Greater Manchester, United Kingdom
The Manchester Arts Sustainability Team (MAST) is mobilising the arts and culture sector to contribute to local climate change policies.
Manchester Arts Sustainability Team (MAST) is a cross-sector network of 30 cultural and arts organisations committed to working together to reduce their environmental impacts and foster collaborative learning. MAST started out with a focus on promoting and sharing good practice amongst its members. This has grown to encompass the development of joint initiatives amongst members, from joint procurement of smart energy monitors and rechargeable battery packs to Carbon Literacy Training. A range of local collaborations and partnerships have also been developed.
In 2016 MAST members participated in Manchester Climate Lab, a programme of experimental activities to test different techniques for engaging and inspiring people to act on climate change. Building on this successful programme, MAST is working to develop new programmes of arts and culture-based activities and engage Manchester stakeholders in the delivery of the city’s climate change strategy for 2017-50.
This project was awarded the 'URBACT Good Practice Label' in 2017. Learn more about the award.
Background and objectives
MAST was established in 2010 by a group of Manchester-based arts and culture organisations. It was initiated to help Manchester's cultural sector understand how they could contribute to the delivery of sustainability initiatives like Manchester Climate Lab. During this period MAST agreed that it would match the city’s target of reducing carbon emissions by 41% by 2020.
- Reduce the environmental impacts of the arts and cultural sector across Manchester
- Engage with employees and other relevant stakeholders on environmental issues
- Foster collaborative learning across the city in a shared commitment to developing a sustainable and equitable future.
- take a lead role in working towards the city’s climate change ambitions
- grow its reach and influence across the arts and culture in Manchester and beyond, and use this opportunity to grow an ethically driven creative economy - new skills, jobs and opportunities for a sustainable Manchester
- defining a new set of commitments, targets and actions in line with the city’s zero carbon, zero waste and climate resilience ambitions
- supporting delivery of the engagement strand of the city’s climate change strategy
- developing skills, capacity and collaboration within the network to support a new level of ambition
- growing and developing the MAST network
- increasing MAST’s profile
- explore funding options to enable MAST to build on its success
Action plans have been developed for individual MAST members, to embed action on climate change throughout their organisations. MAST members have undertaken renewable energy procurement, innovative and co-operative approaches to upcycling, reuse and recycling, and staff engagement campaigns. MAST participates in various national conversations, as part of the co-development of a UK-wide response to climate change by the arts and culture sector. MAST has developed its own Environmental Sustainability Toolkit.
The MAST network is rooted in the city, enabling members to meet face-to-face, share common challenges and opportunities and link directly to what is happening on a city level. Its approach is participatory and non-prescriptive, bringing together diverse organisations to develop a common understanding of environmental issues and take action. It fosters accountability to their shared mission and the communities they serve, including impact assessment. Annual reporting includes practical actions, creative responses, programming, learning and outreach, engaging teams, audiences and local communities.
Financing and resources
MAST budget to date is 250,000 Euro.
Participating organisations include:
- Manchester Art Gallery
- Whitworth Art Gallery
- Manchester Museum
- Royal Exchange Theatre
- Band on the Wall
- Manchester International Festival
- Walk The Plank
- Contact Theatre
- Jewish Museum
- The Lowry Centre
- CG Associates - Castlefield Gallery
- Manchester Pride
- Community Arts Northwest
- Chinese Arts Centre
- University of Manchester
- Waterside Arts Centre
Results and impacts
As a network, MAST has achieved an average CO2e reduction of 7% per year.
Each member organisation has undertaken specific actions across the city in a shared commitment to developing a sustainable and equitable future:
- TV soap opera: Coronation Street – climate change included as part of the story lines;
- Theatre: Contact Theatre – hosted “Our City, Our Planet” for young people to explore the issue of climate change and the future they want for the city;
- Municipality: Manchester City Council – sustainable events action plan;
- Manchester Universities: poetry events, role-playing, song-writing and music events; performance art; street games;
- Museum: Manchester Museum – 90,000 visitors attended the “Climate Control” exhibition;
- Major festival: Manchester International Festival – biannual festival whose Green Team are responsible for reducing the festival’s environmental impact;
- Art gallery: The Whitworth – award-winning £15 million redevelopment project, including best practice standards for reducing energy and CO2
Lessons learned and transferability
The following ingredients are enabling MAST to support Manchester city’s efforts to achieve the objectives set by the Paris Agreement and the SDG’s.
- Local climate mitigation policy: developing local policies/strategies against climate change, and setting out the need for all organisations and individuals in a city to act;
- Governance and partnerships: MAST is a network that is linked to Manchester’s wider governance structures. It is not a formally constituted body and therefore avoids the associated legal and financial issues;
- Arts and culture sector: MAST is open to small, medium and large organisations, working across a range of different artistic activities;
- Funding: the large MAST members pay a fee which collectively totals £7,000 per year. This is used for the production of the annual report and the delivery of joint projects. Small organisations are not required to pay. Additional external funding is sought on a project-by-project basis;
- Tools: MAST’s Environmental Sustainability Toolkit could be adapted and used by other cities. MAST members use the free online Creative IG Tools for measuring environmental performance in the arts and cultural sector. The tools have been translated into nine EU languages to date. Albert+ is an environmental standard for TV production (originally developed by BBC in Manchester) and available at http://wearealbert.org/
URBACT case study: Culture for climate change: mobilising arts and culture sector to contribute to local climate change policies: http://urbact.eu/culture-climate-change