Two women in spacesuits in a barren landscape holding hands

Building a Martian House by artists Ella Good and Nikki Kent.
Photo by: Robert Keller, Satori Photos.

Culture declares a Climate and Ecological Emergency

Posted on Thu 17 Oct 2019

Today, Watershed, Bristol Old Vic and Colston Hall have signed up to the growing global community of  arts and culture champions  declaring a  climate and ecological  emergency. 

Watershed, Bristol Old Vic and Colston Hall join organisations like We The Curious, Bristol City Council, WECA and the University of Bristol, who have already made this public declaration, and align with Bristol’s ambition to become carbon neutral by 2030. The aim of this declaration is to commit to taking action and to inspire our audiences, partners and collaborators to do the same.

What does it mean to declare a climate emergency?

Clare Reddington, Watershed CEO says:

"The unifying power of culture to inspire, educate and inform is an important force in contributing to change. Watershed alongside Bristol Old Vic and Colston Hall join the Culture Declares network, so we can stand side by side with the sector to advocate for change, and use the networks and resources to support our aspirations."

Following careful consideration by Watershed’s staff and board of trustees, our declaration acknowledges the climate breakdown and makes a series of pledges which explain the contribution we will make to tackle the crisis.

Our declaration ensures that we will keep environmental sustainability as a strategic priority and will hold us to account with staff and stakeholders around our aims.

The three organisations have already made significant steps to improve sustainability, including cross-departmental action groups in place to deliver on existing environmental strategies, a focus on encouraging recycling for staff and visitors, increased use of LED lighting and promoting paperless tickets.

Louise Mitchell, Chief Executive of Bristol Music Trust, the charity that runs Colston Hall, said:

“We are proud to stand next to our cultural partners in the city and make this declaration. We recently announced our ambition to become carbon neutral by 2030, making us the first UK concert hall to make this pledge. For us this pledge is not just empty words. We’re committing to real change and hope to inspire others to join us.”

Bristol Old Vic’s newly appointed Executive Director, Charlotte Geeves said:

“Standing alongside our partners in the city is crucial in ensuring not only that we deliver against the targets we have set, but also that we support each other to do so. Over this theatre’s long lifetime, it has been at the forefront of social and cultural change and we could not ignore the current challenges society faces. We are determined to play our part in delivering significant change.”

Find out more about the pledges and further information from Bristol Old Vic and Colston Hall.

What do we at Watershed pledge to do?

  • We will align with Bristol City Council’s ambition to become carbon neutral by 2030.
  • We will ensure our planned new building is BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) standard excellent and represents industry best practice
  • Our cross department staff working group will continue to explore sustainability from every angle, making it a key part of business planning and programme design
  • We will allocate a centrally held budget for sustainability going forward
  • We will seek to programme and support work which engages in debate and exploration of climate breakdown. Our autumn programme includes highlights from the Green Film Festival and three climate breakdown artist residences in partnership with MAYK

We will participate in city networks and share our learning openly back with the sector.

Watershed's approach to sustainability

Watershed’s cross-departmental environmental and sustainability group works to deliver Watershed's Environmental Policy and Action Plan and reports to Julie’s Bicycle and Arts Council England on our energy usage. It has achieved substantial benefits across the organisation, including being one of the first ever arts organisations to stop printing a monthly what’s on brochure which we did in 2013 and ensuring as far as possible that all our ingredients are sourced ethically and locally.

Read about our ongoing actions and achievements here which are co-ordinated by our Environmental Sustainabilty Group. This group has been active for the last 5 years and, as well as working across the organisation to develop our environmental policies and promote a sustainable approach across our buildings, it has delivered specific actions with impact. Find out more.