COP26 Event to Show How Artists Can Drive Climate-Change Action

  • Artists and creatives can be key resources to getting people to act on climate change.
  • The “Culture: The missing link” event at COP26 will explore how artists can communicate the message.
  • Artists embedded within their communities are well-positioned to drive local action.

Alison Tickell, founder and CEO of Julie’s Bicycle, said that we must pay attention to how we’re damaging the planet, and she thinks artists can help communicate that message in powerful ways. Her UK-based nonprofit mobilizes the arts and culture sector to take action on the climate crisis.

“No amount of data, science, or technology can ever make us feel the world in the same way as art can,” she told Insider. “Art and culture have a huge role to play in breathing life into climate issues and to inspire people to take action.” 

Tickell is chairing an event titled, “Culture: The missing link,” at the UN Climate Change Conference UK 2021 (COP26) in Glasgow on November 5, which will explore the key role of arts and culture in climate transformation. The session, which is a partnership with the British Council and Arts Council England, will show how artists and musicians from around the world are developing sustainable work and a climate-driven creative practice, she said. 

The discussion will feature a variety of artists, activists, and environmental experts, including author Elif Shafak, Fridays For Future India founder Disha Ravi, scientist and climate communicator Ed Hawkins, and others. Musician and EarthPercent ambassador Love Ssega, poet Selina Nwulu, and Nova Ruth will perform, and there will be a screening of a film showing artists and activists from around the world.

The event will also highlight how Season for Change, a cultural program that’s striving to inspire climate action, has engaged organizations and communities across the UK.

“We want people to be inspired and ignited by the many ways that artists are using their voice to raise awareness of climate issues,” Tickell said. “And, in tandem, to understand that culture really is the missing link in driving climate action. Why? Because humans are driven by emotions and the arts make us feel.” 

Because artists offer culturally specific perspectives and are embedded within their communities, such as through libraries, galleries, or theaters, they’re well-positioned to drive local action on climate change. Public art, for example, gives people a way to engage with their environments. 

“We’re witnessing an incredible creative surge within local communities everywhere, inspired by climate and environmental issues,” Tickell said. “From city gardens to low carbon arts festivals, from pedal-powered music shows to nature-inspired poetry performances.”

Grassroots efforts using arts and culture can help citizens understand the unique climate challenges their communities face and inspire them to take action, Tickell said. But donating to local arts and supporting them in other ways is just as important as engaging with creatives. 

“Artists also need professional support through policy and funding, which is aligned to environmental concerns. How on earth can they thrive otherwise?” she said.

Angelia S. Rico

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