Arts Together and sustainability

At our January Arts Together meeting, Jamie Saye from Opera North led a session on Environmental Sustainability. Jamie is the Chair of Opera North’s Green Team and a member of Leeds Climate Commission.

Jamie kicked off the session by sharing some dates and facts:

  • The 2015 COP Conference resulted in all participants signing the Paris Agreement, where they set a target of limiting global warming to 2 degrees but ideally no more than 1.5 degrees.
  • The difference of 0.5 degrees is huge!
  • The key finding of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2018 is that meeting a 1.5°C target is possible but would require ‘deep emissions reductions’ and ‘rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.’
  • The UK government has committed to become Net Zero by 2050, Leeds by 2030!
  • SAIL: Sustainable Arts in Leeds is a key city-wide network where arts and creative organisations based in Leeds can share their knowledge and practice.
graph showing the rise of the global average temperature

Image credit: NASA, Earth Observatory website

The rest of the session was a facilitated discussion woven around 2 questions: What is the responsibility of the arts in the climate emergency? and what form of support does my organisation need?
Arts Together partners shared the following ideas:

  • Arts venues can offer detailed advice to their customers on how to get to their events by public transport, by bike or on foot.
  • For projects and events involving food or organisations with a café, veganism is a cheap opportunity to be more inclusive.
  • Recycling and reusing resources are simple ways to cut down on expenses.
  • Change is possible in small organisations as there are less people to convince and each person can pledge to change one thing within their reach.
  • According to Jim at DJ School UK, all arts organisations have a responsibility to raise awareness, use sustainability as a way to ‘foster empathy rather than division’ and should try to reach out to audiences who aren’t engaging with the arts or thinking about sustainable development.

When the topic of mental health came up, Rod Dixon mentioned Who do we Choose to Be by Margaret Wheatley, a book that thinks of artists as ‘Islands of sanity’ in chaotic times.
Partners expressed the desire to share expensive equipment they have with other organisations and we agreed that we could use the Arts Together network for people to offer or loan equipment.

Shortly after the meeting, Jamie shared templates about data collection for art organisations needing to report on their sustainability or write an effective environmental policy and action plan. Please email [email protected] if you’d like us to send these to you.

SAIL will be running a workshop on carbon footprint calculation using IG tools later this year. You can email [email protected] to find out more about it.

Photo credit: Opera North.