MCFly reader Jonathan Atkinson (him from Carbon Coop – but writing below in a personal capacity) attended the Stakeholder Conference. He has sent us this write-up of the “culture” workshop.
I attended David Haley‘s workshop on the role of art and culture in tackling climate change and found it informing and inspiring.
David’s opening presentation outlined his approach to ecological art and explored the roll of artists and creative thinkers in addressing issues relevant to climate change. Key to the presentation was the idea that rather than creatives acting as mere marketeers to disseminate policy messages we need to take a multi-disciplinary, systems based approach in which people from different specialisms and backgrounds analyse a problems and together develop solutions.
A lively discussion followed which touched on a number of issues, from corporate ownership and co-option of the mainstream media to whether a green message delivered by Wayne Rooney would appear too hypocritical to have any positive effect.
An interesting debate was whether we need to communicate simple, small actions that busy everyday people can adopt or whether we need to acknowledge that the problem of climate change is a complex one and that we need to arm people with the tools to comprehend, explore, enquire and ultimately take action as a result.
The session rounded off with a discussion that for me highlighted the importance of an event like MACF2012. On the one side we had activists and artists who oppose sponsorship of the arts by petrochemical interests such as BP and Shell, on the other a trustee of a Manchester gallery that had accepted money from these companies. A lively debate ensued in which the stark choices of public art financing were laid bare, without this money the gallery would close. If we live in a society whereby public art is only affordable when paid for by a multinational oil company, ultimately we get the public art system we deserve. Something to think about.
I really enjoyed the session and it was the highlight of the day for me. Thanks to David and all the other organisers.
Some references brought up in the session
Common Cause – The case for working with our cultural values
Pro-Environmental Behaviour Change by Sustainable Scotland Network
Youtube video: Taming the Vampire Squid: Take back our banks , new economics foundation
Brecht: Mother Courage and Her Children