A Season for Change

A creative season celebrating the environment and inspiring action on climate change.

Sunrise over the Earth

What is it?

From 1st June to 1st December 2018 the UK’s creative community will host a season of work and activities celebrating the environment and inspiring action on climate change. The Season for Change will coincide with the COP24 global climate talks.

The Season for Change will celebrate the widest range of creative responses to climate change and the environment across arts, design, broadcast, film, fashion, music and in museums, galleries, theatres, venues, cinemas, festivals, parks, and on the streets.

You can: 

  • Programme special events, commission a piece, organise debates, curate an exhibition, provide space for spontaneous performances, host open calls, or put climate change and the environment centre stage in whatever creative way imaginable;
  • Turn your organisation or practice inside out and tell audiences about what you’re doing to work more sustainably behind the scenes. 

The important thing is that you speak out. All together the season will champion change, showcase sustainable practice, and inspire action.

Who can take part?

Everyone is welcome - individuals as well as organisations, large and small-scale, local and national, commercial to community.

Tell us if you are interested in joining via our two simple forms:

This one is for organisations and individuals

This one is for artist submissions to our commissioning project - more details below.

Imogen Heap Earth Day Live Broadcast, 2012, Courtesy of the Artist / Fruit Pie Music

What do we want to achieve?

The Season for Change originated during an industry discussion about the arts and climate change. When the question arose ‘What if the UK cultural and creative sector were to come together in a collective moment focusing on climate, raising profile and awareness to such an extent that it could not be ignored?’ countless organisations in the room said they wanted to join in, and the idea took on its own momentum.

We want to:

  • Put the issue of climate change higher up both personal and political agendas and rethink our relationship to the environment.
  • Celebrate the vibrant green movement already taking place across the arts and creative industries, and inspire others to join.
  • Make positive change feel achievable for all.
  • Inspire creativity and unleash new design and thinking to construct a low-carbon world.
  • Raise our voices to policymakers to show them that they have the support to make ambitious political decisions for a sustainable future.
  • Create spaces for people to intellectually and emotionally engage themselves with climate change and what it means to build a sustainable, equitable future.  

In addition to all the events across the county in 2018 we are hoping to commission an inspiring national project which will happen on a single day in autumn 2018. We are looking for a creative, playful idea that will stimulate conversations about our environment. The idea when carried out in a single location is likely to be something simple which engages diverse groups of people and captures the attention of local media. But when the idea is carried out across the country, in multiple locations, on the same day, it will also capture national media attention and demonstrate a united response to the most urgent issue of our time. We have a network of interested organisations who could deliver this - but in order to activate this enthusiastic network we need a cracking idea.

So this is a callout for an idea. It is important to note that we do not have resources at this stage. Instead we will submit an application to Arts Council England with the lead artist / creator in order to realise the project. If you think this approach could work for you, then please submit your idea to us by the end of the day on Monday 14th August by filling out this short form, we’re just looking for 150 words. We will then contact the people with the best ideas for a phone or Skype chat and seek to partner up with one person to seek funding in partnership.

Emily Barclay and Sam Troughton in La Musica; Young Vic, 'Classics for a New Climate'

Next Steps

Borne out the WN? Network meetings, a steering group currently comprising Artsadmin, Julie’s Bicycle and Battersea Arts Centre is talking with organisations all over the UK who want to take part. The conversation to date has been about creating regional networks by identifying a champion in each region, with organisations supporting each other to be part of a national season. The overall structure will be light-touch, with organisations and individuals encouraged to take their own lead.

Early champions are committing to the project representing a range of art forms, geographic spread and organisation size to ensure diversity and inclusivity including: Curzon Cinema Group, Manchester International Festival, Lyric Theatre Hammersmith, Free Word, National Theatre Wales, Pilot Theatre, and more. 

Join In

Take part between 1st June to 1st December 2018.

1. Tell us if you are interested in joining via our simple online form (click here).

2. If you are an artist with a cracking idea for our nation wide commission, tell us more about it here.

HOLOSCENES, Lars Jan / Early Morning Opera, Toronto Nuit Blanche 2014, Photo © Jackman Chiu

Why does it matter?

Powered by human activity, climate change is wreaking havoc on average global temperatures, weather patterns, ocean levels, land and water ecosystems, disrupting natural equilibriums that have sustained life for over 800,000 years with potentially disastrous consequences on communities, habitats, and biodiversity across the globe. We need to rapidly control greenhouse gas emissions, rethink our land and water use, and completely reshape the way we use and employ resources and technologies.

The creative community has a vital role to play in meeting global sustainability challenges. Climate change is not just a problem of science or technology: many (although by no means all) of the solutions we need are well known and understood. But action to date has not been commensurate with our knowledge. That makes climate change, at its core, a cultural challenge. And at the heart of culture sit the arts and creativity: the stories we tell, how we tell them, and elusive matters of the heart – how we feel about things – but also how we design, craft, and build the world around us, demonstrating positive solutions and stimulating imagination. 

ATM painting a Curlew at Human Nature's Endangered13, 2016 © Ian Cox / Human Nature

Be Inspired!

Artists and creative organisations have been integrating environmental sustainability into their thinking at all levels. The creative movement exploring the way we produce, make, and present art, how we run our spaces and events, and crafting new approaches to climate change and ecology, is growing exponentially.

The following stories only inadequately capture the richness of activity, but illuminate the breadth of a growing movement across the creative community: practical, didactic, aesthetic, campaigning and lobbying, etc. It’s included here to trigger inspiration, ideas, and possible partnerships.

Scientific Context

There is now overwhelming scientific consensus that human activity is driving the increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, causing irreversible climate change. This is having devastating consequences not just on mean average temperatures but on weather patterns, ocean levels, land and water ecosystems, disrupting natural equilibriums that have sustained life for over 800,000 years with potentially disastrous consequences.

2015 was the hottest year on record and 2016 is on track to break that record. Climate change is pushing weather patterns to their extremes, for example contributing to record-setting heat waves in India, Pakistan, and Australia; severe droughts in California, Puerto Rico, and Syria; record flooding and rainfall in the US southern plains, India, and the UK all in the past few years.

Climate models (which are proving extremely accurate) predict that average surface temperatures could rise between 2°C and 6°C by the end of the 21st century. If we are going to keep global warming below the internationally agreed threshold of 2°C, we will need to reach zero emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases by the end of this century. [1]  Related to this, but not driven exclusively by climate change, we are also witnessing a dramatic drop in biodiversity, with plant and animal species going extinct at an accelerating rate, and about 10% of the world’s remaining wilderness lost to agriculture, logging, and mining in the past two decades.[2]

There is a diminishing period of time in which to adapt to climate change and other ecological crises and to scale an infrastructure based on:

-        renewable/regenerative capabilities

-        good stewardship of resources that minimises/eliminates toxicity and waste repairs damage already caused, recognising that conservation is critical to the life support provided by ecosystems, largely unrecognised in economic valuations.

[1] Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report – Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to Assessment Report 5, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change / IPCC, 2014. http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/syr/

[2] Paradise Lost: study documents big decline in Earth’s wilderness, Reuters, 2016. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-environment-wilderness-idUSKCN11E2J2

The International Political Response

At the end of 2015 the most critical climate talks for over two decades took place in Paris.

COP21 brought together 196 countries and successfully negotiated an unprecedented universal agreement on climate, pledging to maintain warming below 2°C degrees (aiming for 1.5°C).

COP21 was successful to a large extent as a result of civic groups – such as the faith, business, and the international creative communities – coming together and pressuring for meaningful change, demonstrating to politicians that there was will for action. But this is where the hard work begins.

“I thank all those artists, from the late, great David Bowie, Yoko Ono, Bjork and Coldplay to author Margaret Atwood, designer Vivienne Westwood, and actors Colin Firth and Stephen Fry, for getting behind the Paris climate summit. I also look forward to their support, commitment and action towards realizing the aims and ambitions forged in the French capital in December including through taking measures to manage down the carbon footprint of these highly influential creative industries”

– Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)  

Countries must now individually join the agreement and become parties to it. The Paris Agreement will come into force only after at least 55 countries accounting for an estimated 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions have ratified the agreement and submitted their Nationally Determined Contributions (plans for how much each country is going to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions).

As of September 2016, China and America have already ratified. In total, 27 countries accounting for roughly 39% of global emissions have ratified, while another 32 countries have indicated they plan to ratify before the end of 2016. [1] At this rate the Paris Agreement could be in the process of coming into force by COP22 in Marrakech in November 2016.

The next rounds of global political climate negotiations will be about how the Paris Agreement is going to work in practice, and how emissions reductions commitments will be measured and assessed.

The focus in 2018 will be comparing the emissions reductions promised in the Nationally Determined Contributions and how much of a shortfall in global commitments there is to keep us on track for less than 2°C of warming (the collective impact of published national plans is not sufficient to achieve this and estimates suggest current outcomes closer to 3.7°C).

The key thing we can therefore ask for from policymakers is for national governments to increase their national ambitions so that they add up to the level of action / emissions reduction required to stay within 2°C (preferably 1.5°C) of warming.

2015 also launched the new 2015 Sustainable Development goals, which succeed the Millennium Development Goals. The COP21 climate negotiations are intimately linked to their success: a strong climate deal will help to meet international development aims. Climate change disproportionately affects the most disadvantaged in developed and developing countries, exacerbating existing problems and threatening to undo decades of development in areas such as food security. Eliminating poverty, improving health, and building security are all outcomes linked to tackling climate change.

[1] Climate Analytics Paris Agreement Ratification Tracker http://climateanalytics.org/hot-topics/ratification-tracker.html

Sustaining Creativity