Arts Council England
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New partnership brings contemporary art to the nation’s forests

Arts Council England and Forestry England have embarked on a revitalised partnership to bring ambitious contemporary artworks to forests across England, with a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by our Chief Executive, Darren Henley OBE, and Forestry England’s Chief Executive, Mike Seddon.

A photograph of Mike Seddon and Darren Henley sat at a table. They are smiling, and each hold a pen - suggesting they have just signed a document.

The five-year agreement, signed at Grizedale forest in the Lake District, is based on the shared belief that art and culture inspire us, bring us together and teach us about the world around us, including how to care more for the environment. In addition, the MoU recognises that woods and forests are vital places for creative practitioners to work and for audiences of all kinds to encounter and engage with arts and culture. 

A photograph of a sculpture in an outdoor location. A large, round form is shown in front of trees. It appears to be made from stone.

Image: '17 Degrees South' 1997 by Linda Watson. Photo by Hazel Stone.

As a result of the partnership, the Arts Council and Forestry England will work together to ensure more ambitious contemporary artworks from emerging and established artists are brought to forests across England. The signatories agreed that these artworks and projects should have a strong focus on biodiversity, climate, peoples’ connection to nature and mental health and wellbeing.

Building on the success of the previous two MoUs, the new agreement supports the ambition of both organisations to address climate and environmental issues in the context of art and cultural production. 

A photograph of two wooden sculptures within a forest. The sculptures are in a cone shape.

Image: 'RUUP' 2018 by Birgit Oigus at Grizedale Forest. Image by Amelia Harvey

Darren Henley OBE, Chief Executive Officer, Arts Council England said:  

“This partnership will help ambitious new creative projects to blossom in our wonderful woodlands all over England. Visitors to our forests will be inspired by the ingenuity and imagination of artists as they encounter art in magnificent natural settings. Right now, we’re focusing on the importance of caring for our natural environment, so there’s no more important time to highlight the relationship between artists and the natural world.”

Mariam Zulfiqar, Contemporary Arts Manager, Forestry England said: 

“Success from our previous partnerships with Arts Council England shows that woodlands and forests are a vital place for audiences to engage with art. Now more than ever we need artists to be able to connect with scientists, researchers and experts working in forestry and our future programme will create conditions for this exchange to take place. As experts in forestry at the forefront of climate change and biodiversity issues we have an important role to play in supporting artists understand and address the complexity of the issues we face as a society.

“Over the next 5 years we will focus on themes such as climate, people’s connection to nature and biodiversity and we are open to discussions with organisations and individuals who also want to focus on these areas. We look forward to collaborating on projects that create challenging, thought provoking artworks that generate fulfilling experiences. 

“We see our art’s programme as an integral way to connect audiences with these priorities and together with Arts Council England, we believe that art and culture inspire us, bring us together and teach us about the world around us, including how to care more for the environment.” 

More information about Forestry England’s arts programme can be found on their website:

Download the Memorandum of Understanding


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