It was with some trepidation that I made my way to VAGA Scotland’s (The Visual Arts and Galleries Association) ‘Carbon Management in the Visual Arts’ meeting the other evening. Hosted in the lofty attic space of the City Art Centre, I joined a group of representatives from Scotland’s visual arts sector to explore the issue.
Talks from a range of speakers were presented including the National Galleries Scotland about the redevelopment of the internal ‘weather’ system for the National Portrait Gallery; Nicola Henderson from Timespan about how not only their building but programming both had an environmental conscience. After these I felt much better informed about Carbon Management as an issue and just how much energy the arts can consume through its management and presentation.
After the venues had demonstrated their models of good practise Ben Twist from Creative Carbon Scotland took to the floor, presenting the room with a question ‘What is our artistic responsibility on the impact of climate change?’ His belief was that the future presented all of us with a need to make a ‘change in our way of being’, to exist more responsibly and asked ‘can the arts afford not to be part of this process of change?’
He continued, that the visual arts not only have a responsibility to be examples of good practise with agencies leading the way, but it is the job of artists to ‘imagine different futures’ and communicate messages to the wider public through the work they create. The arts, as ever, at this time should be the driving force of change, with Ben citing periods such as the Renaissance and Enlightenment.
Creative Carbon and VAGA want to join together to create work on a Carbon Disclosure project and strategy for the Visual Arts on Carbon Management and Climate Change, to present a collective and strategic voice into the future. From Craft Scotland’s point of view it was initially tricky to think about where our entry point to engaging with this process was. However, it quickly became clear there are many areas which we can investigate and contribute to on forming a strategy for best practise. The areas of production, energy usage in creating craft, transportation, export and also how our audiences travel,are all elements we can feed into the strategy.
After my initial trepidation I felt buoyed, better informed, but also keen to become part of this process to take action into exploring what our artistic responsibility to the health of our planet is.
Ben Twist has recently worked with the Edinburgh Festivals to create ‘Green’ fringe venues, you can find out more on the Edinburgh Festival’s website
VAGA The Visual Arts and Galleries Association, is a leading independent body and UK-wide professional network promoting the visual arts. VAGA Scotland, as a nationally focused network with its own agenda evolved in response to devolution in 2003.
Craft Scotland’s exhibition Conserving Ecologies: Craft and Biodiversity recently used craft to explore biodiversity issues. You can find more out about the exhibition and Biodiversity at the subsite.