Yearly Archives: 2010

Arts, Culture and Creative Economy: The Greatest Sacrifice Arts Workers Make for the Arts

An excerpt from a post on Gary Steuer’s blog:

With all the financial challenges arts workers are facing these days – struggling to balance the budgets of their organizations, or dealing with salary and benefit cuts on compensation that was modest to begin with – it is easy to view the sacrifices people make to work in this field as being entirely financial.

Not to minimize the financial sacrifices – they ARE significant – but I would argue they are probably no more significant than a wide array of professions where people choose to devote themselves to the pursuit of “making the world a better place”. This includes early childhood workers, teachers, social workers, the whole world of NGOsworking in challenged communities, both domestically and abroad. And the sacrifices all these workers make are also not just financial. We all work long hours, and often under trying and unglamorous circumstances (though to outsiders arts work can seem glamorous).

No, I think the more significant – and unique – sacrifice arts workers make is that we lose the capacity for full, innocent and glorious enjoyment of the very art that our passion for drove us to make our life’s work in the first place.  What do I mean by this?  Think about your earliest experiences with the arts, your first encounter with Matisse, or Chuck Close; your first time in the audience for Sondheim, or Verdi; that time you first saw Baryshnikov on stage, or Judith Jamison. Remember that childlike joy – even if you were not a child – that total immersion in the art where the whole world disappeared and you were unaware of time, of the person chewing gum next to you? Now tell, me when was the last time you felt that?  Sure, you are still passionate about the art form or all art forms, you still go to museums, or opera, or theatre, but something has been lost. Admit it.

Read the full article here:  Arts, Culture and Creative Economy: The Greatest Sacrifice Arts Workers Make for the Arts.

Artist Commission: Nils Norman – Loughborough University Arts

“Public Workspace Playscape Sculpture Loughborough” is a prototype for an outdoor public play/workstation, composting unit, a roof planter, wifi-hotdesking area and rocket oven.

The design embodies 5 core concepts – play, organisation of the work place, DIY-eco design, defensive street furniture, and the public sphere. Creating an absurd prototype for a new kind of creative industry workstation, public sculpture and piece of street furniture. Expanding the work place into public space, conflating the modern factory space with the urban space of the public park.

As innovations in creative industry workspaces ape those of traditional public spaces: The Agora, the Market Place, the Street and Boulevard so too the privatised and enclosed spaces of the city and its various civic spaces: the Museum, the University, the Park, etc begin to reproduce the conditions and design of the factory. With gates, surveillance, controlled usage, prescriptive recreational areas and productive activity zones.

In order to capture and maximise those moments between work, those lost minutes having lunch,time-out, between class, walking home, weekends, cigarette breaks, family time… a new space and design is required to potentialise those seconds that are the elements of profit. Enclosing creativity and leisure, its activities and spaces, in order to harvest value.

Nils Norman has developed his own mix of art and activism, examining histories of utopian thinking and ideas on alternative economic systems that can work within urban living conditions.

Recent solo shows include;

Surrounded by Squares, Raven Row, London, 2009

Degenerate Cologne, Galerie Christian Nagel – Köln 2006

The Homerton Playscape Multiple Struggle Niche, City Projects – London 2005

Hey Rudy!: A Phantom on the Streets of Schizz, Galerie Christian Nagel – Berlin 2003

The Geocruiser, the University of Cambridge Botanic Garden and The Institute of Visual Culture, Cambridge – England 2001

Recent group exhibitions include;

It Starts From Here, De La Warr Pavilion – Bexhill on Sea 2007

Revolution is not a Garden Party, Galerija Miroslav Kraljevi – Croatia 2007

British Art Show 6, Newcastle (touring) 2005/6

50th International Art Exhibition Venice Biennale – Italy 2005

via Artist Commission: Nils Norman – Loughborough University Arts.

Linda MacDonald: Stories from the North Woods

While living in Northern California the last five years, I have seen work by many artists who are concerned with environmental issues. The paintings and fiber works by Linda MacDonald have continued to inspire me during this time and I recently had the opportunity to curate a small show of her graphic narratives at Gallery Route One in Point Reyes (Marin County). The show was part of WITH THE EARTH: Art and the Environment project at GRO, an ongoing exhibition series initiated in 1990 in response to the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

Below is an excerpt of my catalogue essay:

Most can only imagine what it is like to witness first hand the social and economic impacts of the logging industry in the Pacific Northwest. For those living in urban cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, etc., or wide open spaces in the southwest, we know on a visceral level that over time the removal of large areas of old growth, or Rainforest, has a “fragmenting” effect on us all.

Linda MacDonald, however, experiences the visual evidence of our insatiable consumption daily in her own backyard. Born in Berkeley, and raised in Marin, she moved to Mendocino County in Northern California with her husband in 1970. They purchased fourteen acres in the “north woods” near Willits where they renovated an abandoned log cabin. It was during this period, spent out in the trees, where MacDonald decided to devote her studio time to establishing an arts practice in fiber and painting. After seven years and having two children, they decided to move to town for logistical reasons. And, it has been the highs and the lows of living in a timber-based economy, including California’s redwood tourism, that has inspired a lifetime of capturing this uniquely American regional vernacular.


Included were over 20 pieces with paintings, prints and
fiber works. There is a 20-page catalogue which can be purchased for $15 directly from the artist (linda@lindamacdonald.com). The exhibition ran from May 14 – June 20, 2010. Facebook event information HERE.

Top: Triangles in the Forest, 2007 (oil on paper)
Middle: Down by the River, 2009 (oil on paper)
Bottom: California Trees, 2009 (oil on paper)

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE

Go to EcoArtSpace

Artist Commission: Amy Franceschini/Myriel Milicevic – Loughborough University Arts

Beneath the Pavement: A Garden is a project that considers biological forms in relation to political and social systems. It looks at the potential of a small plot of land on the Loughborough University campus to tell social and political stories, deconstructing systems, propagating them and watching them grow.

We often inform our economics, architecture, political structures and artwork with systems of nature. What happens if we re-impose these interpretations back onto nature or have them assume roles based on interpretations of these systems?

Launching the project, a three day workshop offered participants the opportunity to collectively debate, design and create edible landscapes based on political systems. With contributions from a diverse range of artists, academics and environmentalists, these discussions informed how the plot is re-invented; creating a site for exchange and production around issues relating to the local and global food economy.

Over subsequent months the garden will act as a meeting place, as participants help tend the land and see this newly created garden grow and thrive.

Across the 3 day workshop participants collectively debated, designed and created edible landscapes based on political systems. These conversations included contributions from political scientists and theorists, local policy makers, sociologists, ecologists and urban planners.

On the first day there was a tour of local food producers and distribution networks, and meetings with key politicians and environmentalists.  On the second day there was a number of workshops and presentations by academics and campaigners whose work is centred around creating or advocating for a more sustainable future.  The final day was taken up with deciding how the piece of land would be cultivated, and included elements of garden design, mapping the layout and content of the space.

Amy Franceschini (USA) and Myriel Milicevic (Germany) have been working together since 2004. They are drawn together under a common interest in how humans interact with the environment around them. They often use highly interactive workshop environments to play out scenarios of social and political significance.  www.futurefarmers.com

via Artist Commission: Amy Franceschini/Myriel Milicevic – Loughborough University Arts.

ashdenizen: flowers on stage: the daffodil

In the second in our summer series of blogs, the artist Sue Palmerwrites about the daffodils and the desk fan in Mary Southcott’s ‘Let’s get some weather in here’

One moment – a movement – remains with me. I can remember none of the content now – it is about 8 years since I saw the theatre performance and the stories are blurred, fleeted. What I do remember is Mary performing her solo show, and one moment within it has fused itself onto my memory.

Just off centre in the performance space is a window box, a white plastic window box, and facing the audience are a row of daffodils, yellow and bright in the studio lighting. They are looking perky and buoyant as only daffodils can, and very yellow, the trumpet variety. At one point in the performance, Mary switches on a desk fan that stands behind the daffodils and a deeply satisfying event takes place.

As the fan turns its automated 120-degree span, so the daffodil heads respond – bobbing, nodding. The bobbing heads in the breeze are met by collective warmth and delight from the audience – our attention is absorbed by the responsive movement of the flowers that is so familiar, so recognisable.

Mary’s simple creation of a small ‘weather system’ in the studio is utterly captivating: the outside is suddenly on the inside. The relationship between the wind and the flower is placed at the centre of my attention, so I can see in absolute detail the architectural brilliance of the flower at being able to both receive and resist the wind. Due to the travel of the fan, the breeze interacts with the flowers over an arc of time so the daffodil heads respond to the beginning of the wind touching them, nodding vigorously as the full fan passes over them, returning to a small stillness before the process loops to a return.

The articulation of the flowers and their ability to work with the wind ‘speaks’; their ‘heads’ work with receptivity, capacity, intelligence. The daffodils have performed for us.

At ‘Presence’ Festival, Dartington College of Arts, Devon, June 2002

Photo: Ed O’Keefe

See also flowers on stage: the poppy. Next: flowers on stage: the lotus.

via ashdenizen: flowers on stage: the daffodil.

Artist Commission: Rebecca Beinart – Loughborough University Arts

Exponential Growth is a newly commissioned project that is creating an exchange network to share locally found yeast cultures, in an experiment to see whether Loughborough’s ‘Culture’ can colonise the world, and what the limits are to growth.

There are many varieties of wild yeast present in our environment that have been used for centuries to leaven bread and ferment beer. In this form they are referred to as ‘starter cultures’.  Working with scientists, bakers and home-brew enthusiasts, artist Rebecca Beinart is experimenting with capturing and growing these cultures, and developing them into Starter Kits, which have been distributed to local residents and visitors to take care of, use for food production, grow, divide and pass on. The project is attempting to create a network through which these Loughborough-born cultures can be spread regionally, nationally and globally. The systems of transport and exchange that help the culture to spread are tracked through the project.

Exponential Growth brings into question our value judgements about locality, global economics, growth and sustainability. It is a phrase often used with abhorrence by environmentalists, and with glee by economists. Is continuous growth possible and desirable, or do all systems find their own limits?

In June Rebecca held sour-dough bread making workshop and hosted a stall on Loughborough market where people could taste the products of Loughborough cultures.  Related events in late summer and early autumn will be announced on this page.

The results of the experiment will be tasted in an autumn feast of bread, beer and wine produced from the original Starter Culture.

Click below to see the project website which Rebecca will be updating her on a regular basis: http://exponentialgrowth.org/

Rebecca Beinart is a Nottingham based artist who makes live events and mobile objects that inspire curiosity and initiate conversations.  Her projects frequently take the form of an experiment in which you are invited to take part: exploring the territory between art, ecology and politics.

via Artist Commission: Rebecca Beinart – Loughborough University Arts.

Sharing Picnic 100

Arnold Circus, Boundary Estate, Tower Hamlets, E2
Sunday 18th July, 1pm-5pm, 2010. Cycle ride and alternative vehicle parade at 4pm.

Join in and celebrate the renovation and centenary of Arnold Circus, at the heart of the world’s first social housing scheme, with a grand community picnic, artist’s fair, music on the bandstand and 100 laps cycle ride & alternative vehicle parade.

Bring your own picnic and a bicycle for the 100 laps cycle challenge!

The Sharing Picnic 100 is a broad-based collaborative event produced by home live art in partnership withThe Friends of Arnold Circus – over 50 local artists from Shoreditch’s artist community join with local groups, schools, volunteers and neighbourhood businesses to invite people to share in a vibrant community event around food and friendliness: a sumptuous picnic with cooking demonstrations, artists’ food projects and the sharing table, an artists’ fair with participatory activities, installations and games and bandstand programme with brass bands, beat boxing, female rappers and more. The final challenge to cycle 100 times around the Circus will feature an extraordinary alternative vehicle parade by artists Francis Thorburn & Richard Elliott.

Participatory projects leading up to the event include the production of a beautiful community Cook Book, an Arnold Circus newspaper by Adam Dant with the help of local volunteers and a Kitchen Orchestra created in collaboration with Spitalfields Music by local elders and school children.

Participants: Abake, Aesop, Adam Dant, Alex Bettler, Alex Rich & Momoko Mizutani, Alix McAlister, Ben Freeman & Ditto Press, Bethnal Green Technology College, Bob & Roberta Smith, Brassroots, Cathy Wren, Clare Patey, Columbia Primary School, Cowling & Wilcox, Foodcycle, Francis Thorburn & Richard Elliott, The Gentle Author, Jerome Rigaud Electronest, Jonathan Polkest, Julia, Juliana Ong, La Grotta Ices, London Fire Brigade, Markus & Karin Bergstrom, Mary Spyrou, Matzos, Mc Paul L Martin, Miche Fabre Lewin, Nathan ‘Flutebox’ Lee & The Clinic, Nazareno Crea, North Brick Lane RA, Poetic Pilgrimage, Rochelle School, Rock A Hula! Romana Sharmin, Search Party, Society of Wonders, Sophie Herxheimer, Spitalfields Music, St Hilda’s Community Centre, St-Pierre & Miquelon, Swing Zazou, Tatty Divine, Thinkpublic, Tim Mitchell, Virginia Primary School, Winkball, Yuri Suzuki.

Supported by: A Foundation, The Albion, Arnold & Henderson, The Arts Council of England, Awards for All, The Big Lunch, Bishopsgate Foundation, Calvert22, Canary Wharf Group, Cowling & Wilcox, Create 10, Foodcycle, Friends of Arnold Circus, Garfield Weston, The Heritage Lottery Fund, Home live art, Joule, The Live Art Development Agency, London Borough of Tower Hamlets Arts & Events, Spitalfields Music, St Katherine & Shadwell Trust.

Friends of Arnold Circus
Download Press Release

ashdenizen: flowers on stage: the poppy

In the first of the summer series of blogs about flowers on stage,Frances Babbage writes about poppies.

The flowers were scarlet poppies and they burst through the wall. In 1997, the Lecoq-trained theatre company Bouge-de-là presented Under Glass.

Its young woman protagonist lives a closed existence in a cramped bedsit, selecting each day the same clothes, in the same order; her ritualized sequence of actions structures each day predictably, protecting any her from all outside influence. Yet on one wall of her attic room is a poster of an Alpine field, studded with flowers.

An unvoiced and largely repressed fantasy of Switzerland and what this appears to represent is stirred into life when a young Swiss man, a neighbour, meets and fleetingly befriends her before leaving again, to return to his native country or travel elsewhere.

The audience recognises, as he does not, the consequences of his actions for this vulnerable woman: better perhaps that he had never come at all.

In the performance’s final moments, she is left alone, again, in the small, drab room – even more alone, because abandoned. She leans against the wall, unspeaking: the damage done seems irreparable.

Then utterly without warning, flowers push their way through the wall. The dirty, fading wallpaper becomes an Alpine meadow, and pressed against it she appear to us to lie amongst poppies: maybe sleeping; maybe dying. She will never leave her little room; she will not travel to the places she dreams about. But in this moment she is transported there, and at the same time the pure fresh air and open fields burst in here. Living flowers, poppies, pushing in through peeling paper, connect two worlds: poetically, the image layers fresh against stale; movement against stasis; death against life.

This woman will not trust someone else another time. She will retreat still further. Perhaps she will die. But as she breathes in the scent of flowers, we can believe that something has changed for her in a way worth the anguish that comes with it.

Dr Frances Babbage is convenor of the MA in Theatre & Performance at Sheffield University. Her first book was Augusto Boal (Routledge, 2004).

photo: Aurelian Koch

The Art of Sustainability

Visual Arts Organizations and the Modern Environmental Movement

by Jessica Broderick Lewis

Published in the Winter edition of the CSPA Quarterly.  To view or order back issues, visit http://magcloud.com/browse/Magazine/38626.  To subscribe to the CSPA QUARTERLY, join us!  http://www.sustainablepractice.org/join-the-cspa/

‘The Green Museum,’ sited in this essay, is available at our bookstore!

The goal of this study is to assess the visual arts community‘s status in the process of becoming more environmentally friendly. If visual arts organizations use the strategies presented here and choose to walk a greener path they may be able to better engage existing audiences and attract new ones, cut operating costs, generate positive public relations, increase funding opportunities, expand programming and contribute to the world’s environmental wellness.

There are five main arguments for why visual arts organizations should do their part to save the planet: impact on the  environment, role as community leaders and catalysts for change, public funding for art, saving money, and the parallels between art conservation and environmental conservation.

IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT (General)

 There are general operations utilized in most, if not all, organizations that can be assessed as having an environmental impact. The most common source of waste in businesses is the overuse of paper products, not purchasing recyclable  materials, and the improper disposal of recyclables. Moreover, materials such as ink cartridges and batteries are bought new, used and then tossed in the garbage, while the alternatives of recycled ink cartridges and rechargeable batteries are ignored. Toxic materials, which can include cleaners, paints, copy toner, printing materials and more, pose another problem for businesses and can be harmful to employees.

The most obvious impact organizations have on the environment, and often the most difficult to change, is the consumption of energy, water and electricity.  In 2008, the Environmental Information Administration estimated that “buildings represented 38.9% of U.S. primary energy use and account for 38% of all CO2 emissions”.  Additionally, it found that buildings consume 72% of U.S. electricity and 14% of all potable water per year (United States Green Building Council 4). This can be a result of the certain needs of an organization such as heating, cooling and equipment, but is often made worse by wasteful practices such as leaving lights and computers turned on, using outdated equipment, and poor insulation.

Finally, the transportation of employees, customers and audiences is important to examine for any organization. Many businesses encourage people to carpool, ride a bike or use public transportation. Others take it a more proactive approach by explaining the advantages of green transportation on their websites and offering incentives, such as metro passes for taking public transportation or alternative transportation stipends that can be used for the purchase and maintenance of Smart Cars or bikes.

IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT (Arts Specific)

All of the business practices listed above can be viewed as universal to most organizations, but within the visual arts there exists additional and often unique obstacles that need to be overcome in order to reduce the impact on our environment. Museums and galleries must be aware of how they transport their collections for traveling exhibits or moving to and from storage facilities. Authors Elizabeth Wylie and Sarah Brophy of The Green Museum assert that “next to energy use (for lighting and climate control), crating and shipping are generally seen to be the greatest resource link for institutions caring for visual and decorative art and artifacts” (200).

The safe transportation of a traveling exhibition is a top priority for museums and the delicate nature of the art requires that crating and shipping are of the highest standards. The Boston Museum of Fine Arts has found that building crates that can accommodate a variety of objects in different shapes and sizes is cost effective, time efficient and better for the environment (Wylie and Brophy, The Green Museum 200).  On solution is to use Greenshipping.com, which offers       individuals and organizations the opportunity to purchase renewable energy in order to offset the carbon footprint created by your package (Green Shipping).  

ROLE AS COMMUNITY LEADERS AND CATALYSTS FOR CHANGE

Artists and arts organizations have been viewed as community leaders for decades and the choices they make often set the tone for how society approaches or reacts to certain issues and can often be a the catalyst for change. At a recent arts symposium Dr. Ford Bell, President/CEO of the American Association of Museums, offered up data that showed the ability of museums to “educate, inform and change attitudes and behavior” (Pain & Central Nervous System Week 525). The American Association of Museums feels so strongly in the power of museums to shape communities that they undertook an initiative in 1998 to explore possibilities for expanding and strengthening their presence in neighborhoods across the country. Among the many positive results was a change to the AAM’s Museum Assessment Program’s Public Dimension Assessment, a modification that holds museums to greater accountability for their image in the community (American Association of Museums).

PUBLIC FUNDING FOR THE ARTS

In an article provided by Americans for the Arts, author Anne L`Ecuyer opened her discussion of public funding for the arts by stating that “communities demonstrate their priorities and values in part by the programs and services they support with public funds” (1).  For many, the argument is that the role of a visual arts organization is to exhibit and/or collect art and to educate the public on its value – not to be leaders in environmental conservation, but how can an organization claim to serve the public, when their very policies and procedures could cause future harm to the community they exist in. If visual arts organizations desire continued funding through public dollars, they would do well to demonstrate an interest in the priorities and values of their community, which includes environmental responsibility.

SAVING MONEY

In these tumultuous economic times, a move towards green business practices can put more green in the pockets of     museums. Websites such as the U.S. Green Building Council and GreenandSave.com provide information on the initial cost of implementing green strategies, the time it will take to see a return on investment, and the dollar amount of that return, to help assess which changes are feasible for an organization. Energy is often the most costly part of operations, but there are many green alternatives that can save money over the long run. Solar energy can save an organization roughly $1,200 per year and initial costs can be recouped in only 10 to 16 years depending on appreciation of property value. Heating and cooling accounts for about 40% of an office’s energy cost – a number that can vary for museums depending on size and collections. Using radiant floors instead of a forced air system can save up to 30% on heating bills. Installing a plant-filled roof can cost about $8 to $10 a square foot, while a traditional roof costs $4 to $6 a square foot, but the green roof can save 20% on summer energy costs. Installing LED lighting requires 16% less energy and lasts 100 times longer. Additionally, there are grants and government tax incentives for making these changes (GreenandSave.com).

ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION AND ART PRESERVATION

There are many within the museum community who make the connection between the preservation practices in the visual arts and the preservation of the environment. In an article entitled “Keeping Art, and Climate, Controlled” from the New York Times, journalist Carol Kino discusses the problems being caused by global warming and how museum officials are responding. She asserts that conservators have observed one rule for over 50 years: “Keep everything in the museum at approximately 70 degrees Fahrenheit and 55 percent relative humidity” and this has been made possible with the use of Heating Ventilating and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems, “which typically cope with unforeseen events by working   overtime”. However museum officials have had to rethink their approach to conservation due to the increase in energy cost, decrease in museum funding and the growing effects of global warming and climate change. Kino poses the  question; “Should museums add to global warming by continuing to rely so heavily on such systems in the first place?” a question that is beginning to be examined in places such as the recent International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works conference where a panel discussion was held to look at the relationship between art conservation and environmental conservation (Kino). By understanding the relationship between art and nature, organizations will be able to better perform their role as community leader, save money, and provide additional justification for public funding for the arts.

Over the course of my research, I have learned that while there are many environmental grassroots efforts taking place in visual arts organizations across the country, there is yet to be a truly unified, systematic effort from the field as a whole.  From the research I have conducted, I have singled out three recommendations for visual arts leaders; to create discipline-wide policy and best practices for the field, to market the field’s green efforts, and to collaborate across disciplines. 

DISCIPLINE-WIDE POLICY/BEST PRACTICES IN THE FIELD

The authors of The Green Museum support the implementation of environmental policies, asserting that it “institutionalizes behavior by providing vision and frameworks, defining process, identifying goals and evaluation methods, and delegating authority” (Wylie and Brophy, The Green Museum 200). This is the vital missing piece in the move towards environmental responsibility in the visual arts community at this time. Although many organizations are making commendable strides in green initiatives, there is no overarching understanding of what the visual arts should be doing. Of the organizations    surveyed, 29% have a difficult time in changing organizational culture, something that could be made easier if there were universal environmental standards in the visual arts. 

In order to better understand what environmental policies should mean to the arts, we can brake down Wylie and Brophy’s definition into four parts; vision and framework, defining processes, identifying goals and evaluation methods, and  delegating authority. “Vision and framework” puts everyone on the same page, letting people both inside and outside our visual arts communities know our stance on environmental issues. It provides a set of best practices that organizations can measure against and it creates a supportive community where ideas and obstacles can be openly discussed. “Defining processes” involves combining the efforts of galleries and museums, consultants and engineers, and other leaders in the industry, to create a collection of industry standards. This list of standards could be incorporated into the American     Association of Museums’ accreditation process and could serve as an outline for organizations to make changes to their operations. By “identifying goals and evaluation methods” for incorporating environmental standards into museum  accreditation there will be a consistent and objective means for evaluation “Delegating authority” empowers people to take responsibility and ownership over a project, plan or program. By designating a point person within the organization to oversee environmental policies it creates greater consistency in our operations and provides employees/guests a point of contact for questions regarding environmental strategies (Wylie and Brophy, The Green Museum 200).

Beyond the organization, authority on environmental issues needs to be delegated for the entire visual arts field. It is    logical that the American Association of Museums (AAM), in conjunction with the U.S. Green Building Council, would be a likely candidate. AAM is a well respected authority in the field and is called upon for leadership in many other areas of museum management. Their accreditation program is sought after by most museums and their recommendations are trusted by the field, perfectly situating them to unite the visual arts community in its pursuit for environmental  sustainability.

MARKETING OF GREEN EFFORTS          

According to “It’s Easy Being Green” organizations are not making enough of a statement about their efforts to be green; “In fact, many recent and planned art museum expansions incorporate high-performance energy-efficient mechanical,   ventilation and lighting systems yet their press materials don’t mention the operational cost savings and environmental advantages, and the average person is hard-pressed to know or find out about them” (Brophy and Wylie, It’s Easy). Brophy and Wylie attribute the silence to an organization’s belief that green strategies are not part of their mission. However,  marketing green practices demonstrates an investment in the future of the community and provides an opportunity to  connect the organization’s mission with the environmental strategies they are using. An organization can achieve this by creating signage that explains their environmental philosophy, developing programs around green initiatives such as building tours, and incorporating the information into their website.

COLLABORATION ACROSS DISCIPLINES 

Some compelling figures from the survey regarding resources and supporting the need for collaboration include; 91% (of organizations) need increased availability of funds, 33% (of organizations) want increased resources for understanding green processes and 22% (of organizations) want green consultants. Foundations such as The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Doris Duke Foundation that support both the arts and the environment would be invaluable resources in stewarding     collaborations between the arts and environmental communities. A database with resources including green consultants, engineers, funding opportunities and more, could be created and utilized by organizations across the country. By  providing organizations with a central location to research information on green initiatives, share experiences and        obstacles and interact with others looking to make a change in the way their organization operates would provide some of the support the visual arts community needs.

As an arts community we continue to make the case of “arts for arts sake” to our local, state and national officials. We  insist, with good reason, that the arts enhance our lives and contribute to the cultural fabric of our communities. I don’t believe we can in good conscious highlight the benefits we provide to the neighborhoods we exist in without addressing areas for improvement as well. Advancing the arts in America does not need to come at the expense of our natural world and by embracing environmental responsibility within our organizations we will ensure that the art we have worked so hard to create, conserve and exhibit will be enjoyed by many generations to come. 

Jessica Broderick Lewis holds a Master of Science in Arts Administration from Drexel University and is on the Board of Trustees for the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Association in Alexandria, Virginia. This excerpt was taken from her paper entitled “The Art of Sustainability: Visual Arts Organizations and the Modern Environmental Movement”. For a complete copy of the paper, please visit http://www.library.drexel.edu/ or email jess_broderick@hotmail.com.