Making the case for environmental sustainability in the arts

Since the Ford Foundation’s institutional stabilization programs of the 1960s, arts funders have explored and implemented initiatives intended to promote the sustainability of arts organizations. Funding approaches, programs, and special terminology have been developed in support of the arts’ economic and social contributions to society. Artists and arts organizations are evaluated on the basis of their fiscal prudence and community contributions as well as artistic merit. However, the benefits and responsibilities of environmental sustainability have been given little attention as a part of what defines a sustainable arts organization.

Green practices increase efficiency and can generate significant savings. The possibility of cost savings has been one of the driving reasons behind the adoption of green practices for businesses, municipalities, and nonprofits alike. One of the most cited examples is electric lighting upgrades to higher-efficiency sources such as compact fluorescents and light-emitting diodes.

Arts organizations and their funders have a responsibility to arts practitioners, to the people they serve, and to the global community to understand and address environmental sustainability as a key component of work in this field. 

This article is authored by Bill Moskin, principal of Bill Moskin & Associates and Katie Oman, an independent cultural facilities consultant. It was published in the hournal, GIA Reader, Vol 23, No 3 (Fall 2012)

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