Creativity in Conservation
At Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs, we believe that the creative arts are a vital tool to learn about issues impacting our environment, connect more deeply with nature, and bring communities together to care for our blue planet. Our programming teaches ocean conservation through creative investigating and making.Our Global Reach
“I have to admit, I knew literally nothing about climate change before I did this program. And now, when reflecting on my piece of art and its creative process, I cannot help but be shocked at the extent to which I was unaware of the larger comings and goings of the world. I’m determined to take a leap and help slow down climate change in any way I can. We need to all contribute. A way for artists to make a difference is by communicating such messages through our work.”
Our Core Values
We live on a blue planet, with oceans covering more than 70% of Earth’s surface. While we may not live near an ocean or even ever visit it, we are connected to the ocean through the air we breathe and the water we drink. From food and economies to recreation and culture, our oceans sustain, nourish, and support human life. It’s critical for all of us to take care of the ocean that takes care of us all.
Deep and long-lasting learning happens when students engage in making—and making meaning—for themselves. Through the creative process, students are able to explore their feelings about human impacts on Earth, and their paintings, poems, essays, songs, and films offer a productive outlet for the sadness or frustration that students often experience when learning about the threats facing our oceans and waterways. Imagination and creativity become powerful tools to envision, advocate, and enact positive change.
The artistic process is a means to investigate knowledge and feelings about environmental issues, as well as a way to find one’s authentic voice and the courage to share it. It is our responsibility to uplift these prescient voices who dare to think beyond the structures and systems that have fueled our planetary emergency, and to support the young leaders who are building and propelling social movements.
The arts help make visible and bring to life pressing environmental issues for makers and audiences alike. By creating and sharing personal, emotional responses to their environmental reality, our students are imagining beyond themselves, understanding the need for collective exchange and action—not just in the short-term, but for future generations of life on Earth. This work is creating a shift: bringing awareness to important issues and inspiring a culture of respect and action for our blue planet.
Youth Art for Climate Action
Bow Seat’s largest educational initiative is the Ocean Awareness Contest. Since 2011, the Contest is a global arts competition that engages students in creatively raising awareness of issues impacting ocean and planetary health.
The Ocean Awareness Contest is a space to connect, create, and communicate for our ocean. It is a platform for teens to share their questions, concerns, visions, and hopes in a global discussion; it is a stage from which to share their voices and values in debates frequently dominated by adults; and it is a community of like-minded advocates, thinkers, and creators.
The 2023 Ocean Awareness Contest, CLIMATE HEROES IN ACTION, invites teens to create visual art, film, music, dance, poetry and spoken word, web-based media, or creative writing that creatively celebrates the work of everyday heroes who are fighting to make the world more habitable and just.Participate
Amplifying Youth Voices
Bow Seat’s programs are more than just contests; we focus on amplifying youth voices to advance dialogue and participation in ocean conservation.
For nearly a decade, Bow Seat has been listening to youth share their concerns about the declining health of our oceans, as well as their ideas, fantasies, and hopes for what a better, cleaner, and safer world might look and feel like.
We work to uplift these voices by:
- Offering educational experiences that help students connect with the ocean;
- Providing platforms across digital and physical spaces for young people to vividly imagine a sustainable future;
- And empowering young leaders to use their art, stories, and visions to guide action on personal, community, and policy levels.
OCEAN ADVOCACY GALLERY
Our interactive online gallery—which showcases the largest collection of student ocean advocacy art in the world—demonstrates not only the skills of individual artists, but also the power of their collective voices. It celebrates artistic expression, unites a global community of youth passionate about conservation, inspires visitors to engage with and share the works of art, and reminds us that there are many others who care about our planet and who are speaking up for it. Check out the compelling collection >
Activating Young Leaders
For many students, the Ocean Awareness Contest is a stepping-stone into the world of advocacy, shaping their attitudes about their own power to affect change, and empowering them to give a voice to the ocean even if they live hundreds of miles from the coast.
Read more about how participating in Bow Seat’s programs helped to spark these environmental activists:
- Kathy Chen (Richmond Hill, Ontario)
- Haley Bayne (Boston, MA) and Akhila Bandlora (Phoenix, AZ)
- Jay Gardoqui (York, ME)
Ocean Awareness Contest
Middle and high school students around the world are invited to participate in our annual call for Art, Writing, Film, Music, and Interactive Media.
Student Art Exhibitions
Bow Seat partners with aquariums, museums, nature centers, and other organizations to host art exhibitions and film screenings featuring student work.