Arts, the Environment, & Sustainability

Author: Garrett, Ian

Publication Year: 2015

Media Type:


Excerpted from Arts & America: Arts, Culture, and the Future of America’s Communities. This essay looks at the role of arts and issues of environment and sustainability over the next 10 to 15 years. The full book of essays can be purchased in Americans for the Arts online store.


This essay looks at changes related to the environment and issues of sustainability and the role that the arts may play in positively impacting those changes over the next 10–15 years. In particular, this essay proposes the following trends and associated arts interventions:

  • The next 10–15 years will see a burst of new technological and technical advances that will allow the construction of smarter, more energy-conscious appliances, buildings, and other devices. This will both mean a shrinking of the ecological footprint of arts experiences and an increase in the opportunity to creatively integrate environmentally conscious measures—including monitoring energy use, community engagement, and conservation efforts—into art projects large and small.
  • As climate changes occur and certain parts of the world become less inhabitable, whole communities will have to migrate in what has been termed a “climate diaspora.” Thisdiaspora will, initially, disproportionately impact marginalized native populations with fragile, rich cultural histories. Efforts to preserve and disseminate those cultural and artistic histories will both increase awareness of the migration and maintain community cohesion among those attempting to incorporate into strange new conditions.
  • While others will not have to immediately move as a result of sea level rise or temperature fluctuation, many environments will eventually change so drastically as to impact the feeling of being “home.” Artists, in reaction to that unease and as activist leaders, will respond with an increase in art driven by environmental and ecological issues across all mediums, which will in turn create new public knowledge, dialogue, and action.

Arts & Intersections: Environment

Categories: Community Development


Series Title: Arts & America: Arts, Culture, and the Future of America’s Communities




Pages: 24

Resources: Document


Name: Americans for the Arts

Website URL: