We published An Ecobardic Manifesto in 2008.
This twenty-two page booklet addressed the question “what is the purpose of the arts in an age of global crisis?” In offering an answer it presents an audacious vision for the arts that holds together commitment to artistic integrity and craft with responsiveness to the challenges of our time. Foremost among those challenges are the strained relationship between human beings and the ecosystem we inhabit, and the vital need to elicit sympathy for that which is not ourselves. The booklet is a clarion call to everyone working in the arts today who wants their efforts to make a difference.
Here is an extract from the opening page of An Ecobardic Manifesto.
The world is in crisis. It’s been in crisis before. Individual regions have suffered environmental collapse. The planet has undergone global ecological crises in the deep geological past. But in our time we’ve become aware that for the first time during the history of civilisation the world faces such a global ecological crisis – one caused not by asteroid impact or the slow cycles of plate tectonics or celestial oscillation, but by the accelerating exploitation of the earth’s resources by an ever growing human population. In such a crisis what place is there for the arts?
We believe it’s time for the arts to respond whole-heartedly to the ecological challenges facing our planet. In place of the commodification of alienation, we need to celebrate connection; in place of intensifying polarisation between entrenched dogmatisms, we need to foster respect for otherness and diversity; in place of self-interested denial, we need to promote engagement with ecological reality.
How can creative artists do this? As a start, we propose, through the application of five ‘ecobardic’ principles:
(1) connecting with one’s own roots in time and place while celebrating the diversity of other cultures and traditions;
(2) daring to discern and critique in order to provide cultural leadership;
(3) respecting and dynamically engaging with one’s audience as a creative partner;
(4) cultivating the appreciation of beauty through well-wrought craft;
(5) re-enchanting nature and existence as filled with significance.
This Ecobardic Manifesto is, firstly, our own mission statement as a group of performing artists and writers. But it’s much more than that. It aims to draw attention to groundbreaking ‘ecobardic’ work that many other artists have already done. And, by making our artistic intention conscious and public, we hope to provoke and inspire yet others. From little acorns, mighty oaks may grow.
An Ecobardic Manifesto is available at £2.50 (ISBN 987-1-906900-07-6) from Awen Publications www.awenpublications.co.uk