Climate Beacons is a Scotland-wide collaborative climate and culture project in the lead-up to and following COP26. As a co-ordinating partner, ECCI is supporting the Climate Beacons project to stimulate long-term public engagement between environmental and arts organisations in the lead up to COP26.
One year on from the launch of the project, Lewis Coenen-Rowe, Climate Beacons co-ordinator at Creative Carbon Scotland, looks back at how far the project has come, celebrates the achievements of the last 12 months and looks ahead to what will come next.
After a highly competitive application process full of fantastic proposals, we finally whittled down the shortlist to seven Climate Beacons situated around Scotland. Although all formed of collaborations between cultural and climate focused organisations, each Beacon was completely different in their approach, local context, and subject matter. Partnerships ranged in size from pairings of two organisations in Argyll and Midlothian to a collective of seventeen in Tayside. Some Beacons immediately launched into public events while others took time to develop their collective vision. Locations ranged from major cities to remote villages.
We have come a long way since the Climate Beacons were first introduced. New connections have been forged. New works of art have been created. Well over a hundred events and activities have taken place around Scotland and online. Local organisations have adopted long-term changes. New audiences have been drawn into climate change conversations.
It has been a truly inspiring process and one that would not have been possible without the hard work and determination of the people involved in running the Climate Beacons, which are hugely ambitious in scope. The project sought to promote and platform the knowledge and expertise on culture and climate that exists all around Scotland and we found it everywhere. We encountered public speakers who could draw the excitement out of mosses and lichens, library staff that have transformed their organisations, young people who displayed an astounding understanding of global climate change, and – perhaps most importantly of all – everywhere those behind the scenes organising and making things happen. These people have all achieved incredible things and nothing would have been possible without them.
What’s been happening?
We last shared an update in March, and plenty has happened since then. Although the project was planned to coincide with the UN climate talks coming to Glasgow, we knew from the start that the period after the talks had finished was going to be in many ways the most crucial, so we planned for activities to run up until July 2022. In recent months, we have seen a wide range of exciting new work from the Beacons:
- The Argyll Beacon arranged trips with local school pupils into the local rainforest and worked with artists to create a film and sound collage creatively sharing the pupils’ perspectives and ideas
- The Caithness & East Sutherland Beacon released a film, ‘The Fifth Giant (or What Would You Do?)’ about their work with the Bare Project on the People’s Palace of Possibility
- The Fife Beacon is working on an artist residency at Silverburn Park as well as a tree planting project with Levenmouth Academy
- The Inverclyde Beacon worked with a local youth theatre group to research, write and perform a new play about climate change, which was performed at the Beacon Arts Centre and will soon be available as a film
- The Midlothian Beacon’s ‘Weathering Earth’ participatory sculpture project accrued over 1000 contributions and culminated in a closing celebration that also featured the screening of new films produced by students at Queen Margaret University and the unveiling of a new sculpture by Nicole Manley
- Làn Thìde (the Outer Hebrides Beacon) worked with the Met Office on a series of Storm Stories events gathering and sharing people’s experiences of extreme weather in the islands and contributing to plans for the islands to adapt to climate change. Artist Sandra Kennedy and scientist James Pope collaborated to turn climate data into a new piece of music.
- The Tayside Beacon ran a series of events across Tayside combining showcases for local groups with the results of creative commissions that were created through collaborations between artists and scientists
You can find out more about what has been going on by visiting www.climatebeacons.com.
In June 2021, all eyes were on the preparations for COP26 and especially how this would be affected by the ongoing covid-19 pandemic. Now the global situation looks very different with the invasion of Ukraine and concerns over fuel shortages drawing attention and capacity away from work on climate change. In this post-COP26 period, it is vital that we maintain our focus on climate change while being sympathetic to the competing concerns that our audiences are facing.
We know that climate change is an issue that we will be working on for decades to come and we need long term thinking. With this in mind, we will be supporting the Climate Beacons to continue their good work and there is plenty more planned for the coming months. The Beacons have helped establish all sorts of new connections and changes for the organisations involved that have led onto new projects and priorities. There is plenty more to look forward to.
You can also look forward to hearing the results of our work with PhD researcher Emma Hall, who has been working on documenting and evaluating the Climate Beacons project, with results set to be shared in October. Until then, feel free to get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org