Case Study
  • Posted on January 16th, 2024

Oxford Contemporary Music – Addressing the Climate Crisis in Music

Oxford Contemporary Music and 101 Outdoor Arts

A case study from Oxford Contemporary Music – a producer of new music and sound-based live events.

About Oxford Contemporary Music

Having committed to commissioning at least one piece each year addressing the climate crisis, we wanted to help artists develop their practice in this area, and encourage them to think in depth about how to create real impact with their work. We felt that there was expertise in other sectors on how audiences respond to climate messaging which could be usefully applied to creative practice, and that cross-sector skills sharing could bring about more impactful climate-related creative work.

We wanted to help artists explore their motivations for creating work addressing climate issues, and to think critically about their intentions to influence audiences with their work. We want to programme and produce work that can have a positive impact on audiences, encouraging them to engage with the climate crisis and ultimately influence positive change in society. We hoped to grow a community of artists who shared our perspective and ambition, and offer them new skills and perspectives to help them create work like this. Through this ambition, we created the Communicating Climate Crisis Lab with 101 Outdoor Arts.

Oxford Contemporary Music and 101 Outdoor Arts
Oxford Contemporary Music and 101 Outdoor Arts

Benefits of the Communicating Climate Crisis Lab

The programme had many rich benefits for the participants and us as an organisation. It brought a conversation into the open within the organisation about how, why and what we programme and commission around the climate crisis.

It also brought together a community of artists from different backgrounds with a shared passion for creating work that relates to environmental issues, but with a valuable wide variety of motivations and perspectives.

We feel that the programme instigated an eye-opening conversation, revealing that there isn’t often a forum for exchange between artists, commissioners, and producers, about making work and engaging with audiences. This was also a great opportunity for cross-sector learning for all of us, bringing in speakers from Climate Communications and activism sectors.

Oxford Contemporary Music and 101 Outdoor Arts
Oxford Contemporary Music and 101 Outdoor Arts

Impacts for the future

One of the main impacts of this programme has been the new network to draw on for commissioning, widening our network of artists. On top of this, we’ve brought together a community of artists to connect with, who are actively working in this area, and are on a journey with us of thinking about how to connect with audiences.

We’ve also nurtured a stronger partnership with 101, a potential relationship for future co-commissioning in this area. We have a long history of partnership with 101, and it was brilliant to be able to run this with them. They are experienced at running development labs for artists, and enabled us to connect with artists from a wider range of disciplines.


A variety of collaborators and partners supported this work, including:

  • Adam Corner who helped us curate the speakers and was a speaker himself
  • Flick Ferdinando helped design the workshops and facilitated
  • Climate Outreach (indirectly, they weren’t involved but their work inspired some of the content)
  • Other speakers were:
    • Subathra Subramaniam – artist, works with 
    • Daisy Pearson from Global Justice
    • Manju Patel-Nair from RISC 

This case study was written by Oxford Contemporary Music.