June 9, 2023

A Climate for Art -Introducing a new Australian campaign for fossil fuel divestment in the arts industry

Media Release

A Climate for Art (ACFA) a new initiative aimed at mobilising the arts industry for climate action, will be officially launching during the Australian Performing Arts Market (APAM) on June 16. 
At the launch event at the Footscray Community Arts Centre AFCA will announce the trailblazing Australian arts organisations that have already pledged to divest. These organisations make up a new Climate Union, whose inaugural meeting will take place following the launch event. 
ACFA is dedicated to bringing together small and medium-sized (SME) arts organisations who are divesting from lending banks, superannuation companies, and power corporations that fund fossil fuel projects. Through creating a coalition of organisations, ACFA seeks to build collective momentum for climate action and unite the arts community as leaders in driving the cultural shift required. By December 2023, ACFA aims to have 30 organisational members confirmed and secure additional operating funding, to propel them towards their goal of 250 organisations who have discontinued support from fossil fuel companies by December 2027. 
The ACFA campaign was created by co-instigators, Lana Nguyen and Eliki Reade. As independent producers within the arts ecology, Lana and Eliki are leveraging their existing relationships to build a vast network of support amongst the SME art sectors. 
Nguyen said: “We’re seeing a mounting range of artistic works responding to the increasingly urgent climate crisis – so this campaign builds on that voice, asking for organisations who stage these works to also structurally reflect the concerns of the artists and communities. How we relate to our environment is culturally rooted and we want the cultural sector to lead this shift towards prioritising the health of our planet. Alongside tangible collective actions in divestment, we want to make time and space to better understand and shift the cultural underpinning of the crisis.”
Reade added: “We’re very heartened to have the leadership of our organisational members who have taken on this task on top of the massive undertaking that is running a small to medium organisation. It speaks to the overwhelming care and responsibility to the community that is throughout our sector. The next years are vital in shaping what type of future we will walk into and we’re wanting to channel our power collectively. The climate crisis creates and is inherently connected to cultural loss – so particularly as workers in the cultural industry, it needs to be a major concern and situation we take into our practices.” 
Among the founding members of the ACFA initiative are Next Wave, Theatre Network Australia, Footscray Community Arts, West Space, Seventh Gallery, APHIDS, Platform Arts, Schoolhouse Studios, Centre for Reworlding, Climarte and Chamber Made. This gathering of influential arts institutions as part of the Climate Union will pave the way for transformative collaborations, knowledge sharing, and collective action to drive real change.
ACFA will build on existing work within the space of climate action through partnerships with organisations that are leaders in their own respects such as early adopters Footscray Community ArtsNext Wave, and the Theatre Network Australia. These partners were the first to agree towards making changes in their operations to represent the changing tide of leadership amongst the SME arts sectors. 
“For Footscray Community Arts, our core purpose is to support marginalised communities in the cultural sphere, and we know that these communities will be the most affected by climate change. Cultural institutions play a key role in setting the cultural agenda nationally – so it’s vital that we act on climate change not only through the art we present but how we present it.” Daniel Santangeli, Footscray Community Arts
“The climate crisis affects every industry, every organisation, and every individual, and so TNA feels compelled to do everything we can, no matter how small, to do our part. We hope to send a clear message to banks with our dollars, and a call to solidarity to the rest of the arts sector with our actions and leadership, made possible with the help of ACFA.” Joshua Lowe, Theatre Network Australia
The launch event will herald a significant step towards a sustainable and environmentally conscious arts community. It will be a showcase of artistry and advocacy, featuring esteemed APAM delegates, captivating performance artworks, and thought-provoking presentations. The launch will also serve as an opportunity for the arts community to come together and pledge their commitment to divestment, signifying their unwavering dedication to a sustainable future. ACFA will present research for organisations to use to enable the easiest possible path into a renewable energy future. 
“APAM is thrilled to include the launch of A Climate for Art as part of the Gathering in June. Lana and Eliki have generated a divestment campaign that will result in a reduction of the sector’s carbon emissions and equally importantly build a community around this critical issue. The climate emergency impacts everything we do as artists, as arts workers and as citizens and communities. We need each other to make the difference and create a future for the next generations inhabiting this plant.”  Angharad Wynne-Jones, Curator, Climate Justice Program, APAM Gathering at RISING.
By championing divestment from fossil fuel-associated entities, ACFA aims to empower artists and cultural organisations to play an active role in driving the necessary cultural shift towards a sustainable future. ACFA seeks to build a united Climate Union, where arts communities can collaborate, share knowledge, and amplify their collective voice in the fight against climate change.
Australian Performing Arts Market (APAM) is an initiative of the Australian Government through the Australia Council for Arts and the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria, APAM reflects the increasingly connected, established and vibrant performing arts scenes in Australian and New Zealand. 
Interviews available on request with Lana Nguyen, Eliki Reade, and Footscray Community Arts Centre Co-CEO Daniel Santangeli.
For more information contact Fiona Brook
fiona@zillaandbrook.com.au / 0407 900 840