Culture Declares Emergency - by Catherine Berry

On 8th July, Warren Draper and I had the chance to attend the Culture Declares Emergency assembly at the Roundhouse in London. Culture Declares Emergency, inspired by Extinction Rebellion and the School Strike for Climate, is ‘a growing community of creative practitioners and organisations concerned about the dire state of our living planet’ and the Assembly was convened to have a creative conversation about the role arts and cultural organisations and individuals should play in demanding change.

At a personal level I was intrigued by the idea of attending the assembly. Having been introduced to ‘global warming’ at primary school in the 1980s, I’ve always had a basic grasp of the science and a vague sense it was important to ‘do something’. But busy times, work, kids, moving, etc meant I haven’t really been paying attention. Well, I’m listening now. Climate change has happened, is getting worse and presents a real and significant risk to us right now. You can read about it at There’s no time left for vague ideas and a bit of recycling. We can’t leave this to other people.

So, how do we prevent catastrophe? And what can the organisations that I’m involved with do to tell the truth about the climate and ecological crisis? Change is often really, really hard and scary. How do we make art that inspires and supports people to take the necessary action? How can we mourn what has been lost and imagine a different future? 


I have some ideas and I have a voice. I am convinced that we must embed a climate narrative in everything we do. There are so many other challenges that face us. But the ecological emergency needs so many changes from all of us on so many different levels that considering the climate must be an assumption behind everything. We must normalise it as well as communicate explicitly about it. We must empower people. I shall use what I have to influence my communities. And in the meantime, I’ll start the process of making some changes at home (someone suggested: one new thing a week). What will you do? 

Michele Beck