Throughout history, societies have adapted to the local conditions of their physical environments, but the pace of climate change will create new challenges and opportunities for cultural organisations.

The climate projections for North-West Europe include more extreme warmer, wetter and wilder weather, with heatwaves, sea level rise and storms becoming more common. To be socially, environmentally and financially resilient to these changes, culture must adapt.

Well planned, early adaptation action saves money now and lives later. Cultural Adaptations seeks to develop the knowledge and the skills that cultural organisations and policy makers need to adapt their work.

Adaptation strategies for cultural organisations

Like all sectors of society, cultural organisations need to recognise the risk that climate change poses to how they work, where they work, and who they work with. They need to anticipate the likely adverse effects, and take appropriate action to prevent or minimise the damage they can cause, or take advantage of opportunities that may arise.

To prepare for our future, our cultural organisations need to:

  • Understand what changes are expected and why
  • Recognise the effects these will have on their work
  • Design and agree a plan of action to counter and avoid these effects: a strategy for adaptation

Cultural Adaptations is an action research project, working to identify and test the best ways to undertake this task. Across four countries, cultural organisations are working with adaptation experts to develop new knowledge for the benefit of the sector.

What will Cultural Adaptations produce?

  • 4 workshops on the skills and knowledge cultural organisations need to adapt
  • 1 international conference for adaptation and cultural researchers, practitioners and policy makers
  • 1 digital resource and toolkit to enable and support cultural organisations to adapt to climate change impacts

Why adapt Culture?

The cultural sector is distinct from the sectors of infrastructure and construction, where adaptation knowledge and resource is often concentrated: it consists almost entirely of SMEs, with a huge public audience, with a huge variance of activity, typically funded through grant-giving bodies.

Some of the sector’s needs when it comes to adaptation are therefore quite unique, whereas others are comparable to SMEs in general: logistics disruption, increasing travel and resource costs, altered audience accessibility and greater health & safety concerns are only a few of the potential impacts of climatic changes, with implications for the financial and reputational success of a cultural organisation, programme or event.

Are you looking to adapt cultural organisations in your city? Are you interested in how cultural SMEs can model adaptation for the rest of society?

Cultural Adaptations is a developing project and you are invited to send in relevant resources including blogs, case studies and tools for consideration. Stay up to date with opportunities to participate in the project and the upcoming events, and toolkit development by registering for updates.

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