Introducing the Library of Creative Sustainability

Introducing the Library of Creative Sustainability

The Library of Creative Sustainability

The Library of Creative Sustainability is a digital resource for individuals and organisations working to address environmental sustainability and climate change, demonstrating the benefits of collaborating with embedded artists and using cultural approaches to address complex issues.

The Library presents detailed case studies highlighting the range of skills, expertise and practices that embedded artists have contributed to bringing about positive change as part of broader projects or organisations, addressing social, environmental, economic and cultural sustainability.

The Library of Creative Sustainability aims to:

  • Provide a practical resource for organisations working in research, advocacy, governance, business and elsewhere to understand how to effectively work with embedded artists.
  • Showcase inspiring and innovative examples that show the potential of working with artists to achieve sustainability aims.
  • Demonstrate to commissioners and funders the types of outcomes and likely costs that can result from integrating artistic roles into sustainability projects.

Each article includes detailed information on partners and stakeholders, sustainability outcomes and funding, as well as tips and links to further resources.

In developing this resource we have spoken with users working in diverse fields including energy, local government, natural heritage, and forestry to help us develop content that is relevant and applicable to the interests and needs of non-arts sectors, and have researched case studies with the aid of many of the featured artists and organisations.

Explore the Library

Peat Cultures

An image from the Peat Cultures case study. Photo credit: Kate Foster.

What is an Embedded Artist?

It is widely recognised that artists across all artforms can offer new insights and alternative perspectives to bring about change in wider society. Artists can bring the perspective of the ‘stranger’, being able to see problems with fresh eyes and question things that are often taken for granted. Artists have developed unique processes for working with organisations and communities and can take on a flexible range of roles. 

Artist Francis Whitehead suggested that artists have alternative ways of knowing that make them valuable collaborators while A Blade of Grass have expressed how collaborations with artists have numerous benefits for both parties. 

Some of the key principles of the Embedded Artist role highlighted by case studies in the Library include:

  • Working within non-arts institutions over extended periods. This enables the building of relationships and trust, which can support the adoption of new approaches within organisations, the building of positive long term relationships with communities and stakeholders, and the development of ideas and activities which can evolve over time. 
  •  Bringing different ways of thinking and working to bear on challenging projects. Creating artworks is not the focus of most projects presented here, with a stronger emphasis being on the process and the achievement of wider outcomes, although creative work may be a part of this. 
  • Highlighting an integrated approach, ensuring that cultural, environmental and social sustainability are considered alongside economics for example.
  •  Facilitating wider public participation and breaking down professional, departmental, and disciplinary boundaries.

 Further links and resources on the arts and sustainability are available in this article on our website

Get in Touch

We are actively seeking suggestions for relevant new case studies about projects you are involved in or are aware of that could become part of this growing resource. We would also love to hear about your experience of using the Library so that we can continue to make improvements to its functionality.

Please get in touch with Lewis Coenen-Rowe, to suggest new content for the Library or offer feedback. Please get in touch with Gemma Lawrence if you have an appropriate project idea that you would like to suggest to us. 


Project partners

The Library of Creative Sustainability has been developed in collaboration with Senior Researcher Chris Fremantle (Gray’s School of Art, Robert Gordon University) with the support of Allison Palenske, Elly White, and Niamh Coutts.

We are grateful to all the artists and organisations who have kindly contributed their time to the development of Library case studies.


Explore the library

Natural Resources Defense Council Artist in Residence 1

An image from the Natural Resource Defense Council Artist in Residence case study. Photo credit: Jenny Kendler.

Get info on news, opportunities & events by email

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.

0131 529 7909

Supported by

Creative Scotland logo City of Edinburgh Council logo

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

Edinburgh Festival City logo Federation of Scottish Theatre logo Scottish Contemporary Art Network logo