A word cloud with all the words people associate with the challenges of working in the performing arts

Across the UK and Ireland, concerns on how to integrate climate adaptation and sustainability in arts practices are mounting. Across the islands, there is a recognised need for greater engagement, collaboration and discussion on how policy and practice can address these important issues. There is also growing awareness of the shared and distinct challenges this poses for a shared islands (North, South and East, West) approach. 

Cross-border (North, South) and cross-channel (East, West) cooperation within the broad performing arts sector has shown attention to this issue through a range of shared discussions and initiatives. Previous work done in this area has also identified policy and resourcing issues (Green Arts Initiative, Arts Council Ireland’s work with Julie’s Bicycle, APAC) and action on greening venues and arts centres in Ireland. In Northern Ireland, this work is ongoing. 

British Council Ireland, in partnership with University College Dublin (UCD) and Queens University Belfast (QUB) hosted this Culture Connects conversation with policymakers, practitioners and producers in the performing arts, drawn from across the UK and Ireland, in order to connect cultural professionals on this issue and provide a space for a frank discussion on concerns, hopes and actions in this space. This report captures the high-level discussion from this session and at the end of the report there are a series of links to further resources.

Further Information

The event was co-organised by Dr Kerry McCall Magan, Director, British Council Ireland, Dr Annette Clancy, Programme Director, MA in Cultural Policy and Arts Management, School of Art History and Cultural Policy at University College Dublin, and Dr Ali FitzGibbon, Senior Lecturer, Creative and Cultural Industries Management, School of Arts, English and Languages Queen’s University Belfast.

It was part of a series of conversations organised by British Council Ireland connecting UK and Ireland on subjects of shared concern. Please contact Kerry in British Council Ireland for further information: Kerry.McCallMagan@britishcouncil.org

You can download the report here or via the link at the bottom of the page.

An image of a room set up in a round table style with documents and water bottles on the tables

Further British Council Research

In December 2023 British Council released two reports relating to the  arts, cultural heritage and climate change at COP28 in UAE.

The British Council Strategic Literature Review: Climate Change Impacts on Cultural Heritage: By Triple Line

This major new report holds a number of firsts for the sector. It is the first ever to explore both intangible and tangible cultural heritage linked to climate change, it covers an unparalleled range and breath of research, and it includes hazard diagrams and trends analysis which will help to support our heritage and climate work going forward.

The intention is to provide information on the current state of knowledge on the climate change and cultural heritage nexus, and more specifically on trends in academic research (peer reviewed publications) and the main concerns and practical responses at the international donor and institutional levels (grey literature publications and reports). 

Climate change impacts on cultural heritage are considered at international, regional, national, and local levels by means of a comprehensive systematic review of the international literature, evidence, research, and, when practicable, policies.  This review and its accompanying graphics will be a tool to assist the British Council, The Cultural Protection Fund (CPF) and our wider Cultural Heritage work to optimise positive impacts and/or minimise potential negative impacts of their cultural heritage conservation and safeguarding activities and support beneficiaries through advanced information and improved methodologies.

The full report and key trends are online here.

Mapping trends and best practice in climate action and sustainability in the arts: By Professor Dilys Williams, Dr Mila Burcikova and Niamh Tuft - University of the Arts, London

"We need a reversal of the normal question. Rather than asking 'What is the arts doing to respond to climate emergency?', ask instead 'What does climate emergency do to art or to cultural production?'' — Discovery session participant

The British Council has commissioned this scoping research to shape and inform its longer-term Culture Responds to Global Challenges programme responding to climate action and sustainability in the arts. In addition, it supports the British Council’s active role as a knowledgeable contributor creating opportunities for international cultural relations around the climate crisis, one of the most urgent issues we face globally.

This report, developed by researchers at the University of the Arts London (UAL), seeks to map out what’s happening in this space across the British arts and cultural sectors. Thematically structured, it includes suggestions of best practice and links to practical resources for cultural organisations and activists across the world.

A key resource for us at the British Council as we consolidate and expand our arts and climate portfolio, we also hope the report will be more widely useful in igniting conversations, questioning paradigms, and pointing to new ways of working.

The full report and summary are online here.