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Workshop for ZHdK Alumni: What sustainable visions for the cultural sector until 2040?

Workshop for Netzhdk, the Alumni-Network of the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK)

10 February 2023, 4 to 7.30 pm Uhr, in German, ZHdK at Toni-Areal, Zurich


In this workshop we rethink, question and expand our understanding of sustainability in art and culture. We look at unsustainable practices in art and engage with the different aspects of sustainability (ecological, social, economic). Together we dream and develop the vision of a sustainable and environmentally friendly art ecosystem.

In a cultural sector characterised by high economic insecurity – further reinforced by the pandemic – ecological sustainability can only be achieved together with social and economic sustainability. Currently, however, measures envisaged in the cultural sector mainly revolve around reducing CO2 emissions and conserving resources (i.e. environmental sustainability). But without socio-economic sustainability, cultural actors are simply not in a position to commit (fully) to ecological sustainability.

This participatory workshop therefore aims to raise participants' awareness of the different aspects of sustainability (ecological, social, cultural, economic) and to offer them a space to co-design transformative proposals and measures rooted in an intersectional vision of sustainability.

We start by identifying together the most common sustainability measures in the cultural sector, and analyse their advantages and disadvantages for different cultural actors (artists, institutions).

Here it is useful to introduce a distinction between sustainability measures addressing the consequences (e.g. mitigation of CO2 emissions) or the causes (e.g. organisational forms, cultural economy, values, ...) of the ecological and climate crisis. The former correspond to an incremental mitigation and adaptation to the effects of the climate and ecological crisis; the latter to a deeper socio-ecological adaptation and transformation of the cultural ecosystem.

Working on these root causes help us reconsider and expand our understanding of unsustainable practices in the arts, some of which have been revealed and reinforced by the pandemic (i.e. socio-economic sustainability).

Finally we dream together about a socially sustainable and environmentally friendly arts ecosystem by 2040. Isabelle Vuong holds a degree in the humanities, is a cultural manager and futures expert, former manager of several professional organisations in the performing arts (AVDC and Artos in French-speaking Switzerland, Reso - Dance Network Switzerland), initiator and curator of Open Futures in Zurich, futures expert and consultant. Date and location: Friday, 10 February, 4 to 7.30 p Toni-Areal, Pfingstweidstrasse 96, 8005 Zürich Raum: 6.F01 Eintritt: Free for Netzhdk-Members, ZHdK Students and ZHdK employees. For externs: CHF 30.-


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