Blog: Green Tease Reflections

12th May 2014

Creative Carbon Scotland Director, Ben Twist, reflects upon our most recent Green Teas(e) at Govanhill Baths...

For our fifth Green Teas(e) we went to Govanhill Baths and what an appropriate venue it turned out to be for this special Green Teas(e). Our plan for the Green Teas(e) project was to integrate the arts in Glasgow with sustainability, and Govanhill Baths provides a great example of people building a sustainable community using the arts as well as other areas of work. There’s not room to go into it here, but the Baths are well worth a visit. And great to hold an event in, with terrific catering from Saladin’s.

The April Green Tease was special because it was Glasgow’s contribution to the Green Art Lab Alliance, an EU project bringing together over 20 partners in 17 countries to look at sustainability and mobility amongst arts workers. Glasgow Life is the main Scottish partner, working with us at CCS, and this event was supported by EU funds. In previous Green Tease we’d been beginning to map out a route to a more sustainable arts in a more sustainable Glasgow. The hardest thing about this was to get practical and real, rather than have a more theoretical conversation. So this time we asked people to propose specific projects that would help get to that more sustainable Glasgow and arts, or would be representative of it once we got there in 2020.

A good group of around 30 came along, and we started with a very personal recap by Penny Anderson of the Green Tease so far. It was good to hear how useful she’d found the group – if for no other reason than finding out bits of useful information, such as that wallpaper paste is as good for making papier mache as PVA. She also put in a plea for arts organisations to work with artists to increase sustainability – the individuals can’t do it on their own. A big question for her, which has been touched upon by others at previous meetings including Ellie Harrison, was ‘Is art more important than reducing our carbon footprint?’ Art is wasteful but important, can be useful and we love it. It’s a dilemma, but informed choices making use of practical, relevant information can help.

Next up was Sholeh Johnston of Julie’s Bicycle who spoke about JB’s current project examining what cultural leadership in sustainability might look like. She referred us to a forthcoming report Sustaining Creativity and gave a preview of some key findings of the survey:

  1. Sustainability is important and engagement by cultural organisations and leaders is high
  2. It is often being driven by individuals – which poses risks when they move on
  3. 50% of organisations have made or presented at least one piece of work related to the issue in the last few years


Key areas of thinking and research include:


  • Are we valuing the right things in the right ways? Alternative approaches to how we measure and explore value culturally, socially and financially


  • How do or will things digital revolution impact on sustainability and how can digital connectivity and data influence our approach to environmental change


  • The importance of the circular economy and processes, both for infrastructure and aesthetics. Developing design methodologies and partnerships to increase circular use of resources and materials within the sector and more widely


  • Governance, boards and leadership. How do these key issues affect Boards and Senior Leaders in the arts?

Sholeh pointed out the importance of working slowly but steadily and gave an example of Ufa Fabrik in Berlin as an organisation that had grown over years into a great example of arts and sustainability working hand in hand. She also pointed us to the BAC in London which had taken to new levels their work with the audience, abandoning the idea that despite their old and difficult building, audience should expect the same temperatures all year round and instead saying – ‘bring warm clothes in winter, cool ones in summer and we’ll provide blankets and fans to help you feel comfortable’.

There’s plenty more inspiring stuff to be found on JB’s website and not enough space here to do it credit, but finally Sholeh gave us prior notice of a Sustaining Creativity event on 28 May – a date for our diaries.

After Sholeh, Rachel Duckhouse and Angharad McLaren gave a quick and impromptu talk about the recent Mull residency that CCS had hosted with Comar. 10 artists spent the weekend discussing arts and sustainability and the general feeling was that – like the Green Tease – it had proved invaluable simply to be able to focus on the topic for an extended period of time. We had noted the importance of ownership of the topic by artists, that leadership is required but that it may be dispersed – an idea that has arisen at the Green Tease a number of times – and that the artist does have a role to play.

Enormous thanks to Sholeh, Penny, Rachel and Angharad for their terrific talks. There’s lots going on.

In the afternoon we used the morning’s talks to help inform discussion of 12 projects put forward by Green Teasers, who used an Open Space-type approach to invite others to learn about and help develop their embryonic ideas. To give them all in detail would be too much for a short blog, but here are some names and project titles – get in touch with the project proposer or us at CCS if you want to know more or get involved. The aim was not to say this project must happen, but get it out there to see if it would fly, inspire other people, get things moving and help formulate a plan. The projects were:

Nadine Gorency – A Creative Re-Use Village at Govanhill Baths

Josee Meredith Keevil – City Wide Podcast which Connects Map of Local Sites

Kate Foster – Encouraging Creative Engagement with Possibilities for Sustainable land Use

Ben Spencer – City wide Urban Farming

Rachel Duckhouse – Just Ask! Art and Science Collaborations

Kathryn Beckett – Resource Mapping so people know who and what’s available and who does it

Gemma Lawrence – Renewable Energy Public Art installations

Jaki McDougall – Prosumers: enabling everyone to create and present their art

Angharad McLaren – Darn It! Mending and creativity….

Teena Gould – The Paper Kiln – workshops allowing people to use newspaper to create a kiln to fire ceramics

Steve Taylor – making arts venues greener with renewable energy and sustainable waste disposal

Laura Coom Jardine – Green Walls and Year of Green

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About Creative Carbon Scotland

We believe cultural and creative organisations have a significant influencing power to help shape a sustainable Scotland for the 21st century.

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A project initiated by Edinburgh’s Festivals with key partners the Federation of Scottish Theatre and Scottish Contemporary Art Network

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