News: Research into Scottish Visual Arts and Climate Change Adaptation Published

27th June 2019

Scotland's visual arts sector is at an early stage of understanding and dealing with the impacts of the climate crisis but new research commissioned by Creative Carbon Scotland offers recommendations for the sector.

Climate change is already having a physical impact on Scotland – from increased rainfall and flooding, to unexpected heatwaves and more intense extreme weather. It is imperative that we respond to this climate crisis, and recognise and avert the impacts it will have on our culture.

Exploratory Research into Scotland’s Visual Arts

Over this past winter, Creative Carbon Scotland commissioned research into the specific impacts for visual arts organisations, and undertook analysis and interviews of organisations and partners – across exhibition, education, outreach and support – to understand the impact on business models, operational capacity and even health and safety. More information about the scope and purpose of the research can be found here.

Read the full report | Read the recommendations & Key findings

Key Insights and Trends

Visual Arts and Climate Change Adaptations in Scotland 2019 - Recommendations Infographic

Visual Arts and Climate Adaptations in Scotland 2019 – Recommendations & key findings

Although the research covered a wide range of sources, and interviewed a diverse mix of visual arts organisations, there were some core findings:

  • Instances of warmer, wetter and wilder weather will increase as a result of climate change, according to projections for Scotland.
  • Expected impacts for the Visual Arts sector are typically around physical risk to collections, as well as the logistics of hosting events, exhibitions, outreach and education activities. Finances will be affected due to changing audience behaviour and associated costs of mitigating other risks.
  • Organisations often underestimate the impact increasing temperatures will have on their collections and activities, seeing instead as almost exclusively a positive impact of climate change.
  • There is a knowledge – action gap, with organisations understanding some of the expected impacts, without taking constructive action to address them.
  • Expertise, staff resource and funding for long-term resilience improvements were some of the key barriers to adaptation action
  • There is great opportunity (and currently little action) around the transformation the sector will have to go through to remain economically and socially sustainable in our climate changed future.

Opportunities to Adapt

Visual Arts and Climate Adaptations in Scotland 2019 - Report

Visual Arts and Climate Adaptations in Scotland 2019 – Full Research Report

As well as providing an understanding of the issues and expectations of Visual Arts Organisations, this research also provided some key suggestions of measures organisations could take to prepare themselves more fully for the coming challenges.

These were segmented:

  • ‘Managerial’ adaptation (focused on organisational leadership and behaviour change)
    • Include climate change in risk planning
    • Implement a communications warning system
    • Challenge the narrative around non-adaptive behaviour
  • ‘Practical’ adaptation (focused on physical things organisations could put in place)
    • Create a ‘Disaster Cabinet’ to deal with unexpected events
    • Consolidate and protect stored collections
    • Regularly monitor and maintain building condition – particularly historic buildings (for damp) and modern buildings (for heat)

Read the full report | Read the recommendations & Key findings

More information about the aim and intended outcomes of the project can be found on our project page. 

This research was produced by Justyna Ladosz, through a paid internship co-funded by Festivals Edinburgh, and match-funded by the Santander Internship Scheme at the University of Glasgow.

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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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Supported by

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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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