European alliance of artists and arts institutions promote environmental sustainability

This post comes to you from Culture|Futures

European alliance of artists and arts institutions promote environmental sustainability

Green Art Lab Alliance is a European-wide programme dedicated to promoting environmental sustainability and how that can be challenged in practical, ethical, and artistic ways across arts genres and cultural communities across Europe. On 12-13 March 2014, the alliance’s next workshop was held in Berlin, Germany.


The alliance investigates the challenges and opportunities that environmental sustainability implies for the practice of artists and art institutions:

“We believe it is time that arts and culture takes responsibility in its own innovative and artistic ways. The arts shouldn’t see environmental sustainability as a side issue, but as an essential part of its practice. What that exactly implies for the visual arts and design, is what this project will investigate on different levels and in close collaboration with designers, artists and scientists across Europe,” the initiators of the project stated.

Based on the concept of a ‘knowledge alliance’ developed by DutchCulture|TransArtists in partnership with Julie’s Bicycle the Green Art Lab Alliance of twenty cultural organisations in Europe have created a partnership, building a collaborative project with cultural organisations and artists all over Europe and Georgia.

The project has a total budget of 400,000 euro, of which 50 percent is co-financed by the EU Culture programme. The Green Art Lab Alliance officially started with a kick-off meeting in June 2013 at the Jan van Eijck Academy in Maastricht, the Netherlands, and it will run for almost two years, ending in March 2015.

During this period the collaborating partners organise workshops and labs to share knowledge and raise awareness amongst citizens and artists in particular.

On 28-29 November 2013, Art Motile and the Gas Natural Contemporary Art Museum presented a two day programme of talks, workshops and a round table discussion with TransArtists, ResArtis, On-the-Move and Interarts, among others.

On 12-13 March 2014, the Green Art Lab Alliance hosted a workshop on green issues for the sustainable support of cultural mobility in Berlin, Germany. This workshop targeted EU funders and cultural policy makers interested in including green criteria in the way they support culture and cultural mobility in particular.

On the Move, Julie’s Bicycle and DutchCulture¦TransArtists co-organised the workshop together with with ITI-Germany and IGBK.

Sholeh Johnston from Julie’s Bicycle is tutor of the training.

“This workshop provided an overview of various approaches taken to embed environmental criteria into cultural funding. We shared the tools, resources and methodology used by example funding bodies, such as the Arts Council England, which has embedded criteria around environmental reporting into funding agreements since 2012. We covered case studies of how cultural organisations are interpreting environmental sustainability and the potential impact of policy in aiding and supporting this work, with a focus on touring, residencies and other mobility-related work. There was ample opportunity for discussion and thinking through how these learnings can be practically applied in various European contexts,” explained Sholeh Johnston.

Along with this workshop a training for ecological and sustainable cultural work took place, entitled ‘Training sustainability!’. This training – supported by the German Federal Cultural Foundation (Kulturstiftung des Bundes) – targeted leaders and stakeholders in the performing arts.

Experiences were shared and synergies were created at a joined introductory presentation by Julie’s Bicycle and at a ‘Green Salon’ on 12 March 2014. The participants also got a chance to visit in Berlin cultural and “green” places, including UFA Fabrik.

»For more information about the workshop, you can send an e-mail to mobility (at)

Advocate for legacy and standards

“Maintaining the diversity of response in the context of a shared ambition will be critical for ensuring that the project has a strong foundation for legacy. With this project we will establish a strong network of artists and organizations engaged with this topic of environmental sustainability, which will be the foundation for establishing a European Knowledge Alliance. This European Knowledge Alliance will consist of knowledge hubs (ambassadors/artists and organizations) across Europe on the different ethical, practical and artistic aspects of environmental sustainability.

The Knowledge Alliance will advocate for legacy and standards for the arts and cultural sector on environmental sustainability on the longer term.” wrote that this first meeting of all partners “demonstrated what it is that makes this project so unique: the variety of profiles of participating organisations and different geographical backgrounds offer a diverse approach to the different aspects of sustainability.”

There are residencies involved where artists, the general public and partner organisations get the chance to experiment and explore the role of sustainability in the arts.

Others are European cultural networks, government related institutes which have impact on (national) policy level, educational institutes and organisations which are stimulating the exchange of scientific knowledge with the creativity of artists.

The issues related to sustainability that these organisations are going to address vary from mobility to waste, water and energy.

“All partners believe that it is time for the arts and culture to take responsibility in their own innovative and artistic ways. By exploring the different approaches and by sharing knowledge and best practices, the partners aim to identify realistic first steps to create a better understanding  of the meaning  of sustainability for and through the arts.

The GALA partners want to promote and support artists and cultural workers in their contribution to this goal. The ambition is to create a Europe-wide network of individuals and organisations engaged in combining arts and environmental sustainability.”

»Report about the kick-off meeting:

More information

»Open or download: planning document for the Green Art Lab Alliance 2013-2015 (PDF)

»Discover or rediscover the Green mobility guide for the performing arts sector which On The Move co-produced with Julie’s Bicycle.

»More info on


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

The Cultural sector that we refer to is an interdisciplinary, inter-sectoral, inter-genre collaboration, which encompasses policy-making, intercultural dialogue/cultural relations, creative cities/cultural planning, creative industries and research and development. It is those decision-makers and practitioners who can reach people in a direct way, through diverse messages and mediums.

Affecting the thinking and behaviour of people and communities is about the dissemination of stories which will profoundly impact cultural values, beliefs and thereby actions. The stories can open people’s eyes to a way of thinking that has not been considered before, challenge a preconceived notion of the past, or a vision of the future that had not been envisioned as possible. As a sector which is viewed as imbued with creativity and cultural values, rather than purely financial motivations, the cultural sector’s stories maintain the trust of people and society.

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