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A musical approach

Updated Monday, 30th November 2009

We caught up with singer songwriter Theo Bard at the Art & Climate Change event hosted by TippingPoint, as he talks about his belief that the arts have an important part to play in energizing and educating people about our planet’s plight.

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How does your work relate to climate change?

Most of the work that I do is writing music and performing it, and it’s quite unusual to write songs about climate change. I don’t know many other musicians who are writing about this sort of thing. So it presents quite a challenge in that there isn’t kind of a body of work already there. But I really like that and like, you know, there’s so much music which is just about love the whole time, and that’s great and I like that sort of music, but I also think the world is a very rich and broad place with lots of different things going on, and I’m trying to, I want to put all of that stuff into my music as best I can. And climate change is something that I think is a message that’s really important to get out so it’s nice to produce work to do with it.

Activism and music. How do they join?

In my music I aim to inspire people to get involved and do whatever they feel they can, and for me, personally, I feel like to give a message like that it’s almost infinitely more powerful if you’ve actually taken matters into your own hands and done something yourself. So I feel like I’m in a much better position to write about climate change because I’ve done activism stuff and that’s an experience I can share with people and hopefully inspire other people to do similar things. So my actions in stopping the coal train in June, which was something that I was really lucky to get the opportunity to do, you know, have to be seen in the context of like a much wider movement of people who are doing all sorts of different things. And like writing music is another thing that I can do that I think, I feel sits well with that. The remit of TippingPoint, TippingPoint is like more to do with the arts, obviously, but kind of in my life what I actually see is much more activism stuff and campaigning stuff, and that’s kind of the world that I’m from, and I find that really inspiring, I think that it’s really important that it happens.

Is there a role for cultural and creative people?

I think there’s definitely a role for the arts to play in the climate change movement. I think that people, I think it’s got to be really good. That’s my real feeling like, if it’s really good then it really hits people then like that’s fantastic and that’s really important. I think, you know, we all know what it’s like to see something that’s been commissioned for a certain purpose and it doesn’t quite hit. But I mean in order, you know, inevitably sometimes these projects aren’t going to work out as well as they can. But for me like when I see something that’s really really good, that’s incredibly powerful. And I think like we all know how it feels when you see a really great work of art, and it really hits you, and that’s what TippingPoint is all about, it’s about like really quality artwork I think.

Optimism or pessimism?

I think I’m probably somewhere in the middle. It does vary but I can’t say I’m a massive optimist about things, like, we have to be realistic about this. But what I am is incredibly motivated and energised in like that’s really the way we’ve all got to be, like because now is a really crucial time. And the more we can do now and the more people get involved then the more changes that we see in the immediate future, the better it is going to be for everyone. So I try and just focus on that and try and just be positive and act basically. And if we can do that and just keep doing it, then we can, you know, we’ll see, we’ll see how much we can achieve.

Where does the passion come from?

Well, I was raised by, my parents were always quite kind of frugal I guess in like that, I think that was from just growing up after the Second World War or whatever. And I always took that on and always went to the countryside, and I have always been camping and stuff like that, which is like, doesn’t seem that relevant, but then when I started to learn more about climate change, which was mainly just from my friends and my friends that I hang out with naturally are quite active in this area, I started to think more seriously about it and realised it was a really big challenge. I mean, a friend of mine just told me about runaway climate change, and I knew about global warming but I’d never really, wasn’t that aware of how potentially bad the scenarios are that we’re talking about. And when I realised that it just made me think like I really need to get more involved in this and, you know, be prepared to do more.

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