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As we prepare our students for careers in the art world, we believe our greatest impact in addressing the climate emergency can be achieved through them.

The world is facing a series of linked environmental crises, with the impacts of existing global warming being felt through devastating droughts, storms and floods across the world, and many other interrelated issues. Without urgent action from across society, these problems will rapidly escalate.  

Arts organisations and associated industries have a large impact on the environment, mainly due to a great deal of international travel, shipping, and high use of energy and materials. We need to act urgently to reduce these impacts in line with what the science is telling us. Arts organisations also have an opportunity to use cultural influence to set a positive example, encouraging and supporting others to act and helping shift the public debate. 

As we prepare our students for careers in the art world, we believe our greatest impact in addressing the climate emergency can be achieved through them. In shaping the next generation of leaders, it is our mission to ensure that they are equipped with the mindset and tools to carry out their careers in an environmentally responsible way, and to drive forward the fight against climate change. As such, we have committed to:

  • Providing every Master’s student with insight into the sustainability issues facing the art world, and the opportunity and encouragement to engage positively in tackling them 
  • Using our education skills to forward the debate and issues relating to art world sustainability 

How we are demonstrating this commitment: 

  • Sustainability content is taught across all four of our MA programmes 
  • Our MA in Luxury Business students work with a fashion and jewellery industry expert to learn about Conscious Capitalism, the UN Global Compact and cutting-edge sustainable business practice in the field 
  • We offer a focused elective unit, Sustainability and the Art World, available to all MA students to deepen their understanding. We believe we are the first higher education institution to offer this material specific to the art world 
  • Our library provides relevant resources to provide students with the most up to date thinking about art world sustainability 
  • We are embedding sustainability into our art business incubator, The Enterprise Studio 
  • We raise the profile of art world sustainability in talks and events  

We are proud to provide a springboard for students to create a more sustainable art world: 

  • We provided seed funding, mentoring and introductions to a student entrepreneur in launching the sustainability-focused art world business Spongy Bags   
  • We brokered a student placement with Gallery Climate Coalition 
  • We support students developing and contributing their own research into sustainability and the art world via the Master’s dissertation 

While we drive forward the understanding of art world sustainability, we continue to consider our own activity and operations. We commit to addressing our own outputs by: 

  • Joining the Gallery Climate Coalition and pledging to at least halve our carbon emissions by 2030, from a 2021/22 baseline 
  • Regularly calculating the carbon footprint of our operations, to track progress towards this target 
  • Undertaking more efficient use of our building, sharing the space with other institutions 

The actions we are taking to support these targets include:   

  • Maintaining a Green Team with representatives from different parts of the organisation, that meets to track progress on all these targets and actions at least once a month 
  • Banning single use plastic for all in-house catering of events 
  • Providing students with reusable water bottles to minimise waste  
  • Reviewing our suppliers to prioritise environmentally sustainable operatives 
  • Reviewing all field study travel to reduce flights to a minimum 

As an organisation we are in a period of growth and change, which makes absolute carbon reduction a challenge. The temptation is to throw our hands up and say: ‘we can’t focus on that right now.’ But we are choosing still to play our part and find creative ways to engage in this emergency. While we ultimately aim to commit to 50% reduction in our carbon output by 2030, we are realistic that this will not be a straightforward downward line for us in the next 3-5 years. Increasing numbers of students, multi-site premises and other plans in the short-to-medium term seriously challenge our capacity to reduce carbon emissions. But we’re up for the challenge. Growth and more students mean more people to influence. While our buildings will be operating at greater capacity, and we move in the right direction on a per capita basis, we know that it is ultimate reduction that counts. We have a vision of occupying sustainable premises by 2030.  

In the meantime, to take full responsibility for our emissions, we are setting aside £50 per tonne of CO2e we emit into a Strategic Climate Fund, rather than purchasing carbon offsets. Following guidance from the Gallery Climate Coalition, this money will be spent on measures to accelerate our emissions reductions and support frontline climate solutions around the world that are making a difference right now. 

We have set these targets and are taking actions in the knowledge that we aren’t yet doing everything right. We still have a great deal to do and much to learn and welcome those who wish to join the conversation with us.