How the art world is on a mission to help the environment | Life

The Galleries Commit collective and the Art into Acres Association created the Chuyapi-Urusayhua Regional Conservation Area to safeguard more than 80,000 hectares of Peruvian rainforest. — Omri D. Cohen/Unsplash photo via ETX Studio

LIMA, April 19 — The art world has often been criticized for not being sufficiently involved in the fight to preserve the environment. But this is no longer the case. Many museums are mobilizing to help preserve territories threatened by global warming.

Peru is particularly affected by the environmental crisis. Global warming has caused the melting of 51% of the country’s glacier surface over the past 50 years, while deforestation is affecting the biodiversity of regions such as Cajamarca, Cuzco, Húanuco and Ucayali.

Faced with the scale of the problem, the government of Pedro Castillo decided to create new conservation areas to protect the fauna and flora, as well as local communities. The Galleries Commit collective has decided to contribute to the project by joining forces with the Art into Acres association. The two organizations recently announced that they have created the Chuyapi-Urusayhua Regional Conservation Area to safeguard more than 80,000 hectares of Peruvian rainforest. This territory is a real carbon sink, like some tropical mountain forests located on the African continent.

Galleries Commit has been working to develop the Chuyapi-Urusayhua Regional Conservation Area for a decade, with on-the-ground help from the Amazon Conservation Association. This project really took off when more than 40 museums and arts organizations provided financial support. Among them, the contemporary art museums of Chicago, Los Angeles and Toronto, the Kunstmuseum Bonn, the Artforum magazine, the Frank Elbaz and Hauser & Wirth galleries. Most of the donations received averaged US$150 (RM638), although some exceeded US$9,000.

For Laura Lupton, co-founder of Galleries Commit, this initiative shows how easy it can be to participate in the preservation of a territory threatened by the climate crisis. “Funding land conservation is high impact, low effort climate action,” she told The Art Newspaper, “[It is] a powerful path to collective action. It also translates into something tangible that we can point to and say, “We backed this up, together!”

Green transformation in progress

Now that the Chuyapi-Urusayhua Regional Conservation Area has been established, Galleries Commit is focused on creating tools to support the art world in its green transformation. The collective is currently working with Artists Commit, its artist-run sister organization, on a second round of reporting on the climate impact of exhibitions.

In recent years, a growing number of arts organizations have taken up the environmental issue. In the United Kingdom, a toolbox was launched at the end of January to support the country’s museums in their ecological transition. This initiative offers museum staff the opportunity to undergo training – in person or remotely – to think about ways to rethink their operations and engage with the public to shape a more sustainable future in the face of the climate emergency.

Some museums, like the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Canada, are going further by rethinking their behind-the-scenes operations. He hired Soren Brothers as a climate change curator to mainstream the issue into ROM operations and programming. In Australia, the new Bundanon Art Museum was built to respond and adapt to the natural disasters facing the country. Proof that attitudes are slowly but surely changing in the art world. — Studio ETX

About Margaret L. Portillo

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