News / Environment

Three major Bristol institutions join forces to declare climate emergency

By ellie pipe, Thursday Oct 17, 2019

The unifying power of culture to inspire, educate and inform is an important force in contributing to positive change, says the CEO of Watershed.

Clare Reddington’s comments come as the independent cinema, together with Bristol Old Vic and the Colston Hall, unite to declare a climate and ecological emergency.

The three major venues have added their weight to an environmental movement sweeping the globe in the wake of an IPCC report, which warned humanity has now just 11 years to take drastic action in order to prevent climate catastrophe.

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Bristol Old Vic’s executive director says venue bosses are determined to play their part in delivering significant change

“Standing alongside our partners in the city is crucial in ensuring not only that we deliver against the targets we have set, but also that we support each other to do so,” says Charlotte Geeves, the newly-appointed executive director of Bristol Old Vic.

“Over this theatre’s long lifetime, it has been at the forefront of social and cultural change and we could not ignore the current challenges society faces. We are determined to play our part in delivering significant change.”


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The declaration was announced on Thursday, October 17 during a Festival of Future Cities event, Fighting the Climate Emergency in the Anthropocene, at Watershed. The aim, say the venues’ bosses, is to commit to taking action and to inspire audiences, partners and collaborators to do the same.

The announcement was made during a Festival of Future Cities event. Photo ©tfarrow

The three cultural venues follow in the footsteps of We The Curious, Bristol City Council, West of England Combined Authority (WECA) and the University of Bristol in declaring a climate emergency. Carla Denyer, a Green councillor and parliamentary candidate, first successfully proposed the motion to Bristol City Council last year, a move that has been the catalyst for similar actions across the country.


Read more: Bristol declares a climate emergency and pledges to become carbon neutral by 2030


Clare Reddington, the CEO of Watershed, says: “The unifying power of culture to inspire, educate and inform is an important force in contributing to change.

“Watershed, alongside Bristol Old Vic and Colston Hall, join the Culture Declares network, so we can stand side by side with the sector to advocate for change, and use the networks and resources to support our aspirations.”

Louise Mitchell says the pledge is not just empty words

Colston Hall made a public pledge to become carbon neutral by 2030 earlier this month.

Commenting on this latest collaboration, Louise Mitchell, chief executive of Bristol Music Trust, the charity that runs Colston Hall, says: “We are proud to stand next to our cultural partners in the city and make this declaration. For us, this pledge is not just empty words. We’re committing to real change and hope to inspire others to join us.”

Venue bosses say that, following careful consideration with staff and the boards of trustees, each organisation has acknowledged climate breakdown as the single biggest threat facing society and made a series of individual pledges detailing further contributions they will make to tackle the crisis.

The commitments include carbon off-setting programmes, eradicating single-use plastics, reducing waste, building upgrades to achieve better environmental standards and supporting work that engages in debate and exploration of climate breakdown.

Full details of each venue’s current and pledged activity are available via:

Read more: Bristol concert hall becomes first in UK to make carbon neutral pledge

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