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ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY

AUGUST 2020

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 a cultural organisation invested in film as a means of generating discussion, strengthening community, and stimulating creative thought.

We bring the highest quality experimental film to Hawick and the Scottish Borders, celebrating artistic excellence through a diverse range of year-round events – including community filmmaking opportunities, screenings, exhibitions, commissions, residencies and an internationally renowned annual film festival.

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 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, multi-species 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 2019-20, Forage/Image was a project created to interrogate relationships between artists, landscapes and environment, asking what the role of creative projects and individuals is and can be, and drawing together ideas of connection and representation between plant, animal and human.

Three artists – Karel Doing, Demelza Kooij and Darae Baek – spanned several modes, methods and themes, including plant-based film development techniques that avoid harsh chemicals and resource-draining technologies; interspecies communication and the deconstruction of concepts of animal, captivity, wild; stillness, isolation and communication between people and landscape.

Each artist led workshops as part of Film Town – our community filmmaking initiative, through which we share, pool and maximise resources with strategically identified partners and aim to address, challenge and overcome widespread precarity. The workshops encouraged and provided an opportunity for participants to get involved in alternative methods of artmaking, and each artist exhibited work on Hawick High Street. The project urged Alchemy to consider alternative methods of facilitating workshops and installing exhibitions, while communicating ideas around environment to wider publics. Each of the three artists also engaged in a recorded discussion around the themes of their work and its place in Forage/Image and contributed resources to our project library for future knowledge-sharing.

More information about Forage/Image can be found here.

In 2020-21, Ecology, Iconography, Woman is a strand of our year-round project, Once Upon a Time in Hawick, which interrogates the relationship between storytelling, image-making and place to weave threads between Hawick’s many pasts and potential futures. Ecology, Iconography, Woman was due to involve walks, talks and discussions around gender and politics in Hawick’s landscape, ecology and industries. The intersections of gender and environment are particularly significant in Hawick, a town renowned for its mill industry and production of cashmere.

This strand, aiming to take a more social and historical look at ecology and environment in the town of Hawick, has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we have been using the time since March 2020 to develop alternative ways of programming and production through both digital and in-person methods after the successful delivery of Alchemy Live, the first digital iteration of Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival.

Streaming our 2020 festival provided new infrastructures and modes of production during a period of unprecedented disruption. While it was a challenge to convert our lively in-person five-day multi-venue festival – whose screening events are both a landmark on the international experimental film calendar and a boost to the town of Hawick’s annual economy – we appreciate challenges and welcome responsive and flexible practices. Alchemy Live was successful in allowing much larger audiences than is physically possible at the in-person equivalent the potential to view the best of experimental film, at minimum carbon cost.

We are invested in further interrogating what this means for more sustainable methods of screening and exhibition. We are less interested in a binary, ‘either-or’ conversation emerging from this moment, regarding digital or in-person creative events, than a need to be fluid and responsive: to continue considering all options, that is, in meeting the technical, conceptual and ethical needs of each event we deliver.

More information about Alchemy Live can be found here.
More information about Once Upon a Time in Hawick can be found here.


ELEMENTS OF OUR PRODUCTION AND GOVERNANCE AFFECTED BY ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS

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.

  • ENERGY
    — 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.
  • TRANSPORT
    — 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.
  • HOSPITALITY
    — 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.
  • MARKETING
    — 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.
  • PURCHASING
    — 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.
  • SUBMISSIONS
    — 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.
  • COMMUNICATION
    — 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.
  • ADMINISTRATION
    —  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.
  • WASTE
    — 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.