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Julie’s Bicycle publishes report on cultural response to climate crisis ahead of COP26

The report, Culture: The Missing Link to Climate Action is the culmination of research to determine how national entities responsible for cultural advancement, internationally, have responded to the climate crisis.

Julie’s Bicycle – a not-for-profit encouraging arts and cultural organisations to take action on the climate and ecological crisis – received funding and support from the British Council as part of The Climate Connection programme, in anticipation of the United Nations COP26 climate summit, which gets underway in Glasgow on Sunday.

The report combines results from:

  • 5 sector roundtables in Indonesia, Turkey, Nigeria, Columbia and Italy
  • data analysing publicly available national arts policies of 25 ODA countries
  • a survey with responses from 31 national culture ministries, arts councils and public arts development agencies

This research builds on a similar study in 2015 by Julie’s Bicycle and the International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies conducted prior to the Paris COP21.

14 years mobilising the arts

“In the 14 years since it was founded to mobilise the arts to operate sustainably and protect the environment, Julie’s Bicycle has accumulated extensive evidence of artists and organisations dedicated to climate action,” says Julie’s Bicycle CEO Alison Tickell in the report’s summary.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating and we are all coming to terms with its impacts. But now we know that in emergencies we can mobilise rapidly. This is an emergency. We hope this research will focus the priorities of culture ministers across the world. It is particularly important for the ministers gathered for the COP26 climate summit, very few of whom will be culture ministers. Recognising the power of culture is long overdue.”

Need for statutory mandate

The results of the report showed that most respondents said that arts councils, cultural ministries, or public arts development agencies do not currently feel they have a statutory mandate to address climate or environmental issues in public cultural policy or strategy.

“About half volunteered that lack of legal mandate was a key barrier to linking cultural policy with climate or environmental issues. Simultaneously artists, activists and organisations are already embedding the environment within creative practice, highlighting issues of justice and equity, and asking to contribute to policy development.”

COP26 panel discussion

Julie’ s Bicycle will be among a number of cultural organisations taking part in discussions at COP26 at the Glasgow Science Centre next week exploring the vital role that arts and culture plays in climate transformation.

A panel discussion, Culture: The Missing Link, taking its name from the report, will take place on 5 November and be hosted by Tickell,

The panel will be composed of artists and environmental experts and will discuss creative and cultural responses to the climate crisis, focusing on ‘art’s unique capacity to raise awareness and create action on issues from ecocide to clean energy’.

Alongside the debate, screenings of short films will showcase artists and activists from around the world. And we will also hear about how Season for Change, a cultural programme inspiring urgent climate action, has engaged hundreds of organisations and communities across the UK. This event is delivered in partnership with the British Council and Arts Council England.

Interested in how museums can respond to the climate crisis? Join us for the Green Museums Summit in March 2022.

About the author – Adrian Murphy

Adrian is the Editor of MuseumNext and has 20 years’ experience as a journalist, half of which has been writing for the cultural sector.

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