Guest AEUHHH??? by David Middleton
Opinion, Arts Council England
The arts have a leading role to play in tackling climate change
Cultural organisations are in a unique position to challenge, inform and engage audiences in conversations about the environment
If we are to avoid irreversible global warming that will have devastating economic and social consequences for the world, “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” are required. This was the conclusion of a special report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published in October. We – the collective “we” – have been given 12 years to arrest climate change. The message is clear: everyone is responsible for creating a more environmentally sustainable world. And the arts and cultural sector is no exception.
We have been talking about these issues at the Arts Council for a long time, and over the past decade have worked with the climate change charity Julie’s Bicycle to help arts and cultural organisations reduce their environmental impact. In 2012 we became the first cultural body in the world to include environmental reporting and action in our long-term funding agreements with arts organisations. Recognising that we had to create the conditions for change to happen, the Arts Council buttressed these requirements with a programme of support from Julie’s Bicycle. Together we substantially increased understanding about the role of the sector in addressing environmental issues and associated social challenges.
At first glance, I thought this was a Monty Python skit… When I realized they were serious, my reaction was…
No offense to “Arts Council England,” but neither creative banners nor Julie’s bicycles can alter the fact that the IPCC said they need a $240/gal gasoline tax and $122 trillion to fight the Gorebal War on the Weather. And the answer to that is…
Happy Thanksgiving! Or an early “Festivus for the rest-of-us”, if you prefer.
Sir Nicholas Serota
Arts Council England
In February 2017, Nicholas Serota took up his post as Chair of Arts Council England for the period through to 31 January 2021. Previously he was Director of Tate between 1988 and 2017. During his directorship, Tate opened Tate St Ives (1993) and Tate Modern (2000, expanded in 2016), redefining the Millbank building as Tate Britain (2000). Tate also broadened its field of interest to include 20th century photography, film, performance and occasionally architecture, as well as collecting from Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. The national role of the gallery was further developed with the creation of the Plus Tate network of 35 institutions across Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Nicholas Serota has been a member of the Visual Arts Advisory Committee of the British Council, a Trustee of the Architecture Foundation and a commissioner on the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment. He was a member of the Olympic Delivery Authority which was responsible for building the Olympic Park in East London for the London 2012 Summer Olympics. He is also a member of the Executive Board of the BBC.
Nicholas Serota was born in London in 1946. He studied History of Art at the University of Cambridge and the Courtauld Institute. He joined the Arts Council of Great Britain’s Visual Arts Department as a regional art officer in 1970 and then worked as a curator at the Hayward Gallery. In 1973 he was appointed director of the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford where he worked for three years before he became the Director of the Whitechapel Gallery in 1976.
Nicholas Serota was knighted in 1999 and appointed a Companion of Honour in 2013.
Term of appointment: 1 February 2017 – 31 January 2021