Artsadmin’s 2 Degrees Festival

2 Degrees Festival is Artsadmin’s biennial programme of art and activism focusing on climate change. The first festival took place in June 2009 in the context of a busy year of environment-related events across both the UK and international arts sectors, as part of a build up to the very hyped-up COP 15 negotiations in Copenhagen in December of that year. The aim for the first festival was to bring together the approaches of art and activism in order to invite audiences and participants to a week of activities that inspire and help us believe that change is possible. Each year, the programme for 2 Degrees Festival takes the stance that climate change is a broad subject that affects and interacts with a lot of other ideas and issues, so they have presented artists’ work about food, capitalism, future communities, climate justice and microorganisms.

Following the first festival, as Artsadmin’s support of artists’ work on the subject of the environment grew, they committed to continuing the project, and 2 Degrees Festival has since taken place biennially at their base in Toynbee Studios in East London and across venues in the local area. Throughout, the festival has been supported by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union as part of the Imagine 2020 group of European arts organisations. Along with additional support from Arts Council England and many other funders, Artsadmin has been able to continue to regularly deliver 2 Degrees Festival. Despite their intention for 2 Degrees Festival to be a ‘degrowth’ festival, and avoid the usual capitalist measure of growth equalling success, the festival programme has increased in budget, scope, and timescale, reflecting the increasing amount of artists work on the subject of environment in the Live Art scene and other sectors.

Each festival features a mixture of newly commissioned work, one-offs and work which goes on to be presented in the future, often with other European partners within the Imagine 2020 network. Alongside this, the festival presents existing performances and works, and includes some discussion events – although the primary programme focus is always on action rather than talk!

For the 2017 festival the central question was 'What voices are we missing by shouting instead of listening?' The programme of 13 projects included Daniel Gosling’s installation Carbon Capture, which invited audiences to take their share of five tonnes of anthracite coal and bury it somewhere. Bernadette Russell and Rob Kennedy asked people to create their own personal protests in Sign of the Times. Ant Hampton’s CRAZY BUT TRUE cast 8-12 year olds as the experts, sharing a series of facts and ‘fake news,’ both becoming harder and harder for the audience to distinguish between throughout the course of the show…

Skin Deep, Virtual Migrants, Voice that Shake and Platform London used a mix of music, video and poetry to explore why race, gender and colonial histories should be at the centre of the climate justice movement in POC – Stories of Climate Resistance. David Finnigan took us on a fast-paced journey of the Australian climate politics in award-winning Kill Climate Deniers, with a good measure of early nineties house and techno thrown into the mix. Audiences encountered Tower Hamlets schoolchildren on a rooftop and shared both utopian and dystopian visions of the future of London – all while looking out across the cityscape – in Andy Field’s Lookout. Three structures woven from used plastic bags popped up off Brick Lanes in Allen Gardens for Jo Hellier’s Festival of Ancients. Audiences were then invited to lie down inside, imagine they are in the future and listen to past voices emanating from the ground.

2 Degrees Festival 2017 is produced by Artsadmin and supported by Arts Council England, TippingPoint and the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union as part of Imagine 2020 (2.0) and Create to Connect. We'd also like to thank all of the individuals who have generously donated to this year's festival, the dedicated runners who ran the Hackney Half Marathon to raise funds for our schools projects, and our local partner As Nature Intended.

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Date Posted: 22 August 2017