Annual Review 2020/21

The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch) presents its annual review for 2020/2021, a year which has been like no other and has seen the need for charities sky-rocket. The fundamental purpose of the Foundation is to improve the quality of life for all through art, charity, science and education. The UK Branch thinks globally and acts locally to create the conditions for change, prioritising the vulnerable and underserved in the UK and elsewhere, acting between the two pillars of nature and culture.

2020 was a particularly challenging year for arts organisations, but one that also welcomed quick, creative thinking as organisations found new ways to bring their performances, exhibitions and other activities online. Our work in the Civic Role of Arts Organisations felt even more pertinent as local communities have come together to share their capabilities and creativity. We have been able to provide support to Common Vision and Culture Reset, as well as launching our inaugural Award for Civic Arts Organisations, shared between four incredible organisations in March 2021.

The pandemic has reinforced how engaging with nature improves our wellbeing and further highlighted the impact we have had, and continue to have, on our environment. In 2020/2021 we have continued seven years of marine conversation work to maintain momentum and develop awareness with Marine CoLABoration and our other partners. We have set out our ‘one ocean – one climate’ message, a fundamental principal of ocean literacy.

In 2020, we launched a new strand engaging the public in the climate conversation. The climate crisis is the single greatest threat facing our society and is becoming increasingly urgent. Involving communities in climate action is essential for holding local and national governments to account, as well as enacting individual behaviour change. This complements the Foundation’s Gulbenkian Prize for Humanity, awarding one million euros annually those making impactful and innovative contributions to the climate movement. Greta Thunberg was the first winner.

Organisations now face a choice: batten down for a return to ‘normal’ or step forward into our new context. Throughout this challenging year, we have held on to the insight that drives us: through collaboration we will successfully address the most complex global challenges. We share our annual review with optimism, a testament to the work of our partners in these difficult times.

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Updated on 08 march 2022

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