Expertise for art & sustainability policy

In England in 2018, ‘65% of Arts Council organisations are commissioning work on climate and the environment’… 

Alison Ticknell – Julie’s Bicycle, 14 Dec. 2018


…but in Ireland, art for sustainability strategies are absent in national cultural policy!!


I first saw Alison Ticknell, CEO of the English Art and Sustainability organisation Julie’s Bicycle give a keynote address at the Culture |Futures Summit held during the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen in 2009. I was so impressed at Julie’s Bicycle’s key strategies to educate, engage and support art workers who wished to engage deeply with the existential issue of our time for their audiences. At that time, I also met with Ben Twist, CEO of Creative Carbon Scotland, who was just beginning to organise a similar organisation to serve the Scottish Art sector.

During my ecological art doctoral research and work in the arts in Ireland over the last decade, I have been dismayed that strategies developed by Julie’s Bicycle and the similar Scottish organisation, Creative Carbon Scotland, have not been adopted in Ireland. There are reasons why Ireland hasn’t developed such strategy (as detailed in my report – download here  and summarised in the slideshow below (Fitzgerald, 2017). However, the issue of engaging Irish society in sustainability has never been so pressing.

Importantly, both Julie’s Bicycle and Creative Carbon Scotland have similar strategies for their respective arts sector that could be readily replicated for the Irish situation.

In May 2018, I was asked to summarise and present my findings from my research at the 50th Conference of Irish Geographers. There was enough interest to hold a workshop on my findings and I have been invited to share my research in NUIG  Galway, in May 2019.


Screenshot 2018-12-16 14.04.40.png
Image from my presentation to the 50th Conference of Irish Geographers seminar ‘The Earth is our Home, Maynooth Univ., 2018. Quote from environmental philosopher and write, Prof. Kathleen Dean-Moore

This is a critical issue for the Irish Arts sector. To me, art and sustainability strategies and policy would immediately signal legitimacy and develop educational and financial supports for the those working in the arts who wish to engage with the most important eco-social issues of our time.

Ireland has immense creativite potential to translate the science of the environmental emergency so as to inspire relevant life-sustaining futures for diverse rural and urban communities of Ireland. But, until national strategy is devised, the full creative potential of the arts sector will not be realised.

Please note, I am available for further research in this area.

Do feel free to contact me at cathy@haumea.site

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Further reading:

Fitzgerald, Cathy (2017)