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Follow the Data: How Does Climate Change Affect the Cultural Sector?

As global leaders aim toward limiting the planet’s warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius,  scientists warn extreme rainfalls, stronger storms, and hurricanes intensifying at faster rates will become more frequent.

A warming world and extreme weather events will have implications for all industries and geographies — and the arts industry in Puerto Rico experienced this firsthand when Hurricane Maria devastated the island in 2017. Following Hurricane Maria, many artists and arts organizations like museums, theaters, arts education programs, and music venues were at risk of cutting back services or closing because of lost revenue and other challenges.

In Fall 2020, Bloomberg Philanthropies teamed up with the Flamboyan Arts Fund, a partnership between Flamboyan Foundation, composer Lin-Manuel Miranda, his family, and the Broadway musical Hamilton to preserve, sustain, and amplify the arts in Puerto Rico, to launch the Arts Innovation and Management Puerto Rico program. The program brings together national and local experts to provide bilingual arts management training and tailored consulting services for fundraising, strategic planning, and digital marketing. It also includes resilience training for responding to climate change and natural disasters, including future hurricanes, with cultural institutions in Puerto Rico sharing key strategies and insights from their direct experiences.

In this episode, Ethan Joseph of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Arts team sits down with María Ángela López Vilella, Executive Director of Museo de las Américas, a museum dedicated to the history and culture of the Americas, particularly Puerto Rico, and, one of the ten organizations currently participating in the AIM Puerto Rico program. They discuss the unique challenges that climate change presents to the cultural sector and steps that arts organizations may consider taking to help prepare for and respond to climate change-driven hazards. They also discuss specific strategies that cultural organizations in Puerto Rico have adopted to build climate resilience in the five years since Hurricane Maria and further support their communities by becoming spaces for healing and education.

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