Thursday 29 March 2012

New on our news page

'Take the money and run' reading group

The Dark Mountain Project moves north with a festival in Scotland in April, and a lecture in Falmouth by Dark Mountain's Paul Kingsnorth is now a podcast.

Headphones on: The Tate à Tate Audio Tour is available to download. It's three alternative guides to the Tate collections and their sponsorship by oil corporations.

A webcast conference on sustainable practice in the theatre springs from Minneapolis.

In Edinburgh, the Science Festival hosts three talks by climate scientist James Hansen, along with events on food, foraging and dance.

PLATFORM's Jane Trowell and the Live Art Development Agency 'take the money and run' in a series of reading groups on ethics, art and sponsorship. photo above

Other new courses include urban permaculture in Salford and Body/Landscape in Scotland.

Two exhibitions are coming up from Cape Farewell: HEVVA! HEVVA! by students on the Cornwall Short Course at the Eden Project; and in Paris, Carbon 12, pairing artists with climate scientists.
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Monday 26 March 2012

SHINSAI: Theaters for Japan

Practicing for SHINSAI. Photo Erin Baiano/Licoln Center Theater
Kellie Gutman writes:

A unique event took place at 69 theatres across the United States on March 11, the one-year anniversary of the devastating Japanese earthquake.  Called SHINSAI - the Japanese word for an earthquake disaster - it was a series of readings of ten-minute plays to raise funds for the Japan Playwrights Association.

Some theatres held one or two readings before their normally scheduled productions; others made an evening of presenting many of the plays and songs put together for the event.  More than half of the plays have to do with the environmental disaster in Japan. To read the plays, register here

The Theatre Communications Group helped to organize SHINSAI. Japanese and American playwrights wrote works for the event; Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman reworked two songs from their 1976 musical Pacific Overtures. All plays were to be presented only on March 11.

National Public Radio did a story, which you can hear here.

Yoji Sakate, President of Japan Playwrights Association wrote:

Theater artists in Japan, centered around those living in the Tohoku region that was devastated by the great earthquake and nuclear accident, extend our hand to theater artists around the world to rebuild Tohuku and Japanese society, restoring the conditions that surround the art of theater, such as environments for creative activity, theater buildings, companies, rehearsal spaces, education and audiences.  We seek to work with our international peers to demonstrate the potential of human beings and the theater to overcome adversity as well as the primordial power of expression on stage.

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Wednesday 14 March 2012

First daffodil three weeks earlier

Kellie Gutman writes:

Our yearly collaboration with the Paideia School, in Atlanta Georgia has just wrapped up.  Each year they send a pre-written postcard, ready to be filled in with a date, for the first spotting of a blooming daffodil.  All of those who receive cards are within 5 miles of U.S. Route 1, which stretches from the southern tip of Florida to the northern tip of Maine.  As the cards return to the school, they are used by the  9- and 10-year olds to plot the advance of spring on a map.  When all the cards are in they use their maths skills to figure out the rate at which spring advances.

This year the winter was unseasonably warm on the east coast. In Boston, where the snowfall average is 41.3 inches, we have received only 9.1 inches.  This is only a tenth of an inch more than the least snowiest winter on record.  

Last year the first daffodil was spotted on April 5th.  This year it was three and a half weeks earlier on March 12.  We will have to wait until all the cards have been returned to see if spring in general was much earlier this year.

See also:
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Monday 12 March 2012

TippingPoint makes a step-change

Wallace Heim writes:

The TippingPoint last month, co-hosted by the Newcastle Institute for Research on Sustainability, made a step-change from previous TP events. Many of the same elements were there, but something shifted. Something sparked in the combination of TP’s open structure and those participants, those presentations, the talk, the room and the city. It felt as if many things were converging, and instead of being an event proposing or speculating that culture and the arts could be important responses to climate change, it was an event going with and propelling the diverse and energetic work that is being made, and being dreamt of.

The presentations in more conventional conference form, many now online, were provocative, each presenting a distinct direction and raising questions that filtered through the rest of the event. Kevin Anderson and Matt Ridley's heated head-to-head ("Two men slugging it out over data" as one participant named it) exemplified adversarial strategies and the ways in which the ‘deniers’ and those who accept the consensus views of science tend to define one another’s arguments, leaving a blank between them. It also brought out the difficulties of seeing and critiquing the rhetoric and argumentation in debates that rely on scientific data.

Lucy Conway presented the artwork that is the Isle of Eigg, and how the population there is realising low-carbon, high socially and culturally benefitted living. Ben Twist from Zero Carbon Scotland +TBD, introduced the problem of whether art can, or should, be linked to behavioural change. Erica Whyman from Northern Stage showed how the major cultural organisations in Newcastle are collaborating across their business and institutional interests, and building a network that could include developing plans for material sustainability. The idea of organisational collaboration returned in Alan Davey’s announcement of Arts Council England’s decision to embed environmental sustainability into its funding agreement.

On the last day, Sue Gill, of Dead Good Guides led everyone in singing a version of ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ before John Fox gave his reflections on the transitions in art-making from commercialised spectacle to vernacular art, to 'random acts of culture'. "Even if the markets fail, we must not tolerate the failure of imagination."

The three days were planned to allow for chance conversations and random mixing in small groups, like the ‘Show and Tell’ session, where participants bring an object with meaning for them relating to climate change. Some of these personal and emotive exchanges drifted into the wider discussions. The three Open Space sessions had themes, the first two mostly ignored: 'In what ways might I influence the future' and 'Exploring Possibilities', in favour of people’s more immediate concerns. The third, 'What am I going to do about the future', drew out dozens of groups talking about their projects, and help that could be given to them.

The openness of TP makes reporting back very subjective. It did feel as if something happened, more than presentations and networking. The unrepeatable, and well-facilitated, combination of the people, the ideas, the timing came together to make an event that showed and advanced the many edges of social and artistic action.

Audio recordings of the presentations, tweets, blogs, interviews and commentaries with participants and some of the evenings' entertainment are on Amplified. Photos above posted on Amplified by quitexander.
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Wednesday 7 March 2012

New on our news page

Competition opens for this year’s Nick Darke Award for environmental playwriting, screenwriting and documentary, with a prize of £6,000.

After Miss Julie is to open at the Young Vic in London, a ‘Classics for a New Climate’ production with Julie’s Bicycle, aiming to reduce the amount of electricity used from the national grid by 50% in the production of the show.

Alan Davey of Arts Council England announces that ACE will embed environmental sustainability in its funding agreements with Nationally Funded Organisations and Major Partner Museums.

A tent in Edinburgh this week houses discussions and workshops on ecology and art with students from 'Art, Space and Nature' at Edinburgh College of Art, and eco/art/scotland.

In London, the publication ATLAS: Geography, Architecture and Change in an Interdependent World will be launched at the Purcell Room, with geographer Doreen Massey, food urbanist Carolyn Steele, campaigner Andrew Simms and playwright Lemn Sissay.

At the Science Museum, London, architect Sunand Prasad, campaigner Martin Kirk and climate activist Cat Hudson will discuss how to get people to change their habits.
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Thursday 1 March 2012

The Browser says it all

 Best of the Moment

Global Warming Skeptics Are Wrong

William Nordhaus | NYRB | 27 February 2012
Yale economist rebuts sceptics' arguments, point by point. The earth is getting warmer. Due to carbon dioxide pollution. Humans are responsible. The science is legitimate. It's a bad situation. It's worth taking action

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'The Great Immensity' does a 'Greenland'

In the last couple of years a number of plays about climate change have been staged in London from Steve Waters' The Contingency Plan to the multi-authored Greenland at the National Theatre and Richard Bean's The HereticThe Contingency Plan was funny, dramatic and accurate; Greenland was not very dramatic, not very funny and accurate; and The Heretic was very funny, quite dramatic and fairly inaccurate.

Meanwhile, this blog has been waiting since 2010 for the results of the substantial grant of $750,000 (£470,000) from the US National Science Foundation for a new play about climate change by The Civilians theatre company. The reviews for The Great Immensity are now in. It sounds as if it has made some of the same mistakes as Greenland.

So what happens in The Great Immensity? The set-up is that a character called Phyllis arrives at Barro Colorado Island, a rainforest and research reserve in the middle of the Panama Canal, in search of her twin sister Polly, a filmmaker who has suddenly disappeared. The researchers on the island help Phyllis reconstruct her sister’s last days through flashbacks, video interviews from Polly’s hard drive, and vaudeville musical sketches. Phyllis learns that Polly was engaged in a project to do with the upcoming Auckland Climate Summit. The action then moves to Churchill, Manitoba, where Earth Ambassadors and others disclose what happened to Polly.

Robert Trussell in the Kansas City Star calls it a “risk-taking show” and an “unwieldy cargo container of theatrical virtues and deficiencies”.

“Integrated into the narrative is alarming information about the plight of the planet. I’m not questioning the scientific information that forms this play’s foundation. My concern is how the show works as theatrical entertainment.”

Victor Wishna, in the KCMetropolis, an online journal of the performing arts, takes the view that what theatre does best is provoke, rather than educate or entertain. Although well-performed, he finds it a single-issue, educational show, with no subplots or diversions from the message of the irreversible damage that humans have done to the planet.

“Theatre-goers may very well leave The Great Immensity more frustrated and agitated than inspired. Unlike a lecture or even a documentary film, theatre isn’t expected to offer answers but to raise—to provoke—questions, to challenge assumptions, to take us from ‘There’s nothing to be done’ to ‘Isn’t there something we can do?’”

pic: from left: Rebecca Hart, Dan Domingues, Meghan McGeary and Todd Cerveris in 'The Great Immensity'  
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