. Solving Problems - A few weeks back, a theatre company I am supporting with schools workshops here in Alnwick requested second hand props. They are asking for donations of toys and Christmas decorations for their set. I am only too happy to pull stuff from my own collection of 'too much' stuff to donate to them for their national tour.

3. Having MORE conversations - last week I spoke with Cultural Development Manager Wendy Scott in reflection of the Climate Hope day we co-ordinated with the North East Culture Partnership. I left the day feeling inspired to have MORE conversations with more people. I am currently encouraging sign ups for a creative composting and wellbeing project and I want to share this work in MORE of the right places but I also want to nudge the topic of Climate Hope and Climate Change to the top of everyone's agenda. Since the pandemic I have only worked at home or 'on my doorstep'. Gone are the days where I'm travelling all over Northumberland burning up fossil fuels for meetings. That personal boundary is something I share with people because it's both possible and inspiring!

So as an individual freelancer what else can I personally do to promote Climate Hope next?

  • Ask bigger organisations to share my blog post. I find as a freelancer my work is either dis-regarded or lost. I'm 'not an artist or a writer although I've been paid for both my art and my writing so perhaps I can make this ask and have it heard?

  • Keep talking about the things I am doing for climate hope both online and in person. Share more about my vision and my long term plans...

  • Have more conversations with more people in our sector and share more resources as and when I come across them.

I have so much to say on my own journey with reducing my carbon footprint, going plastic free and being more conscious about my creative projects and actions but I need more exchange with you.

I need to know what people really NEED to know. I want to know I'm not just talking into the void. I know we are overwhelmed and unsure but together we are strong and creative and inspired to take action so let's join forces and make waves through the cultural sector for Climate Hope!

Let me know your thoughts! How can the cultural sector support climate hope and what are you (as an individual) already doing?


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