Research & Practice

Culture Shift / Newid Diwylliant

‘Culture Shift/ Newid Diwylliant’ is a strategic document commissioned by the Arts Council of Wales that gives a glimpse of the many pioneering sustainable arts initiatives currently operating across Wales. It situates these initiatives within the context of a UK wide paradigm shift happening within the arts whose core principle is to support the creation a sustainable future.

‘Culture Shift: How Artists are Responding to Sustainability in Wales’ was commissioned by the Arts Council of Wales in 2014. Emergence bid for and succeeded in the tender, not as consultants but as artists. We aimed at the process and outcome as being a creative collaboration between artists and those working in the field of sustainability designed to include as many voices as possible. We see this report very much building on and contributing to a growing narrative that appears to be gaining momentum and confidence across Wales, the UK and beyond.

‘Culture Shift’ gives a glimpse of the many pioneering sustainable arts initiatives currently operating across Wales. It is by no means a definitive list but is representative of the varied initiatives and approaches we came across whilst highlighting common themes and methodologies.

The report is a witness to what is going on already. It is also intended as a statement of intent and a call to action. It highlights the power of the arts to contribute towards or even take a leading role in the transition to a life-sustaining society. It is hoped that this report will contribute towards future arts policy within the context of the Welsh Government’s ‘Well-being of Future Generations’ Bill’. The report draws attention to how a growing number of artists are leading a paradigm shift in values and relationships around access to future resources.

“Wales – a creative culture where artists are in abundance – is one of only three democracies willing to hold themselves legally accountable for promoting principles of sustainability. It is no surprise, therefore, that this leading edge report comes from Wales. Without artists how can we ever fully feel our way into a sustainable community or create the relationships that sustain us through difficult times?”
Margaret Wheatley, activist, consultant and author

We hope that ‘Culture Shift’ will be a working document. We hope that it will serve as an impetus for others to join the conversation and to support those already doing this work. It contains recommendations to the Arts Council of Wales regarding future arts policy in supporting the development of such pioneering practice. It is backed up by case studies and interviews from many artists and organisations and builds on the results from a sector wide survey conducted in Spring 2014. The appendices to the report give the survey data in more detail as well as naming many projects, formative books, articles, useful resources, contacts and organisations.

Although we’ve concentrated on Welsh activity we also framed it within the context of the wider changes and inspirations Welsh artists are drawing from those outside – including ArtsadminJulies BicycleTipping PointPlatformCreative Carbon ScotlandPeople UnitedEncounters and Case for Optimism.


The report is available in Welsh and in English as a download. Appendices are available in English only.