Creu Cymru partner with Julie’s Bicycle to help fourty two Welsh arts venues go green

Whether a former miners’ institute, an Edwardian theatre or modern iconic buildings such as the Wales Millennium Centre or Galeri Caernarfon, arts venues occupy an important place in the communities of Wales. Today sees the start of a major, ground-breaking initiative to support forty two arts venues in Wales to become greener and leaner.

The venues are all members of Creu Cymru – the development agency for theatres and arts venues in Wales. They will be asked about the way they manage their use of energy and water, their waste disposal and other environmental issues. Those who choose to will take part in a more detailed investigation with on-going support.

Based on the results of the investigation venues will be given the tools and advice needed to strengthen their environmental, social and economic sustainability. By becoming more energy and resource efficient, managers of the venues will be able to save money. They will be helped to develop new strategies and communicate these to staff, contractors, suppliers and audiences. Overall, this initiative will make them fit for the future and better able to respond to the challenges of a changing world.

The initiative will address three areas;

  • energy and waste (consumption and treatment)
  • the supply chain (theatre production and touring)
  • communicating to audiences the issues and potential solutions (imagining the future)

The initiative is part of Emergence – an on-going programme of work led by Cynnal Cymru-Sustain Wales and Volcano Theatre Company that aims to make sustainable development a core organising principle of the arts in Wales. This Creu Cymru Emergence initiative has been made possible by the Welsh Government’s Support For Sustainable Living grant scheme through a partnership comprising Creu Cymru, Cynnal Cymru-Sustain Wales, the ESRC BRASS Research Centre (Cardiff University) and London-based arts and environmental sustainability experts Julie’s Bicycle.

BRASS and Julie’s Bicycle will provide the technical expertise. Both organisations have a track record of success in investigating and offering solutions for the environmental and social sustainability of the arts. Cynnal Cymru-Sustain Wales will use the information and learning that comes from the work to inform consultation on the development of the Welsh Government’s Sustainable Development Bill.

The Creu Cymru membership consists of Wales’ most cherished theatres and arts venues that have for generations acted as hubs of social and cultural activity. With this initiative, they will be able to continue to do this in the context of a changing world and make an important contribution to the development of a sustainable Wales.

Eden and the overburden

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Wallace Heim writes: 

The partnership between the Eden Project and Rio Tinto has been billed as supporting education projects about sustainability and research into post-mining regeneration. This was a working partnership, not merely a “social license to operate” – the creating of a benevolent public image for corporations such as BP, Shell, Rio Tinto, through their association with cultural institutions, and now the Olympics.

One of the education projects of this partnership is a pop-up children’s book, Earthly Treasure, full of pictures of dazzling jewels and brightly coloured pages showing how modern life can only exist through minerals that must be mined.

There’s a page showing a huge open pit mine, a sombre, near-monochrome dug-out bowl. You can slide trucks to take away the “surface layer” and “pull down the tab and blast away the top layer of earth, called the overburden”.

The “overburden”. The infinitely complex soil that makes life possible is merely a weight, a waste to remove to get to the riches below. The phrasing harks back to Francis Bacon who wrote in his Novum Organum in 1620 that miners were the new class of man who would interrogate and alter nature. Nature could be “forced out of her natural state and squeezed and molded”.

But now, the soil holds no more secrets. It’s only the burdensome surface layer.

This normalizing of open cast mining and mountain top removal is given to children as if a game, one more gem to absorb in their education. Many reasons may lie behind using that phrasing, but the license it condones is not merely cultural benevolence.

h/t: Robert Newman in the Guardian


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ashdenizen is edited by Robert Butler, and is the blog associated with the Ashden Directory, a website focusing on environment and performance.
The Ashden Directory is edited by Robert Butler and Wallace Heim, with associate editor Kellie Gutman. The Directory includes features, interviews, news, a timeline and a database of ecologically – themed productions since 1893 in the United Kingdom. Our own projects include ‘New Metaphors for Sustainability’, ‘Flowers Onstage’ and ‘Six ways to look at climate change and theatre’.

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Public art: Jaume Pensa’s big Dream

Michaela Crimmin: “I have just been to the launch of the extraordinary – the wonderful – new work by Jaume Plensa outside Runcorn in Cheshire, part of Channel 4’s Big Art Project.This has been commissioned by a group of ex-miners wanting to commemorate the heritage of their previous industry; but with a positive rather than a nostalgic take. The artist and the miners worked with curator Laurie Peake and you could visibly see art expert, artist and local people thoroughly enjoying joining together to create something marvellous. “

For news of a panel debate here at the RSA around topics raised by this public commissioning initiative, featuring Grayson Perry, Munira Mirza, Andrew Shoben and Jonathan Jones, and hosted by Jon Snow see the main Arts & Ecology site.

Photo of Dream by Jaume Plensa courtesy of Channel 4

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology