Science Museum ends sponsorship with Equinor

15 Jul 2024

The Science Museum has confirmed its sponsorship deal with Norwegian oil and gas producer Equinor has ended.

Equinor had sponsored the museum’s Wonderlab gallery for children since 2016.

In a blog, the museum’s Chair, Sir Tim Laurence, said that “those we partner with must demonstrate that they are moving with sufficient urgency along the transition pathway to meet our aspirations”. 

Emails disclosed to campaign organisation Culture Unstained following a Freedom of Information request show Equinor had been contacted several times after it was concluded that Equinor’s business was not aligned with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, a threshold set by the museum for its corporate sponsors.

In July 2022, the museum’s sponsors were notified of the criteria set by the museum expecting partners to achieve alignment with the Paris 1.5˚ pathway by the end of March 2024.

Culture Unstained Co-Director Chris Garrard called the end of the sponsorship a “seismic shift”. “After years of mounting pressure, the Science Museum has now adopted red lines on climate change which have led to Equinor being dropped,” he said.

The announcement has brought about refreshed calls for the Science Museum to also end its sponsorship ties with oil giant BP and Indian coal mining conglomerate Adani.

“With BP also failing to align its business with Paris Agreement goals and Adani the world’s biggest private producer of coal, the museum must now hold these companies to the same standard and stop promoting their toxic brands,” Garrard added.

Net-zero toolkit launched for European theatres

02 Jul 2024

A new guide has been published to help theatres in Europe reach net-zero emissions by 2030.

The ETC Theatre Green Book is a partnership between the European Theatre Convention (ETC) and Renew Culture, the creators of the original Theatre Green Book.

The new tool provides a step-by-step guide to hitting net zero and is available as a free download.

It includes the first-ever self-certification for sustainability in theatre, available at four different levels: preliminary, basic, intermediate and advanced.

Reaching each level involves meeting increasingly stringent requirements on energy use or the reuse of materials.

The book is part of the ETC’s Sustainable Action Code and its pledge to be climate-neutral by 2030.

ETC Executive Director Heidi Wiley said: "There is no question that European theatres have the desire to become sustainable organisations. The issue is how to make this change happen in an effective and efficient way across an entire continent."

"We believe that networks of theatres can play a crucial role in supporting our sector to overcome challenges and push themselves to become climate neutral.

"We’re incredibly excited to be partnering with Renew Culture and the Theatre Green Book to make sure this happens at scale across Europe."

Tate Director calls out British Museum’s BP sponsorship

04 Jun 2024

Maria Balshaw’s comments coincide with a creative protest against the ongoing sponsorship over the weekend resulting in the museum refusing entry to visitors.

How to produce sustainable arts projects

Sky at night with lights
14 May 2024

With her experience of working across multiple projects, Sarah Fortescue explores how the sector can deliver what they do best, in the best way possible?

Science Museum faces protests ahead of ‘climate gallery’ opening

Protesters unfurl a 12-metre banner spanning the full height of the Science Museum's Energy Hall reading ‘Adani off our lands and out of this museum'
25 Mar 2024

The Science Museum has been criticsed for links with fossil fuel sponsors BP, Equinor and Adani.

New charity to fund sector solutions to climate change

19 Mar 2024

A new charity is planning to bring visual arts and music organisations together by funding projects delivering impactful environmental solutions.

Murmur is launching with over £1m in pledges from partner organisations in the visual arts and music industries including leading galleries and music labels.

It has already delivered several pilot grants, including one to the British Phonographic Industry and the Association of Independent Music to establish the Music Climate Pact.

The charity will deliver grants in three categories. Grants to 'Change the Industry' projects will look to make positive change within the visual arts and music sector, 'Change the Conversation' grants will be available to projects inspiring new ways of storytelling and positive action around climate change and 'Change the World' grants will go to projects that have tangible global impacts on climate change.

Murmur says it will welcome new partners as it “aims to galvanise the whole arts and music sector”. To become a partner, businesses must commit to a carbon audit and reduction of their carbon emissions in line with a 1.5C future and make annual financial contributions to the charty’s shared fund based on their environmental impact.

“Our mission is to transform these industries from the inside out, making environmental responsibility integral to their operation,” said Chair of the Board of Trustees and one of Murmur’s creators, Caius Pawson.

“Joining us is not about gaining a privilege, it’s about making a profound commitment to change - not only in the way you conduct your business but also in how we collectively shape our industry.”

Vegan theatre to open in Kent

11 Mar 2024

A theatre that will only allow vegan food to be consumed on site is to open in Canterbury.

Kent Online reports that the performing arts building of a former Steiner school in the city has been transformed into the Garlinge Theatre which will welcome the public to its first production next month.

The school closed suddenly last year after Ofsted inspectors highlighted a range of failings.

Anything eaten or consumed in the 300-capacity venue must be vegan, a rule that applies to anyone renting the site, organisers have said.

“We need to reduce cruelty and industrial agriculture," Terry Thompson, a member of the collective running the venue said.

“What we should be moving towards is an organic and non-cruel system that would free up land for food production.

“I felt the entertainment industry, especially in a theatre, was not offering enough of that and getting on people’s radar.

“We are not going to have it on every production promotion, but it will be underlying so people can ask questions.”

Six theatres share £510,000 of eco-project funds

Storyhouse, Chester
06 Mar 2024

Funds to improve environmental sustainability have been awarded as part of the Theatre Improvement Scheme.

Key NPOs cut carbon emissions by 40%

14 Feb 2024

A group of 30 Arts Council England (ACE) National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs) responsible for producing around a third of the portfolio's total carbon output have reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by two-fifths since 2018, a new report commissioned by ACE has revealed.

The Culture, Climate and Environmental Responsibility annual report 2022-23 utilises data provided by 2018-23 NPOs covering a variety of environmental impact areas such as touring, business travel, electricity and gas use, and waste, focusing on the completed environmental reporting of 656 organisations - 79% of the current portfolio.

The report, produced by the culture and environmental charity Julie's Bicycle, includes data from 30 'Spotlight' organisations chosen because they have been identified as being responsible for around 30% of the carbon emissions created by NPOs.

Among this group – which includes the Royal Shakespeare Company, Baltic Contemporary Art Centre and the National Theatre – the findings reveal that over the five years, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have been reduced overall by 40%.

This cohort also reduced gas use by 32% and electricity by 19%. However, some of the reduction in GHG emissions is due to the decarbonisation of the National Grid.

For example, the report states that in 2022/23, the actual reduction in carbon emissions associated with improved/reduced electricity usage is 13%.

Overall, the report found that NPOs have reduced their energy use by 20% over the last five years.

Examining insights provided by 562 NPOs in 2023 as part of the Beyond Carbon survey, the report found that 94% of NPOs now feature environmental sustainability in their core business strategies, compared to 78% in 2018.

Nearly three-quarters said they have either programmed or produced work that explores environmental themes. This figure was just 48% in 2018.

The upward trend is continued in several other areas, with 66% of the NPOs formally recognising environmental responsibilities in job roles - up from 44% -  and 81% having taken steps to eliminate single-use plastic compared with 64%.

While action to be more sustainable is often perceived as costly, 52% of the respondents reported financial benefits from their actions, and 55% reported creative and artistic opportunities.

In her introduction to the report, Alison Tickell, Founder and CEO of Julie’s Bicycle, called for decarbonising in the arts to become "business-as-usual", adding that "pathways to decarbonisation and regeneration are central to cultural purpose and relevance".

Museum proposes using mine water for clean energy 

14 Feb 2024

The National Coal Mining Museum has proposed using geothermal heat to help it decarbonise.

The museum pumps an average of 1.5m gallons of water out of Hope Pit daily, which could be used as an alternative energy source. The scheme, which would cost an estimated £2m, could also heat nearby homes,    

Mine Director Shaun McLoughlin told the BBC: "Here at the National Coal Mining Museum, we've realised the potential of the heat from mine water, so we are currently in consultation with Kirklees and Wakefield Council to harness this potential.

"There is enough energy at this mine to provide the heat to heat the houses in Overton, Newhall Prison and decarbonise the whole museum."

McLoughlin added that a scheme could also offer a "great visitor experience for people to see the science and technology at work".

Activists target Science Museum over fossil fuel sponsorship

Protesters sitting in on a panel debate organised by the Science Museum
06 Feb 2024

A group of climate activists including Greta Thunberg protested the museum’s ongoing sponsorship deal with several fossil fuel corporations at a public panel debate.

Can fungi boost festival sustainability?

Crowds around a stage at Glastonbury Festival
24 Jan 2024

An Arts Council England-backed project has been exploring whether mycelium, a material made from the root network of fungi, can be used to construct sustainable temporary structures at festivals.

Activists urge architects to boycott British Museum redesign

22 Jan 2024

Environmental campaigners are calling on architects not to take part in a contest to redesign around a third of the British Museum following a controversial £50m sponsorship deal with BP that will fund the redevelopment.

The boycott is backed by the Architects Declare network, the Section of Architectural Workers trade union, now part of Unite, and Future Architects Front (FAF).

A spokesperson for FAF told the Architects Journal: "We fully support calls for architects to reject commissions funded with oil money.

"In the context of cascading ecological collapse, it is completely indefensible for architects to knowingly work with the most blatant perpetrators of climate destruction. Such donations by oil companies are transparent acts of reputation washing, and any architect with the slightest pretence of social concern must refuse to become complicit."
 

Natural heritage sites to share £15.6m of funding

A group of walkers gathered on a hill in the Peak District
16 Jan 2024

National Lottery Heritage Fund will introduce a landscape and nature-focused initiative later this year as part of its 10-year strategy.

Consultation on future of Leeds museum launches

10 Jan 2024

Leeds City Council has launched a public consultation on proposals to end its lease on the site of a local heritage museum.

The Thwaite Watermill Museum, which is owned by Canal and River Trust and managed by Leeds Museums and Galleries, told the Yorkshire Evening Post it faces closure if the lease is terminated, as it cannot afford to take over the running of the building.

A consultation, which concludes on 19 January, asks users when they last visited the museum as well as their thoughts on the future of the site and if they think it should be handed back to Canal and River Trust.

Leeds City Council, which is one of dozens of local authorities across the country making severe budget cuts, said that the museum, located on an island in the River Aire, was costly to maintain. 

A council spokesperson said: “Leeds City Council have operated Thwaite Watermill as a heritage attraction since 1990. Although visitor satisfaction is high, the site has always had low visitor figures, with 9,502 having visited Thwaite Watermill in 2022.

“There are high maintenance costs linked to managing historic buildings of this nature, coupled with challenging environmental issues with the site prone to flooding. Finding the funds to maintain Thwaite Watermill has and will continue to be a challenge.”

In December 2023, Leeds Council put forward a raft of cost-cutting measures designed to save £58.4m over the next 12 months, alongside £7.4m of previously agreed savings.
 

Theatre Green Book joins forces with national theatres

19 Dec 2023

The Theatre Green Book has announced a partnership with the UK’s three national theatres.

Together, the coalition will form an association to drive change and push for net zero across the sector.

Part of the work includes the formation of a steering group featuring the national theatres, the Association of British Theatre Technicians, the Society of London Theatre, UK Theatre and the Theatres Trust. 

The steering group is involved in work on the second edition of the Theatre Green Book, scheduled for release next summer.

The first edition, which was published during the pandemic, is now used by all large subsidised theatres, the UK’s three national theatre and all UK opera houses.

Paddy Dillon, one of the Theatre Green Book’s authors, told The Stage the second edition is “our chance to accelerate theatre’s momentum even further”.

Lisa Burger, who co-authored the book, added: “We’re excited that the Theatre Green Book is now permanently rooted in Britain’s theatre community. 

“Alongside the dramatic progress of sustainable working with the Green Book across the world, theatre is making real progress towards net zero.”

British Museum signs controversial £50m deal with oil giants BP

BP petrol station sign
19 Dec 2023

New 10-year partnership with BP will support transformation described by museum as 'one of the most significant cultural redevelopment projects ever undertaken'.

Review of indemnity scheme for loaning items underway

Woman looks at items in an exhibition
29 Nov 2023

Review of government scheme may see humidity, temperature and light arrangements for storing cultural items on loan agreed on a case-by-case basis. 

National Trust urges climate action over heritage threat

20 Nov 2023

The National Trust has called on government to take action dealing with the risk that rising temperatures and extreme weather pose to the nation’s heritage sites.

In a report published on Monday (20 November) the National Trust called climate change "the single biggest threat" facing the historic homes, land and coastline in its custodianship.

Entitled A climate for change, the report’s findings suggest 70% of its heritage assets will be at “medium or high risk” of climate hazards by 2060.

The conservation charity has proposed introducing a Climate Resilience Act that sets targets to prepare for the risk posed by climate change, saying the issue demanded “urgent and unswerving attention”.

It also wants to see a statutory duty on all public bodies and more funding from government for landowners, heritage organisations and tourism groups to help them adapt and protect their buildings, coastlines and countryside.

Patrick Begg, the outdoors and natural resources director at the National Trust, said: “We’re at a point where we need to raise a flag. We’re living the change. There are some serious, serious impacts happening.”

A government spokesperson told the BBC it had a five-year national adaptation programme to increase the country's resilience to climate change risks, including those posed to heritage sites, coastline and countryside, and is committed to investing billions of pounds in broader climate change adaptation measures.

Activists warn of ethical ‘loopholes’ in cultural corporate sponsorship 

National Portrait Gallery, London, June 2023
15 Nov 2023

National Portrait Gallery and Sadler's Wells have both faced criticism over the organisational links of some of their corporate sponsors.

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