Creative Climate Leadership Launches at IETM Valencia

Today, 4th November 2016, the Creative Climate Leadership (CCL) programme was launched at a reception hosted by IETM at their autumn plenary meeting in Valencia, Spain, at the Las Naves courtyard, a collaborative working space and creative hub in the centre of the city.

Joined by Nan van Houte, Secretary General of IETM, and over 150 attendees, Alison Tickell, CEO of CCL lead partners Julie’s Bicycle, gave a rousing speech on the urgency and importance for the creative community to speak up and act on climate change. Alison outlined the cultural dimensions of climate change and the specific role of culture in shifting society towards more sustainable values. This was followed by conversations with creatives from across Europe: Finland, Amsterdam, Germany, France, Ireland, Spain, Slovenia and Italy, all sharing examples of their work to enshrine environmental principles in cultural spaces, programming and artwork.

Julie’s Bicycle were also invited to hold a working session on art and ecology during the main plenary event, giving an overview of the scale of the climate challenge and sharing examples of artists and creative organisations responding in different ways, including presentations from Judith Knight, Co-director of UK-based organisation Artsadmin, and Monica Cofiño, an artist from La Xata La Rifa festival. Participants were asked to reflect on their challenges and inspiration for making their work more environmentally sustainable. The discussion outlined some common themes, many of which will be addressed through the Creative Climate Leadership programme:

Decision-making: Some people found it difficult to identify what the best decisions and actions were. We discussed the wide range of resources available, and techniques to enable understanding and planning that are specific and relevant to cultural work. Workshop attendees largely said their philosophical commitment to sustainability was high, but action was low – reflective of a wider trend in society, and not limited to the creative community. This need for action was sometimes limited by solutions that were perceived to be cost-prohibitive, prompting reflection on how to identify meaningful actions that are feasible within one’s influence and control.

Need for education: Many directly asked for support for education and learning, and the possibility of new collaborations.

Sustainable travel: Participants raised the challenge of accessing opportunities while reducing unsustainable travel.

Audiences: Reflecting on the process of creating artwork on environmental themes, participants articulated the need to think ahead about where audiences go emotionally when confronted with difficult issues, and how artists can facilitate this through how the work is presented. One participant identified the artist’s role as servicing ‘the collective subconscious of grief’. Supporting this emotional transition was felt to be an important role for culture in the face of existential challenges like climate change.

We left IETM with a general feeling of possibility. Many members shared exciting and inspiring examples of changes they are already making to live their values, and make their creative work more environmentally sustainable. One participant shared their ‘nihilistic optimism’ that environmental principles will become normalised in culture. We share this optimism, however challenging, and look forward to developing these conversations and connecting with many more people through the CCL programme moving forward.

Get involved by applying for a CCL training course and sharing your stories and experiences of environmental change using #ccleaders and #COPtimism.