Art + Commons: Announcing a New Collaboration

Commons Network is proud to announce our new collaboration with Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons, the internationally renowned art organisation in Utrecht. Casco has been pioneering the cross-over between arts and commons for decades. Casco Art Institute works closely with artists by presenting art for making different worlds, now and into the future. They ‘study, situate, and mediate art in relation to the field of the commons’. In their own words:

“We are living in a time of a large-scale and urgent transition away from an economic growth-driven, extractivist society towards social forms and systems that can support a sustainable and joyful life for all human and non-human beings, as equally as possible.
The commons – collective resources that are co-managed by self-organizing communities where maintenance, care, sharing, cooperation, and diversity are of the highest value – is directing the movement of this transition.
Whether or not they were named as such, the commons existed before nation-states (the public) and neo-liberal markets (the private), and they continue today. Yet they have been reduced if not enclosed by privatization, undervalued if not made fragile by exploitation.
Casco Art Institute dedicates itself to cultivating and sustaining the commons through art, questioning its forms of life, shared resources, customs, and borders. Art is here to offer a lens to look at the commons whilst the commons looks to the world, including art.”

Commons Network was asked by Casco Art Institute to help organise the second edition of the Assembly for Commoning Art Institutions. Together, we will try to develop a climate justice code for art and art institutions. What practical measures will art and art institutions take to care for our planetary commons with the power of imagination?

The Assembly seeks to establish concrete ways for art and art institutions to act and respond to climate change and to align itself with the climate justice movement. We propose to work together to deal with this struggle systematically by incorporating it into the daily operations of artists and art institutions. We will formulate a collective proposal for local and national governmental policy with a focus on cultural institutions. Let us use our imaginations to draft and issue a climate justice code or guidelines for arts organizations.

Over two days, we will hear from practitioners from diverse backgrounds (activists, artists, lobbyists, and more) whose words will inform the climate justice code, a code that all Assembly participants will then shape in live editing sessions, break-out groups, and as a plenary.

For Commons Network, climate justice means three things:
1- The effects of climate change are felt most acutely by people who are least responsible for causing the problem. Communities in the global South – as well as low-income communities in the industrialised north – are bearing the burden of rich countries’ overconsumption of our planet’s resources. The developed world has a ‘climate debt’: we have a historical and moral responsibility to stop this crisis help developing countries by transfer of technology and finances.
2- Climate justice means addressing the climate crisis whilst also making progress towards equity and the protection and realisation of human rights. It demands that the transformation should not leave anyone behind. This refers to a just transition, one that protects the livelihood of workers and ensures clean, safe and organized jobs in the new energy system.
3- The climate crisis is the byproduct of a flawed system, fuelled by capitalism, colonialism, patriarchy and white supremacy. That is why Extinction Rebellion does not want to be called a ‘climate movement’: they rebel out of an urgent need to fix the underlying problems. Any structural solution will require us to fundamentally disrupt these power structures and change the system.

Join us in Utrecht, at the Centraal Museum, on the 25th and 26th of October, by sending an e-mail to or keep up to date via our Twitter account.


The phrase “Our House is on Fire” comes from a speech by Greta Thunberg at the 2019 World Economic Forum, you can watch it here.
Gif image by David Bennewith, of design studio in Amsterdam