POSTED 28.11.2022

Artwork: Alma Heikkilä, ‘ , ‘ /~` mediums,.’ ” bodies,.’ ” ° ∞ , 2019

From Reside/Sustain: Art organizations can not only spark a conversation about climate change and sustainability practices, but also make climate conscious and environmentally aware attitudes and habits part of their operations.

Not all habits require a lot of time and energy. In the list below, you will find questions and ideas that have been collected by the participating artists, curators, and organisers. Maybe you could apply some of them in the work of your organization, which means taking small steps towards a sustainable future.

Habits are catching: tell your colleagues, and share your findings with them and us.

The goal:

A set of questions which artists can use in the dialogue with art institutions or institutions can use to evaluate their own activities

The original version of the list below was created by Alma Heikkilä, Pauliina Leikas and Antti Majava in autumn 2017 in connection to their work in Mustarinda. This list is not meant to be a fixed document, but rather to serve as an inspiration for further development.

If you have comments or suggestions related to the list, please write them down on this Etherpad: http://pad.hiap.fi/p/what-can-art-organisations-do




Not acting is also a decision and a comment. When not taking part in the ecological  transition you weaken the future possibilities to make and enjoy art in a peaceful society. 


- Are all the travels needed? 

- Can meetings be held online instead?

- When booking tickets for guests, start by asking how they would like to travel. Don’t assume that everyone wants to fly, suggest other options like train and bus. 

- Discuss if the travelling is needed or if it’s possible to just send the art works.

- Include the travelling time (especially for slow travel) into the project timeline (and the possible salary paid to the guest).

- When starting a new project the amount of travelling it includes should be considered and the greener traveling methods included into the budget.

- When driving a car, use shared rides and alternative fuels electric and biogas. 

- Could it possibly be a rule that the organisation does not pay for flights when other possibilities are available?

- Share your green traveling experiences with your staff and the guests. 

- How to do this? Mustarinda’s Travel Blog, HIAP’s Ecological Travel site and blog

- Start to build knowledge of the alternative travelling options and routes. 

- Could you plan the project so that the guest could visit other organisations at the same time? Could you collaborate with other organisations when planning the visit?

- Could the invited guest stay for a longer time period? Could you collaborate with a local artist-in-residency project?


- How does the staff travel to work? Could the institution offer/support bikes and public transportation? For biking a good/easy place to store the bike and change clothes if needed. 

- Stop offering car deals / free parking etc.

- Could working time be flexible to meet public transportation connections?

- Can the work be done online from home etc.


- Inform visitors how to reach the location by public transportation.

- Remember that traveling to the location is already part of the exhibition experience. (Physical exercises such as walking / cycling makes the blood to circulate so more oxygen is available for the brain).

- Free entry for guests arriving with bikes.

- No free parking - parking lots are very expensive support to car owners.

- Good places for bikes.

- Info board about the public transport.


- Count your emissions / hire a person to count your emissions.

- Do you know how the energy for heating /cooling the building is made?

- Could you buy renewable low carbon electricity? (wind and solar)

- Can you alter the energy system? Think of renewables like geothermal heating / cooling, heat pumps, solar panels, etc. Often the renewables are cheaper in use in the long run, which can help you to lower your annual energy costs. 

- Use adjustable led lights in the exhibition spaces. Led lights are also safer for the artworks, such as paintings since they produce less heat. 

- Try to adjust to energy consumption according to the production cycles (of wind and solar) and weather. 

- In cold climate try to use less heated space in winter time and in warm climate the opposite use smart heating and cooling systems. Do not overheat / overcool.

- Do not keep doors open all the time when heating / cooling.

- Remember that often the biggest emission comes from  transport of humans and items. 

1 artist flies (2500 flight km) about 500kg emissions (including säteily päästöt) is the same amount of emissions  if 75 people drive 25 km back and forth to see the event / exhibition. > good local art exhibitions and events can be seen as ecological if the audience doesn’t need to travel very far. Plan the transporting of art, use companies that transport other things at the same time (no empty trucks) try to find companies that try to save energy in their actions.

- If the artwork comes from far, could you plan a tour with the artists so that it can be shown for example in the same continent in a few places? 

-(Energy of homepages etc. online materials? How to count?)

FOOD (events /cafeteria ..)

- Don’t assume everyone eats meat / dairy.

- Try to offer only vegan / vegetarian food, with sustainable ingredients (local, in season, etc..). You don’t need to make a huge deal about it, most won’t even notice there is no meat /dairy products offered. Take care that the people making the food are experienced with vegan / vegetarian cooking. It is important that the food tastes very good.

- Try to use locally made products. Buy the wine / beer offered so that it’s made at least in the same continent. 

- When dining out, pre-order vegetarian food for all / choose vegetarian restaurants.

- Use / offer tap water instead of bottled whenever it’s possible.

- Support local farming projects.

- If necessary use meat, use meat that comes from agricultural symbiosis ( sustainable symbiosis where cattle plays an important role in field farming. (organic carbon neutral farming) 


- Is a new and bigger building really needed?

- Can the organization use an already existing building, that is out of use.

- When planning something new, remember that it might lock your emissions to a very high level for a very long time. 

- Carefully reconsider where to locate, if locate somewhere far away - the visits need to be longer.

- Try to make it clear to the owner of the building to realise the investments for sustainability are important. Ecological solutions are essential to user (art organisation).

- Prepare enough space for storing materials and for recycling. Keep them in good order. 

Use ecological products and use them in the right manner. Could the residency offer all detergents and buy them in bigger amounts? 


- Remember that the content of the artworks does not need to be about ecological issues, the culture needs multiple topics.

- Try to think of new ways to communicate about the materials used in the artworks and in the exhibition project and the exhibition.

- Think of new ways to include the non-human agencies that have taken part to the making of an art work / project.

- How to underline all the collaboration and dependencies between humans and also between humans and non-humans.

- Think about how the way the space is managed affects the way art is experienced. Does it feel different to experience art in space that is heated with fossil fuels or renewables - especially if some of the projects are dealing with issues around the environment. 

- Don’t think environmental issues in art are periodical trend but a as permanent structural change in the whole society.

- If making a big project around environmental topics, don’t just demand invited artists to make environmental practise, focus on the whole organisation. Most of the emissions most likely come in institutional level. 

- How to communicate the ecological solutions of the art space?


- Plan the material aspects of the project together with the artists, consider different options and share ideas on how to save energy/materials.

- How to plan the exhibition spaces and structures so that they would be flexible enough? 

- Try to find ways of not needing to build new structures that are not reusable in the future.

- Try to avoid frequent repainting of the spaces (from black to white to black). When painting use ecological paints. 

- If using paints don’t pour the washing waters to the sink but let them evaporate in a small jar. Try to use thin layers of paint.

- Unpack / pack the transported items so that you can use the same packing materials. 

- Try to use efficient and long lasting devices.

- Renting and sharing are good alternatives for owning.

- Try to fix broken tools and devices.

- Try to count the emissions - something done outside in distant location (even without technology / energy) can make up more emissions than a project  with good public transportation connections.

- Carefully consider making/ printing  any catalogues and other material - maybe the material can be only online. 

- Start a network for art professionals where you can give out the elements, materials and gadgets when they are not needed for you anymore. Many materials can still be useful to others. 


- Could there be more plants / green areas around the institution? They also work as the entrance to space. Spending time in green areas decreases blood pressure and makes us have more empathy towards other species. 

- You can ask for sponsors to help you in the changes and you can collaborate with producers that have alternative products. 

- Share your findings with others.

- Start and keep up the discussions on how the processes on making and exhibiting art could be done better.

- There’s no other option than to change. Ecological transition is a huge challenge.

- More expertise, research, time (and funding) is needed.

- The solutions can’t all be scaled > organisational sensitivity.

- Larger institution > bigger responsibility.

- Individual artists, professionals and audience should not be left alone.

- Individual art professionals ecological footprint is massive, is the art community allowed to use more of the scarce materials?