What is the superpower of any kind of art? It has the unique ability to touch our minds, our hearts in such a way that can be inexplicable in words but so powerful that it can help us understand the complex, and make us achieve the unimaginable. You might ask, how? This year at COP28, we had the first ever Entertainment + Culture Pavilion that is now here to help you understand the answer to that question. Why? Because it is illogical and impossible to act on something meaningful without understanding, and without actions, nothing can be achieved. Achieving a safe future free from the threat of the climate crisis is the answer to that “why”, precisely.
You still might be wondering about how entertainment + culture can play such a significant role, in such a significant mission. We talked to twelve incredible game-changers in their respective fields to try to understand it a bit more clearly.
The Transformative Power of Entertainment + Culture
If you try to go through a little bit of research, it won’t be tough for you to understand that we, all around the globe, are going through a climate crisis. It also won’t be too tough to notice that numerous individuals and organizations from every corner of the world are tirelessly working not just to address the crisis but to overcome it. But still, it is not enough, it does not feel like enough, it does not seem like enough. An authentic global revolution is needed to actually get the job done.
Such a revolution can only be possible when we all feel like playing our own roles effectively to make that happen. For that to happen, understanding the climate crisis from an empathetic point of view, not just from numbers and graphs and data, is needed. “Getting this conversation started from a more human perspective is extremely important because facts have come out, scientists have come out, but it’s just not sticking. An important side to this is the human side, and I think that’s something that we can all connect on,” said Thai-Swedish model, actress, singer Maria Poonlertlarp who was crowned Miss Universe Thailand in 2017, also reached top five of Miss Universe Beauty Pageant that year.
She further adds,
“We have all, in one way or another, been affected by climate change, some more than others. Clearly, some more than others. So it’s important to bring these conversations to the table, and I think once this starts happening, people may start understanding more, and that’s actually how policies will end up being changed as well.”
Every form of art surely has the ability to present this scientific reality from an empathetic perspective. The arena of entertainment + culture can not only make that real but also has the ability to help us act on that understanding from a positive mindset.
Renowned climate author, Anne Therese Gennari, known as the Climate Optimist, says,” I believe art in any form is incredibly impactful in inspiring climate action and nurturing a mindset of optimism, possibilities, and change. It’s easy to get stuck believing we must either fight the old or fight to keep the old, but what we really need right now is the courage to dream of something new. What would the world look like if we embraced change and decided to take action? What if we acted on climate change, not because we’re afraid of what might happen if we don’t, but because we’re excited to find out what will happen if we do?”
Artist and Activist Rick Frausto, who is famous for his unique style of art using pen and ink, believes so too.
According to Frausto, “I see myself as a way-shower. Through my work, I strive to contribute to a shift in consciousness that leans toward a more balanced, harmonious, and compassionate world. In this moment in time, the climate crisis is the fight of our lives. My hope is that my art connects with people universally on a deep intuitive level.”
Every form of artist holds this power of art to bring the cultural shift that is necessary to secure the safe future that we all deserve. There are different roles to be played and different audiences to be reached and inspired, differently.
Singaporean artist Dorcas Tang Wen Yu who plays her unique role as an artist in this mission says, “I see my art less as telling people what to do, but as creating that space where they can engage with sustainability in a gentle, fun way. For example, getting kids to participate in painting a marine mural. Or create a fun adventure about composting from the perspective of little soil microbes to teach children about our relationship with the environment.”
Helping children to learn about our environment, the climate crisis, and meaningful climate actions is an effective and amazing way to shape cultures and ensure a positive cultural shift, because surely, today’s empathetic children are tomorrow’s conscious empathetic guardians of our planet.
Inspiring Individual Empowerment and Collective Changes through Entertainment + Culture
Artists are the stewards of change, they have the amazing ability to inspire people at an individual level. As we are going through the climate crisis, it is crucial for artists to play their role not only as entertainers but also as that kind of stewards. When millions of individuals, inspired at their own personal levels, start taking action, we get collective changes, and surely that is the kind of change that we all need now.
Every kind of artist has the power to contribute to this much-needed revolution. In the words of Singaporean climate activist and artist Qiyun Woo,
”Art transforms minds and hearts, and plays a revolutionary role in helping society imagine and visualize the green and just future that we want – can work towards.”
Artists, who are doing their parts know exactly how important the job is. The powerful rapper on the mic for our planet, Hila Perry says beautifully, “Culture is community.”, and artists have the power to shape communities because through their artworks and performances, they can shape cultures, build communities, and bring changes.
One of the major cultural changes that is needed to overcome the climate crisis is to move away from the toxic culture of hyper-consumerism, convenience culture, and the culture of throwing away. Instead of glorifying these harmful cultures, artists have the power to do the opposite and drive people in the right direction. “My mission really is to make loving the earth and living on earth really trendy and cool,” said Perry. It surely is not an easy job to shift the narrative, but it is surely important to do so to shift the culture, and entertainment + culture can bring that shift.
“When we have an earth consciousness attached to us, basically then we can live more in alignment with our planet and have a more harmonious life with animals and plants,” Perry added to emphasize on the mission that artists need to pursue to inspire people culturally and bring the much needed meaningful change for us and for our planet.
“Everything that you do from your lyrics to your shows, your live shows, to your merch, to your statements, what you put out into the world – you’re influencing people. Your fans are looking to you to know what to wear, what to drink, what to eat, how to be, how to live. So when you model earth consciousness in your art, you’re basically giving a lot of other people permission to think that that’s cool.” said Hila Perry when we asked about what message she wanted to convey to other artists,” Go deep with what it means to be a human being on Earth and discover that also just for yourself.”, she added.
Deciphering the Climate Crisis through Entertainment + Culture
It’s not tough to assume that we get confused and feel lost when things like the climate crisis are described from a scientific point of view. We, the general people, understand that it’s important, but the tough narrative makes us move away from the curiosity of learning about it properly. This is a crucial spot where entertainment + culture can play as a medium between scientists and the general people. Through their art, artists can help us not only to understand critical scientific theories but also to figure out and take proper actions guided by those theories.
“Culture and entertainment contribute significantly to inspiring change. The key to making climate science more accessible is clear communication! Simplifying complex scientific findings can help connect scientists to the wider public. By helping the public understand important scientific concepts, we can help increase awareness on climate issues and inspire real change.”
said Marine Biologist Cicely Nagel.
British Actress and BBC New Creative Amelie Edwards agrees to this by saying, “We hear all the stuff from scientists, which is so, so useful, but it can be quite overwhelming and hard to unpack and really complicated as well. Whereas seeing a story unfold from a human perspective is often easier for people to connect with and therefore easier to take action and see how you can change things within your own life and in your own world.” Edwards added further by saying, ” I feel like the best way to contribute to a message is through displaying it in our work because otherwise no one’s ever going to see it and no one’s going to know it exists or talk about it. And I feel like having a conversation is often the start of being inspired to take action and to make changes.”
Artists through their specialties can reach millions of people, and the science behind the climate crisis is crucial for everyone to understand to take action, to ensure a safe future.
“We need those that feel the strongest to create, to make meaning of this messy time and to decipher it.”
– said artist Artist and the Director of Sarcophagus Project, Joelle Provost while sharing her perspective about the role that artists need to play to make the science of climate accessible for all.
She also added, “Artists play a critical role in the reimaging of a better future. Artists push society along, just as Kandinsky said. All of this is vital; the difficult topics presented through visual and performing arts, and the dreaming of a better future.”
There are already many artists all around the globe who are actually doing this job if you’re wondering whether artists are playing their roles in it or not. Qiyun Woo said, “As someone who combines climate science and art, I hope to inspire action by quelling the panic, and fear and providing the tools to get things done.” Brenna Quinlan is also someone who continuously tries to educate her audience about the climate crisis and give them ideas to take action through her artworks. When we asked her about the knack of her artworks, she said, “My particular passion has been in making abstract information more accessible, and in changing the narrative on climate change from one of doom and gloom to one of positivity.“
Art can surely be the most effective force in transforming culture in the right direction and bringing meaningful changes. Amelie Edwards reminds us that by mentioning, “I think in the eighties, there was a hole in the ozone layer. And in this country, there was a soap opera that had a conversation between two girls about hairspray just whilst they were getting ready; and they discussed the fact that the hairspray was creating this hole in the ozone layer and all contributing to it. And it was through that that obviously, people started to think, “Oh my gosh, we need to actually do something about this.” And then the government started to ban aerosols that were contributing to the hole. And when you remember that things like that have happened, you think, oh yeah, we really can do something about this with the stories that we tell. And it’s so important to tell stories.”
Optimism and Inspiration for Positive Change:
It is undeniable that climate change as a topic can be really depressing. It will surely not be very effective if entertainment + culture just brings up the narrative of doom and gloom. In fact it has a chance to backfire because no one can take effective actions while feeling scared or depressed.
So it is important for artists not just to make scientific information accessible to mass people through their arts, but also and more to instill hope in them and inspire them to take meaningful actions. “Climate optimism is a mindset that nurtures that curiosity. It’s not about sitting back and hoping for the best to happen but about sparking the inspiration and courage needed to let go of the old and build something new. We know what to do to reverse global warming. We have the science, the tools, and much of the technology. What we need now is our shared willingness to accept and embrace the changes needed for us to get there. Art in any form, may it be written, painted, or through music, has the ability to transport our minds to those new places. It helps us imagine new realities and spark a feeling of both joy and excitement.”, said author Anne Therese Gennari.
“Art is an incredibly important part of creating change and the world we want to live in. Creativity has a way of connecting with people and right now, that’s what we need most. We need people to care, to come together, and to understand why raising their voices for a better planet matters. Art empowers people and because of that, art can help create positive change.”
Talented musician Inanna also believes in the power of creative expression to inspire positive changes. ” Our creative expressions have the power to transcend, to connect with people on a profound level, and spark durable change. As performers, we are entrusted with a unique platform to influence hearts and minds. In this crucial time for our planet, it is fundamental to recognize and embrace the profound impact we can have on the global conversation surrounding climate action. It’s time to recognize the interconnectedness of all life on Earth and the role we play in shaping the narrative around environmental stewardship.”
However, it is understandable that artists might also find scientific theories tough to understand. It won’t surely be possible for them to educate others and inspire actions if they don’t get it properly. But it is surely not impossible, rather it can be fun.
Maria Poonlertlarp shares her perspective on this from her own experience. She said,” For those who don’t know much about it, who feel like it’s too big of a topic to chew or it’s too serious, I just want to say I totally understand. I just also want to say that there are so many sources out there where we can get to, where we can learn, whether it’s through documentaries or blogs or just joining groups.”
She further adds, “I want everyone to ask themselves first and foremost what they care about. What is it on this planet that they care about? Maybe it’s fashion, maybe it’s food, maybe it’s art, and then from there see, okay, that’s what you care about. Now, what are you good at? And then third, what organizations or what groups or communities are working on this? And once you start getting involved, it’s beautiful because you get to work on something that you’re already interested in, and you get to utilize something that you’re good at to contribute to fighting for our world.
So I think it’s possible to do something about it. It doesn’t have to be big. You just need to start. And once you start, you’re going to be connected to more and more people who are doing this. And from my own experience, I can just say that it feels great. And I would want all my other friends in the entertainment industry to feel this feeling as well.”
So it can surely be very empowering for artists too, to learn, get involved, and share the lesson with mass people, and drive them in the right direction with an optimistic mindset to build the future that we all dream of, that we all deserve, that is possible.
The Universal Language of Art
Now you might wonder, why do artists have to carry out this responsibility to educate and inspire others. If you take a minute to think properly, you will find out that the answer is not only easy but logical too. It is because art is surely a form of global language that has the power to connect us all.
Inanna acknowledges the power of art from her perspective as a musician by saying, “Music has a global reach, transcending linguistic and cultural barriers. This universality provides an opportunity to create a shared understanding of environmental challenges and global solutions.“
She further adds, “Art is a potent catalyst for change. Through music, film, poetry, visual arts, and more, we can elevate the environmental conversation, raise awareness, inspire action on a global scale, and contribute to a collective cultural shift that is essential for addressing the challenges our planet faces.”
Brenna Quinlan adds her thoughts on this by saying,” Artists help people to process events, to connect emotionally with information, and to feel motivated to stand up and act.”, and they surely need to use their platforms to make the climate conversation mainstream.
Artists can undoubtedly go beyond their art to play their roles. To reflect on her thoughts on this, Hila Perry said, “It’s important to make sustainability the norm. When you see what artists are wearing, when you see the production, you’re thinking, what if everything they did was very sustainably minded? They would be influencing so many people and their whole production would actually be a message, or it would have this bigger impact beyond just the music and their dancing and all the things that they already give on top of that.”
By using the power of the global language of art, artists have the ability to reach every corner of our planet and inspire people. That can surely bring cultural changes, and changes in the policies and how we do business. It is important for artists to realise the power they have. Just like Maria Poonlertlarp realized it and said, “For me in the entertainment business, I think it’s mainly about the fact that I can use my platform and try to make it mainstream.“
All of us love our families, our friends, our surroundings, and ourselves – and our planet is the home that holds these that we care about dearly. We need to understand that we all can play our parts to overcome the climate crisis through entertainment + culture. Some of us might not feel like we have an artist inside of us but that surely does not mean we don’t enjoy arts, so what we can do at least is to listen to the artists and share their message with others. Those of us who know that there is an inner artist, we need to step up now, not only because that would be an incredible experience but also it would mean something to contribute to the movement that matters, and it can surely give us a calm feeling of peace too.
In the words of artist Joelle Provost, “My aim is to express this admiration for Planet A and humility in the process, via paint and text. If my work is able to impact just a few lives then I can sleep well at night.“