“Artists do not think outside the box, there is no box”*

The challenges associated with sustainability and climate change are widely recognised as wicked problems: they are multi-faceted, encompassing a vast range of factors and stretching across global and generational boundaries. In short, they do not come without compromise and difficult decisions. This requires us to think outside of current paradigms, and find new means of understanding and changing the world, towards more just, sustainable societies.

Since 2016, Creative Carbon Scotland has been developing a research framework which seeks to better understand the ways in which artists work, which could be usefully brought to these wicked problems.

As artist Frances Whitehead highlights in ‘What do Artists Know?, it is not only the work produced by artists, but also their practices and ways of working which can be brought to the challenges that we are faced with in the 21st century.

Who will it involve?

Over the coming years, CCS aim to build stronger relationships across cultural and sustainability sectors in Scotland, between cultural practitioners and organisations, and those working across a range of sustainability-related fields including:

  • Environmental agencies and government bodies
  • Planners and local authorities
  • Policy makers
  • Researchers and academic institutions
  • Community and grassroots groups

What will we do?

culture/SHIFT is the umbrella for this work and the new partnerships that we aim to foster and support. We will use a series of focus areas to help guide this work and to build understandings of the how collaborations between these fields might work, including:

  • Approaching complex questions and wicked problems, associated with environmental sustainability and climate change;
  • Making the invisible visible, revealing hidden and underlying structures which impact upon environmental sustainability of current and future societies;
  • Exploring the contradictions and compromises associated with the transition to a more sustainable future, and holding conflicting ideas in tension;
  • Moving beyond communication, re-expressing for different audiences the scientific, social and philosophical ideas and concepts associated with the transition to a more sustainable future.

In the first instance, we plan to support a number of case study projects which will be documented and disseminated widely to both sectors. The new knowledge and practices generated through these case studies will be used to further the potential roles of artistic practices in the wider cultural shift towards a more sustainable Scotland, and will feed into future partnership and project development.

Be kept up to date

culture/SHIFT projects will be kept up to date on the CCS projects page and related case studies from Scotland and around the world will be available through our online Magazine.

Current case studies include: Nil by Mouth, Culture & Sustainable Food ProductionWATERSHED+, Embedding Artists into City of Calgary’s UEP

Current projects include: The Embedded Artist project

Current events: Creative Carbon Scotland is hosting a series of Green Tease events that respond to the culture/SHIFT idea.

To find out more about culture/SHIFT and related work please contact CCS Producer Gemma at

*This quote is taken from Frances Whitehead’s writing on ‘What do Artists Know?’

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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.

Read more about CCS

0131 529 7909

Supported by

Edinburgh Festival City Edinburgh Festival City

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

Edinburgh Festival City Federation of Scottish Theatre Scottish Contemporary Art Network