In this approach to cultural sustainability, the focus will be on two aspects: financial and environmental. Another aspect of sustainability, well-being, is dealt with in chapter 2.7.
The term ‘resilience’ has been frequently used in the cultural sector in England and Wales in recent years, not least because of the challenging economic environment and budgetary pressures. In 2010, Arts Council England made supporting resilience one of the central planks of Great Art and Culture for Everyone: Ten Year Strategic Framework. The same year ACE published research it had commissioned on resilience (Robinson, M: Making Adaptive Resilience Real). Eight years later ACE published further research it had commissioned from Global Media Venture and The Audience Agency (Woodley, S, Towell, P, Turpin, R, Thelwell, S and Schneider, P: What is Resilience Anyway? A Review). This sought to establish how resilience was understood in the arts and culture sectors; to what extent and how organisations are responding to a need to be more resilient; and what opportunities there might be to develop the sector’s resilience. Although the study acknowledged the sector was already resilient in many ways, it considered that long-term resilience required adaptability to embrace innovation, a willingness to accept risk and acceptance that failure was a part of the ecosystem.
In recent years ACE has introduced several limited-term measures with Lottery funding to help the sector develop fundraising skills as part of building sustainability. These included Catalyst: Evolve, a GB£ 17.5 million fund in 2016 (built on experience gained from the earlier Catalyst arts programme) with the aim to support organisations with a limited track record in fundraising. Catalyst Small Grants, launched in 2017, supported capacity building for SMEs. Elevate was a funding programme to strengthen resilience in the arts, museums and libraries not in receipt of National Portfolio funding. The Building Resilience programme supported external organisations/consultancies to lead cohorts of organisations exploring and piloting different approaches to long-term sustainability. One of these, Boosting Resilience, supported organisations to make the most of their creative assets and intellectual property and developed an executive learning programme led by Cass Business School (University of London), Manchester Metropolitan University and the Culture Capital Exchange. A publication, Reflections on Resilience and Creative Leadership was also an outcome.
In another illustration of building resilience, ACE has funded projects to help cultural bodies meet the challenges of business and organizational development by drawing on appropriate business advice and consultancy. The extent of the use of business guidance was revealed in a 2017 report from Coventry University – Business Support and the Cultural and Creative Sector in England (Henry. N, Broughton. K, Hastie.C and Barker. V). This was funded by ACE as part of the Prosper programme to improve resilience, commercial capacity and investment readiness of the arts , museums and libraries, and was managed by Creative United, a company supporting the growth and development of the creative industries
The pilot Arts Impact Fund was launched in 2015 to provide unsecured loans to arts and cultural organisations delivering social outcomes and support them to become more enterprising and resilient (see chapter 2.6).
TheArts Council of Wales introduced an exploratory Resilience Programme for the Arts Portfolio organisations it funds. This enabled organisations that were encountering particular problems to be analysed by specially recruited advisers to determine what action might be needed to address the difficulties. Solutions might involve such things as governance reviews, skills audits, organisational reviews, financial and business assessments or making the organisation more environmentally sustainable.
The New Labour UK Government (1997-2010) set an ambitious target of an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050. In common with other publicly funded sectors, the cultural field is expected to play its part in the realisation of such a target. For example, as a result of a partnership with the electronics company Philips, the National Theatre was able to save approximately GB£ 100,000 on its annual lighting costs. However, after the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Government was elected in 2010 one of the three key priorities of the British Council, climate change, was demoted in importance as it was no longer considered to be a priority of the new Government at a time of financial stringency. Nevertheless, reducing environmental impact is a policy requirement by Arts Council England of its National Portfolio Organisations and ACE is committed to reducing carbon emissions through changes to its buildings and reducing travel to meetings of staff. ACE has co-operated with Julie’s Bicycle, a charity that seeks to embed environmental sustainability in the work of creative industry organisations by advising how they can reduce environmental impacts.
The Climate Heritage Network brings together arts, culture and heritage stakeholders to tackle climate change issues and achieve the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement.
One of the principles of Let’s Create, ACE’s strategy 2020-2030 Corporate Plan 2018-20 for the arts, museums and libraries to be environmentally responsible. Draft Strategy for 2020-30, ACE will help create conditions in which the organisations it funds “can lead the way in their approach to the climate emergency.” This is expected to be done through access to advice and the sharing of best practice.
In stating its commitment to sustainable development, ACW says projects should take account of long-term benefits and costs – environmental, social and economic. It expects the organisations it funds to place sustainability at the heart of their plans including environmental awareness. ACW has supported some arts organisations to install energy efficient LED lighting, solar panels and update heating systems.