On Wednesday 24 November 2021 seven presenters, and 40+ attendees, joined us for our Connect event on Community, Culture, Creativity and Climate, and shared details of their creative initiatives around climate change. A diverse range of projects and creative practices was presented. We are sure there are more out there, and yet more ideas waiting to come to fruition, so we are keen to keep connected on this topic. There was a lot of food for thought in each and every one of the presentations. It was inspirational to see what creativity can achieve in the context of the climate crisis, but also to consider the role art plays in our lives. Interesting and productive breakout room discussion followed, considering the question; “How can art, creativity and culture play a role in communicating, envisioning, and actioning a sustainable and net zero future within Exeter?”. In each room, the presenters were able to share and discuss more about their work and the provocation further. Below is a brief summary of each presentation, with an additional project ask, and links to further information.

Chloe Uden, Art and Energy, Moths to a Flame

Chloe shared the experience of taking Art and Energy’s mass-participation art installation Moths to a Flame to COP26. The exhibition was an installation of 20,000 moths, plus recorded audio messages, from a project that incorporated moth artworks and messages contributed from many participants around the world. You can see a report on BBC Spotlight here: https://youtu.be/dAFQ0AgSzm8. Based in Exeter, Chloe talked about Art and Energy’s plans for the future, next steps, and asked the question of how as an organisation they could work in Exeter.

Ask: How can Art and Energy work in Exeter?

Emma Welton, ‘How is ‘being a musician’ a ‘climate job’?

Emma Welton is a musician and sound artist who has declared a climate and biodiversity emergency in her work. She talked about the process of making such a declaration and how this has affected her ways of working. For example, Emma says, “in all my professional dealings I keep the potential carbon emissions of our activity in the conversation. The need for reduction of carbon emissions is so great and urgent that every job now needs to be a climate job, from grass roots to Government we all need to do our bit at every level, and help each other”. Emma is very mindful of how her audiences will get to her events, or how she will get to events she is due to perform at, asking for environmental policies from organisations, and timing activities to fit with public transport options. You can find out more about Emma’s work here: Emma Welton – musician

Ask: Is your job a climate job? If not, what can you do to make it one?

Finlay Carroll & Bee Taylor, Musical Theatre, THERE’S NO TIME: THE WORLD IS DYING!

Finlay Carroll and Bee Taylor showed us the process of producing a devised performance piece of musical theatre that explores the climate crisis, sharing that ‘musical theatre allows you to feel things”, and “it provides hope and direction”. As a group of graduates from University of Exeter climate and applied theatre pathways, they have created a lab for rapid-response musical theatre making. THERE’S NO TIME: THE WORLD IS DYING! incorporates 5 artists in a space for 5 days, in a collaborative, music-led devising process, nimbly translating headlines into accessible and moving musical performance.

Ask: We are looking for new creative collaborators in Exeter and surrounding areas. We are also looking for investment to run our process again and undergo organisational development. We would like to work with venues in Exeter in which we can reach a wider range of artists and audiences in the future. If you are interested in new musical theatre and/or climate arts then please get in touch! Contact email: Finlay Carroll

Dr Jess Collins, St Nicholas Priory, ‘Climate stories”

‘Climate stories at St Nicholas Priory’ is an education project, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, comprising sessions which link the story of the building and its people to present-day concerns about climate change. Initially, the sessions will be aimed at school groups, but the idea is to adapt them for other audiences too. Jess shared she had written a story about two children who come across a time-travelling Tudor mouse, who lives in a jug in the Priory kitchen. The story introduces the idea of change through time, exploring important messages about climate change in an accessible way.

Ask: The big ask is for volunteers! If you’re interested in working in a beautiful old building, showing children and adults around, and supporting the Priory’s education initiatives, please do get in touch! Details are on the website: Join & Support Us | St Nicholas Priory

Dr Evelyn O’Malley, University of Exeter, ‘Outside the Box’

Dr Evelyn O’Malley took us on a journey through a collection of projects that had formed ‘Outside the Box’, (co-created with Prof. Cathy Turner), open-air performance based projects that connected the people and places of Exeter as a response to the pandemic, but ultimately connecting to nature and the environment too. As Evelyn said, “Outdoor performances can cultivate new appreciations of local environments, emphasising the pleasures of sustainable living and complexities of interconnectedness, supporting a sustainable recovery and ‘building back better’ as the climate changes”.

Ask: Interested in possibilities for future collaborations in theatre and performance work connected to climate and environment, contact email Dr Evelyn O’Malley

Cecilia Mañosa Nyblon & Dr Sally Flint, University of Exeter, One Chance Left

Cecilia Mañosa Nyblon and Dr Sally Flint spoke about One Chance Left, an interdisciplinary collaborative project at the intersection of science, health and the arts culminating in a poetry exhibition trail around Exeter and Cornwall, a digital and printed book, and recorded readings. Dr Flint discussed how poetry has the power to engage people in complex or difficult subjects like the climate crisis and health emergency. We heard about their experience of presenting the project at COP26. You can view the film about the project here One Chance Left – YouTube.

Ask: Take a look and listen to the poetry at the links above. Interested in suggestions for future collaborations.

Dr Natalie Whitehead & Dr Alice Mills, Exeter Science Centre, STEAMM as an integral part of culture

Our final presentation of the evening was from Dr Natalie Whitehead and Dr Alice Mills of the Exeter Science Centre, about their mission to educate, motivate and empower the public to make a difference in the world. They are seeking to create an exemplary STEAMM discovery centre in Exeter for the educational, social and cultural benefit of the city and the whole of the South West region. They also shared information about their climate stories gallery (Climate Stories Gallery – Exeter Science Centre), and climate pop-up event due in March 2022 (Breaking the Ice: Exeter Science Centre Pop Up – Exeter Science Centre).

Ask: Their ask was for support for their work by following on social media (@ExeSciCentre), making connections and for funding. They are looking for people and organisations to work with them, and for people to participate in the Climate Stories Gallery.

About Our Connect Events

Our Connect events provide an open platform, bringing together residents, communities, local businesses, charities and city stakeholders to an informal gathering to listen and support community-initiated projects that help Exeter work towards its ambition to be carbon neutral by 2030. Each Connect event is framed around a key theme in which we invite change-makers to get involved by presenting their community-led projects to share knowledge and inspire future community initiatives in other wards across the city. Starting with five-minute pitches and moving to tabling breakout rooms where presenters can take questions and hold discussion about their projects, the format offers a creative and collaborative environment and fosters a vibrant community of Exeter change-makers. Connect events currently take place online and are hosted through the Zoom platform.

If you have any further questions, would like to suggest a topic for a future Connect event, or to 

join our mailing list to hear about future events, please contact us via carly.mays@exetercityfutures.com.

Find out more about Exeter City Futures’ ambition to become carbon neutral by reading our Net Zero Exeter 2030 Plan.

Exeter City Futures’ Connect Events are supported by The National Lottery Community Fund.