Let’s talk about the future: Can the arts help save the planet?

2 September 2022

Meri Fatin hosts a compelling debate between Professor Peter Newman, Dr Renee Newman and Oron Catts about whether the arts can dream the world we need.

The first of three podcasts in partnership with the Chamber of Arts and Culture WA tackles the future of the arts and the environment. How are arts and culture in WA impacted by environmental change and what is the sector’s role in addressing these issues now and in coming decades?

Three of WA’s leading thinkers come together to discuss the future of the arts and the environment.

Self-confessed “hope merchant”, Peter Newman, brings a broad perspective from decades as Professor of Sustainability at Curtin University, and from his work for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Dr Renee Newman is a lecturer and researcher at WAAPA, an actor, director and producer with a thread of commentary on sustainability, excess and waste. Together with Professor Newman she has founded a Leadership in Sustainability course at Curtin.

Oron Catts is an artist, researcher, designer and curator. He has co-founded SymbioticA which uses biological science to critique the cultural and ethical issues of life manipulation.

Together with host Meri Fatin they discuss eco-dramaturgy and how the arts can challenge people to rethink their perceptions around art practice, science, ethics and the future. But is the role of the arts just to make people feel bad? Or can we enlist artists to be great dreamers – to dream the world we need? Tune in to find out whether hope is problematic as an obstacle for realistic foresight. And whether artists can also be solutionists?

This podcast was recorded at RTRFM studio in August 2022.

Julie Hosking investigates further in the feature article “Let’s talk about the future: Can the arts help save the planet?”

Show notes

  • Author and poet Ben Okri called for a “new art” to shock people into action in a recent article in The Guardian.
  • The “Leadership in Sustainability” course is being run by Dr Newman at Curtin University Sustainability Policy (CUSP) Institute 
  • Oron Catts is co-founder of SymbioticA, the Centre of Excellence in Biological Arts at the University of Western Australia
  • Kimberley-based artist Sam Newman produced a massive canvas map harpooning “Col’s canal”, a proposal for a 3700km waterway from Kimberley to Perth that former premier Colin Barnett infamously took to the 2005 State election.
  • Katie Mitchell’s production of “Lungs”, about a couple wrestling with the environmental impact of having a baby, was powered entirely – sound and lights — by its two protagonists on stationary bikes.
  • The Blue Room Theatre became the first arts organisation in Western Australia to become carbon neutral in 2019
  •  European Commission’s Joint Research Centre has a program to engage art and science with policy.

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This podcast was produced in partnership with the Chamber of Arts and Culture WA with the support of Lotterywest.

Picture top: L-R clockwise Oron Catts, Professor Peter Newman, Dr Renee Newman and Meri Fatin.

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Author —
Meri Fatin

Award-winning journalist, broadcaster and podcast producer Meri Fatin is a graduate of WAAPA and has been a volunteer presenter at RTRFM for over twenty years. She is the founder of WA Climate Leaders, driving a vision to inspire bold leadership on climate action. Meri likes hanging upside down, so her favourite playground attraction is the monkey bars.

Past Articles

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