EDN campaign presents concrete actions and ideas to engage the contemporary dance sector in Europe, its advocates, funders and stakeholders, in a shared movement towards a sustainable future.
EDN Campaign 2022
How are ecological concerns addressed by contemporary dance organisations? Which are the main challenges with “greening” the way we design, produce and present contemporary dance artworks? What do we need in order to achieve greater ecological sustainability? And what has to be taken into consideration in view of our diverse international realities?
These were some of the central questions raised during EDN’s workshops, meetings and exchanges in 2022, that gathered ideas, actions and good practices contributed by a diverse pool of participants; artists, thinkers, leaders and producers from the field of contemporary dance and beyond.
This campaign presents concrete actions and ideas to engage the contemporary dance sector in Europe, its advocates, funders and stakeholders, in a shared movement towards a sustainable future.
EDN Campaign “How Can We Move” started on 6 October 2022 with seven social media actions (announcement and six themes), with later dissemination of both research publication and full campaign document.
As the final result of the campaign, the European Dancehouse Network has released the final campaign document which includes six themes:
The final document is endorsed by all 48 network members from 28 countries. The EDN Campaign document can be used by artists, advocates, funders and stakeholders to (re)think, (re)adapt and (re)invent their approach. We encourage you to use this document along with the EDN publication "Environmental Sustainability in Contemporary Dance: Emerging Issues, Practises and Recommendations" in your local, regional and national advocacy work.
“After all, dancing is one of the most sustainable activities imaginable.” (Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, EDN Conference 2020)
There is a potential embodied knowledge in the genuine artistic interest of a dance piece and the nature of the process it involves, which can change our ways of being in the world. Bodies are the site of values, behaviour and lifestyles which, for better or worse, are closely connected to climate change and may contribute to fostering environmental sustainability.
Next to measuring the environmental impact, develop monitoring and evaluation frameworks that address both the need to measure environmental impacts and qualitative contributions made by dance and other arts sector in adapting and transitioning to a more sustainable society.
“We are so occupied with producing, that we forget to see what impact our work has. This is out of balance.” (René Alejandro Huari Mateus)
We need to start thinking outside the paradigm of production, embrace ‘de-growth’ and find a new balance between the production of new works and the circulation and presentation of that which already exists, as well as the impact of the works presented.
Reduce funding-related requirements for the number of productions and presentations, specifically the number of new productions.
“Many artists do not have a choice on whether or not to be mobile.” (Lázaro Gabino Rodríguez)
Adapting mobility to new circumstances should be a nuanced process. One that recognises diversity and applies a principle of ‘climate justice’ – that is, framing the climate crisis not only as an environmental or physical process, but one that has ethical and political implications as well, and applying concepts of justice, equity and historical responsibilities when devising more sustainable solutions.
EU bodies, as well as national, regional and local authorities and related bodies should adopt sustainable travel guidelines for the arts which balance environmental sustainability and cultural objectives. This must recognise the need for nuanced approaches which take regional asymmetries into account, and in line with the principles of climate justice.
“Let artistic practices create structures that are capable of change.” Maija Karhunen
In addition to the nature of organisations and structures, change may also be hindered by the lack of financial, human or technical resources to undertake transformative approaches, the daunting feeling that measures for change are necessary in many areas and it is difficult to know where to start, the fear that adapting to sustainability puts the usual activities and procedures at risk, or the perception that environmental sustainability is only a secondary issue for performing arts organisations.
Support the adaptation of dance organisations and venues to enhance their environmental sustainability, recognising the need for capacity building and revised approaches. This should be achieved through the application of incentives rather than penalties.
“Dance is for community, for personal growth, for everything because words are just symbols of our experience. So, how do we get to the experience? Because the word is just one symbol, but movement incorporates everything.” Anna Halprin
A development of ‘slower’ forms of engagement involve stronger relations with local communities. The holistic, interconnected nature of sustainability, where environmental, social, economic and cultural aspects meet, implies new partnerships with a diverse range of profiles, including environmental, educational and social stakeholders, on the one hand, and other organisations in dance and the arts, on the other.
Foster the exchange of knowledge, experiences, and networking among dance and other arts organisations in areas related to environmental sustainability
There are large asymmetries across Europe, with only a few countries having cultural policies strongly connected to environmental sustainability. Structured incentives for ecologically considerate touring are insufficient and goals of cultural policies are often incompatible with sustainable practices, excessively focusing on quantitative indicators. Making progress towards a model for creation, production and presentation which is consistent with sustainability, revising approaches to mobility, fostering organisations’ internal change and strengthening partnerships and community engagement requires transformation on policy level.
The EU, national, regional and local authorities and related bodies should revise and set up funding incentives and mechanisms which enable the dance sector to transition into environmentally sustainable practices, taking into consideration the sustainability of working conditions within the field.