An arts student working in a studio


This report maps climate action and environmental sustainability programmes in the UK arts and culture sector. It offers a contextual review of trends in this space, with suggestions of best practice and links to resources for cultural organisations and actors across the world. It analyses of opportunities and barriers to success and makes recommendations outlining how these gaps can be crossed. 

Contribution to knowledge 

This is a snapshot of the UK landscape that will inform future programming of the British Council. The report advances our understanding of the relevance and complementarity of initiatives to support our response to climate change through arts and culture. A key output of the project is a comprehensive mapping database, accessible as an online tool with over 350 entries. 

Key insights 

Decarbonising arts and culture: Gathering and analysing data on carbon emissions is a crucial first step in achieving measurable decarbonisation in the arts. 

Long term mindsets and models: Climate action relies upon future-focused value frameworks, governance, funding and programming models that factor in success across multiple timeframes. 

Whole systems change: Initiatives are acknowledging the entanglement between the arts and the very conditions of social and environmental injustice that have led to the current crises – as well as the potential for the arts to contribute to healthy social, cultural, economic and planetary systems. 

Intersectional approaches: Arts and culture organisations explicitly recognise that the climate and biodiversity emergencies are intertwined with racial, gender, class, disability and other injustices. 

Climate action in the arts as ‘situated practice’: The creative sector can socialise sustainable lifestyles by being situated within communities that are experiencing climate change first-hand. 

Creative sense-making for present and future: Artists and designers are helping to reframe the narrative of climate change from risk-reduction to imaginative exploration of new ways of being. 

Shifts in arts education, capabilities, roles and skills: Some curricula are equipping students with new green skills, but formal provision and recruitment for such roles is lagging to meet sector needs.  

Networked, open and distributive knowledge: Consortium approaches and networks are vital to providing support, sharing best practice, and replicating approaches across multiple organisations. 

Contribution to climate action 

This research identifies evidence of exemplary work taking place at both operational and artistic programming levels. This will help to underscore the distinctive purpose of the arts within climate action and help the British Council and our partners to ignite conversations and point to new ways of working.  


Professor Dilys Williams, Dr Mila Burcikova and Niamh Tuft of the Climate and Environment Action Group at the University of the Arts, London (UAL) 

Ian Thomas, Head of Arts Research: