Culture Declares Emergency

Culture Declares Emergency (CDE) is a growing community of arts & culture champions declaring a climate & ecological emergency – from national organisations to individual artists.

What is culture's role in these times?

CDE was launched in April 2019, asking - What is culture's role in these times? How can we act collectively and individually to shift paradigms? What can and must be done and how can we continue to evolve a network for support?

The crisis compels us to imagine new possibilities and to propose systemic change.  Declaring is way to focus thinking and discussion to lead to action.  On 8 July 2019, Complicité was one of over 200 cultural organisations and artists to declare Climate and Ecological Emergency.  The total is now over 700.

This second wave of declarers were announced on the day of a dedicated assembly at London’s Roundhouse, which explored how the arts and cultural industry can respond to the “truth of the crisis we are in”. Complicité produced the event as part of our response to the environmental crisis.  From January 2020, we will be hosting a part time Coordinator for CDE, thanks to a grant from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation UK.  We will also be interrogating how our creative practice needs to adapt, looking at what we make, how we make it and how we share it.

Complicité Artistic Director Simon McBurney said: "The world is on fire. Those with no voice are the most at risk. The poorest, the most exploited, the most vulnerable. Countries and continents, peoples and habitats, animals and ecosystems. 'Culture' is the story with which we shape the world and give meaning to our lives. So what does it mean when those who feed the fire control the narrative? To survive we must tell different stories and drown out the tired old tales of culture as economic growth with profit its only outcome. We must roar and rage against those who would tell us culture demands respect. How can we respect those who own the world and ransack it for profit? We will not accept the bribes they offer so we ignore the way they have set the whole world on fire.

Culture now must give voice to those at the heart of the flames. Declaring an emergency is only the beginning. Now we need to act. Listen to the cries for help and craft them into chants of power that can change the world."

"When asked to write in a time when diplomacy and politics have such terribly short and feeble arms, the delicate but sometimes lengthy reach of art must bear the burden of holding together the human community." Arthur Miller

See the full list of declarers and find out how you can get involved at Follow on Facebook @culturedeclares, Twitter @CultureDeclares, Instagram culturedeclares

The Lightscaper Photography

Beware of Pity

Based on the novel by Stefan Zweig
Directed by Simon McBurney

A Complicité co-production with the Schaubühne, Berlin.

Behind the scenes videos

Stefan Zweig (1881 – 1942) was an Austrian writer who at the height of his career was the most read author writing in the German language.

Ungeduld des Herzens, published in 1939, is a tense and claustrophobic account of a young man’s slide into a terrible situation, and his inability to extricate himself from it. It’s a devastating depiction of honour, love and betrayal, realised against the background of the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the rise of anti-Semitism.

La Filature, Mulhouse 
13 & 14 May 2020

"Extraordinarily compelling”
★★★★★ Independent

"An illuminating explosion”
★★★★★ WhatsOnStage

"It fizzes on the spot”
★★★★ Observer

★★★★ Time Out

★★★★ Guardian

“Takes on the compelling quality of a thriller”
★★★★ Financial Times

“It draws you in and shakes you"
★★★★ Times

Book tickets here

Gianmarco Bresadola
Gianmarco Bresadola

The Magic Flute, Online

By Mozart
Directed by Simon McBurney

An ENO/DNO production in collaboration with Complicité

Our co-production with DNO and ENO of The Magic Flute is available online for one week. 

Magical instruments. Serpents and sorcerers. Trials of character and courage. When you begin an enchanted journey to find love and wisdom, you have to expect delays on the way.

The Magic Flute directed by Simon McBurney is available online until 5th April. To watch, please click the video on this page.


Mozart‘s timeless classic follows the adventures of Prince Tamino and the bird-catcher Papageno on their quest to rescue Pamina. To assist their mission, they are given musical instruments enhanced with magical powers, which they deploy to conquer the trials and tribulations placed in their path towards a deeper understanding of true love and happiness.

The cast includes Christina Landshamer as Pamina and Maximillian Schmitt singing Tamino, alongside Thomas Oliemans, as Papageno. They are joined by company favourite Brindley Sherratt as Sarastro and the sparkling coloratura of Iride Martinez as the manipulative Queen of Night. The production was conducted by Marc Albrecht and designed by Michael Levine.

'Truly magical’
The Daily Express

'A life-enhancing achievement'
The Spectator

The Guardian


Robbie Jack
Robbie Jack
Robbie Jack

The Rake's Progress, Online

Simon McBurney directs Stravinsky's opera. 

Playing next in Moscow

The Rake's Progress is available to watch online. Simply click play on the video on this page.

Opera in three acts

Libretto by Wystan Hugh Auden and Chester Simon Kallman
Adapted from William Hogarth
Conductor Timur Zangiev
Director Simon McBurney
Dramaturge Gerard McBurney
Design Michael Levine
Costume design Christina Cunningham
Lighting Design Paul Anderson
Video Design Will Duke

Watch the show online for free. Simply double click on the video player in the top right corner of this page for a full screen view.

Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Music Theatre

22, 24 & 26 June 2020

Book tickets here

Partick Berger
Patrick Berger
Patrick Berger