Manchester Arts Sustainability Team – blazing a trail on collaboration for climate action
Manchester’s cultural community has been working together through the Manchester Arts Sustainability Team (MAST) since 2011, to understand, share, solve and scale climate action. MAST brings together over 30 diverse arts and cultural organisations, from community-based arts centres and iconic cultural venues to an internationally renowned festival and national broadcasters, in a participatory and non-prescriptive way.
The MAST group meets regularly to exchange best practice and develop joint actions. Finding out who is using which green suppliers, products and services providers is always a big point of interest. As a result of this exchange the group is now creating a green supplier directory. MAST has also been supported by the Business Growth Hub in developing a sustainable procurement survey and a framework to review suppliers and strengthen environmental sustainability in procurement for operational activities.
In 2019, Manchester City Council’s events team, a MAST member, launched a series of Sustainable Events Guides. The guides are for event organisers, suppliers, service providers and venues to help them review their activity, share what they are already doing or could commit to doing to green city events practice and be part of making Manchester zero carbon by 2038. There are lots of examples already of how these guides are being put into practice, through MAST members such as the production company Walk the Plank and Manchester Pride, other events such as the Manchester Food and Drink Festival and food and drink traders.
MAST is a member of Manchester’s Climate Change Partnership, which oversees and champions delivery of the city’s climate change strategy and its ambition to be a zero carbon city by 2038. MAST is one of 10 pioneer groups currently developing a zero carbon action plan to contribute to achieving Manchester’s ambition. They are being supported in this process through Accelerator – a strand of Arts Council England’s Environmental Programme 2018-22 focused on advancing the sector’s environmental practice and innovation. Two MAST members – HOME Manchester and the Royal Exchange Theatre – are part of the Spotlight programme – another strand of the Arts Council’s Environmental Programme focused on building energy and carbon reduction. MAST will be looking at how the Spotlight methodology and learnings can feed into their zero carbon action plan.
Simon Curtis, Head of Production, Royal Exchange Theatre and Chair, Manchester Arts Sustainability Team
“At the Royal Exchange Theatre we are committed to reducing our environmental impact in line with our city and country’s targets. Currently we are part of the Spotlight programme which is helping us unlock further reductions in energy use across our buildings. We are also working with MAST on the Accelerator project that will see our sector map our journey to a zero carbon future.”
MAST have been supporting their peers and other cities by sharing their long-standing experience. This includes Sustainable Arts in Leeds (SAIL) and Southampton City Council, a fellow Accelerator participant, in the early days of building cultural collaboration on climate.
Manchester City Council, supported by MAST and Julie’s Bicycle, is leading C-Change, an Urbact transfer network with five other European cities committed to working together to develop arts and culture sector collaboration on climate action and engagement.
In October 2019, city and culture sector representatives from the five C-Change partner cities came together for the first time in Manchester. Over a packed three days they learnt more about Manchester’s approach, meeting with MAST members and seeing environmental practice in action at HOME Manchester and ITV. They participated in carbon literacy training, a policy lab on how cultural policy can drive environmental leadership and two sessions on ‘Arts and Culture Leading Climate Action in Cities – Making this Happen in your Cities’. Next year will see all six cities doing a C-Change season or festival and showcasing the results of a pilot action programme to support cultural and creative responses on climate.
Images courtesy of MAST