President of Art Partner Amber Testino talks about their #CreateCOP26 initiative, created in response to COP26 and supported by UNESCO

During the first two weeks of November this year, over 190 world leaders will arrive in Scotland for the COP26 climate summit with the objective of tackling climate change. Leading up to the event, various organisations have organised initiatives in response to the urgent topic. Responding with their #CreateCOP26 initiative inviting creatives from across the world to submit work highlighting the impact of climate change, Art Partner – an online multi-disciplinary art resource will award 8 finalists cash prizes with 20 receiving honourable mentions and a feature in their virtual exhibition. Ahead of the summit, Art Partner President Amber Testino tells us more about her hopes for the initiative and receiving support from UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Hi Amber, Art Partner have recently launched #CreateCOP26, an initiative inviting artists and creatives to create work responding to the urgent need for climate action. How are you feeling?

Excited! Nervous! And very grateful to the incredible outpouring of support from the art and fashion communities and from organisations like UNESCOwho have gone above and beyond to make this a reality.

#CreateCOP26 has been launched ahead of the COP26 climate summit, an event taking place in November which will witness more than 190 world leaders arrive in Scotland for 12 days of talks on how best to tackle climate change. You’ve mentioned the importance of providing a platform for the next generation, as well as underrepresented communities. What are your hopes for the initiative leading up to the event?

My hope is that we will receive an outpouring of submissions from all over the world which bring light to different aspects of climate change; Climate crisis is such a multi facteted and massive global issue, that no one experience or one layer of it could ever encompase the sheer scope and scale of it. Yet every single work can shed light, inspire, insist on urgent, decisive action come November.

The initiative is supported by UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science in Latin America and the Caribbean. How have you collaborated to realise the initiative? 

A colleague, Nina Baijens, who recently began working with UNESCO connected me with Lidia Brittoa while ago. UNESCO immediately understood the power of joining science and the facts with creative expression in a global drive to raise awareness and action at this critical moment and Lidia kindly agreed to sit on our jury. We are very grateful to have a perspective from her science and conservation background as well as from Latin American and the Caribbean, a region which is disproportionaley impacted by climate change but whose voices and creative communities are not always heard globally.

Eight finalists will be awarded cash prizes of $10,000, $5,000 and $2,000, with 20 creatives receiving honourable mentions. What does it mean to be able to offer this opportunity to creatives?

At Art Partner, we recognize how very difficult it is for young artists to get started. Receiving a cash prize combined with having their work celebrated in the press is a wonderful way to support artists at a crucial moment in their careers. When we launched #CreateCOP25 in 2019 we saw it as a wonderful opportunity to combine our desire to support young talent with our desire to raise awareness around the climate emergency.

All finalists and honourable mentions will have their work showcased in a virtual exhibition hosted by Art Partner. What will this mean for accessibility?

Not only does Art Partner have a broad following on social media, as well as significant traffic on the site, the community is made up of a wide range of influential people in the arts. We are very proud to give young artists access to this platform as well as celebrate in the press which we will work hard to promote.

Creatives from various disciplines are invited to submit work including photography projects, docu-style and experimental film, performance art, spoken word, musical compositions, fashion design, new media, and social media projects amongst other forms. What will you be looking out for in their work?

Well, I’m not on the jury! But having seen incredible submissions from the 2019 contest, what I was blown away by was the variety of mediums and also of messages. One of the winners was a sculptor exploring the issue of over population, one winner was a dance piece exploring ocean pollution, another was a digital meditation app. The variety and the breadth of work was impressive!

What advice can you offer to applicants? 

Art is a form of expression, if you are passionate about what you want to express, that passion will infuse the craft and the execution with life and power.

Questions by Lucy Basaba.

#CreateCOP26 is now open for submissions, to find out more about how to apply, visit here…

To find out more about Art Partner, visit here…

Written by Theatrefullstop