Amanda Roberts, Programme Manager – Environment & Green Futures
In April 2019, Extinction Rebellion took to the UK and international stage with a tidal wave of climate change protest which placed young people as its driving force. In April 2020, after a global season of extreme weather-charged ‘natural’ disasters, we find ourselves in the grips of a global pandemic.
At the Coventry City of Culture Trust, we have asked ourselves, how can we use arts and culture and the vehicle of 2021 to meet the scale of change Climate Emergency demands?
Our commitment to change began internally, with our Trustees committing to an Environmental Action Plan which embedded a cross departmental group at its centre, to ensure we remain creative, reflective and adaptive in our working environment and practices - titled the ‘Green Gathering’. Its remit has included working with consultant John Ashlin to help us minimise our carbon footprint across our delivery and production methods.
This has already begun to shape our work in different ways, from a commitment to using locally sourced food to building a sustainable craft project with our partners at Coventry University’s Furniture Lab based at FarGo Village.
With our local partners, we are developing a ‘Coventry and Warwickshire Green Cultural Code’, to lighten our environmental footprint for a broad range of large and small scale events. This framework will support the ‘right next step’ for each artist, promoter, venue or community partner we work with.
Environmental leadership is not new to Coventry, as the birthplace of the Green Party in the 1970’s to our universities now leading the way in pioneering Green Technology. Our creative response is seeking to hit the city’s climate change challenge with equal spirit, prioritising issues that most directly affect our local communities and unlocks the power of local activism. As one of the youngest cities in the UK, this had to include a focus on fast fashion, with plans for vintage swap shops, repair cafes and upcycle parties with a theatrical twist!
Meeting the city's food poverty challenge, the Trust has joined the Feeding Coventry network - which includes Grub Hubs, Foodbanks and Foleshill’s Social Supermarket, and we will bring local artists, activists and growing communities together to feed bellies whilst also rewilding unloved corners of the city.
With the support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, working with city partners, we see the city as a forest. Artists and communities will unearth the hidden nature of our diverse natural heritage, landscape and wildlife. We are calling this programme Green Futures. Our adventures will travel across the city, from the new Heritage Park on London Road, to hidden green gems like Naul’s Mill Park or Coundon Wedge. It will invite you to wander the 5 ½ mile Canal route and to get involved in local organisation Ludic Room’s first digital festival in its new home at the Coventry Canal Basin - Random String where you’ll explore the soundtrack of Coventry’s nature at night-time.
This Summer Solstice, we kickstarted our first growing collaboration with POD a with a new commission by local artists Alix Villanueva & composer Tim Seeley - The Garden Zine – it’s online and free to print at home and includes a lovely invitation to get crafty in your own home - indeed, why wait till 2021 to start your Green Future?
Main image: Alix Villanueva
"In 2021, artists and communities will unearth the hidden nature of our diverse natural heritage, landscape and wildlife."