Yearly Archives: 2015

GALA: A Sustainable Event

This post comes from Creative Carbon Scotland

Here are some of the key choices we made when designing the GALA/Glasgow’s Green event:

Choosing a Responsible Venue

The choice of venue can have huge limiting or enabling factors when it comes to the overall sustainability of events. We chose Tramway, an international arts venue and ex-tram terminus, developed from the industrial past of Pollockshields, as part of Glasgow’s 1990 City of Culture year. Its status as an existing arts space, and its familiarity with staging similar events meant we could rely on the venue, and reduce resource consumption (in contrast to the new resources required to develop or adapt an alternative location).

Tramway also stood out amongst arts venues in its efforts towards sustainability:

  • It’s part of our Green Arts Initiative: an arts organisations accreditation scheme that gives venues and organisations the advice, support and tools they need to become greener and let audiences and the public know what they are doing.
  • As a venue run by Glasgow Arts (part of Glasgow Life cultural trust), it benefits from the Venue Environmental Team (VET). Each Glasgow Life venue uses an Environmental Resources Pack, and plans that examine sustainable lighting, energy, suppliers, travel and carbon reduction measures.
  • As part of this, Tramway logs its waste uplifts and recycling rate, and its gas and energy use through their building management system, making staff more aware of resource use, and more prepared to make positive changes.
  • It is also aiming to bring sustainability to the primary planning stages of all productions, with a recent agreement to implement a Pre-show Production Green Action Plan, identifying the sustainability needs, challenges and possibilities for the theatre, dance and visual arts productions hosted at Tramway.

Minimising Our Use of Resources through Careful Procurement

As the scale of an event increases, as does the likely consumption of material resources and resultant waste. With each day of the GALA/Glasgow’s Green event seeing a doubling number of attendees than previously, maintaining efficient and low carbon resource use was one of our key priorities.

As the event organisers, we were able to shape the event around these needs:

  • Using Local Suppliers – when sourcing for extra equipment and materials for use during GALA/Glasgow’s Green, we chose to use suppliers from Glasgow whenever possible. We were able to host an afternoon workshop around Scottish food, social and environmental sustainability and art at the Hidden Gardens, in the gardens of Tramway, which used site-sourced ingredients!
  • Using Only What’s Necessary – with careful consultation with our suppliers, and estimation of our attendees, we made sure any materials were appropriate for our event. We designed our programme and signage to be clear and direct for use within the venue, only printed enough programmes for a realistic estimate of attendance, and curated workshops that required little or no technical (energy) support.
  • Recycling and Sustainable Sources – in those cases where the use of new materials was necessary, we chose to hire as much as possible, reducing our economic and carbon costs, encouraging reuse rather than asset purchase, and printed our programme on FSC approved paper, ensuring the sustainable ethos throughout our supplier chain.

Communicating Our Sustainability Concerns, and Encouraging Our Audiences’ Engagement

Bringing large groups of people together can often have a large carbon footprint – even when there may be a sustainability intent. In our advertisement of our event, and our advice to attendees, we aimed for our efforts towards minimal environmental impact also to be prioritised by our audience.

  • We used an online ticketing system (Eventbrite) instead of physical ticketing, with attendees able to show tickets on mobile devices, and communicated to those registered for workshops exclusively through email, minimising paper waste.
  • We put together an event guide for attendees, advising exclusively of the public transport methods of getting to our venue in order to encourage sustainable transportation to the event.
  • All food we provided across the three days of the GALA/Glasgow’s Green: Imagining a Sustainable City event was vegetarian (and delicious), providing a low-carbon and health conscious meal.

These are just some of the planning considerations that went into making the GALA/Glasgow’s Green event as sustainable as possible. However, often the most sustainability-driven considerations are those not obvious in their absence: we chose against paper flyering, resource-intensive workshop proposals, high-energy productions, and non-recyclable publicity materials, without diminishing the nature of the event.

For more examples of ways to make your events more sustainable, either as an arts venue, or as an organisation hosting an event, have a look at our case studies.


Image: John Lord/Creative Commons

 

The post GALA: A Sustainable Event appeared first on Creative Carbon Scotland.

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Creative Carbon Scotland is a partnership of arts organisations working to put culture at the heart of a sustainable Scotland. We believe cultural and creative organisations have a significant influencing power to help shape a sustainable Scotland for the 21st century.

In 2011 we worked with partners Festivals Edinburgh, the Federation of Scottish Threatre and Scottish Contemporary Art Network to support over thirty arts organisations to operate more sustainably.

We are now building on these achievements and working with over 70 cultural organisations across Scotland in various key areas including carbon management, behavioural change and advocacy for sustainable practice in the arts.

Our work with cultural organisations is the first step towards a wider change. Cultural organisations can influence public behaviour and attitudes about climate change through:

Changing their own behaviour;
Communicating with their audiences;
Engaging the public’s emotions, values and ideas.

Go to Creative Carbon Scotland

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Finding Inspiration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

This post comes from the Artists and Climate Change Blog

Brown bear

“The creatures of our planet have given me everything yet they ask for nothing in return. Giving voice to these majestic creatures and their habitat will forever be my lifelong work.” – Robert Thorpe

Wildlife photographer Robert Thorpe talks about his relationship with one of the most beautiful regions of the world, and with the people who inhabit it.

Much of your photography centers around the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. What compels you to focus on this area?

The Coastal Plain in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is unprotected from oil exploration. It has been so for years. The Gwich’in call it the sacred place where life begins as it is the birthing grounds for the Porcupine caribou herd.

Not only is it my goal in life to someday see the Coastal Plain permanently protected, but it is also my goal to continue the work of Mardy Murie and her husband Olaus whose lifelong work was instrumental in establishing the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

When Olaus passed away, Mardy continued his work. She left us with a treasure. I can only hope that in someway I can do the same.

IMG_0142-R-1

What do you hope to communicate through your work?

I hope to give voice to the creatures of our planet and their habitat. And to help preserve the last remaining wild places on our planet.

What is the relationship between art and activism?

My love for the Arctic drew me to photograph the gulf oil spill in 2010. Before and after my trip to the gulf, people asked me why I did this. I told them it was because of my love for the Arctic.

Caribou heard

What is the single most important thing artists can do to address climate change?

As a photographer I have always shared the beauty of the Arctic with my images of Greenland, Norway, Alaska or (Antarctica) to give voice to climate change. The poles are a vital gauge of the planet’s environmental health.

Yet there are times I will use a simple image like the one below, which I recently took in Vermont to try to inspire people.

I feel using my photographs can be a powerful tool to address climate change.

Trash

What gives you hope?

When a young child inspires people with his or her thoughts and work.

I held an essay contest with my local library a year or so ago. The subject was polar bears and our planet. I chose this young boy as the winner of the contest.

Polar bears essay

Filed under: Featured Artist, Photography

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Artists and Climate Change is a blog that tracks artistic responses from all disciplines to the problem of climate change. It is both a study about what is being done, and a resource for anyone interested in the subject. Art has the power to reframe the conversation about our environmental crisis so it is inclusive, constructive, and conducive to action. Art can, and should, shape our values and behavior so we are better equipped to face the formidable challenge in front of us.

Go to the Artists and Climate Change Blog

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Call for proposals: RE-DO

This post comes to you from Cultura21

RE-DO. Conference on Sustainability and Culture’s role in Sustainable Futures

October 28-31, 2015 in Aarhus, Denmark.

At MOMU (Moesgaard Museum http://www.moesgaardmuseum.dk/english/– a splendid new museum in the middle of the woods around Aarhus).

RE-DO is the second of a series of conferences organised by Aarhus University in cooperation with Aarhus 2017 (Aarhus Capital of Culture in 2017). The conference invites academics, practitioners, artists and activists to take part in the dialogue about sustainable cultures.
RE-DO indicates that sustainability has been, is and has to become something people do as part of their everyday practices and living in order to matter. In this sense cultural sustainability is viewed not just as an add-on to environmental agendas, but as the very precondition for their long-term success.

Conference website: http://conferences.au.dk/re-do/

Call:

Presenters are invited to address questions related to cultural sustainability and
the role of culture in sustainable futures, including, but not limited to the
following questions:

  • What role does culture play in the three-legged eco-centric model – with environmental, economic and politico-social dimensions – of sustainability? What understandings of “culture” are relevant or perhaps even necessary for us to work towards cultural sustainability?
  • Is it preferable to challenge the three-legged consensual model of sustainability, disputed by critics to be post-political, by a four-legged (environment, economy, social and cultural sustainability) differential model? What would such a widening of categories translate to on the practical (i.e. “doing”) level?
  • How could culture – worldviews, every-day practices and living togetherness, pasts, costumes, food, identity-constructions and understandings, aesthetic and ethical values, artistic representations and performances – become an important and measurable part of a sustainability agenda of its own? Is that desirable?
  • In what ways does a focus on cultural sustainability change well-known agenda-setting power geometries between North and South, East and West for example due to climate change adaption and mitigation necessities?
  • How to conceptualize culture in the new forms of connectivity between humans and non-humans that we see in post-human-oriented theories and what new connections are to be made between deep ecology and ecological indigenous livelihoods and post-human paradigms?
  • What do the temporal and spatial expansions implied in the concept of sustainability mean for culture? What role do future generations and non-human actors play in forging materiality?

Proposals due by June 1.

Call for papers: CFP_RE-DO

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Cultura21 is a transversal, translocal network, constituted of an international level grounded in several Cultura21 organizations around the world.

Cultura21′s international network, launched in April 2007, offers the online and offline platform for exchanges and mutual learning among its members.

The activities of Cultura21 at the international level are coordinated by a team representing the different Cultura21 organizations 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

Go to Cultura21

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GALA and Glasgow’s Green: What Next?

This post comes from Creative Carbon Scotland

The Green Art Lab Alliance was a two-year, EU-funded project, working with 19 partners across 17 different European countries that aimed to explore the links between arts and environmental sustainability. From 12th – 14th March 2015 the final meeting of the partners and contributors was hosted by Creative Carbon Scotland and Glasgow Arts at Tramway.

On Thursday 12th March, we heard from a variety of the European GALA partners, and discovered more about great range of approaches being taken to address and drive arts and sustainability discussion at various cultural levels. Over the past two years, partners have chosen to explore concepts in a ‘workshop’ or a ‘lab’ format, with examples ranging from the Georgian ‘Discover Eliava‘ project (a collaboration of foreign and local artists focused on the production of work using waste materials in the context of a changing urban landscape) to a programmed symposium in Rotterdam, entitled “More than Double Glazing“, held by the Jan Van Eyck Academie in the Netherlands.

We also discussed how we communicate within- and cross-culturally about such artistic projects, and the socio-political challenges of driving cultural responses to sustainability efforts. One of the most prominent ideas throughout the first day of the GALA 2015 meeting was the theme of ‘trust’ required when working within the context of environmental sustainability in the arts. The concept of a collaborative artistic network as a way to exchange specific knowledge, and promote equal project growth was returned to throughout the day, and there was a great sense that the GALA project was the instigation of work with much more longevity and expansion to offer: perhaps continuing to exist as a community of practice. 

This was followed by a day of placing cultural sustainability efforts within the Glasgow context, particularly within the framing of Glasgow’s Green Year 2015: a city-wide celebration of environmental sustainability projects in the urban surrounds. Speakers from Glasgow Life and Glasgow City Council outlined the city’s ambitions at a creative and low-carbon level, and GALA partners shared their experiences working within Europe, and under common objectives. Learning and change required at the individual, organisational and structural level were identified as requirements for achieving national carbon reduction targets, and enabling the paradigm shift required of the cultural sector.

The final day of the GALA event took the form of an open programme of 17 artistic workshops, discussions and events, entitled “Glasgow’s Green: Imagining a Sustainable City“, and focused on practical interaction between the arts and sustainability. To see the full programme, click here.


But the culmination of the two year GALA project does not mark the end of arts and sustainability activities across Europe: rather, it indicates a point for reflection on progress thus far, and a recognition of the expanding approaches to addressing sustainability concerns across the cultural sector.

Here are just a few of the projects continuing across the European, national and city scale:

COAL and Cape Farewell, the two European partners behind ArtCop21, will mobilise artists and the wider cultural sector to create a festival and cultural symposium during Cop21: the 21st United Nations Conference on Climate Change.

From 30th November until 10th December 2015, they will create a cultural-climate festival in the city of Paris, responding to the importance of the conference in deciding future international efforts to affect climatic change, and providing an alternative agenda to the traditionally politics and science emphasis of Cop21.

The city-wide event aims to use the arts to widen accessibility and provoke engagement with visions for a positive, sustainable future, supported by the fact that the United Nations have officially recognised culture as a potential ‘4th pillar’ of sustainable development: acting alongside society, economy and the physical environment as an instigator and driver in sustainable development.

To find out more, or register an event to be part of the symposium, click here.

As part of our contribution towards the GALA project, Creative Carbon Scotland began our monthly Green Tease get-togethers, bringing together arts and sustainability folk to discuss the role of the arts in approaching sustainability over tea.

Post- GALA, we will continue to host our regular events in Glasgow (running since 2013) and Edinburgh (running since 2014): each time joined by a speaker from the artistic or environmental worlds to present how environmental sustainability is embedded or interpreted within their work. Our hope is to give all sides of the group a new perspective on what others are doing and enable them to work together more effectively and creatively.

You can read more about our Green Teases within the GALA context here, and sign up to our mailing list to find out about the upcoming Green Tease events near you. If you’re interested in the events of previous Green Teases across various venues in the Central Belt, go to our website page.

Sign up for our monthly newsletter to receive monthly updates on the Green Tease gatherings, as well as other green arts events and opportunities.

Over this year, Glasgow is hosting a series of events highlighting the natural assets, the innovative spirit and the sustainable change happening in the city as they grow their green efforts. Glasgow’s Green 2015 aims to celebrate the city’s ambition to become one of the most sustainable cities in Europe, with festivals, activities and opportunities centred around sustainable urban life.

The Glasgow GALA event was supported by Glasgow Life – the cultural trust that supports all of Glasgow’s Arts and cultural activities – forming just one of the many Green Year actions of the cultural sector.

During the Glasgow’s Green: Imagining a Sustainable City event, we collected contributions of arts and sustainability activities taking place across the city, detailed here in our interactive map. Email catriona.patterson@creativecarbonscotland.com if you know of more Glasgow happenings!

 

 


Image: Tobias Schiller/Creative Commons 

The post GALA and Glasgow’s Green: What Next? appeared first on Creative Carbon Scotland.

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Creative Carbon Scotland is a partnership of arts organisations working to put culture at the heart of a sustainable Scotland. We believe cultural and creative organisations have a significant influencing power to help shape a sustainable Scotland for the 21st century.

In 2011 we worked with partners Festivals Edinburgh, the Federation of Scottish Threatre and Scottish Contemporary Art Network to support over thirty arts organisations to operate more sustainably.

We are now building on these achievements and working with over 70 cultural organisations across Scotland in various key areas including carbon management, behavioural change and advocacy for sustainable practice in the arts.

Our work with cultural organisations is the first step towards a wider change. Cultural organisations can influence public behaviour and attitudes about climate change through:

Changing their own behaviour;
Communicating with their audiences;
Engaging the public’s emotions, values and ideas.

Go to Creative Carbon Scotland

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Announcing the Winner of the 2015 College Green Captain Prize for Greener Theater

This post comes to you from the Broadway Green Alliance

The Broadway Green Alliance has just announced the winner of another new award!
The College Green Captain prize was created to reward College Green Captains for their greening efforts on campus productions.  We are pleased to announce that Travis Blackwell, Green Captain at the University of Memphis Theater Department, has won the 2015 prize. To apply for the prize, College Green Captains submitted a one-page summary statement explaining their greening efforts and a cardboard poster showing off the best elements of their greening program. There were three finalists for the prize:  Travis Blackwell, Piper Rasmussen of Barnard University, and Jade Zaroff of Emerson College.The posters of all three finalists were displayed at the BGA booth at the USITT Expo last week.

Travis is in his third year at Memphis working towards his BFA in Theatre Design and Technical Production with an Emphasis in Stage Management.  Travis helped make environmental awareness a part of daily life by including “Green Facts” in paperwork sent to the cast and production team. Daily emails that contained tips and tricks on how to make your day-to-day life more environmentally friendly (thoughts on how to recycle to what kinds of light bulbs to buy) paired with encouraging cast members to recycle waste and reuse supplies, created an overall awareness throughout the cast and department as a whole. Travis will be presented with a framed plaque at USITT and will also receive tickets to the Broadway or touring production of either WICKED or LION KING along with a professional backstage tour of the production and a meeting with a current Broadway Green Captain.

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The Broadway Green Alliance was founded in 2008 in collaboration with the Natural Resources Defense Council. The Broadway Green Alliance (BGA) is an ad hoc committee of The Broadway League and a fiscal program of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids. Along with Julie’s Bicycle in the UK, the BGA is a founding member of the International Green Theatre Alliance. The BGA has reached tens of thousands of fans through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other media.

At the BGA, we recognize that it is impossible to be 100% “green” while continuing activity and – as there is no litmus test for green activity – we ask instead that our members commit to being greener and doing better each day. As climate change does not result from one large negative action, but rather from the cumulative effect of billions of small actions, progress comes from millions of us doing a bit better each day. To become a member of the Broadway Green Alliance we ask only that you commit to becoming greener, that you name a point person to be our liaison, and that you will tell us about your green-er journey.

The BGA is co-chaired by Susan Sampliner, Company Manager of the Broadway company of WICKED, and Charlie Deull, Executive Vice President at Clark Transfer<. Rebekah Sale is the BGA’s full-time Coordinator.

Go to the Broadway Green Alliance

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36.5 / a durational performance with the sea

BY SARAH CAMERON SUNDE

This post originally appeared on Howlround, and is being posted under a under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License(CC BY 4.0). You can find the original post here: http://howlround.com/365-a-durational-performance-with-the-sea

This week on HowlRound, we are exploring Theatre in the Age of Climate Change. How does our work reflect on, and respond to, the challenges brought on by a warming climate? How can we participate in the global conversation about what the future should look like, and do so in a way that is both inspiring and artistically rewarding? I have admired Sarah Cameron Sunde’s work as a director and translator for many years.  Recently, she added another string to her bow. In order to address the pressing environmental questions that were on her mind, she became a performance artist. —Chantal Bilodeau

The water is rising. We know that now.
(How) will we survive?

Will we find a way to rise to the challenge?

Instruction to self: zoom in and zoom out on a daily basis.

In August 2013, I spent ten days at an intimate artist residency on the coast of Maine. The project I was developing with Lydian Junction (my interdisciplinary live art collective) started with a question of survival on a personal scale: What does it take to survive as an artist in this late-capitalistic society we live in?

Because of New York’s new relationship to water due to Hurricane Sandy, I was also considering the bigger picture. The next time a storm hits, will my beloved city survive? Hurricane Sandy made me understand temporality in a new way. It hit me in the gut. Even a seemingly indestructible city is vulnerable, and will some day disappear. If we don’t find a way to adapt, that day might come sooner than we all think. We are lucky to be living here during New York City’s golden age. A hundred years from now, this space that we occupy may be completely changed.

Mohawk Arts Collective’s barn sits beside a tidal bay on the quiet side of Mount Dessert Island in Maine. Every six or so hours, the visual environment is completely transformed—from brown mud flat to picturesque blue bay—because of the tides. Despite having grown up in California near the coast, I had never before witnessed such quick and drastic change. It was mind-blowing. I couldn’t stop watching the water.

In the Maine iteration, the water just starting to fill up the bay, and then several hours later—

On the morning of my third full day of residency, I watched the bay swallow an enormous rock and an image struck me: water enveloping a human body slowly, but surely. Will this be our fate if we don’t get our act together soon? Most major cities in the world are by the sea. What will happen to all the people? It seemed like a perfect metaphor.

Three days later, on August 15, 2013, I stood in Bass Harbor Bay for the full twelve hour and forty-eight minute tidal cycle as water engulfed me up to my neck, and then receded back down to mud flat. It was cold and uncomfortable, and it took everything out of me to get through the day. And that was the point.

I also felt alive and connected to the water. I realized I had to keep playing this duet with her. It was the beginning of a series.

Exactly six months later, on February 15, 2014, I performed a research version of36.5 / a durational performance with the sea in Akumal Bay, Mexico, and exactly one year later, on August 15, 2014, the next iteration happened in Aquatic Park, San Francisco. Now I’m gearing up for Amsterdam this summer, and working on launching the project into a global realm. The plan is to execute seven to ten performances on all six livable continents over the course of the next three to five years, culminating with a large-scale event in New York City: more than 100 people standing in the water, and many more elsewhere around the globe, all considering the water on the same day in August 2020.

In the San Francisco iteration, after a few hours, one man in a suit joined in, and then another. Suddenly we were many.

I am a director and maker of interdisciplinary live art. I didn’t intend to create work that I had to perform in. My initial thought was, “Who can I convince to execute this crazy feat of endurance?” But I quickly realized I couldn’t ask anyone else to do something so physically challenging if I wasn’t willing to do it first. The piece is about struggle and resiliency, both physical and mental. It tests the limits of my body as it represents an individual, an artist, a member of society, and a human. It lives in the tradition of Performance Art and I had to take on the challenge directly.

Scientists recently predicted a three-foot rise in the coming fifty years. This is hard to comprehend because as the human species with the ability to record knowledge, we’ve never witnessed such a change. The project aims to connect back to the natural world, namely the sea, and encourage daily awareness of the changes that are coming our way.

36.5 / a durational performance with the sea acknowledges the permanently temporary nature of things and functions in two forms: 1) a series of live performance events that exist in real time and space around the world, and 2) through text and imagery that remain and represent the project (online and in exhibition form) before and after each performance event takes place. The action of the live performance is clear: it occurs and then it is over, ephemeral as the form. This part comes naturally to me. The text and imagery portion (how the project lives in between iterations) is trickier to hone.

In his 1983 book Towards a Philosophy of Photography, Vilem Flusser reminds us that time and space exist as separate functions on the camera. He also makes a case for photos as tools for activism: the camera provides “for the use of society as a feedback mechanism for its progressive improvement.” At its best, an image or a piece of text functions as an opening for new thought, a way into a new concept or idea. How do we allow space for people to take in the idea in today’s fast-paced, information-inundated world?

Is documentation of the event effective enough to speak to people? Both in the live event and in the online representation, my goal is to find the moment of impact where the audience perceives time in a new way—either it speeds up or slows down—through seeing, feeling, or simply understanding that the water is changing. My hope is that this encounter will lead to greater understanding of our future, and prepare us to be flexible enough to adapt.

The challenge is how to create a work of art that can live effectively in multiple forms. Contemporary technological innovations allow for us to communicate with people around the world, so how can we use technology most effectively to connect back to nature? There are no easy answers. I continue to practice zooming in and zooming out. 36.5 / a durational performance with the sea will continue to live in the questions, just as I do.

Photos 1 and 2 by Maridee Slater, 36.5 / a durational performance with the sea, Bass Harbor, Maine, USA, August 15, 2013.

Photo 3 by Irina Patkanian & Gus Ford, 36.5 / a durational performance with the sea, Bass Harbor, Maine, USA, August 15, 2014.

The law of the forest and the freedom of the streets

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

Thanks to Scott Donaldson for sharing this article The law of the forest and the freedom of the streets on openDemocracy.  Forests play an important role in the evolution of public space in England.  The Magna Carta was followed in 1217 by The Charter of the Forest.

The Forest Charter formalised the right of unbonded men to access and use of the goods of the royal forests (grazing, fuel, food), while implicitly assuming the right to wander freely in the landscape as well as providing a place of refuge for those cast out of the social order.

Forests not only played the role that cities now play, forests also offer a conceptual tool for thinking about the public realm in cities today. 

ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.

It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge ResearchGray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.

Go to EcoArtScotland

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Looking for the Ending (Or is it the Beginning?)

by Alana Mitchell

This post originally appeared on Howlround, and is being posted under a under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License(CC BY 4.0). You can find the original post here: http://howlround.com/looking-for-the-ending-or-is-it-the-beginning

This week on HowlRound, we are exploring Theatre in the Age of Climate Change. How does our work reflect on, and respond to, the challenges brought on by a warming climate? How can we participate in the global conversation about what the future should look like, and do so in a way that is both inspiring and artistically rewarding? Canadian science writer Alanna Mitchell is an inspiration. We crossed paths at the Mount Royal University conference Under Western Skies 2: Environment, Culture and Community in North America in Calgary in 2012. Since then, I have been avidly following her transition from the page to the stage.—Chantal Bilodeau

Let me say right up front that I never harbored secret dreams of working in the theatre. I never wanted to be onstage. I confess to evanescent musings about someday writing a script, or, more likely, a screenplay for, say, a sitcom, or a music video, or a no-budget film. These were not high aspirations.

I mean, I’m a journalist who writes about science! I used to go to a play and watch the performers in much the same way I might have watched a heart surgeon at work in an operating theatre: it was marvelous, transcendent, incomprehensible. It seemed to me as though actors were capable of doing something effortlessly that I felt I could not do, even with the utmost exertion.

And then I met Franco Boni, artistic director of The Theatre Centre in Toronto. He heard me give an off-the-cuff talk about my book Sea Sick: The Global Ocean in Crisis to a UK-based group called Cape Farewell, which aims to bring artists and scientists together to spawn a cultural response to the high-carbon world we’ve created. Franco wondered if I would make the book into a one-woman play. And perform it. And that, as they say, was that.

I remember the first meeting over coffee with him and Claire Sykes, who works with Cape Farewell in North America. (The brilliant Ravi Jain would later join Franco and me to create the script and he would help Franco direct.) I wouldn’t have to memorize, would I? Oh, no, said Franco. Will it be broadly the same as the Sea Sick talks I’ve been giving for years? Oh, yes, said Franco. And then, to his credit, he demurred: Of course, we’ll have to have a new beginning and a new ending. But not much more than that.

I was hooked. I had absolutely no idea how profoundly different it would feel to be in the theatre, performing. Different, I mean, because instead of sitting in my garret imagining how people might respond to my writing—as I am now—I would be standing onstage feeling the energy field of the audience, the power of the experience we were sharing.

It was, as I discovered, a conversation. I could never have imagined that.

The process of making the script should have alerted me. Franco, Ravi, and I were closeted in a cold room on Queen Street West in Toronto with only chalk and a blackboard. I was trying to explain not only what I had found out during the research for my book, and the one I wrote before it, but also why I had wanted to know. Every time I thought I had explained it enough, either Franco or Ravi would look me straight in the eye and say: There’s more. And I would excavate more and more deeply into topics I hadn’t thought about for years—if ever. What is science? What is journalism? What is art? How do they feed each other? Why?

Of course, when it came to the ending, we were stuck. The basic narrative ended up being straightforward: I, the gormless storyteller, am on a quest to figure out what our species is doing to the chemistry of the ocean and why it matters. I travel the world meeting famous and charming and terrifying scientists who explain some of the pieces, which I then put together into a whole. (The blackboard, which we transported to the stage, features prominently here.)

We stumbled through a beginning, which Ravi, with his comic genius, did the first drafts of. But the ending just wasn’t there. I mean, how do you tell people that life as we know it is in terrible danger, and then leave them with something profound and catalytic, without a scrap of preachiness or self-pity?

We had some ideas. These were things I was secretly thinking about, researching, painfully writing down, often amid tears. It felt like every line was impenetrable poetry, not fit for human ears. I was embarrassed about what I wrote. I couldn’t understand why it meant so much to me. Franco and Ravi did not laugh, however. I kept expecting them to tell me to buck up and go back to my keyboard and start over.

It was clear even during the first performances that the ending wasn’t perfect. It was a little glib. In retrospect, I think it was because I had not understood about this conversation that would happen with the audience. I hadn’t known how much I longed for the conversation.

We’re in the third ending now. It’s better. Here’s the radical thing: It’s about forgiveness. It’s about whether we are capable of having a species-wide conversation about the high-carbon world we’ve created together. It’s about whether we can stop with the mindless anger and blame and guilt and despair and leap over it all to get something done.

Forgiveness is a tricky topic, we’ve found. Dreadfully unfashionable. Members of the audience simply didn’t know what it was. Christian? Modern? Hocus pocus? In the third ending, I define it. Forgiveness runs like a drumbeat through all human faith traditions over time. More than that, it is part of an age-old psychological release for the one who forgives. It is saying: Yes, I’m in pain. No, this should never have happened. But I can leave the pain behind and move on.

Ultimately, forgiveness is the resolution of grief.

And so what if, in a mad bid to give ourselves permission to evolve away from the carbon patterns that are threatening us, we could forgive ourselves for all the ways we’ve helped screw up the planet? What if we could forgive each other? What if we could forgive our species? I think it would help spring us from this paralysis of guilt about what’s happening to the world.

Oh, and just for the record. In the end I did have to memorize the ruddy thing. All 10,000 words. In a row. Yeesh.

Photo by Chloe Ellingson.

GALA 2015: Embracing Glasgow’s Green Spirit

This post comes from Creative Carbon Scotland

How does GALA relate to Glasgow? 

The initial notion of hosting the final GALA meeting in Glasgow arose out of the desire to highlight the emerging green arts network and progressive sustainability goals of the city. The Glasgow Green Year 2015 celebrates the city’s aspirations to be a leading example of social, economic and environmental sustainability. Here at Creative Carbon Scotland we realise the importance of including the arts and cultural sector within this movement for a brighter, more sustainable future.

What is culture and how is it connected to sustainability initiatives?

A broad definition of culture is our way of life, incorporating our language, food, politics and values as well as the arts and humanities. What we often term ‘culture’ – the arts, museums, film, TV, design, advertising – are some of the ways in which we express this wider culture and are also an important way in which this culture is shaped, informed, disseminated and changed. Therefore not only does the cultural sector have huge potential to change and influence the society in which we live, it is essential to doing so.

Creative Carbon Scotland’s vision is of a Scottish cultural sector that is playing a central role in shaping a sustainable Scotland. We believe the cultural sector can do this through the work it makes and presents, the way it operates, and what it says and how it speaks to the public. This represents a significant change to the status quo, and one we believe to be both necessary and possible.

What does the final GALA general meeting represent?

The 2015 GALA meeting is a way of starting this process of shifting the status quo, responding specifically to the wealth of cultural activity and creative resources available in Glasgow. This final GALA general meeting is a representation of a larger network that is very much alive and growing in Scotland.

The first two days of the GALA general meeting will instigate discussions and collaboration between the GALA network and the institutions that represent Glasgow’s cultural communities, including Glasgow Arts and Museums, Glasgow Life and Glasgow City Council. The third day (14th March 2015) is open to the public for Glasgow’s Green: Imagining a Sustainable City. On this day, Tramway will be transformed into a hub of green arts activities, with 18 artist-led workshops and drop-ins. However, this day offers much more beyond the workshops.

We invite you to come along to Glasgow’s Green: Imagining a Sustainable City to participate in the larger group discussions about arts and sustainability at the beginning, middle and end of the day. There will also be a community-created map in the upper foyer; participants can pin and share projects on this map to help create a visualisation of the green arts community. Feel free to bring along your own resources, ideas, project information and critical thoughts to share with others about the connection between arts and sustainability.

The 2015 GALA general meeting offers a significant chance for discussions and collaborations. We are certainly looking forward to experiencing the energy that this event is sure to bring!

What are your thoughts on the influence of arts in building a more sustainable future?

Feel free to share your ideas and questions via Twitter @CCScotland, or come along to Glasgow’s Green: Imagining a Sustainable City to participate in this ongoing discussion.

More event information can be found at the event programme page.

Updates and insights from the 2015 GALA general meeting will be shared on our GALA 2015 blog.

The post GALA 2015: Embracing Glasgow’s Green Spirit appeared first on Creative Carbon Scotland.

———-

Creative Carbon Scotland is a partnership of arts organisations working to put culture at the heart of a sustainable Scotland. We believe cultural and creative organisations have a significant influencing power to help shape a sustainable Scotland for the 21st century.

In 2011 we worked with partners Festivals Edinburgh, the Federation of Scottish Threatre and Scottish Contemporary Art Network to support over thirty arts organisations to operate more sustainably.

We are now building on these achievements and working with over 70 cultural organisations across Scotland in various key areas including carbon management, behavioural change and advocacy for sustainable practice in the arts.

Our work with cultural organisations is the first step towards a wider change. Cultural organisations can influence public behaviour and attitudes about climate change through:

Changing their own behaviour;
Communicating with their audiences;
Engaging the public’s emotions, values and ideas.

Go to Creative Carbon Scotland

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April Green Tease: ArtCOP Scotland

This post comes from Creative Carbon Scotland

This December the United Nations will call all the world’s leaders to Paris for COP 21 to make a crucial agreement to limit climate change. We want to use the opportunity of COP 21 to raise awareness of the links between sustainability, climate change and the arts.

Join us for our April Edinburgh and Glasgow Green Tease events which will explore how artists and communities across Scotland can respond to or engage with COP 21 and how Creative Carbon Scotland can support this.

Sign up here for our Edinburgh (Monday 27th April, 3 – 5pm) and Glasgow (Tuesday 28th April, 3 – 5pm) events. As always we’ll have tea, coffee and biscuits on arrival!

Following a busy time in March with Glasgow’s Green: Imagining a Sustainable City at Tramway and our Mull Arts & Sustainability 2015 Residency, we want to build on the new connections made and momentum gained during these projects and work with you to develop our Green Tease programme over the coming months.

COP 21 (or the 21st Conference Of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to give it its full title) will aim to agree legal limits on the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere that will reduce a global temperature rise of a just-about manageable 2⁰C. Already China and the US – big emitters and barriers to previous agreements – have made significant commitments that suggest success may be in sight.

ArtCOP21 is a parallel event taking place in Paris in December where artists will use their work to raise awareness of the issues and encourage the leaders to take bold steps to protect the environment and humanity. Alongside this, we’re interested in the idea of ArtCOP Scotland that sees events and activities throughout Scotland highlighting the Paris discussions and placing the focus on how they involve and relate to all of us here – at home, at work, at school. We want to widen the debate in December to include artists and communities across the country.

Sign up here for our Edinburgh (Monday 27th April, 3 – 5pm) and Glasgow (Tuesday 28th April, 3 – 5pm) events.

Please email gemma.lawrence@creativecarbonscotland.com if you have any questions and otherwise we look forward to seeing you there!

The post April Green Tease: ArtCOP Scotland appeared first on Creative Carbon Scotland.

———-

Creative Carbon Scotland is a partnership of arts organisations working to put culture at the heart of a sustainable Scotland. We believe cultural and creative organisations have a significant influencing power to help shape a sustainable Scotland for the 21st century.

In 2011 we worked with partners Festivals Edinburgh, the Federation of Scottish Threatre and Scottish Contemporary Art Network to support over thirty arts organisations to operate more sustainably.

We are now building on these achievements and working with over 70 cultural organisations across Scotland in various key areas including carbon management, behavioural change and advocacy for sustainable practice in the arts.

Our work with cultural organisations is the first step towards a wider change. Cultural organisations can influence public behaviour and attitudes about climate change through:

Changing their own behaviour;
Communicating with their audiences;
Engaging the public’s emotions, values and ideas.

Go to Creative Carbon Scotland

Powered by WPeMatico