News: Launch of the Library of Creative Sustainability

4th October 2018

We’re excited to announce the launch of the Library of Creative Sustainability during Climate Week 2018: a new digital resource showcasing best practice examples of collaborations between sustainability partners and artists seeking to make the world a better place!

New library on the block

The Library of Creative Sustainability is a new digital resource for people working to address the challenging issues of environmental sustainability and climate change, demonstrating the benefits of collaborating with artists and cultural approaches to help achieve their aims.

Taking its inspiration from the work of American civic artist Frances Whitehead and the Embedded Artist Project, and many other contemporary and historic examples, the library presents case studies highlighting the range of skills, expertise and practices which artists have contributed to bringing about positive change in society – addressing social, environmental, economic and cultural sustainability.

In developing the Library of Creative Sustainability we aim to:

  • Provide a very practical resource for non-arts organisations and arts practitioners to support working with ‘embedded artists’ over extended periods to develop new policy and practice
  • Showcase a selection of inspiring and innovative examples that engage organisational leaders in the potential of working with artists to help achieve their aims

In developing the Library we have spoken with users working in diverse fields including energy, local government, natural heritage and forestry to help us develop content 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!

What is an Embedded Artist?

“Frances Whitehead is a civic practice artist bringing the methods, mindsets, and strategies of contemporary art practice to the process of shaping the future city” – A Blade of Grass

SLOW Clean-UP civic experiments

Credit: SLOW Clean-UP, Frances Whitehead

It is widely recognised that artists across all artforms can bring new insight and alternative perspectives to non-arts contexts. This is shown in exhibitions and performances, and also in artists’ processes working with organisations and communities. Artists can bring the perspective of the ‘stranger’, being able to see with fresh eyes and question things often taken for granted.

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

  • Working within non-arts institutions over extended periods – this requires organisations to be comfortable with ambiguity and not starting with fixed outcomes. It was important to allow time for the ideas to develop.
  • Bringing different ways of thinking and working to bear on challenging projects such as large-scale regeneration of post-industrial sites. Creating artworks is not the focus of projects, although may be an aspect of the outcomes.
  • Highlighting an integrated approach, ensuring that environmental and social sustainability are considered alongside economics.
  • Facilitating wider public participation and breaking down professional, departmental and disciplinary boundaries.

Launching the Library

“We wanted to put the power of creative thinking in the hands of community organisations and give people a chance to think positively in the face of climate change.” – Eve Mosher

HighWaterLine 6

Credit: Eve Mosher, HighWaterLine

We’re excited to launch the first five library case studies celebrating national and international examples of creative sustainability during Scotland’s 2018 Climate Week:

  • SLOW Clean-UP civic Experiments: tackling abandoned petrol stations through phytoremediation and community involvement (Chicago, USA)
  • WATERSHED+a strategic long term programme embedding artists in the work of the Calgary City Utilities and Environmental Protection Department (Calgary, Alberta, Canada)
  • HighWaterLine: drawing a line on the cityscape to open up community dialogue on climate change and the impact of flooding (New York, USA; Miami, USA; Bristol, UK)
  • The Stove Networka membership based arts-led project contributing to the regeneration of Dumfries (Dumfries, Scotland, UK)
  • Sutton Tidal Attenuation Barrier and Falkenham Saltmarsh Tidal Management Scheme: Estuarine protection works that involve artist Simon Read working with communities of inhabitants, landowners and public agencies (Suffolk, England, UK)

Keep an eye out on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram for the latest updates and help to share case studies with your networks!

A Growing Resource 

This is just the beginning! We will continue to research and regularly publish new case studies with another round of examples on its way very soon.

We are actively seeking suggestions for new case studies from sustainability and arts practitioners 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 Gemma Lawrence, culture/SHIFT Producer, Creative Carbon Scotland.

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 of the artists and organisations who have kindly contributed their time to the development of library case studies.

Main image: HighWaterLine by Eve Mosher.

The project has been supported by Interface and the Scottish Funding Council.

logos for Interface and Scottish Funding Council



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


Scottish Living Wage Accreditation Good Business Charter Accredited