2019-22

Our Living Soil

Clive led on a new CCANW programme to link the World Congress of Soil Science (WCSS) with COP26. The dissolution of CCANW and the effect of Covid led to several failed grant applications. Following an operation, Clive stepped back from the project but, with changes to the plan, the project took place and was documented in his personal newsletters.

Image: Katie Revell (left) with her Propagate group and the ‘Keepers of the Soil’ cape at WCSS, Glasgow. Photo Miranda Macdonald.

Although many of the aims of Soil Culture (2014-16) had eventually been achieved, CCANW considered that the World Congress of Soil Science (WCSS) in Glasgow in 2022 would provide an opportunity for the arts to deliver a greater impact if the programme could be better funded. Also, there would be an opportunity to link COP26 in Glasgow in 2021 with WCSS.

A first meeting was convened by BSSS in Glasgow in May 2019 at which representatives from several Scottish arts organisations were present, visits were made to the Scottish Event Campus, where COP26 and WCSS would be held, and meetings held at the Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow and Creative Scotland.

The artist Elizabeth Ogilvie became an important guide to Scottish artists and potential partners and Clive returned for further meetings in June and November when they worked together with BSSS on drafting an application from CCANW to Creative Scotland for the funding of a research and development phase Sowing the Seeds of what was called Our Living Soil. The application was submitted in November 2019 and was for a grant of £13,946 with BSSS providing £2,000 in match funding within a total budget of £33,226 including in-kind support. Unfortunately, the application did not succeed.

In December 2019 CCANW made a submission to the Climate Action Fund (an initiative of the National Lottery Community Fund) to support a programme Our Living Soil and Beyond linking COP26 with WCSS which would engage the widest possible public, especially the young and less engaged communities, with the importance of soil in reducing climate change. The submission did not succeed.

As a decision had been made to dissolve CCANW at the end of March 2020, Clive led this next phase in a voluntary personal capacity. The second application to Creative Scotland that followed in June 2020 therefore came from Our Living Soil as an Unincorporated Association and was for the delivery phase, Reaping the Harvest. This application was for £14,940 with BSSS contributing £2,000 within a total budget of £28,860 including in-kind support, and with the Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow contributing the cost of a major exhibition co-curated with Alexandra Toland. This application also failed, as did applications to several Scottish trusts. A contributing factor to the failure of this and other applications was that funders began to focus their grants on supporting artists and organisations affected by the impact of Covid.

During this period a  website for Our Living Soil was created and newsletters issued in September and December 2020 with voluntary help from Ursula Billington who had been working for the Sustainable Soils Alliance in Bristol.

Although Clive’s expenses had been paid by BSSS, the pressure of devising the programme and leading on grant applications at a time when he was suffering pain after a back operation, meant that he had to take a step back from his involvement in Our Living Soil in March 2021. He had, however, suggested an approach to the Heritage Lottery Fund and this resulted in a successful application for a grant of £37,512 being made by Propagate (a Scottish partner organisation), supported by BSSS. BSSS took over the website and began to issue new newsletters from July 2021.

In early 2021 WCSS, in partnership with the BSSS, seed funded Jude Allen’s Soil Voices and Isla Robertson’s Soil Stories with £3,255 and £3,200 respectively to support their projects that would form part of Our Living Soil. In conjunction with funding from the International Union of Soil Sciences Stimulus Fund ($2,500 USD) this allowed for Jude to record interviews and upload to her purpose-created platform in an oral history project, and for Isla to record trailers for her audio production Digging Deeper.

In March 2022, Clive’s health had improved and he regularly featured news on the project in his personal newsletters. The failure of so many funding applications inevitably meant that significant economies to the budget had to be made by BSSS and plans for the original programme changed. His personal newsletters in July and September 2022 announced and reported on arts activities that took place before and during the Congress, both in Glasgow and abroad.

Our Living Soil: September 2022 newsletter

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