Wednesday, December 05, 2007

"We're all going to hell in a hand cart"

Today I attended the 'Cultural industries and Climate Change in the West Midlands' event organised by Culture WM.

The scene: 2p.m, The Electric Cinema. Nothing happening, sitting in darkened cinema, other people milling around but no obvious start. 2.30p.m People arrive, sit down at panel arrangement on the stage. So far so strange. But then it started ( I didn't ever manage to get a programme - figured printing it off would just not be right).

Firstly the guy from the Stirrer (again no program no name - I mean he said it once but I didn't hear - so apologies) who introduced the thing and set the tone with: "Not about how climate change will effect cultural sector, more how can the cultural sector effect climate change".

Next he introduced the panel (of four) who each gave a brief talk, the fourth Professor John Thorne from University of Birmingham (I'll look for the URL ) gave a presentation based on his discussion paper. This was followed by questions and some discussion and it was all done by ten to four.

So the headlines for me:

Richard Davis, Director of Marches energy agency started off by suggesting:
"We're on our way to hell in a hand cart". But considered that there were reasons to be hopeful and went on to describe various positive aspects of how companies and countries are responding to Climate change. He suggested that the cultural sector needs to help wean the public off of their addiction and national past time of consumption and shopping.

A lady from the DCMS called Patricia (again issue with programme) spoke about how their main activity now had sustainable development at its heart. She also spoke about some research they had commissioned into what existing research had been carried out. Looking at the effect of climate change on the cultural industries. She also said they'd have some practical case studies of how other cultural orgs had adapted to climate change. She also spoke about how the West Midlands were doing okay and that it was coming from grass roots rather than government.

Next a lady from the National Trust spoke of how buildings were being wrecked by flooding. She suggested that the heritage sector were 'the canaries in the coal mine' as they are having to deal with the effects of climate change everyday. She was the first to mention the idea of a 'Green audit' something it became clear that we should all do.

After a short and funny little film about climate change, Prof Thorne (from the Climate and Atmospheric Research group UOB) gave his key note.

We are in, what he described as, enhanced global warming, experiencing changes at a decadal pace (as opposed to thousands of years previously). Encouragingly countries have been pulling together in the last 12 months. Scientists are now looking to other sectors to get people to change habits. Currently we each generate 10-11 tonnes of CO2 we need to reduce this to 3 tonnes, as our climate gets hotter we'll need to use less water, ultimately we all need to change our behaviour.

Bearing in mind some stuff around Birmingham's master plans I thought this was particularly poignant:

'We need innovation, we need to use our intellect "the green revolution to start here as did the industrial revolution, we need to put the WM at the forefront of this revolution'.

He spoke about how the Cultural industries can help:

-They can help with communicating the issues (e.g. Al Gore film)
-They can pledge to make changes
-They can innovate and be enterprising
-he also spoke about cultural climatology but I didn't quite get that
- He suggested a season of events - cultural events highlighting issues of climate change
- Practical education and training
- Websites
- Price reductions on tickets to theatre, cinema etc for those who cycle, walk or use public transport
-Climate change heritage walks

Following this questions from the audience and some examples of folks building carbon neutral art galleries etc. there were also questions around who funds the innovation?

Anyway this is a very brief round up of some of the points addressed at this event - I have yet to absorb or consider what all this means. Certainly climate change is a huge anxiety, however I felt that the speakers set out some inspirational means that we might all engage in doing something about mitigation and/or adaption.

There are mighty challenges ahead of us all (most of which are only touched upon here) but by the same token there are opportunities to reinvent how we live, do business, curate our exhibitions, play the music we play, light and heat the venues and theatres we use and ultimately lead the way through out practice. There were discussions around green procurement strategies and other funding ideas, but I guess for me I was thinking about how to we teach our students to have this embedded in their thinking? How do SME's and creative entrepreneurs respond and lead on this? How will they need to adapt their practice? and how as a community can we all get each other moving on this stuff?


Robert Sharl said...

The Stirrer is run by Adrian Goldberg, ex of Sounds Magazine.

Charlotte Carey said...

Okay yeah that could have been him

Pete Ashton said...

Adrian used to work for Sounds? Well, I'll be.

Charlotte Carey said...

Funnily enough this isn't quite the debate I was hoping to provoke:-) thanks for the link.