Art and climate change to take center stage in flagship London event

Jarvis Cocker during a 2008 Disco Bay Expedition.
Photo credit: Cape Farewell / Nathan Gallagher.
By Anders Lorenzen
With the crucial Paris climate talks, COP21 starting today, many are arguing that the talks are not receiving the attention and publicity they deserve. Much of this can be tracked down to the complexity of the issue and the doomsday picture it imprints. But some are also highlighting that is because tackling climate change is not being communicated through creative forms, such as the arts. But could this be about to change with some creatives starting to take an interest in the issue? Take actress Emma Thompson’s poem for protecting the Arctic or singer Charlotte Church’s involvement in the same campaign as just one example. Another example could be the London cultural organisation The Free Word Center, who regularly hosts events that link creative writing to communicating climate change.

And at a UN climate summit in New York last year, UN’s Civil Society Representative from the Marshall Islands, Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, blew away the audience with this powerful poem. Now Ms Jetnil-Kijiner is set to take center stage at a London cultural climate change event happening this evening (poignantly the same day COP21 kicks off). The event is staged by the charity Cape Farewell, which aims to encourage artists and creatives to become involved in the critical role of communicating climate change through creative insight and vision. Cape Farewell have been running a cultural festival, ArtCop21. The festival organises and maps cultural climate change events across the globe in the run-up to and during the Paris talks.

This evening’s event named ‘Earth Can You Hear Us?’ Is described as a cultural takeover of St Pancras International Station and is set to be ArtCop21’s London flagship event. It will be hosted by BBC Radio 1 DJ Gemma Cairney and apart from Ms Jetnil-Kijiner, it will also feature the director of Cape Farewell, David Buckland, and Juliet Davenport, the founder of the green energy supplier Good Energy. With Good Energy being one of the sponsors behind the event, Ms Davenport said: “I believe in the power of the arts to drive change. The arts are provoking thoughts and discussion around many issues in society and climate change should be no different. By joining forces with ArtCop21 for such a unique cultural event, we’ll help get climate change communicated to a wider audience.”
Many of the 73,000 people, who daily pass through the busy St Pancras International Station will also be witness to a surprise flash choir act. According to the organisers, over 120 members of community choirs from across London aged 18 to 80 have been busy rehearsing a very special version of ‘Kiss from a Rose’ by Seal – which is set to surprise the audience mid-set with soaring acappella harmonies that aims to celebrate the power of collaboration and community to bring about positive change. The organisers say that this should act as an urgent wake-up call to politicians, negotiators and policymakers to commit to major climate action as two weeks of climate negotiations kick off in Paris.

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