ONE YEAR ON AND WHAT HAS CHANGED…?
Notes from the online Declarer Breakfast, 30th November 2022
In September 2021 we launched our Declarer Breakfasts, with a focus on Glasgow’s COP. We used this November’s Breakfast to reflect on the passage between COP26 and COP27 and what cultural opportunities and challenges have arisen, in relation to the Earth Crisis, during this time. Many thanks to all who attended for bringing such thought-provoking and varied ingredients to November’s Declarer Breakfast. We had many useful, connective discussions, and there was a real sense of friendly camaraderie and shared purpose to the gathering.
Breakfast sessions will delve more deeply into each action pathway in 2023. You can register for our next Breakfast on Wednesday 25th January 2023, 9-10.30, HERE.
Below you will find:
- Reflections and outcomes from COP27 – a Cultural perspective
- One Year On, and What Has Changed? Discussion notes and chat
- How might we support each other better in the CDE community?
- Coming up and tuning in: events, resources and considerations
- Participant list with links, for continued supportive and inspiring conversations
Many thanks for bringing such thought-provoking and varied ingredients to November’s Declarer Breakfast. We had many useful, connective discussions, and there was a real sense of friendly camaraderie and shared purpose to the gathering. There is a participant list below – with weblinks – to encourage continued supportive and inspiring conversations between Declarers.
Also, a quick reminder to update your declarer profile on our website, either for yourself or your organisation. You can do this here by selecting your name/organisation name and scrolling to the bottom. Please do update your profile when you can, there’s much more room for info and links and you can add a photo too, it’s a great way for Declarers to connect up and collaborate!
1. COP/CULTURE REFLECTIONS: BRIDGET MCKENZIE
our COP27 provocations
This section was led by Bridget McKenzie – Founder of the Climate Museum UK; a researcher, creative curator and educator, working across culture, environment and public engagement; and a valued, key player within our CDE network. Sadly unable to join us on the day were Ruth Ben-Tovim, who helped bring CultureCOP to Egypt, and Kay Michael, who, alongside Syed Jazib Ali, delivered Letters to the Earth from marginalised voices to COP conference delegates.
- Prior to COP27, Bridget wrote CDE’s guide to Making Sense of COP 27. It explores ethical concerns about the meeting and ways in which the cultural sector could/must help hold decision-makers to account. It is a complete overview, filled with useful links and provocations for Declarers and others working in the Cultural/Environmental/Social Justice intersection. Post COP27 it remains a highly relevant, reference document.
- Bridget is interested to know why these provocations weren’t taken up more by Declarers to support COP-related, public communication, creative responses or campaigning posts on social media etc. Please contact her directly to feedback, or if you’d like to help develop thinking around this engagement issue.
- Key outcomes of COP27 notably include the inception of a loss and damage fund and a ratified recognition of ‘tipping points’. But there is disappointment regarding a lack of commitment to the 1.5 degree target, and the absence of an agreement to phase out all fossil fuels. The Guardian’s summary of COP27 outcomes can be found here.
- CultureCOP was a programme of meetings, events and gatherings led by arts and culture from North Africa and beyond, including an online International Assembly. This was a gathering of people from across borders, coming together in celebration, catharsis and commitment to create tangible and long-lasting change.
- Recognising ‘a culture-sized hole in policy-making’, the global Climate Heritage Network made the Sharm El-Sheikh Declaration on Culture-based Climate Action to address the impact of the climate crisis on culture, cultural heritage and landscapes, as well as the fundamental role of culture in “helping to imagine and realise a low-carbon, climate resilient future”.
- CBD COP15 is the Biodiversity COP – running 7-19 December – it is another huge opportunity for arts and culture to flag up the interconnected elements within the Earth Crisis: climate change, biodiversity loss and social justice. Read Bridget’s crucial call to holistically interconnect these separated emergencies, in order that human rights and biodiversity are not lost in the race to net zero.
2. ARTS AND CULTURE OPPORTUNITIES, CHALLENGES AND IMPACT
In small breakout rooms we discussed the past year in terms of our own creative engagement and other examples of effective cultural impact, we considered our Declarer experience and how Declarers could work together better in 2023. A summary of the points raised are below.
How has your creative practice, approach, offer or audience, developed or changed? Where is culture working well?
- Better intergenerational inclusivity: How can inclusivity, in general, be incentivised
- Experience of being in an activist bubble. How can we open this up?
- Foregrounding of climate justice. Discussions around how culture has the power to expand and reframe concepts.
- Recent research shows that audiences want sustainability to be part of the cultural offer in Indigo’s Act Green Survey – CDE’s December Offer covers this in detail and will be available on YouTube shortly.
- Austerity/post-COVID: Staff turnover means the approach to sustainability is serially forgotten/re-invented.
- Realising conversation’s power to provoke change, especially as a freelancer /external advisor.
- Reprioritisation towards sustainability by NPOs due to Arts Council requirements. But the majority of funders do not emphasise sustainability.
- Growing belief in the power of coproduction and relational practice– that for individual artists who can feel helpless working alone, playing a small part in a collective can help make an impact.
- Companies such as Rambert are now employing Sustainability officers.
- Clod Ensemble – a performance company has become much more digital. In-person public engagement plans instead developed into a film and online engagement. This has positive effects re. Carbon emissions, extended reach and accessibility (for people with disabilities and financial constraints). But as a result in-person connection (crucial for both company and audience) has decreased. Also, it impacts funding too – less £ available. Need clarity around the benefits of digitisation and to be aware of the potential to greenwash.
- Eco-change is not yet adequately weighted by funders, with greater weighting given to eg. accessibility development. How do we incentivise the incorporation of eco-choices into Trust and funder requirements?
- One’s own creative practice, even if powerfully directed towards the Earth crisis always seems less urgent to attend to than direct campaigning/activism, and can get neglected.
- Invisible Dust, Participative collaboration with school-children in Lewisham around Air pollution issues- This focussed cultural approach has been effective in bringing together and engaging with different groups of people and linked concerns.
- From the perspective of someone working at a nexus of academic research and city council eco-management in Birmingham, it is clear that culture communicates about the Earth crisis in a way that immediately engages with the public, far better than science alone can.
- Loss of agency/focus as an artist when buffeted by crisis and activism
3. EXPERIENCE OF CULTURE DECLARES EMERGENCY NETWORK
How has being a Declarer, and/or being part of the CDE community, impacted your practice, approach or offer in 2022?
- Hard to keep giving energy to the core of CDE while also being active in a local Hub.
- Starting the south-eastern hub has helped in galvanising local action for individuals and organisations. E.g. day of action on food security
- Useful to act underneath a ‘banner’ of Culture Declares.
- It’s been helpful to have a framework for an organisation to answer to. Have found the Breakfasts really useful. Breakfasts are a good reminder of all the inspiring work being done all over the place and how useful it is to connect with others.
- Enjoyed being part of a collective voice– more easy to feel purposeful as an individual artist within CDE.
- Working within the CDE core team means less time and focus given to own practice.
How might we support each other better as a community of cultural Declarers in 2023?
- Consideration about how to structure sustainable engagement within the network.
- Keep up with these breakfasts – they are especially good for new people.
- More engagement through regular specific calls to action to the network.
- Think about how to make CDE/Breakfasts less intimidating for new people. Perhaps an introduction to CDE before the rest of the meeting?
- Declarer organisations could consider what internal support could be given to the network at large. Consider how as an organisation to engage better.
- Work more closely with indigenous peoples, to relearn how to embed nature connections at every level and share this within the network.
- More voluntary support is needed for working groups. How do we build this capacity?
- Frustrating that out of thousands of Declarers only a small minority are actively engaged and an even smaller number helping to keep the network running. What do we need to do better to reach existing Declarers and to grow the network? Is it less about the offer and more about the creative ask?
- It seems that Hubs are a great way to strengthen connections and drive action– does there need to be a clearer toolkit for setting up / running these? Top tips from existing hubs about what works? Fundraising guidance to support this work at hub level- there’s a limit to how much we can all do for free!
- Instigation of practice-led hubs/ sub-networks. On Basecamp? On Website?
- Notice-board on website with ask and offer messages?
- Supported mentoring system?
- Next CDE Offer: ENERGY FOR CHANGE (Thursday 8th December, 5.30-7.00 pm) Will be available to rewatch on our YouTube channel soon. What do audiences want cultural organisations to do around the Earth crisis? What is the evidence from recent research? How can we join up actions for sustainability with work for climate and social justice?
- Book recommendation: Simon Sinek’s Infinite Game. It’s business focused but presents a totally transferable concept. Business is stuck in its Finite Game, hence the crisis. What we want is a move to the constantly developing Infinite…
- Culture Unstained, in conversation with a potential funder recently, asked them about the source of their funding money as part of due diligence (on climate and ethical considerations), and they said it was the first time a potential grantee had EVER asked them about this! Funders need more pressure on this!
- Caroline Bergvall – artist and writer, and facilitator of events: London
- Polly Gifford, freelance producer, CDE South East Coastal Hub coordinator, CDE Declarer Support Team: Hastings
- Ed McGovern –Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation: London
- Jaime Jackson West Midlands CDE Birmingham Hub coordinator
- Lucy Bird – I’m the sustainability manager at Rambert Dance Company
- Nick Grayson – Green City Manager at Birmingham CC, Senior Research Fellow at University of Birmingham: latest lecture series is called Making the invisible, Visible. Founding member of global Biophilic Cities Network: Birmingham and Cheltenham
- Olivia Amory – Clod Ensemble; music/movement performance and participation: London
- Gaby Solly – Ecologically and socially engaged artist, singer-songwriter, CDE Declarer Support Team: Bristol
- Victoria Burns – Arts and Culture Consultant, CDE’s National Coordinator: London
- Juliette Daigre – Culture Unstained; research/campaigning to end fossil fuel sponsorship of arts and culture