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How artists can support the global transformation towards sustainability

We have seen much artistic work that alerts people about the climate crisis.
We have also seen a lot of dystopias and other work that makes people feel worse about this crisis. However, to harness the transformative power of art in light of the ecological crisis, the best we artists can do through our work right now is to inspire a different relationship with other human and nonhuman beings,
as well as with our shared home, planet Earth.

Gloria Benedikt 

Dance and music represent nonverbal communication that is ingrained in human nature. But are they reaching their full potential in our modern world? And why are highly trained artists, if they are to work in the world’s temples of high culture, confined to telling the same old stories about the past when we are facing an existential crisis?

In 2007, these questions motivated Benedikt to pursue her academic studies while maintaining her artistic career. During her daily commutes between theater and university, she grew interested in exploring art's potential when connected to other disciplines.


At the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Benedikt embarked on a pioneering journey that spanned over half a decade. She explored how partnerships between artists and scientists can effectively support sustainability transformations. In the process, she collaborated with numerous artists and scientists globally, developing and showcasing theater productions. Her work has led to the creation of a groundbreaking framework for artists interested  in engaging with scientists to support cultural shifts towards sustainability.


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In 2017, IIASA published The Art of Systems Analysis, the first publication co-authored by Benedikt, the Dutch composer Merlijn Twaalfhoven, and the Canadian playwright Chantal Bilodeau.


In 2020, Benedikt was the lead author of Science and Art for Life's Sake—How Partnerships between Artists and Scientists Can Support the Sustainability Transformation, the first extensive report on the science-art-sustainability interface. It addresses questions such as: Why is it essential for artists and scientists to work together to address the ecological crisis? What exactly can artists do to support the transformation toward a regenerative existence? How can we tell constructive stories about the future? 


In 2022, Benedikt was invited to discuss the European Green Deal's Cultural Project, the European Bauhaus, at the European Parliament in Brussels. 


In the climate podcast produced by the news magazine Profil, Benedikt’s analysis of why established art systems have barely responded to the climate crisis is a stark reminder of the situation's urgency. She emphasizes the crucial role of the narrative arts in the transformation toward sustainability. 


In 2023, Benedikt was one of twenty authors from around the world who contributed to the first academic volume on theater's engagement with the climate crisis, published by The Drama Review (Cambridge University Press). 

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