Case Study: Climate Portals

The important impact the arts have on the climate conversation

By HarrisonParrott Foundation

Dorothee Nys A cappella group standing outside the Glasgow Climate Portal by RCSHarrisonParrott Foundation

COP26

During the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, UK (31 October and 12 November 2021), many arts and culture institutions put together innovative and insightful cultural programmes to talk about climate change. 

Climate Portals COP26 cultural event with musician Laura Gonzalez connecting with Nakivale by Shared_StudiosHarrisonParrott Foundation

Importance of the arts

The arts have an important voice in fighting the climate emergency as it can traverse cultural and language barriers to inspire change and creativity. 

Slip of paper with the words How can we use music in tackling climate change? by RCSHarrisonParrott Foundation

Climate Portals

As part of COP26, HarrisonParrott partnered with Shared_Studios, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and Scottish Ballet, with funding from British Council, to hold an innovative and creative experience to connect people from all over the world to talk about climate change

Sara Cook uses her cello to create conversations that transcend language barriers about climate change by RCSHarrisonParrott Foundation

The Dream

The aspiration of Climate Portals is to stimulate global conversations, provide creative responses, and inspire transformational change, and explore the topic of climate change through art, science and digital technology.

Find out more about the inspiration behind the project

The Portal

The Climate Portal features a life-size screen in a golden shipping container that connects to other portals around the world, bringing together people who would never otherwise have a chance to meet.

Climate Portals COP26 cultural event with musician Laura Gonzalez in Glasgow and Nakivale by Shared_StudiosHarrisonParrott Foundation

Jeffery Sharkey, RCS

“The storytelling power of the arts has long been a powerful vehicle to inspire and influence change. Climate Portals is an exciting way to come together with communities from around the world where we can learn from each other, collaborate and create, and spark ideas"

In the Glasgow Climate Portal for COP26 Stasi Schaeffer and Jenny Knotts create a story for humanity to understand its place in nature, RCS, From the collection of: HarrisonParrott Foundation
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Joana Carvahlas connects with listeners in Erbil, Iraq to perform music inspired by waste, RCS, From the collection of: HarrisonParrott Foundation
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Stasi Schaeffer and Jenny Knotts create a performance based on a conversation on nature and love, Joana Carvahlas performs to an audience in Erbil, Iraq.

Tom MacFadyen's recent art relies heavily on nature and the emergency it faces., RCS, From the collection of: HarrisonParrott Foundation
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Stasi Schaeffer and Jenny Knotts have identified that there is no story to guide humanity through the climate crisis, and so create their own story, RCS, From the collection of: HarrisonParrott Foundation
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Tom MacFadyen produces art based on data and nature, Stasi Schaeffer leaves the Climate Portal in Glasgow

Combining his love of data bending and his heavy reliance on nature in his art, Tom explore's unique formats of visual story telling by RCSHarrisonParrott Foundation

Global immersion

​Climate Portals enable immersive and life-like connections creating the sensation of being in the same room. The Portal connects to the following countries with the UK: Rwanda, Uganda, Mexico, Gaza, Iraq, and Mali.

An A cappella performance by 3 women written about climate change by Dorothee Nys by RCSHarrisonParrott Foundation

The Activities

Programming the events for the Portals included working with RCS students, Scottish arts institutions and the general public in Glasgow and curators at the Portal locations. These curators identify participants, and organise events for 12 hours each week.

Climate Portals singing activity from Dorothee Nys featuring 3 women connecting to Mali by RCSHarrisonParrott Foundation

Shared_Studios co-founder, Michelle Moghtader

"​Climate Portals provides an opportunity for people to listen and learn from the experiences of communities, artists and change makers around the world.”

Combining his love of data bending and his heavy reliance on nature in his art, Tom explore's unique formats of visual story telling by RCSHarrisonParrott Foundation

Listen to our Podcast about Climate Portals

HarrisonParrott spoke to RCS, Shared_Studios and XX to discuss the important role of the arts in tackling the climate emergency. Listen here to find out more about Climate Portal's success at COP26 and connecting people from all over the world in creative conversations. 

Kaiya Bartholomew sings with 4 members of her family which call for climate action. by RCSHarrisonParrott Foundation

The Activities

Programming used climate change and sustainability as its focus point leading to innovative and exciting events such as an A Cappella performance from Dorothee Nys co-written around climate change and women’s perspectives...

How can we use waste to create something new. Joana Carvalhas creates new music inspired by waste by RCSHarrisonParrott Foundation

Programming examples

Joana Carvahlas' musical performance using the things we see as waste, multiple new compositions and operas, specially created artwork using climate data from Tom McFadyen, an intimate production of Shakespeare’s Macbeth  that explores ecology with Lawrence Boothman...

Tom MacFadyen's recent art relies heavily on nature and the emergency it faces. by RCSHarrisonParrott Foundation

Your Future Planet

A series of evening performances performed by actors in Kigali and watched from Glasgow

Actor and musician Stasi Schaffer and Jenny Knotts merge storytelling and music to carve meaning into our world and our place within it. by RCSHarrisonParrott Foundation

Programming examples

... visual storytelling via a love story to create a new future for humans and nature, merging of art and data to create new art works, a cello performance based on conservation, global music improvisation and exchanges, and dialogues about our throwaway culture.  

Siobhan Dyson created a film about the effects humans have had on the oceans by RCSHarrisonParrott Foundation

Climate Film

Siobhan Dyson, created a film about the effects humans have had on the oceans and the horror of a potential future if these behaviours don’t change.

Kaiya Bartholomew sings with her family harmonised songs about climate action., RCS, From the collection of: HarrisonParrott Foundation
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Sally Charlton and Althea Young explore distance and phone calls as a form of time travel, RCS, From the collection of: HarrisonParrott Foundation
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Kaiya Bartholomew and her family sing to audiences in Kigali and Mexico City, and Sally Charlton and Althea Young explore distance and phone calls as a form of time travel. 

Neil Banas is an oceanographer and computer modeller, and Jen Argo is an artist and arts educator. They are partners in a new project called Mapping Ocean Change through Art. by RCSHarrisonParrott Foundation

Climate Cafe

This was a daily event throughout COP26 where speakers, artists, scientists were invited to present and discuss climate change themes related to the climate crisis. Each session was open to the public followed by discussions and tea and cake.

Neil Banas and Jen Argo talk about zooplankton to raise awareness of how they knit the oceans together by RCSHarrisonParrott Foundation

Cafe events

Climate Cafe events included films, zooplankton origami, photography, a 1-hour chamber opera about an extinct locust, green arts initiatives, experimental sound art, sustainability professionals, a Glasgow/Mexico City audio walk, music performances, and visual art.

Anne Guzzo is a composer of 'Locust' opera; an opera which follows the ghost of the Rocky Mountain locust which haunts a scientist., RCS, From the collection of: HarrisonParrott Foundation
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Neil Banas talks about Zooplankton and how they knit the oceans together with Jen Argos an artist and arts educator., RCS, From the collection of: HarrisonParrott Foundation
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Participants at Climate Cafes discussing the Locust Opera and making origami zooplankton

Sapna Agarwal is part of the Hope Street feminist collective and is devoted to growing a Dear Green Place for the 21st Century., RCS, From the collection of: HarrisonParrott Foundation
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Neil Banas and Jen Argo use computer modelling and origami zooplankton to talk about the hidden lives and worlds of North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans under climate change., RCS, From the collection of: HarrisonParrott Foundation
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Sapna Agarwal demonstrating her artwork to cafe audiences, and the final origami zooplankton created by climate cafe participants.

Sapna Agarwal uses play, stories and everyday chat to explore social justice and climate issues., RCS, From the collection of: HarrisonParrott Foundation
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Locust, an operatic murder mystery, is a 1 hour opera that has been performed in the USA and Morocco, RCS, From the collection of: HarrisonParrott Foundation
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An example activity from Sapna Agarwal's climate cafe stimulating conversations around the climate emergency, and a participant discussing the Locust opera.

An audio walk created by Dr Laura Bissell and David Overend taking listeners down Glasgow's Hope Street, then they listen to an audio walk created in Mexico City on their return journey to the portal, RCS, From the collection of: HarrisonParrott Foundation
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Hope Street in Glasgow has been at the top of the list of Scotland’s most polluted streets for many years., RCS, From the collection of: HarrisonParrott Foundation
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An audio walk created by Dr Laura Bissell and David Overend. Participants were invited to experience an audio walk down Hope Street (15mins) then to listen to an audio walk created in Mexico City on their return journey to the portal (15mins).

Credits: Story

The Climate Portal is a creative collaboration between HarrisonParrott, Shared_​StudiosRoyal Conservertoire of Scotland and Scottish Ballet. The portal is home to an exciting art and digital exchange programme with portals across the globe, including Bamako, Erbil, Gaza, Nakivale, Mexico City, and Kigali.

Climate Portals is supported by the British Council’s Creative Commissions programme which are a series of creative commissions exploring climate change through art, science and digital technology.


Join the conversation:
#COP26
#TheClimateConnection
#TogetherForOurPlanet

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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