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 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.


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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