New publication: culture/SHIFT methodology

19th April 2021

We’re excited to share with you Creative Carbon Scotland’s methodology for supporting collaborations between arts and sustainability practitioners to address the climate emergency. In this blog, our culture/SHIFT Manager, Gemma Lawrence, gives us an insight into the theory and practice behind CCS’s culture/SHIFT programme.

In 2017 Creative Carbon Scotland formally launched its culture/SHIFT programme focused on harnessing the role of creativity and culture to tackle the climate emergency. Inspired by the work of civic artist Frances Whitehead and the embedded artist project, it sought to do this by supporting collaborations between artists and climate change organisations which mixed the skills and competencies of artistic and non-arts partners to address urgent climate and sustainability related issues.

Contributing to diverse projects

Four years on, we have had the privilege of contributing to a wide range of projects from creatively exploring the role of Marine Protected Areas for people and nature in the Outer Hebrides, to developing a transformational approach to catalyse Glasgow City Region’s adaptation to climate change, and embedding four artists in climate-related projects across Northern Europe through Cultural Adaptations. Our online Library of Creative Sustainability also curates case studies on past projects from around the world, demonstrating the precedent for this way of working locally and internationally.

culture/SHIFT methodology published

Diagram describing the different stages of culture/SHIFT projects including initiation, artist recruitment, project delivery, and learning and evaluation.

Sharing what we’ve learnt

From these experiences, we’ve seen first hand what works when you bring practitioners from different backgrounds and perspectives together to address complex environmental issues and the new approaches, outcomes and insights that result from doing soon. We’ve also witnessed the challenges involved in collaborating across sectors and have identified ways of helping to overcome these, as well as common values that should be jointly desired and held for the project to work.

This culture/SHIFT methodology gathers the knowledge and insights gained from such experiences with the aim of sharing our learning with a wide audience and hopefully inspiring others to embed creative and cultural approaches into their own sustainability work.

What’s in this methodology?

The methodology highlights the value of embedding artists in projects as strategic thinkers and change-makers as well as producers of art, and recognises the importance of involving artists at an early stage to help shape the questions being asked, issues addressed and approaches taken.

It provides a conceptual background as to why culture has a vital role to play in our approach to the climate emergency, including the benefits and opportunities for both arts and climate partners. It also offers as a practical step-by-step description of the typical project stages, learning from Swedish arts agency TILLT‘s experience as process managers of creative collaborations.

We describe CCS’s role in supporting the process, including project initiation, defining project aims and scope, developing the artist’s brief and recruitment, as well as supporting project delivery, learning and evaluation. Over time we will update the methodology to reflect our learning and experience from new initiatives.

We hope that you enjoy reading it and find it a useful and inspiring resource for creative, cross-sectoral collaboration to help build a more environmentally sustainable, resilient and socially just society.

Get in touch!

We would love to hear from you if you are interested in working directly with CCS, have any feedback on the methodology or if you’re seeking advice on how to get your own arts and sustainability collaboration started. For enquiries please contact Gemma Lawrence, culture/SHIFT Manager, Creative Carbon Scotland.

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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.

0131 529 7909

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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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