Benedetta d’Ettorre

School of Performance and Cultural Industries, Faculty of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies

Learning from emergency situations: how ecological resilience impacted on the sustainability of a small creative business

PGR Placement


On the 21st December 2015, Open Source Arts opened for the first time as newly set-up business in Kirkstall Road, in Leeds. Open Source Arts was set up as a new spaces for artists, makers and practitioner to fabricate things, work on projects, collaborate and showcase their work as part of a programme of workshops and events On the 26th December, the River Aire flooded bringing water in 1000 homes and 400 businesses in the city centre, Kirkstall and Otley. If small arts organisations already have specific challenges in generating income and ensuring financial sustainability, the flooding caused an unforeseen a significant loss of money even before opening with £90,000 worth of damage to the equipment. The organisation mobilised a group of volunteers to help them to clean up and support neighbour businesses and homes. This research project investigates how that emergency and the resilient response that followed impacted the sustainability of the business and on the development of the local community’s ecological resilience. By studying and disseminating the learning from this experience, this project aims to generate knowledge that can inform policy and support the economic and social resilience of small business and communities affected by environmental disasters. The project will investigate the forms that resilience can take through specific attitudes and the practical tools and methods to that an arts organisations and communities can adopt to self -organise and respond to emergency situations.