Greening cultural policy

May 19, 2017

Do we need to refocus our understanding of 'sustainability'? Has our understanding of it become 'muddled by political and economic ideologies of growth'? Is digitisation hampering green thinking? How can museums exhibit displays around environmental causes and yet accept sponsorship from fossil fuel corporations?


Richard Maxwell and Toby Miller explore the shortcomings of major public-policy responses to the ecological crisis in their article 'Greening cultural policy'.


Some (often controversial!) key points include:


'sustainability is still commonly deployed to signify an uneasy and frankly irresponsible balance between socioeconomic development and environmental protection'


'Economic self-interest pushes eco-ethical self-interest into a little corner of sustainability. Herein lies a key vulnerability of anthropocentric eco-ethics'


'UNESCO promotes culture as a fourth pillar of sustainable development, an idea that elevates creative industries to equal partnership with stakeholders working to balance economic growth, social inclusion, and environmental health. Importantly, this has little to do with seeking environmental sustainability within the cultural sector'


'Digital technology is not a neutral set of tools that benignly build up arts and culture. It comes loaded with ideological baggage and a dismal record of toxic harm to the environment and workers'


'cultural policy could become more alert to real environmental harms caused by embedded cultural practices of fossil fuel corporations involved in arts and cultural sponsorship. [...] It is about large institutions and their place within international and national power elites, drawing on minimal, cheap sponsorship to gloss their image and win goodwill from the public while maintaining oligarchical ties'


'It’s time that cultural policy become an environmental policy and not just a side-lined player in the global movement for sustainable development'


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