A Just and Green Cultural Recovery

Dear Secretary of State, 

We are writing to urge you to make the cultural recovery a just and green cultural recovery

Along with many others in the UK the creative and cultural community has been badly hit; lives have been lost, buildings are dark, festivals are empty fields, tours are stationary, and thousands of people and business suppliers dependent on culture have shut up shop. Coronavirus has exposed deep-seated social and economic inequalities.

What we decide now will create the sustainable foundations for the future; we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build a resilient recovery plan that is fair and tackles the climate and ecological crisis with urgency. We cannot let this opportunity pass us by.

Before the pandemic the creative and cultural sector was contributing £111.7 billion to the UK economy – greater than the automotive, aerospace, life sciences, oil and gas industries combined – employing over two million people and growing at 5 times the rate of the economy as a whole. The sector is of national and international significance but not just to the economy; aside from soft power and tourism, we generate civic and community cohesion and well-being. Our track record in climate action is also of international significance. Thousands of artists and organisations from across the creative spectrum have been championing climate action for many years, not least because Arts Council England has undertaken the largest cultural programme of environmental literacy anywhere in the world, and is the first national funding body to make environmental requirements a condition of funding. Having already shown our commitment to environmental action we want the cultural recovery to be a fair, just and green recovery.

The cultural community is ready to galvanise its power to drive change.

We urge government to commit to a rapid, just and green cultural recovery combining targeted public investment, clear policy signals, and implementation of Climate Change Act obligations extended to the Cultural Renewal strategy. We urge that action to protect nature and biodiversity is given the attention it so urgently deserves. And we urge that the singular opportunity to tackle systemic barriers to empowerment that many black and minority people experience, not least across the culture and environment sectors, are prioritised. This last point goes to the heart of a just transition.

The UK’s leadership matters. Whilst the UN COP 26 climate negotiations have been rescheduled for November 2021, we still have to fulfil our 2020 commitments and show increased ambition. Every month we delay action is a lost opportunity to establish the frameworks and investment commitments which demonstrate our dedication. The cultural community will do whatever we can; we hope you use these months well, and help us to help you lead.

We ask that:

1/ The Cultural Renewal Task Force prioritise a rapid, just and green recovery, with designated representation on every sub-group. A just transition must be woven into all themes to ensure that those who have been left out, and the freelance creative workforce are taken fully into account.

2/ The recommendation from the Committee on Climate Change that legally binding “net-zero policy [is] embedded across all levels and departments of Government” is adopted by DCMS and the UK put in place policies to meet its current fourth and fifth carbon budgets which we are currently not on track to meet. 

3/ Public cultural compliancy and funding requirements are aligned to net zero requirements and promote biodiversity, and that larger organisations adopt explicit science-based net zero pathways. 

4/ Any national Green Recovery plan is sector-specific to include the creative and cultural sector, with a focus on inclusion, place-making and communities, including strong incentives for space for nature. 

5/ Specific R&D funds are designated for the creative and cultural community to benefit from interdisciplinary knowledge and partnerships which result in fit-for-purpose and future-proofed cultural services and products. 

6/ A cross-cutting government Task force on Green Creative Skills and Curriculum Reform is created, with representation from Department for Education, Department for Enterprise, Innovation and Skills, and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs encompassing environmental and cultural expertise to prepare the future cultural workforce adequately. 

Yours sincerely, 

Tony Wadsworth CBE, Chairman

Alison Tickell, Chief Executive

Dated: 9th June, 2020


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