After a year-long hiatus, due to our office building being refurbished, we have recently reconvened our green team. Being new to the team I was really excited to be at the first meeting to find out exactly what the green team does and how sustainability is important to the running of the organisation.
Arts Council England believes that the arts and creative industry should lead the way in making changes that would ensure a more environmentally sustainable world. As a member of its National Portfolio Organisations we share this belief and the Bow Arts green team was set up to address our environmental policy and employ more environmentally sustainable practices. Moreover I think this particular issue resonates with the team because we all, to varying extents, have concerns about the environment and want to make the necessary changes but are often unsure what we can do. So the green team provides a learning opportunity not only in our professional lives but also in our personal lives.
During the meeting we discussed some of the success from the team’s previous work. We also revised our Environmental Action Plan which we will continue to implement over the coming months. One of the best ways we can help to reduce carbon emissions is to consider how we commute to work and travel for business, and taking the bus or cycling are some easy ways we can help make a positive impact. We are planning to have lots of events around travel, and in particular cycling, so look out for these in the very near future. These will be partly supported by the TfL Cycling Workplace scheme which enables eligible organisations to spend credits on cycling support for employees.
I have the responsibility of drafting the Energy Awareness Week, which is something I’m really looking forward to. The week will include a series of (fun) events that will encourage our team and hopefully our stakeholders, of which there are many, to be mindful of our carbon footprint and to also inspire them to take action to reduce it.
I work in the Nunnery Gallery and I think we could definitely do more, to not only make our sustainability efforts more visible (as we must lead by example) but to also encourage them amongst our visitors and other key stakeholders. We need to communicate our ideas to our audiences in sustainable and creative ways. We already monitor how our visitors get to the gallery but we should be encouraging them to walk, get the tube or cycle. We also talked about reusing installation materials, using bio cleaning products and working with business and suppliers that share our green ethos and values.
I have not worked in a company where these issues were a major priority so it’s a pretty cool to be involved in this team. I think so many art organisations have been slow on the green agenda because they may feel that they have to choose between going green and business development. This is understandable considering the tight and already stretched budgets that many operate within. However do we have to make a choice? Is green growth possible? Surely art organisations can develop greener business models that do not distract from or undermine their business growth? Especially as going green can often mean you can save money. However the fact that we receive mixed messages about sustainability doesn’t help the many organisations who are unsure on what to believe and thus what they should be doing, especially during a time of austerity. Furthermore could it be that environmental sustainability is just not sexy enough? The grim statistics do not help its uncool image. Ultimately though art and in turn art organisations can lead the way in highlighting environmental issues and can engage their large audiences to becoming greener.
What I like about this team is that none of us are experts but that we are all trying to find ways to make our operations and those of our stakeholders more environmentally sustainable. We’re all really excited about the green developments we’ll be making for the end of 2014 and 2015 so keep checking here for any updates.
Nanda Poleon, Business Development Administrator