uk arts and cultural institutions are declaring a climate emergency

Launching on 3 April, Culture Declares Emergency is galvanising the arts in a bid to curb the threat to the environment.

by Alim Kheraj
27 March 2019, 3:01pm

Arts and culture organisations across the UK are taking a stand against the environmental threat to our planet by declaring a Climate and Ecological Emergency.

48 individuals and 28 organisations in UK arts and culture -- including the Royal Court, Brighton’s ONCA and London and Scarborough-based charity, art and environment organisation Invisible Dust -- have signed up, with the deadline to pledge as part of the first wave being this Friday, March 29. Their declaration is in direct response to climate change, the extinction of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystems, a situation caused by failure of governments and industry to act.

The movement was inspired by the large number of UK councils all over the country -- including the Greater London Authority -- declaring Climate Emergencies and is borne out of an understanding that the arts, culture and creative industries have an obligation to respond to the impact that humanity is having on our planet. Councils have stated that together with civic partners, they will commit resources to counteracting climate change.

By signing the declaration, arts, culture and creative industries are pledging their own creative or civic resources -- varying from meeting space and skilled people, to ideas, programmes or platforms -- too. “Humanity faces the combined catastrophes of climate change, a mass extinction of vital biodiversity and a degradation of ecosystems health everywhere,” said Lucy Neal, a spokesperson for Culture Declares Emergency.

“This has now become an emergency situation because governments and industry have not shown the necessary leadership, and, so far, have not acted fast enough. Fortunately, humans are capable of responding in a remarkable variety of ways to accelerate climate solutions and adaptations, and culture can help stir up human response as well as creating new stories and visions for our world.”

As with groups like Extinction Rebellion and the global School Strike for Climate Change, Culture Declares Emergency will be hosting a number of events in the run up to International Rebellion, a non-violent rebellion against the world’s governments for their inaction against the ecological crisis.

Kicking off on 3 April at Somerset House there will be an artist-led ceremony and procession that crosses Waterloo Bridge and moves along to different art institutions on the Thames’ south bank. At each location, previews of Letters to the Earth, a campaign of Culture Declares Emergency, will be read, with the march concluding at the Globe Theatre, where the voices behind the movement will speak. Later, on 12 April, venues such as the Globe, the National Theatre Wales and the Royal Court will host readings of the Letters to the Earth written by the public. More details of the Letters to the Earth campaign can be found here.

For more information about Culture Declares Emergency, including a draft toolkit and resources in how you or your organisation can declare, visit the Culture Declares Emergency website here or and sign up here. The deadline for the first wave of declarations is 29 March.

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