Arts and Environment Network

Since 2007, CCANW had been involved in the development of the Arts and Environment Network (AEN) and the making of an annual award, under the auspices of the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM).

CIWEM, now based in its new building in Saffron Hill, London, represented and supported a community of thousands of members and organisations in over 89 countries who were dedicated to improving water and environmental management for the benefit of the public. It also supported local branches, specialist groups and thematic networks.

Each successive President choose a theme for their year in office and in 2007 David Rooke chose arts and the environment, prompted by a meeting he had had with Michaela Crimmin, then Director of the RSA Arts and Ecology Centre.

In April 2007 CIWEM began to develop an arts and environment programme, with several inaugural initiatives and the involvement of interested people which included Dave Pritchard, David Haley and Clive Adams. The CIWEM conference in October included sessions on arts and the environment with speakers that included David Haley and Clive Adams.

After the conference, it was decided to set up the Arts and Environment Network, and CIWEM invited Dave Pritchard, Vanessa Bone, Michaela Crimmin, Daro Montag, David Haley and Mark Fletcher to become members of the committee that would steer it (along with Nick Reeves, Emily Doyle, and later Erika Yarrow, all from CIWEM). The first meeting was held in January 2008 and meetings thereafter were fairly frequent, with various other people coming on board. Dave Pritchard was appointed Vice-Chair in April.

CCANW became more involved in December 2008 when Clive made a guest presentation, and joined the AEN committee the following year. Following the tragic death of Vanessa Bone, Dave Pritchard became Chair of AEN, with David Haley becoming Vice-Chair.

AEN has been notable for providing a platform for dialogue between a variety of leading arts organisations and environmental organisations at national level, and promoting arts and environment linkages in other fora. It has engaged the CIWEM membership through the Institution’s national conferences and local branch events.

Clive attended the May 2009 meeting and participated as a member thereafter, and in that same month it was decided to launch an award. Nick Reeves (CIWEM’s Executive Director) and Dave Pritchard developed a proposal for an award which was discussed by the AEN meeting in July. At that stage it was referred to simply as the Arts & the Environment Award, though there was a strapline Art, Water, Environment – AWEinspiring for AEN in general. That duly became incorporated into the award, which was initially launched as the AWEinspiring Award.

Acknowledging the role of CCANW in creating the award, it was first referred to as the CIWEM/CCANW AWEinspiring Award but in 2009, because of possible governance issues, it was referred to thereafter formally as being awarded by ‘CIWEM in association with CCANW’. When it was launched, the award was referred to as ‘dedicated to the memory of Vanessa Bone’ but when Nick died in July 2013, it was agreed to name the award after him.

The annual award celebrated an artwork, project or field of activity by an artist (or group) that has contributed innovatively to CIWEM’s vision of ‘putting creativity at the heart of environmental policy and action’. It recognised excellence in work by arts practitioners, or environmentalists engaging with arts practices, whether well-established or newly emerging, in the UK or elsewhere in the world. The focus was on rewarding identified work, not simply a person.

Nominations were invited by an open call, and shortlisting and the final selection undertaken by a panel of judges. Each year’s winner was announced in press publicity and invited to the awards ceremony at CIWEM’s annual dinner. Details of all winners are presented in a featured section of the CIWEM website.

The first award was made in 2010 to Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison. Subsequent awards were made to Cape Farewell (2011), Richard Long (2012), Platform (2013), Vincent Walsh (2014), The Ashden Directory of Environment and Performance (2015), ecoartscotland and The Land Art Generator Initiative (2016), GroundWork Gallery (2017), Common Ground (2018) and Waterweek (2019). Special commendations were also given to a number of other nominees. With CCANW’s dissolution in 2020, it was no longer associated with the award, and no awards were made 2020-22 by CIWEM because of the Covid pandemic.

In September 2009, ARUP, in collaboration with AEN and CCANW organised a two day workshop at Haldon and in Exeter exploring alternative, interdisciplinary approaches to water and environmental infra-structure projects.

Article on workshop in CIWEM magazine

In November 2010, Sam Bower, Director of the online greenmuseum.org based in the US, made a presentation to AEN members at CIWEM’s offices and the development of a new world-wide Arts and Ecology Alliance was discussed as a collaboration between AEN and greenmuseum.org.

In 2012 the AEN and its associates declared their diverse interests, beliefs and intentions in the production of . Taking its inspiration from historic manifestos of political and artistic intent, the WE ASSERT! A Manifesto is collection of texts and images presented the intensely personal, the deeply philosophical, and the clearly articulated ideas, frustration, anger, love, pain and hope for our futures.

In July 2018 the AEN convened a meeting held at CIWEM to instigate a national discussion on the evolving frontiers of arts-led responses to the ecological issues of our time. You can read notes of the meeting here.

In November 2018, Clive wrote on behalf of the AEN to Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair, Arts Council England to raise the importance of support for artists to engage with issues of climate change and wider environmental threats. You can read the letter Inspiring Arts for Earth’s Sake, together with Sir Nicholas’ response in The Environment magazine February 2019.

Correspondence between Clive and Nicholas Serota

The AEN made some efforts to collate resource materials on the CIWEM website, including case examples and experiences of using the arts to address environmental issues in the UK and overseas. This did not develop very fully, and much more is available now via other organisations that have grown in this field. CIWEM’s magazine The Environment has also featured articles on arts initiatives, written by AEN members and others.

The CIWEM office was finally used by Clive in August 2019 for an important meeting of curators and artists involved in art and ecology. These included Bridget McKenzie from Flow Associates, Ariane Koek from Arts at Cern, curators Angela Kingston from London and Andrea Lerda from Turin, and Michaela Rizzo and Silvano Tessarollo from a Venetian gallery.

Dave Pritchard and Clive Adams.

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