Limiting culture’s contribution to the climate crisis.
When it comes to the issue of sustainability, from the use of environmentally toxic chemicals to excessive material waste, the arts industry is not innocent. The art and culture sector is so widely consumed through media such as television, museums, theatres and advertising; the list is endless. The industry, therefore, has great influence over the way we, as a society, operate and interact with the environment and thus has a responsibility to explore routes for more sustainable cultural expression.
One such route is Creative Carbon Scotland, an organisation that creates a network of support for the arts industry and encourages individual artists, businesses, sustainability groups and policymakers to take steps to become more environmentally friendly. It provides Scottish cultural organisations with training in measuring their carbon emissions and creating plans for reduction. Supporting around 120 organisations, it strives to connect creative individuals in an effort to combat the climate crisis through their work and how they interact with the public. Creative Carbon Scotland recognises the communicative power of the cultural industry, of reaching all areas of the population in one way or another, no matter their age or interests - the importance of its work is clear.
Since its establishment in 2011, the organisation has coordinated a range of projects across Scotland with the core aim of building connections and providing education on the arts and the environment.
Despite Covid-19 restrictions, Creative Carbon Scotland remains active. One example is through its current project of “Climate Beacons for COP26”, the United Nations Climate Summit, which is coming to Glasgow this November. The project will work with prominent organisations in sectors such as the arts, environmental science and civil society to create “Climate Beacons”. These Beacons will cooperate physically (when possible) and virtually to share resources and mobilise public support for efforts to tackle the climate crisis in the run up to COP26 and beyond. The Beacons will span across Scotland, supporting individuals and groups who have been hard-hit by the pandemic. The project is being funded by the Scottish Government, Creative Scotland and Museum Galleries Scotland, to name a few, and will continue until 2022.
A recent project which ran from April 2020 until January 2021 was a collaboration with Zero Waste Scotland, the “Decoupling Advisory Group Embedded Artist Project” intended to lower Scotland’s energy and material consumption contributing to adverse environmental effects. Decoupling is the ability of an economy to thrive without simultaneously causing a rise in environmental pressures. This advisory group employed the use of experienced filmmaker, Janine Finlay, to document the process of addressing decoupling and what it means for Scotland. This innovative way of involving the cultural sector in targeting climate change is a fantastic way to raise awareness in different members of the public from those the average news report would reach.
Creative Carbon Scotland’s work targets a range of ages and issue areas. It collaborated with the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency to run the “Creative Approaches to Flood Awareness” project in Aberdeen in February 2019. Local musician Simon Gall led creative workshops with local community groups and children to raise awareness of flooding, through walking in nature and teaching songs about flooding - why it happens and how the effects can be alleviated. Bringing these issues to light through this collaborative and artistic means encourages engagement with serious issues that children would likely have little knowledge of otherwise. Catering to all areas of the population is a key step in tackling climate change effectively.
If you are an artist, a writer, a filmmaker or a creative looking for ways to make your work more sustainable or to get involved with other like-minded individuals in the field, Creative Carbon Scotland is very active with opportunities arising regularly for contributions. It is currently looking for submissions for its “Moths to a Flame” project for COP26,, which will highlight the issue of moth depletion in recent years due to the climate crisis, by accepting moth-inspired creations. However, if this artistic side is not for you, the programme will also be hosting free events involving poetry-writing sessions and even live moth-watching events if you are looking for some atypical lockdown entertainment about the diminishing species.
Creative Carbon Scotland hosts regular online events for free, such as its “Green Tease Reflections: Beautiful Disruptions” event which discusses how landscapes are used and maintained and how artists can “beautifully disrupt” landscape norms and find new ways of using space. The event focused on the values of urban dwellers reconnecting with nature to understand the need for its protection.
This organisation is making great efforts, despite the current circumstances, to keep the public engaged and the arts alive and accessible. For any artists interested in making some sustainable changes to their method, which I think we all should be, this is definitely a valuable organisation well worth investing your time in.
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