Galleries Commit and Art to Acres campaign leads to cloud forest conservation in Peru

In a major show of collective climate action, sustainability group Galleries Commit has announced its support for a new 200,000-acre plot of land, a permanently protected area in Peru. Called the Chuyapi-Urusayhua Regional Conservation Area, the location has been conserved with the support of matching funds from more than 40 arts institutions and individuals around the world. Galleries Commit has partnered with Art to Acres, an artist-run nonprofit, to support the conservation of the landscape, which is notable for its high biodiversity, provides drinking water to 40,000 residents and is part of of the last 1% of cloud forests left in the world.

Efforts to research and conserve the area began over a decade ago, and Galleries Commit decided in 2020 to make the project its first recipient of the Strategic Climate Fund. Locally, conservation has been led by the Amazon Conservation Association with the support of the Amazon Andes Fund and other nonprofit organizations and conservation foundations.

“Local communities are managing this protection of a biodiverse ecosystem in a remarkable way,” said Art to Acres Founder Haley Mellin. “The impetus to support grew out of artist Mika Rottenberg’s act of including an area conservation budget line item for his 2019 MCA Chicago exhibition. It has grown to incorporate early environmental contributions from studios, advisers, galleries and institutions.

With donations ranging from around $10 to over $9,000 and averaging $150, the project demonstrates how major impacts can be achieved even with modest donations. “Land conservation funding is high impact, low effort climate action,” says Laura Lupton, co-founder of Galleries Commit. “To co-create sustainable galleries, it will be necessary to create a community and collaborate. We have seen land conservation as a powerful pathway to collective action. It also translates into something tangible that we can point to and say, “We backed this up, together!” »

Yinka Shonibare, Air Kid (Boy) 12022, of an exhibition at James Cohan which was the first to support the conservation project. © Yinka Shonibare 2022. Image courtesy of the artist and James Cohan, New York

Support came from leading museums, institutions and publications at home and abroad, including Artforum, ARTA, California College of Art, the contemporary art museums of Chicago, Los Angeles and Toronto and the Kunstmuseum Bonn. Commercial galleries also contributed, including the Frank Elbaz Gallery, James Cohan, PPOW and Hauser & Wirth. Individual support came from artists and curators, including Robin F. Williams, Zaria Forman, Davide Balula and N. Dash.

The project gave organizations the opportunity to reflect on the framework of their sustainability commitments. The Marianne Boesky Gallery, for example, has conserved more than 22,000 acres by implementing a $35 “carbon-conscious contribution” on sales. The Charles Moffett Gallery has also based its donation on sales by contributing a portion of its overall gross.

“The scale and seemingly unstoppable repercussions of the climate crisis can seem daunting, especially from the perspective of a small gallery,” says gallerist Charles Moffett. “Having the opportunity to join collective action and play a part in this global effort has been an empowering and humbling experience.”

Once this first major action is complete, Galleries Commit is focused on supporting its members in a second round of climate impact reports, co-presented with Artists Commit, to help improve sustainable operations and share insights with d other artists and institutions. Publicly posted on the Artists Commit website, the reports are further proof of tangible action in the fight against climate change.

About Margaret L. Portillo

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