The Arts Council of Ireland and Julie’s Bicycle EU share the outcomes of the consultation undertaken to inform the Council’s new Climate Action Policy.
The Arts Council of Ireland has been working in partnership with Julie’s Bicycle EU (JB EU) since April 2022 to understand what it can do to support the arts community’s response to the climate and nature crisis and get to grips with climate action itself, informing development of the Council’s Climate Action and Environmental Policy and Implementation Plan. A key focus of the work by the JB EU team has been a six-month consultation process, including interviews, a survey and a roundtable, engaging about 400 people in total.
The consultation has shown a clear desire from the arts community to step up its response to the climate and nature crisis and a strong mandate to The Arts Council to support the arts community’s response, in both greening arts place, production and practice and engaging with people and communities to inform, inspire and mobilise change.
Highlights from the consultation findings:
- The arts are already responding to the climate and nature crisis, in particular through creative work, public engagement and programming initiatives where there has been more funding. Climate and social justice and inclusivity have been common threads of existing initiatives.
- Action is much less developed on a practical and operational level, but it is a priority. 63% of survey respondents identified climate and environmental action as a priority and a further 26% identified it as an emerging priority.
- There has been limited sector support. 79% of respondents say they have not had any support around climate and environmental action. This lack of support has given rise to a range of sector-led support measures, a case of the arts community doing it for itself.
- A lack of capacity, support, funding and capital investment are the key barriers to action, especially to greening arts place, production and practice. This is particularly true at a time when the arts are dealing with so many other challenges and competing priorities.
- Despite the challenges, the arts community believes that climate and environmental action offers opportunities for the arts and that the arts offers unique opportunities for a green, just and inclusive transition.
The findings have enabled The Arts Council to draw a number of conclusions which are informing development of its new policy, notably the importance of:
- Working to ensure support for creative, programming and public engagement initiatives go hand-in-hand with support for greening arts venues, festivals, production and practice;
- Developing Arts Council funding as both a driver and an enabler of action;
- Working in dialogue and partnership with the arts on how best to support change;
- Working with local authorities and other funding bodies to unlock investment opportunities;
- Climate and environmental action which is centred in justice, fairness and inclusivity, and;
- Leading by example through its corporate actions.
Deirdre Behan, Strategic Development Director, Arts Council of Ireland, said:
“It is clear the climate and nature crisis is an issue of major concern to the arts community in Ireland and it has been inspiring to see how the arts community is already taking action, despite the lack of policy frameworks and limited support. What we need now is purposeful action at a national policy level to support and reinforce what is happening at a grass roots level. There is much we can do as the national funding body and development agency for the arts to not only support sector action but also to unlock what the arts can bring to a green, just and inclusive transition.”
Native Events’ Founder and Julie’s Bicycle EU Director, Megan Best said:
“This consultation process is a great example of coordinated, sector wide action as facilitated by An Chomhairle Ealaíon. This is exactly the kind of action we need to create collective energy to tackle the compounding climate and ecological emergency we face. The arts community has an inherent ability to bring connection, creativity and different voices to the discourse and we have been inspired by the journey we have travelled with the Arts Council team over the past year. We see this as a true opportunity to facilitate a nationwide creative conversation and paradigm shift – moving from an individual to a wider approach that will capture the hearts, eyes and minds of the Irish people.”
The full Climate Action Policy Consultation Summary can be viewed here in English and an Irish translation is available here. The detailed results of Climate Action Survey are available here and Climate Action Roundtable Visual Minutes here.
The Arts Council’s Climate Action and Environmental Policy and Implementation Plan is due to be launched early in 2023.
The JB EU team supporting the Arts Council brings brings a wealth of experience from home and abroad – from the experience of Julie’s Bicycle with international cultural policy-making and as partner for Arts Council England’s environmental programme, to the pioneering work of Native Events and the Green Arts Initiative in Ireland to bring sustainable practices to Irish events and green Irish arts venues.