Towards Sustainable Arts: European best practices and policies

Boekman Foundation

Flanders Arts Institute colleague Nikol Wellens wrote the article Climate regulation: Perspective on climate change and sustainability in the arts sector and policy in Flanders and Brusselsfor the publication Towards Sustainable Arts: European best practices and policies by Boekman Foundation.

In 2021, forest fires, drought and floods communicated one clear and disquieting message: time is running out, the future is now. That future needs to be green and sustainable, requiring a massive societal transformation. Arts and culture can play an important role in this necessary transition. The new publicationTowards sustainable arts: European best practices and policies explores how this role takes shape in seven European countries, and offers inspiring examples and best practices for artists, cultural organisations and policy makers.

In seven chapters, experts from the Czech Republic, Finland, Flanders, Germany, the Netherlands, Scotland and Spain investigate how cultural organisations in their country are becoming more sustainable, how artists are engaging with the climate crisis, and which role culture has in the general transition towards a greener society.

While each chapter contains many inspiring initiatives and ideas unique to each country, there are also striking similarities. In most countries sustainability is lacking in national cultural policy, and culture is missing in climate policy.

There is however a need for sustainable cultural policy: among other things to counter fragmentation of initiatives, to enhance collaboration or to offer funding, support and financial security. Another significant observation underlying all contributions is the importance of collaboration and of networks, which have achieved great results in the countries included in the publication.

The project Towards sustainable arts was initiated by the Boekman Foundation: the Dutch institute for arts, culture and related policy. Research conducted in 2019 by the Boekman Foundation and Bureau 8080 showed that motivation to engage with sustainability was generally high among cultural organisations, but a lack of money, time and knowledge were mentioned often.

Based on the conviction that there is much knowledge to gain from initiatives and policies in different countries, the project Towards sustainable arts was started with the aim to bring together a variety of ideas and perspectives in the form of a digital publication.

About the authors

The seven chapters of Towards sustainable arts were written by the following experts from the Czech Republic, Finland, Flanders, Germany, the Netherlands, Scotland and Spain whose work or research concerns the topic of culture and sustainability:

Pavla Petrová (Czech Republic / Arts and Theatre Institute), Maria Hirvi-Ijäs, Anna Kanerva, Marjo Mäenpää (Finland / Cupore), Nikol Wellens (Flanders / Kunstenpunt), Marje Brütt (Germany / Kulturpolitische Gesellschaft), Sofie Krop, Mareile Zuber (The Netherlands / Het Groene Cultuur Bureau), Ben Twist, Katherine Denney (Scotland / Creative Carbon Scotland), Jordi Baltà Portolés, Herman Bashiron Mendolicchio (Spain / Trànsit Projectes and University of Barcelona)

The publication was edited by Jan Jaap Knol, Janina Pigaht and Bjorn Schrijen of the Boekman Foundation, with final editing provided by Taalbureau IJ.

About the Boekman Foundation

Since 1963, the Boekman Foundation is the Dutch institute for arts, culture and related policy. It collects and disseminates knowledge and information about the arts and culture in both policy and practice. It stimulates research and the development of opinion on the production, distribution and take-up of the arts and on national and international policy on the arts and culture. Among its activities are the publication of quarterly journal Boekman, the curation of a (digital) library containing over 85.000 unique titles and the production of the Culture monitor: an online tool that combines up-to-date insights and data about arts and culture in the Netherlands. In the policy period 2021-2014, sustainability is one of three core themes in all activities of the Boekman Foundation.