Culture and Sustainability Event

November 12, 2015

SEFM enjoyed attending the Culture and Sustainability event organised by Julie's Bicycle at The Tetley, an incredible venue,  operated by Project Space Leeds, on 11th November 2015.

After a warm welcome, some networking and refreshments, we were introduced to the speakers for the day by Sholeh Johnston, Arts Manager at Julie's Bicycle.

Introduction: Sustaining Great Art

Alison Tickell, Director, Julie's Bicycle

Jane Tarr, Director, Organisational Resilience, Environmental Sustainability and Newcastle, ACE


We were then given an introduction to ACE's latest Sustaining Great Art report for 2012-2015, the Arts Council’s environmental reporting initiative. We were also provided with an overview of the latest research demonstrating how the sector as a whole is making strides towards becoming more sustainable, creating value and impact at a local, national and international level in creative practice and policy.


Tarr talked about 'supporting the engagement of the sector with the sustainability agenda' and developing a better understanding of what the barriers are that prevent organisations from reporting. It was promising to hear the great response that ACE have had so far. Tarr outlined their focus for the next three years on supporting relationship managers, developing digital, looking at ethical sponsorship issues, and developing sustainability at leadership level.


Tickell discussed 'the bigger picture' by introducing Paris COP21, asserting that 'politics come from mandates and mandates come from society'. Tickell described artists' responses to COP21 and climate change as 'a positive renaissance in the arts'. Tickell outlined Julie's Bicycle's objectives for the next three years of their partnership with ACE:

  • Highlighting climate change as a cultural as well as scientific issue

  • Developing collective action and collaboration to lead towards change

  • Showing the creative community's contribution in shaping cultural values

You can read the full report on the ACE website here.


Leadership and Sustainability

Nicola Walker, Head of Collections Care and Access, Manchester Museum / Whitworth Art Gallery


Walker discussed the Whitworth's capital development project focused on embedding sustainability into every aspect of organisational thinking. You can read more about this in a previous blog post on the SEFM website.



Public Art and Sustainability

Rick Faulkner, Director, Chrysalis Arts


Faulkner talked us through Chrysalis' exploration of ‘sustainable’ approaches to arts practice through the concept of ‘slow’ art, a direct response to the ‘fast’ cultures that drive unsustainable consumption of the planet’s resources. Their work has led to the development of the Public Art Sustainability Assessment (PASA).


 Image: Chrysalis Arts project: 'Two Rivers' Sculpture in Tonge Fold, East Bolton

Growing and Giving

Alan Lane, Director, Slung Low

Lane talked about The Hub's allotment project created from 27 discarded bathtubs, a project which has brought the community together. Lane repeatedly highlighted the importance of 'usefulness' and stated that 'fundamentally everyone is an artist'.


Early Warning Signs

Ellie Harrison, Artist

Harrison combines art and activism in her work which she sees as 'putting sustainability into practice'. She sees it as important to 'consider innovation in relation to wellbeing'.


Image: Ellie Harrison at The Tetley 


Thematic Breakout Discussions


We then split into a range of facilitated groups to discuss themes including Sustainable Buildings, Communicating Sustainability and Sustainable Production. These were really useful for sharing ideas and case studies.


Context Setting: Campaigns to Change the World

We were then introduced some one wonderful campaigns including Coming of Age: 12 Reasons to Change the World and For the Love of Yorkshire.


Michelle Scally Clarke Performance


And finally, we were treated to a performance of poet Michelle Scally Clarke who ended with a poem inspired by our discussions and activities form the day.


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