Arts. Environment. Sustainability. How can Culture Make a Difference?
There is a growing awareness that culture and the arts can help dealing with global challenges by means of alternative, creative approaches to pressing problems. Therefore society as well as governmental stakeholders start to see culture as an important value for sustainable development, environment, education, health and social cohesion.
After a four years program investigating the role of arts and culture in society, the Asian Europe Foundation (ASEF) published and presented the Connect2Culture dossier: Arts. Environment. Sustainability. How can Culture Make a Difference? at the ASEF-supported roundtable at the 5th World Summit on Arts and Culture in Melbourne, Australia.
The Connect2Culture programme was initiated in order to answer the question which role culture plays in the global debate on environmental sustainability. In the course of the program, Asian as well as European experts from all fields addressed issues related to art and environmental sustainability through artistic projects, workshops and policy meetings. The program has facilitated bi-regional dialogue and collaboration on the value of culture and the arts.
The resulting dossier is a summary of ASEF’s work with arts and environment in the last four years and a reflection on the issues raised by the people involved. It constitutes the reaffirmation of culture as the fourth pillar of sustainability and is expected to serve as inspiration for further discussions and cooperation, especially with the imminent United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil in June 2012.
The dossier includes discussion papers from two Connect2Culture projects: Arts, Culture and Sustainability: Visions for the Future and The Art of Sustainable Living: A Creative Approach to Global Social and Environmental Crises. Furthermore it contains a collection of visions for the future, an overview of the ASEF projects as well as a directory of cultural professionals and ASEF partners.
Culture has an instrumental part connecting many areas of human development such as education, human rights, economy, sustainable development, health awareness and environment, as well as science and technology. For David Haley and Jaya Iyer, who held the workshop Climate Leaders: Release Your Creative Powers – How can art enhance our ability to think and act differently? in Bangkok in 2009, it is of high importance to include artists in the global debate: “A dialogue is not so much about generating new knowledge, as it is about changing the way we think.”
As a result of the Connect2Culture programme a strong network of almost 100 professionals in arts and culture was established, which is committed to strengthen the voice of arts and culture. These experts share the belief that the arts and culture sector can play an active role to support the identification of, engagement with and positive adaptation to important changes in our societies.
Ada Wong (politician, environmentalist, educationalist and cultural advocate) is one of the experts that took part in the workshop Arts, Culture and Sustainability: Building Synergies between Asia and Europe held in Copenhagen in 2009. She states:
„While the environmental lobby targets and criticizes governments and vested interests, the arts and cultural sector can work with the people and start,bottom up, from the community. The cultural sector is a natural change agent, instigator and provocateur in paradigm shifts and mindset changes.“
Sacha Kagan (founding coordinator of the international level of Cultura21) points out the challenge that society has to face in dealing with complexity:
“The deep and qualitative complexity of the world does not fit with the clear, coherent, uni-dimensional logic of theories and world views we have learned to design. We have to engage in an unprecedented creative leap towards complexity, which will require giant transdisciplinary advances in all cultural sectors (and especially in arts education and education through art&science) or we will miss the 2050 mark for an “ecological age”.”
As Rosina Gomez-Baeza Tinturé, director of the LABoral Centre for Art and Creative Industries (Spain), stated during the 2009 Connect2Culture project, “The mission of artists is to inspire, educate and engage themselves with society. Creativity is the capacity to produce things that are new and of value; it is the capacity to reach new conclusions and come up with original solutions to problems.”
You are able to download the dossier at:
Further information can also be found here.