Finances should be as closely scrutinised as other areas of institutional activity. It is a key tool organising the institution and defining its structure, relationships between departments, internal (often unspoken) hierarchies, and determining goals. It is worth examining how finances influence institutional organisation and how this affects the mission. Is it all compatible?
When raising extra funds you should check whether the values and goals of the donor align with the goals defined in the mission of your institution. Do you consider the values of your business partners and their operating methods? Is it not the case that in looking for extra sources of funding the institution falls into overproduction, tight schedules, and exploitation of natural, material and human resources? Investigate how fundraising and spending works at your institution. This will help you build a better understanding of an institution’s functioning. Revise budgetary priorities and existing business co-operations, consider whether constant fundraising is indispensable. Remember that the introduction of ecological practices, related to either ‘hard’ assets (equipment, appliances) or ‘soft’ ways of working and communicating, is economical and may significantly lower your expenditure.


Climate Emergency is a moment when education and work on the development of pro-environmental awareness outside and inside an institution become crucial. Earmark funds for such activities in the budgets of your projects. Remember that the key to sustainable budgeting is appropriate planning.

More time, other expenses
By implementing ecological and sustainable thinking within an institution we actually reduce the expenditure. By adhering to moderation policy, long-term thinking and recovery and reuse we can significantly lower our costs. However, we need more time for long-term planning and communicating with our partners.

For instance, museums can reduce the number of exhibitions. This is a proposal which appears not only in the context of ‘greenness’ but also overproduction. Fewer exhibitions in a year mean more time for extended research and a deeper, inclusive cooperation with the education team, artists, technical and communication teams – and all from the concept stage. This also means more time for carrying out the accompanying events programme, reaching out to new groups, developing your audience. This could bring real benefits such as increased numbers of visitors which serves as one performance indicator. We plan our expenditure differently – not according to subsequent projects but for a longer and deeper work with a smaller number of events in a year.

As far as purchasing equipment for the institution or its particular programmes is concerned, it is best to start off with thorough planning. We describe this process extensively in the PRODUCTION: MATERIALS area. Initially, it is good to begin with 3R – reduce, reuse, recycle – and add ‘repair’ as well. It is important to factor in the criteria of running costs, profitability, and disposal costs of new appliances which we decide to purchase after all. This could be associated with bigger initial investment but increased longevity of the equipment, which is also important. This theme is developed in the texts related to BUILDING and EVERYDAY PRACTICES.

Being in a rush usually means spending more money as there is no time for thought out decisions and pro-environmental attitudes. Plan your economic and substantive activity, factor in the time needed for introducing green changes in an institution. Plan according to various timelines (e.g. annual, three- and five-year plans), which will help you plan the next stages. Carry out a thorough diagnosis of your own resources and the resources of your neighbourhood. Analyse with whom you could enter into local partnerships and share the equipment and costs. Perhaps you could find points in your programme which could be carried out in cooperation with other institutions or organisations in order to split the costs? When you invite experts from other cities or countries, let the employees of other institutions know. Perhaps the expert knowledge with which they come could also be used by other institutions in the area. You can then split the costs as well. A range of ecological practices which also turn out to be economical because they use common resources and focus on cooperation are also described in the texts related to GOOD NEIGHBOURLINESS, PRODUCTION: MATERIALS, EVENT PRODUCTION.

Educational priority reflected in the budget
As far as the budget of the institution and individual projects is concerned, priority should be given to activities raising ecological awareness. Start from yourself and allocate funds to activities within the team, such as meetings with experts and lectures. Include educational practices for all staff members in the budgets of exhibitions, performances, conferences. Do not treat extra training or workshops as something which could detract the staff from their ‘real’ work. This would only create tension. A cultural institution as a platform for distributing knowledge should always look for opportunities to deepen the competences of its team in every project it plans.


Awareness of the ecological and climate crisis obliges us to bravely confront the financial sources we use. Disagreeing with economic relations focused exclusively on extensive exploration of resources and narrowly-defined profit, we should revise financial practices which we are used to perceiving as customary.

Fossil fuel-free culture
Consistent implementation of greening policies means revising cooperation principles with external entities, regarding both funding of your institution’s activities by private entities and making your space available for external business industry events. Foreign movements such as Fossil Free Culture (#fossilfreeculture), BP or not BP? or Liberate Tate, successfully pressure institutions to give up funding coming from megacorporations making their profits on extensive mining of natural resources. They demand that art and culture should not be treated by these megacorporations as a means to clean up their public image (so-called greenwashing). The financial policy of an institution should reflect its programming assumptions. Before you start cooperating with sponsors, find out their approach to sustainable development and caring for the environment, check their production methods and how they treat their employees. Bear in mind that as a cultural institution you enjoy social trust and prestige and have an influence on the image of your business partners and sponsors – you raise their status. Although it may be tempting to increase your budget, your institution should check where the money came from and how it was generated. Create a list of guidelines and values which your corporate partners and sponsors should adhere to, e.g. does the company invest in mining fossil fuels? Is its activity connected with exploitation of water and land, polluting of surface or groundwater or labour exploitation? Does it pay taxes in the country of its operation? (see: ECO-ETHICS OF COOPERATION)

Exploitation-free culture
An institution which wants to lead a sustainable financial policy should cooperate mainly with entities of the social and solidarity economy, such as cooperatives and foundations which strive for change in social, economic and ecological relations. They are smaller than global corporations, so it is easier to verify the standards important to you. Cooperation with social and solidarity economy entities should be prioritised in all competitions, tenders or requests for quotation. (see: ECO-ETHICS OF COOPERATION)

Remuneration transparency
Being green means caring for justice for the environment, other species, society and the economy. Therefore, it is necessary to apply transparency in the remuneration system regardless of gender, age, ability, political views, nationality, ethnic origin, sexual orientation and to avoid disproportionality resulting from symbolic capital associated with personal branding or positioning in the sector. It is good practice to create and adhere to remuneration rules for co-workers so that all teams could apply them. It would be a step forward to make the rules public so that future co-workers know the rates. Treating remuneration as taboo leads to abuse, manipulation and inequality. The same set of problems is associated with covert systems of fees for artistic work. (See: EMPLOYEES)

Co-deciding about the budget
In treating finance as an organisational framework of an institution, it is worth planning the process of co-deciding on spending. At first, this could concern only a portion of the budget, which could be systematically increased. Being green is also about looking after one’s own wellbeing, caring for a diverse environment and a good future. An important tool in this process includes making decisions and setting priorities together. This would allow various perspectives and needs to be taken into account and would start a conversation about resources. Below you will find a few examples on how to start such a process.

1) Feminist Fund is a grant-giving organisation. The choice of the initiatives to be funded is made by a public forum: initiators assess each others’ projects and choose the ones to receive support.
2) Every year, Warsaw initiative Open Jazdów in cooperation with the District Cultural Centre organises Jazdów Open University. A specially appointed board which chooses projects for implementation is not only made up of the cultural centre’s employees but also organisations and residents from Open Jazdów, hosts of the area where projects are carried out. 
3) The same mechanism was used by the Programme Committee of the Bródno Sculpture Park (representing various parties: institutional, official, social and artistic) during open recruitment for artistic projects in the 12th edition of the programme.

These examples show models where decision-making concerning funding is devolved – more perspectives are included, often diverse but allowing for equal treatment and discussion giving a fuller view of needs and aims. 


Transforming a cultural institution into an ecological institution does not always mean investing extensive financial resources. Note how many practices can be introduced at no cost. What they require is reorganisation of management by dealing with thought patterns and habits. Such changes are not expensive in terms of money. The cost is the effort associated with changing habits and dealing with the sense of longer realisation times, or even apparent inefficiency, which sometimes creeps in. However, it is important not to treat ‘going green’ as yet another project but to consider it as a (re)organising framework. Therefore, before you decide to look for extra funding which would cover the cost of changes, think about whether you really need it.

Integrating costs within the institution’s cost structure
When planning the implementation of recommendations and proposals from this Guidebook and other similar publications, stop for a while and consider the activities your institution plans to carry out in the next year and in the next few years ahead. Together with the green team create a proposal for integrating eco-priorities within the planned projects. As far as possible, discuss the implementation of greening policies with all staff members. Together, find a space for pro-environmental activities within the projects. Also use this approach when looking for extra funding. Instead of creating new projects, include ecological transformation within the institution’s programme. Look for alliances and coalitions, share the costs. When you decide to make an investment, consider a number of factors ensuring longevity of the items and services acquired and the widest possible range of potential uses (exceeding the interests of just one institution). (see: ECO-ETHICS OF COOPERATION) 

Hard equipment and soft competences
When looking for investment funds consider the balance between hard and soft resources. Photovoltaic panels and reusable water systems are all important projects which would definitely contribute to the ecologically responsible functioning of institutions. However, equally as important as hardware infrastructure investments are soft solutions based on developing staff members’ competences and raising their ecological awareness.
When looking for grants, pay special attention to those funding the exchange of experiences. Observe processes of change in other institutions as well. The Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle and Zamek Cultural Centre in Poznań have been participating in a multi-year networking and educational programme led by the Other Space Foundation. The programme, financed from Erasmus+, is based on networking, exchanging experiences and education with foreign institutions:  Finnish Museum Association, City Minded Platform and Climate Museum.
Remember to share your new investments and competences with local networks. Avoid making equipment and knowledge available to just one institution.

How to look for grants?
Follow the competitions from local authority, government and EU programmes. It is worth checking Operational Programme Infrastructure and Environment, Active Citizens Programme, Program Life, Erasmus+. Take a closer look at Urbact, a programme which supports local institutional leaders and cities in an integrated sustainable development scheme. A few Polish cities have already benefited from it, e.g. Wrocław. As part of this programme, Wrocław City Hall and cultural institutions from Wrocław have been working together to implement ecological transformation in culture. Engage in direct cooperation with particular offices of City Hall, e.g. those responsible for climate policies or EU programmes. Bear in mind that the EU aims to be climate-neutral by 2050. Behind this declaration lies the European Green Deal, which provides specific amounts to support this transformation. Follow the news on this topic. You can also consult the guidelines issued by foreign organisations or networks which were established to support social and urban transformation with sustainable development in mind. One such organisation is Julie’s Bicycle which has prepared a review of funds available to cultural institutions and organisations.

As with other areas, some changes may be initiated through individual practices within your team or by creating models of external cooperation. However, the organisation and operation of institutions is determined by the regulations of their respective funding bodies. Therefore, it is necessary to create coalitions within culture, which will jointly push for changes in guidelines for allocating funds and identify ecological priorities. Let us demand that it is the ecological and ethical rationale that should be at the centre of fund-allocation in open competitions, specific grants and any other form of cultural financing.
An example of a climate-oriented network in the area of arts and culture is MAST from Manchester. Cultural institutions joined forces to reach a city-wide zero-emissions target. (see: INSTITUTIONAL POLICY, ECO-ETHICS OF COOPERATION)