Reflections on the Green Arts August Meetup: Just and Green Recovery

24th September 2020

On 27th August we held a Green Arts Online Meetup on the topic “How can the culture sector contribute to a just and green recovery from coronavirus?”

Almost 30 Green Arts members signed up, demonstrating considerable interest in this subject. Two staff members from Creative Scotland, as well as the Director of Creative Carbon Scotland, attended and contributed ideas.

We started with the fact that the Scottish Government’s Advisory Group on Economic Recovery wrote that the culture sector should play a key role in “a recovery that will increase wellbeing, fairness and inclusivity, and make the most of opportunities towards a greener, net-zero society” (p. 2 and p. 52 of their report).

In breakout rooms, attendees considered three questions:

  • How can the culture sector help bring about a just and green recovery? (To increase wellbeing and equality, and cut carbon)
  • Why should we be involved in the recovery? (Examining potential motivations)
  • What are the barriers to the culture sector playing its part? (What do we need?)

Participants’ ideas have been collated on this Miro board. (For those not familiar with Miro, you can zoom in with your trackpad or by scrolling with your mouse, and you can click and drag the screen around to see different areas.)

Two Green Arts members were invited to speak about what their organisations are thinking and doing in this area:

  • Tamara van Strijthem of Take One Action Film Festivals suggested we think about how to contribute to a ‘transformation’, rather than a ‘recovery’, as the old normal was not sustainable or socially just. Take One Action have been looking at all the ways they can exert influence to promote sustainability and justice, e.g. through ethical banking and using a website hosting company which is powered by green energy. However, Tamara spoke of her concern that the emotional impact and ability to motivate behaviour change, which is normally inherent in art, is diminished when we can only experience art online, and not as part of a collective experience, at this time.
  • Emma Hay of the Edinburgh International Festival spoke about the Edinburgh Festivals’ collective ambition to become net zero by 2030. As part of this, the International Festival are creating an ambitious carbon reduction plan, targeting travel and freight emissions as well as exploring how to adapt to both the climate emergency and the pandemic creatively, through increased offers of online content and local community engagement.

At the end we considered next steps. Several attendees were interested in forming a working group to build on the ideas and shape a collective effort to ‘build back better’ within the culture sector. Many were keen on the idea of a member-developed pledge, which would include a number of actions and principles that Green Arts organisations could sign up to, or could work towards. By agreeing to take action collectively across the culture sector, and by being vocal about it, we could bring about more change than if we all work quietly and individually. This is still in the ideas stage, but Creative Carbon Scotland is consulting with members of the Green Arts Initiative to identify how we can best support the sector in this area, and will soon follow up with attendees who expressed interest. If you are interested in joining a working group on shaping a green recovery – or transformation – within the culture sector, please email:

In the meantime, Green Arts members can sign up as supporting organisations to this external Just & Green Recovery Scotland campaign (led by Friends of the Earth Scotland). It is not arts-focused, but they have specifically welcomed support from cultural organisations.

About Green Arts Meetups

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Green Arts Meetups are informal online gatherings for staff of Scotland’s arts and culture organisations, each focusing on different aspects of the intersection between culture and environment. Started at the beginning of lockdown, they are a chance for members of the Green Arts Initiative to keep in touch with each other and continue to share green arts skills and knowledge. Please contact if you have a suggestion for a future meetup topic, or would like to host or co-host a meetup!

The next meetup will be more of an open forum for members to discuss the issues (loosely related to culture and climate) that are most important to them at this time, over a morning coffee or tea. You can register now for the Green Arts Meetup on 22nd October.

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

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