Magic Me has become one of a growing number of arts organisations and individuals who have declared a climate and ecological emergency via the Culture Declares movement. Organisations that have already declared include The Royal Court, Old Vic, Tate, Battersea Arts Centre, Cardboard Citizens, Arts Admin.
In the face of the overwhelming scientific evidence of an emergency – acknowledged by the UK Government and increasing numbers of institutions – such as the Bank of England, the declaration movement has gained pace internationally. More and more councils across the UK are declaring all the time, including the Greater London Authority, and are committing resources to tackling this emergency.
Many of these civic declarations include a commitment to work with other partners and collaboration is key to solving this crisis. Culture Declares is not just a list of people concerned about the emergency but it encourages those making a declaration to outline how they can help make a difference. They identify areas where culture can make a difference:
- Brings people together across all kinds of difference
- Engages people at an imaginative level, sparking cultural change and disrupting the status quo
- (through participation) draws on patterns of belonging, empathy, kindness, stewardship, and energises people’s courage and ability to respond collectively to challenges faced.
- Encourages and teaches non-competitive ways of working
Before making our declaration Magic Me staff and trustees worked together to create a draft Environmental policy that we could submit as part of our Declaration:
We believe passionately in the role creativity can play in building community cohesion, connecting people, generating resilience in individuals and communities. Our work is also driven by an urge to support the wellbeing of future generations through connecting people today. We have always tried to act with responsibility for our local and planetary environment and now wish to embed this action in a charity-wide policy designed to influence all our actions and strategic decision-making.
We know there is a climate crisis. Global warming, the decline of bio-diversity, increasing levels of pollution and depletion of natural resources are affecting everyone on the planet. This impact is acutely felt in inner city London where we are based and where much of our work takes place, however the impact is nationwide. Older people are vulnerable to increasing air pollution and fuel poverty, younger generations will face the consequences of a lack of action on climate change for years to come. Climate change the world over will dramatically affect the changing population of London as climate refugees are driven to the city by environmental change across the globe.
Our work across generations and with creativity at its heart is already environmentally responsible. We now want to increase our ambition, halving our carbon emissions by 2021 and introducing new measures to ensure that the company is carbon neutral by 2025.
To date we have noted our main environmental impacts as follows:
Infrastructure – while we are tenants there are a number of adjustments we can make to our building use including: energy use and carbon emissions, waste management.
Transport, including travel for volunteers, partners and participants
Office activities (including flexible working), printing, IT, catering.
Strategy – including the way in which new programmes and activity are created, planned and delivered
Partnerships – including who we accept funding and donations from, who we work with
Employment and contracting – including the commitments we make to staff and freelance artists and what we expect from them
Finance – including our investments, pension processes, banking and the need to allocate some resource to carbon off-setting.
We want Magic Me to act as a beacon for good practice in intergenerational arts activity. This includes the way in which our commitment to the environment is embedded in all that we do. We will constantly seek to challenge ourselves and those we work with, and for, to deliver improved environmental actions and help us to meet our ambitious targets.
We understand that (particularly to support the vulnerable communities with which we work) we will not be able to reduce our outputs to zero carbon emissions in five years. However we will establish an ambitious and strict programme of carbon off-setting to counteract the estimated 10% of carbon outputs we will not be able to eliminate in this timeframe.
To achieve this we will take the following specific actions:
● Create and approve this environmental policy – by August 2019
● Sign up to Culture Declares Emergency – by August 2019
● Initiate a thorough environmental audit by external auditors – by October 2019
● Develop a detailed environmental action plan for the period to 2025 – by October 2019, subject to external auditors’ timetable
● Review our progress against this action plan quarterly thereafter.
This will be led by the Chief Executive, the Green Team – made up of 3 core staff members, and a nominated Trustee.