One of Alchemy Film & Arts’ key aims is to contribute to cultural conversations on a local, regional and international scale. In practice this includes: creating frameworks through which local concerns can be explored and understood in relation to global concerns; sharing, pooling and maximising resources with strategically identified partners to address, challenge and overcome widespread precarity; and implement sustainable carbon management methods to engage ideas of environment as a defining factor in quality of life.
Alchemy Film & Arts is committed to operating in an environmentally sustainable manner and aims to encourage the partners, volunteers, participants, artists and organisations we work with to do the same. This Environmental Policy places issues of climate breakdown at the heart of Alchemy’s operations, programming and everyday practice, fully considering environmental issues and the ways they intersect with social and cultural issues.
This Environmental Policy outlines:
- Who we are
- Our commitment to environmental issues
- Our programming and its consideration of environmental issues
- Elements of our production and governance affected by environmental concerns
WHO WE ARE
Alchemy Film & Arts is based in the Scottish Borders town of Hawick. We work with communities and artists both locally and internationally, using film as a way to come together, have conversations and make positive change.
We recognise that any environmental policy must first acknowledge that structural inequality under capitalism is at the root and heart of the climate emergency.
Through our year-round programme of screenings, workshops, residencies, community filmmaking and the internationally renowned Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival, we strive to create spaces in which collective expression, creative learning and critical thinking can take place. Climate justice is interwoven into everything we do, from championing the return of the Borders railway to taking action on digital isolation during the 2020 lockdown, to our practical approaches to organisational running (administration, travel, hospitality, purchasing, waste).
This document will outline some of Alchemy’s successes and challenges to date with regard to the environment, and will set out our current commitments.
Alchemy Film & Arts is a registered Scottish Charity: SC042142.
OUR COMMITMENT TO ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES
The global environmental situation is a crisis: a threat to life on earth as we know it, affecting different communities and species in different ways and provoking mass social, economic and cultural breakdown.
Implementing sustainable carbon management methods, commitments to net zero and engaging ideas of environment as a defining factor in quality of life are key objectives of Alchemy Film & Arts. We are committed to climate justice and decolonising environmental conversations.
As a creative organisation working in international, national and regional networks, we uphold a responsibility to cultivate and frame critical conversations around climate breakdown; to process and evaluate alternative practices in relation to climate breakdown; to create projects that encourage learning and advocacy about issues relating to climate breakdown; and to promote methods of working through and rethinking these concerns together.
We are committed to environmentally conscious practices throughout our operational working and our creative programming, including the interpersonal relationships in each of these strands. We continuously revise and evaluate methods, placing self-reflection at the forefront of cultural management. This means challenging expectations and assumptions around best practice and interrogating alternative ways to run our organisation.
OUR PROGRAMMING AND ITS CONSIDERATION OF ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES
At Alchemy Film & Arts, we acknowledge that curating and delivering large public events, including our own annual festival, demands resources that are contributing to climate breakdown. Furthermore, notions of environmentally responsible programming are often made difficult by sector-wide assumptions that deem ‘quality’ to be synonymous with ‘international’ – assumptions that persist even amidst long-term deglobalization.
In recognition of these systemic contradictions, we are actively exploring ways in which our organisation can continue to demonstrate best practice when it comes to sustainable programming. Given the infrastructural complexities at play when delivering to multiple funder remits, some of these strategies are more long-term than others, and include our festival becoming less reliant on international flights, nurturing more local talent, offsetting a reduction in in-person events with a greater investment in online events, and working with partners to develop and expand our local audiences.
In addition, each year we select a lens through which to consider environmental issues within our wider programme, working with artists, participants, partners and audiences to maximise resources and deploying film as a means to generate discussion and stimulate critical thought.
In line with our aims, objectives and values, we stay responsive to and reflective of environmental issues and ways we can make positive change, further cultural discussion around climate breakdown, and introduce alternative working methods through changing behaviours, changing infrastructure and trialling new practices.
We annually evaluate a carbon management plan and this Environmental Policy, routinely considering and evaluating environmental considerations against all of our operations, events, exhibitions, screenings and workshops in the areas of energy, transport, hospitality, marketing, purchasing, and policies.
We ensure we can annually evaluate efficiently and innovatively by attending relevant training courses, staying invested and up to date in the global climate breakdown conversation, and through research and experimentation in the arts and creative sector through projects such as Forage/Image and trialling alternative practices.
We also have a list of constants which are maintained as standard, which we believe all organisations should uphold.
— Efforts are continuously made across all areas of activity to minimise water and energy use through energy efficient lighting and energy efficient technologies.
— We ensure lights and appliances are not on when they do not need to be, water is not wasted needlessly, and venues are not heated when they do not need to be.
— Motion sensors are installed in film exhibitions to ensure equipment only runs when audiences are present.
— We work with artists and facilitators who can use public transport or car-sharing to get to Hawick, and impose limitations each year for international travel.
— We encourage the use of low-emission transport, carbon offsetting and environmentally responsible transport providers when organising travel arrangements with filmmakers, speakers and workshop facilitators who must travel internationally.
— While Hawick does not currently have a train station, we have partnered with Teviot Electric Car Club to arrange collective sustainable pick-ups of guests.
— We cater our events with exclusively plant-based menu options, and do not purchase any meat or dairy products for public events.
— We engage local catering facilities and do not use plastic cutlery or crockery.
— We work with accommodation and restaurant providers to encourage the use of responsible sourcing, and actively seek to support those who can demonstrate positive environmental policies and awareness.
— We encourage overnight stays in Hawick to maximise travel.
— We encourage walking between venues when possible, ensuring our venues are accessible and providing clear instructions where necessary.
— We favour online paper-free promotion through websites, digital networks, social media and email, limiting printed materials to local events and festival programmes.
— The print firm we use for printed materials is a certified carbon capture company, which uses eco conscious printing presses, regularly carbon audits and provides digital proofs.
— We avoid surplus printed material, and recycle and repurpose on the rare occasions there are surplus printed materials.
— For Eventbrite ticketed events, we use digital lists and encourage audiences not to print tickets.
— Our merchandise is printed using water-based inks.
— Decisions about product sourcing, including all office and exhibition technology, take the environmental record of manufacturers and energy consumption ratings into account.
— We consider sustainable and socially responsible supply-chain issues by sourcing direct or fair-trade, responsibly produced products wherever possible.
— Books and resources for our library are either purchased second-hand or from local sellers. Our library system encourages sharing and borrowing.
— Our Common Room and media lab resources encourage tool-sharing and aims to dissuade local people from duplicate purchasing of resource-draining equipment that could be borrowed and shared within our community instead.
— Our film submission system is all digital and we no longer accept DVDs and USBs for transferral of films.
— When screening analogue films, we coordinate with other festivals to maximise more sustainable travel routes and avoid duplicated or unnecessary travel.
— Our Programming Team accesses submissions through a secure digital database and holds programming meetings via video calling.
— Provisional meetings with artists or with partners outwith Hawick are held via video call.
— Programming meetings are held via video-calling when programmers are outwith Hawick.
— Team members are not obliged to travel to the office each working day, schedules are synched and shared office time maximised. Communication is carried out via video call and email when in-person meetings are not required.
— Board Meetings are currently held via video-call. In-person meetings are limited to 1-2 meetings per year.
— When team members must travel to cities or other countries, we aim to stack several meetings or activities into single trips to avoid unnecessary repeat travel.
— Our payment systems are paperless with digital invoicing and archiving and online banking systems in use.
— Our office is 98% paperless, with documents only printed for required examples such as returning signed documents to funders or stakeholders.
— Documents for Board Meetings and team meetings are shared digitally and never printed.
— Our archive is maintained digitally and kept lean and efficient.
— We encourage service users, such as workshop participants making film outputs, to develop efficient digital saving and storage practices.
— Efforts will be made across all areas of activity to minimise waste creation.
— All waste paper, cartons, glass and metal will be recycled.
— Waste separation boxes are included in all working spaces.
— Just as the equipment and resources we acquire are often second-hand, we are also highly skilled in repurposing material in both our office working environment and installations toolkit.
ALCHEMY FILM AND MOVING IMAGE FESTIVAL
Our programme of experimental film and moving image work does not reflect a singular theme; instead, we select films which are political in nature, which speak truth to power and which create space to imagine a different world.
We limit the number of international guests who are invited to the festival. We focus on cultivating a local audience and network of artists.
As with all our events, we ensure all our catering is plant-based and all materials are as low-waste as possible.
THE TEVIOT, THE FLAG AND THE RICH, RICH SOIL
This central programme of artist residencies and community engagement emphasises collaboration, collectivity and sustainable growth. It includes artist bursaries, community filmmaking workshops, and a traineeships programme.
Each artist residency on this project has engaged directly with the land in a myriad of ways, from Hawick’s place in Black Scottish history to the woolen industry’s role in global seed distribution.
This project is funded by Culture Collective, which has established a network of organisations and creative proacticioners across Scotland. Through this network we can share resources and climate justice goals.
Film Town is Alchemy Film & Arts’ community engaged creative learning programme. Its aim is to create positive and supportive working environments, while contributing to Hawick’s economic regeneration through an investment in its cultural identity and development. We believe that building community is central to rebuilding our relationship to the natural environment.
Participants are often invited to engage with nature in their work, such as in Start Making Sense (2021, pictured below) where members of Branching Out youth group used analogue film to create a sensory popup exhibition, and in Viewfinders, where teachers learn to use filmmaking techniques in the classroom.
Although we are proud of the work that we do, there are always ways in which we aim to improve, and barriers to us achieving our environmental goals. These are some of the biggest challenges currently facing Alchemy Film & Arts:
Transport. Based in the rural Scottish Borders town of Hawick, Alchemy lacks access to a local train station, meaning staff, artists and participants must drive or rely on a sparse bus service.
International status. Although we continue to encourage a local audience for our annual film festival, we also pride ourselves on our international reach and ability to create space for a community of artists from around the globe. This fundamental conflict between the sustainability of locality and the importance of cross-border community is a source of discussion and compromise.
Funding. Perhaps the largest and most daunting challenge of all. As a charity and arts organisation, Alchemy is beholden to certain standards and expectations of funding. While these ensure we are appropriately regulated, they also mean that we can be constricted in what we do with the money that we are awarded, including towards our climate goals.
Although these are complex challenges with no simple solutions, we are taking action to combat them. These are some of the direct measures with tangiable outcomes which Alchemy is committing to through this Environmental Policy.
Campaigning to reestablish a Borders railway. The railway line that was an essential connector between Borders towns was abnadoned in the 1980s under a Thatcher government. Alchemy has been part of a national campaign to have it reinstated, and will continue to lend our voice to fight for this neccessary service.
Commiting to net zero by 2045. Scotland has set this goal, and as part of Creative Carbon Scotland and the Green Arts Initiative, we are also making this commitment. This means less travel in more efficient ways, less water and energy use in our offices and venues, and less non-recyclable waste produced.
Programme. As is evident, the evironment and climate justice are essential to our programme, both year round and at our annual festival. We pledge to continue to centre these themes, and to use our platform to facilitate transformative conversations about the world we live in. Marginalised individuals are often those most affected by climate change, and yet are also those whose voices are least amplified. We aim to provide a space for concerns, emotions and hopes to be expressed through art.
PUTTING FAITH IN PEOPLE
Ultimately, Alchemy is only as strong as the sum of our parts. Our ability to make an impact to the climate crisis is dependent on people – the people who work for and with us, the artists who come on residency and who run workshops, and the audiences and participants who engage with us.
Collective action can fundamentally shift the path of history. Alchemy chooses to put our faith in people, and to believe that if we continue to do work that has a social impact, we can contribute positively to the vast network of other organisations and individuals across the globe who hold the same net zero aims.
As an organisation we are always looking for ways to change and develop, so we welcome comments, feedback and criticism of this document. If you would like to get in touch you can do so by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.