Top 10 Most Pioneering Art/Sustainability Initiatives in the UK

From Yasmine Ostendorf

Back in the days when I was still working for Cape Farewell in London, the appetite for artistic engagement with climate change seemed to be everywhere, including in the big cultural venues: from Ten Billion, the shocking science-lecture-performance at the Royal Court, to programs at the Science Museum and the Tate. The prevailing attitude focused on raising awareness about global climate change, and asking questions about what was happening in our own backyards. How much insight did we have into the carbon footprint of these grand buildings? Ambitious productions, touring and attending conferences and Biennale all over the world – greening our own practice was just as (or even more) important as raising awareness about melting glaciers. And here the amazing ladies (mostly ladies) of Julie’s Bicycle jumped to help.

Since 2012, all cultural organizations that receive regular funding from Arts Council England are required to report on their environmental impact, using Julie’s Bicycle Creative IG tools – advanced carbon calculators designed specifically for the cultural sector. This has made Arts Council England the first arts funding body to recognize the environmental role that the cultural field can play. Museums, theatres, festivals, tours, galleries and productions started to reduce their carbon emissions (as well as water use and waste) as it was made fun and clear how to do so. See below a Top 10 list of my favorite art organizations talking the talk and walking the walk – with several gems from Scotland!


Now part of a family of art and ecology organizations, which includes at Dartington Hall in Devon, CCANW is an educational charity which brings together curators, artists and researchers (myself included!) to give people a deeper understanding of their responsibilities within nature. Its Soil Culture project (2013-16), organized collaboratively with Falmouth University and RANE, was comprised of a research phase, an artist residency and a touring exhibition, and aimed at deepening public understanding of the importance of soil. It became the UK’s most substantial contribution to the United Nations International Year of Soils.


Read the whole Top 10 article…