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Eight UK museums set out to ‘make carbon history’

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tyne-and-wear-museums590Eight museums in the Tyne and Wear in the north east of the United Kingdom are taking action to address climate change. In April 2013, they launched a new initiative called ‘Make Carbon History’. The first goal is to reduce their carbon footprint by 12 percent within the next two years.

With the UK Government committing to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050, museums across the north east of the country, in a region called Tyne and Wear, have decided they want to play their part in helping to achieve this target.

Led by Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums (TWAM) through the Museum Development Programme funded by Arts Council England, ‘Make Carbon History’ is a two-year programme of support that will enable museums to reduce their carbon footprint by 12 percent by 2015, whilst helping reduce their carbon footprint and become more sustainable. And not only that, they also want to help create a sustainable future for communities across the region.

“Art and culture has played a huge role in Tyne and Wear’s regeneration, however, the sector faces significant challenges ahead,” explains Sarah Carr, Senior Museum Development Officer at TWAM. According to her, the initiative is about creating a sustainable future for the region’s museums and in this way to ensure that they can continue to have a positive impact on the surrounding communities: “The purpose of museums is to inspire and educate, and I hope that the action we are taking to address climate change, will also influence museum audiences to look at how they can implement sustainability and reduce their own carbon footprint.”

The not-for-profit low-carbon consultancy CO2Sense will work with the eight museums to identify and implement practical solutions to minimise their carbon emissions through reduced grid energy demand and sustainable facility management. These measures will allow the museums to reduce their energy bills, whilst also creating a more comfortable environment for visitors, staff and volunteers.

Environmental commitment 
Tyne and Wear Museums is a grouping of 11 museums and galleries in the north east of England, administered by a joint board of local authorities. The group writes on its home page that its commitment is to provide “a world-class service that is sustainable and which aims to minimise the environmental impacts of our operations. We are committed to continually improving our green policies and will work to reduce our consumption of gas, electricity, water and other materials.”

“The Director is fully committed to supporting the green campaign and champions green issues including setting a corporate objective in the organisation’s operational plan, chairing the TWAM Energy Reduction Group and ring-fencing an allocation of capital resources for sustainable ‘invest to save’ initiatives.

The Senior Management Team takes the lead on environmental performance, awareness and engagement activities for TWAM. Managers throughout the organisation are committed to improving the physical infrastructure and environmental management of their individual venues, and minimising the environmental impact of services they provide.

Staff are encouraged to participate in green polices and are kept up to date with green initiatives and activities through:
• Staff newsletter
• Quick tip emails to staff on energy saving and recycling
• Minutes of the Energy Reduction Group

TWAM has achieved the Julie’s Bicycle certification programme standard, Industry Green, which acknowledges its environmentally responsible business practices, and its commitment to ongoing improvement.

The Industry Green (IG) Standard is the environmental certification scheme managed by Julie’s Bicycle which provides an audit report of environmental performance covering energy, waste, water and travel.

The four core Industry Green criteria are:
• Commitment
• Understanding
• Improvement
• Communication”

The museums across Tyne and Wear who are currently engaged in the programme are: Bebe’s World, Heugh Gun Batterty, Killhope Lead Mining Museum, Woodhorn Museum, Oriental Museum, Durham Light Infantry, Middlesborough Institute of Modern Art, and Hexham Old Gaol.

For more information on how CO2Sense work with museums, you can contact Kristina Lomas on e-mail: Kristina [DOT] Lomas [AT] co2sense [DOT] co [DOT] uk or visit their home


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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.

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John Kay – A good economist knows the true value of the arts

Activities that are good in themselves are good for the economy, and activities that are bad in themselves are bad for the economy. The only intelligible meaning of “benefit to the economy” is the contribution – direct or indirect – the activity makes to the welfare of ordinary citizens.

Many people underestimate the contribution disease makes to the economy. In Britain, more than a million people are employed to diagnose and treat disease and care for the ill. Thousands of people build hospitals and surgeries, and many small and medium-size enterprises manufacture hospital supplies. Illness contributes about 10 per cent of the UK’s economy: the government does not do enough to promote disease.

Such reasoning is identical to that of studies sitting on my desk that purport to measure the economic contribution of sport, tourism and the arts. These studies point to the number of jobs created, and the ancillary activities needed to make the activities possible. They add up the incomes that result. Reporting the total with pride, the sponsors hope to persuade us not just that sport, tourism and the arts make life better, but that they contribute to something called “the economy”.

READ ON //>  John Kay – A good economist knows the true value of the arts.

Postlethwaite protest over Kingsnorth

Actor Pete Postlethwaite is considering handing back his OBE if the UK government gives the go-ahead to the Kingsnorth Power coal-fired power station, linking the Kingsnorth issue to the Iraq War protests, the largest in modern UK history. “We tried to stop Tony Blair going to war in Iraq. But this time we’re not having it.”

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