UK Culture set to Declare Climate Emergency - last call to join first wave - Extinction Rebellion UK

UK Culture set to Declare Climate Emergency – last call to join first wave

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CDE 3 April launch event:
Content drive:

  • Leading UK arts and cultural institutions set to declare a Climate and Ecological Emergency – deadline to be part of the first wave is this Friday 29 March
  • 48 individuals and 28 organisations are already pledging to declare including the Royal Court, ONCA (Brighton) and Invisible Dust (London and Scarborough)
  • Media launch of Culture Declares Emergency will be on Wednesday 3 April, with a beautifully curated and disruptive artist-led procession, with declarations to be made at institutions along the river Thames
  • Inspired by Extinction Rebellion and the global School Strike For Climate, Culture Declares Emergency is organising a range of events in the run up to International Rebellion, which begins Monday 15 April

The deadline to join a growing wave of arts and cultural institutions in declaring a Climate and Ecological Emergency is this Friday. More than 28 institutions and 48 individuals from the arts and culture sectors have already pledged. [1] More information about becoming a declarer here.

“Humanity faces the combined catastrophes of climate change, a mass extinction of vital biodiversity and a degradation of ecosystems health everywhere,” said Lucy Neal, spokesperson for Culture Declares Emergency.

“This has now become an emergency situation because governments and industry have not shown the necessary leadership, and, so far, have not acted fast enough. Fortunately, humans are capable of responding in a remarkable variety of ways to accelerate climate solutions and adaptations, and culture can help stir up human response as well as creating new stories and visions for our world.”  

Inspired by dozens of UK councils declaring Climate Emergencies – from Cornwall to Hull, from Mendip to London – members of the arts, culture and creative industries have decided to ask how their sector might respond collectively. [2] They are now calling on the arts and cultural community to do its part in telling the truth about the climate and ecological crisis, and to take necessary action.

Those declaring will make a series of pledges, and follow up with a range of actions to respond to the emergency. For example:

  • Amongst 7 pledges, ONCA gallery based in Brighton, pledge to “Work towards reducing ONCA’s CO2 emissions to net zero by 2025 by continuously reviewing and developing our environmental policies in dialogue with our suppliers” Persephone Pearl, Director
  • Invisible Dust (London and Scarborough), who work with leading artists and scientists to produce unique and exciting works of contemporary art, will commit to making the emergency visible through visual arts, working hard to reach more audiences with a range of work through the lens of climate change
  • “The Royal Court is declaring because we have a long-standing commitment to sustainability and producing climate plays and we want to be part of ramping up the urgency. We are committed to using our spaces and our platform to doing so.” Lucy Davies, Executive Producer.

Why culture?

The declaration movement has been gaining pace internationally. It started with Climate Mobilization in the US and Australia, and is now promoted by Extinction Rebellion, Sunrise Movement and School Strike for Climate amongst others. The number of UK councils declaring is increasing all the time – including the Greater London Authority – with councils committing resources to tackling this emergency. Their declarations state they will work with civic partners, so this is where culture comes in.

Judy Ling-Wong CBE, Black Environment Network, commented: “It is really important that individuals feel powerful. They need to know that how they choose to live and what they think and say shapes the world.”

“To do this effectively they need the right information. Our future cannot be left to a few passionate specialist organisations or to governments that shape actions based on economics and not on the real threat to our future. We need everyone to play their part.”

If organisations and practitioners have creative or civic resources to contribute, such as meeting space, biodiverse places, skilled people, community partners, or innovative ideas and programmes, then declaration allows them to explain the contribution they can make. There is no more important way to express the value of arts and culture at this time.

In areas or councils where an emergency has been declared, organisations and people may be called upon by local people, politicians or funders to respond. But making your own declaration, as an organisation or as an individual, is a good place to start. If an area or council has not declared, culture can lead by example, using the power of declarations to inspire others to do the same.

Organisations and cultural practitioners can confirm their wish to declare here.

Media invite 9am Wednesday 3 April – Culture Declares Emergency launch:

  • Culture Declares Emergency will formally launch Wednesday 3 April with an artist-led ceremony and procession
  • This will begin at 9am Somerset House, cross Waterloo Bridge, and move on to other arts institutions on the South bank of the Thames
  • At each location, a variety of Declarations of Emergency and a preview of Letters to the Earth – a campaign of Culture Declares Emergency – will be read. All venues participating in the first joint action, Letters To The Earth on Friday 12 April, will be announced. More details about Letters to the Earth at
  • At around 11.30am near the Globe Theatre there will be an opportunity to hear the context and different voices behind Culture Declares Emergency.

Press who would like to be part of this event are asked to rsvp at

Further upcoming events

On Friday 12 April, Shakespeare’s Globe, National Theatre Wales and Royal Court Theatre will be some of a range of theatres and arts venues across the UK hosting events with nationwide readings of 100s of Letters To The Earth invited from the public.

Notes to editors

  1. The Culture Declares Emergency toolkit

The Culture Declares Emergency toolkit offers a template text and many resources to help with declaring, responding to the emergency and then sustaining change. Those declaring believe that culture is essential to help guide us in making the transformational change necessary to address the emergency of the combined catastrophes of climate change, a mass extinction of vital biodiversity and a degradation of ecosystems everywhere. Culture has the power to bring people together, disrupt the status quo and spark change.

  1. Councils declaring climate emergency

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