Staying with the Trouble / Becoming liquid: How Cultural Institutions Engage with Climate change
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Donna Haraway’s call to ‘stay with the trouble’ states dealing with climate change requires a systematically different way of thinking about and relating to the world that surrounds us. The concept of ‘liquidity’ has been proposed as a way for museums to adapt to our postmodern world, defined by issues as climate change. This thesis extends this concept by applying it to cultural institutions in general, asking: How are cultural institutions ‘liquid’ in the way that they respond to and engage with the complex issue of climate change? The thesis develops an analytical framework suitable for mapping, analyzing, and comparing how diverse cultural institutions are liquid. This analytical framework consists of five levels: 1) the organizational model, 2) the relation to the audience, 3) the relation to the world outside, 4) (re)presentation, and 5) reinventing and reorganizing. Subsequently, the framework is illustrated by analyzing how a theater, a cultural center and a festival engage with climate change: Het Nationaal Theater, De Tolhuistuin and Welcome to the Village. Information is collected by studying official documents, the institutions’ websites, and conducting interviews with high-level employees. These case studies show a couple things: first, cultural institutions evolving around time-based events are better equipped to engage with the dynamics of climate change than museums. Second, certain elements of the institutions can operate as ‘liquefiers,’ giving incentives for innovation. Third, liquid institutions face a constant trade-off between size and impact and internal flexibility. In conclusion, the foremost part of liquidity is the attitude of ‘staying with the trouble,’ facilitated by viewing climate change as a social issue, using imagination as a tool, focusing on creating experiences over presenting information, and using positive framing.