Today, 23rd January, Arts Council England and Julie’s Bicycle announced the second cohort for their Accelerator Programme, a strand of work launched in 2018 to ‘foster enterprise, innovation, future thinking and creative perspectives on climate and the environment. The Accelerator Programme provides the space, resources, time and expertise to support organisations in developing innovative approaches to their environmental practice. The insights and learning from the programme will be circulated with the wider cultural sector.’

We at And Other Stories are delighted that, in a joint bid with Newcastle’s arts organisation D6 Culture and their Gateshead neighbours BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, we have been accepted as one of the cohort. We three organisations have formed a Northern-based group to explore the environmental sustainability challenges within mobility, travel and transnational connectivity that artists, exhibitions and audiences are faced with. Julie’s Bicycle’s Accelerator programme does not bring grant money with it. We are all investing our (scarce) time and money because we believe that arts organisations have a long way to go if deep carbon emissions cuts are going to become a reality quickly in our sector. And we want to engage our artists and authors on this topic, where they can help change conversations and expectations.

In our collaboration we are thinking about the need to lower carbon footprints and how to not lose international exchange. We’re thinking about:

  • The expectations of the professionals we work with
  • Challenging the ‘default’ around mobility by flight
  • Time and money available, and how to make sure no-fly options are attractive

We all face different scales of this environmental sustainability challenge but have formed a consortium based upon our shared concerns.

We are interested in exploring/ testing the following:

  • The role of the digital, especially a) to cut the carbon footprint and b) to make artists’ work, talks and performances widely accessible (including outside major urban centres)
  • Slow travel / slow movement (as a philosophical consideration, and a way of thinking about the positives of not flying)
  • Equitable exchange (global north and global south – urban/rural) – what are the opportunities for those at the edges?

We want to discuss more in our teams, with each other, and consult the artists, authors, audiences, communities we work with to widen the discussion, share knowledge and learn with meaning.

We are forming part of the second of two cohorts – made up of ten projects each – to receive expert mentoring from Julie’s Bicycle as well as other industry leaders and a residential training programme adapted from Julie’s Bicycle’s Creative Climate Leadership course.

The other nine organisations and consortia in the second Accelerator cohort are:

  • FanSHEN, Abandon Normal Devices and Art Catalyst have joined together to explore the environmental impacts, and highlight the ecological pros and cons, of digital arts.
  • Brunel’s SS Great Britain will be carrying out an optimisation exercise on their dry dock to reduce their carbon footprint by improving the energy efficiency of climate control across the whole site.
  • Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance will be collaborating on a hospital-based project supporting innovative practice in acute care – addressing stakeholders’ travel footprints and supporting the spread and development of new economic models.
  • The Courtyard Trust and Watts Gallery: Artists’ Village have formed a new collaboration which will consider more environmentally sustainable travel schemes for rural arts organisations for both staff and audience members.
  • Horniman Museum and Gardens will explore environmental visitor engagement and communications within the cultural sector, around the topics of climate change, biodiversity, pollution and migration.
  • Knowle West Media Centre will aim to bring environmental issues to the forefront of their community, through using the local ‘make do and mend’ culture, reigniting an existing passion for locally available resources and skills to benefit the community.
  • LADA and Gasworks have joined together to address the challenges of Climate Justice within the context of both organisations’ creative fields, and the large networks of organisations that they host both nationally and internationally.
  • The Barbican, Artillery and London Borough of Waltham Forest have created a consortium organisation named ‘Local Futures’, which will address the impact of festivals on the environment – including travel impacts, and the relationship between rural and increasingly popular city-based events.
  • Norfolk & Norwich Festival will be redesigning how the power and infrastructure of the festival is delivered and resourced.

To learn more about the second cohort of the Programme the webpage is here:

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