“Our house is on fire.” It was almost a year ago today that young activist Greta Thunberg pronounced those words at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Her statement could not feel more real as we witness 3 million hectares (7.4m acres) going up in flames in Australia and a billion animals perishing in this tragedy.
As cultural institutions, what role can we play, or must we play in the fight for the survival of our common Home that is Earth? At Agenda, we are working towards more sustainable events and publications. We are learning as we go and we know most of you are too. As a community of cultural professionals, we have an opportunity to share our existing channels — conferences, social media and so on — to educate one another, share best practices and learnings about environmental sustainability in our daily work.
The recent controversy surrounding the long-term partnership between the British Museum and oil and gas giant BP is, in itself, an invitation for us to reflect collectively on solutions and way outs. How might cultural institutions move away from controversial sponsorships when — paradoxically — those are often considered as “vital” to supporting educational programs and other crucial initiatives. Should we — can we — transition slowly out of those types of sponsorships, or has time come to cut those ties at once, to rip the Band Aid off without further delay?
In spite of a morose start for our planet, we wish you all a very happy 2020, full of exciting — and positive — changes, encounters, discussions and learnings.
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About the Author – Alexia Jaques-Casanova is an arts writer and museum consultant. With a strong background in Art Management, she founded Artizest, a one-person company helping museums create inclusive and meaningful programs for and with their audiences.