What can cultural organisations and practitioners do that will make a difference?
In Climate Museum UK, we were one of the first organisations to sign up to Culture Declares Emergency, and I’ve been involved since the start in crafting its resources and messages. As part of this work I’ve developed a framework called Culture Takes Action. This is like a menu for a broad and balanced action plan for declaring organisations, and it’s also a collecting project for our museum. If the whole international declaring community pools their stories and data, we can produce a dashboard of change. Declaring emergency doesn’t have to mean making a statement then going quiet and still. If declarers take action consistently, and share it, we will be able to see culture being relevant in a time of critical change, stirring others to action and making the impossible possible.
You can download a detailed toolkit for this framework here, with materials to use in meetings and workshops.
A big first step for any Cultural organisation or practitioner is to recognise that the Earth crisis will severely affect them, their infrastructure and future income, and the wellbeing of their audiences and communities. Then, they have to recognise the agency that Culture offers to avoid harm and help those who are most affected — both human and more-than-human. This is what’s involved in declaring a climate and ecological emergency.
There is no hierarchy for these eight areas of action. The best action plans will be multi-solving, tackling more than one area. For example, decarbonising and decolonising can go hand in hand. If decarbonising operations is the only path, this may feel inadequate to communities historically affected by exploitation or inequality. If you seek to decolonise without decarbonising, you may be missing opportunities to support these communities as they’re affected into the future.
I would love to hear from you. Are there some areas that you think are particularly effective? What are you trying? Please use #CultureTakesAction to share your stories of action. Also, if you tag us on social media with @ClimateMuseumUK we’ll be able to share your stories and collect them in our digital museum.
I’m also able to deliver a training session for you using this framework, and helping you develop an environmental policy and action plan.