Yearly Archives: 2017

Ben’s Strategy Blog: Carbon Management Planning for cultural SMEs

This post comes from Creative Carbon Scotland

With a new Climate Change Act requiring greater carbon emissions reductions, CCS will introduce carbon management planning for cultural SMEs to help them play their part

Back in 2011 we were laying the groundwork for Creative Carbon Scotland. The late and sorely missed Euan Turner and I were running carbon management workshops for 10-15 theatre, dance and music organisations, members of the Federation of Scottish Theatre. Julie’s Bicycle had been doing similar work in England for a while. I had already been supporting the Edinburgh Festivals for a few months, but we hadn’t quite got to carbon management yet. With the FST group we started with carbon counting as the first step to carbon reduction, although of course within the discussion there was always a lot of sharing of experience and tips about how to reduce.

Good news on carbon reporting

Six years on, 117 organisations receiving Regular Funding from Creative Scotland have reported on their greenhouse gas emissions for 2015/16 using a consistent approach – around 90 organisations did so voluntarily for 204/15 and about 40 the year before. You can read the report here, hot off the press! And we’ve produced this infographic with the key information.

The quality of the data is getting better and better. This is particularly so for travel, which for many cultural SMEs is the major source of emissions and is difficult to track as, unlike utilities, the messy data comes from everything from expenses claims to invoices to petty cash and is provided by everyone from freelancers to travel agents.

(Our own tool is the solution: it replaces any paper based expenses claim system, can be used by the most irregular freelancer and tracks the carbon accurately in the background then collates it nicely for the poor soul who previously was sweating over endless lever arch files.)

The amount of carbon produced by these smaller organisations isn’t so great, but if we are going to get to the Paris Agreement’s carbon neutral (or indeed carbon negative: see Kevin Anderson) position by 2050, then it isn’t just the big emitters that are going to matter: we’re all going to have to work hard to minimise that carbon.

Next step: carbon management plans

So we’re suggesting that, even for cultural SMEs, the next step is carbon management planning. Essentially this means asking everyone to look forward to their future carbon footprint not just back at emissions they have already produced. Can we plan to avoid our most carbon intensive behaviours, find better ways to get the job done?  Can we use our knowledge to prevent unnecessary carbon emissions before they happen? We think the answer is ‘Yes’.

Regular Funding and Open Project Funding

In April around 180 organisations submitted applications to Creative Scotland for funding for the period 2018-21. These applications will include fairly detailed plans for their activity for those three years. Many of the successful applicants will have reported on their carbon emissions for the period 2015-18, so they’ll know their main sources of emissions. In other words they will have the basic information necessary for a decent carbon management plan.

And those arts organisations that apply for funding from Creative Scotland’s Open Project Fund also know their plans. Although they may not know their previous emissions, they can use tools like our tenants’ energy toolbox or the Julie’s Bicycle ig tools to work out where their main emissions sources will be, as their projects will be similar to others’.

How carbon management planning works

A column for ‘carbon cost estimates’ can be included alongside financial cost estimates in production planning, with estimates based on previous measurements and experience since, for most organisations, their future activities will bear some resemblance to their past, where emissions are known. This will enable them to identify a few specific areas where they can take action to reduce their carbon emissions from their ‘business as usual’ scenario. The Albert tool, run by a consortium led by BAFTA, does something similar for screen production projects.

We’re therefore encouraging cultural SMEs to use their knowledge to develop plans to reduce carbon, focussing on the areas of their work with the most significant emissions, and where realistic action can be taken. The three-year period for the new cohort of Regular Funded Organisations will be especially useful, as it allows for some expenditure up front if necessary to get payback over the longer term. There is time to plan, implement and monitor the results to find out what works and learn from the experience. But for shorter projects there are fairly straightforward decisions to make. We’ll provide training, tools and comprehensive support from this autumn onwards, just as we did when mandatory carbon reporting was introduced for Regular Funded Organisations.

A cultural shift

Euan Turner’s main job was Health and Safety Advisor for the FST. In that role his great achievement was turning  H&S from a tedious compliance issue into a set of values, skills and knowledge that would enable cultural organisations and their staff to do their work more effectively.

Our work on Carbon Management Planning is based on the idea that understanding and managing their carbon emissions will help cultural SMEs improve their operations to make them more efficient, will strengthen their reputations as climate change moves up the agenda, and will align with the qualities that make them trusted and valued by their staff, artists and audiences. In all sorts of ways it will make them better organisations.

I don’t know but I have an idea that there are few sectors where the majority of micro, small and medium-sized businesses are accurately measuring their carbon emissions and developing coherent plans to reduce them. I’m proud that the cultural sector in Scotland has taken the first steps so effectively, joining our Green Arts Initiative and working together to develop and share good practice.

In 2017 there will be a new Climate Change Act for Scotland which will increase the ambition and reach of Scotland’s climate change action. The cultural sector’s work demonstrates what can be done by everyone to help achieve those aims. And Euan, who helped us set out on this journey, would be thrilled.

The post Ben’s Strategy Blog: Carbon Management Planning for cultural SMEs appeared first on Creative Carbon Scotland.

About Creative Carbon Scotland:

Creative Carbon Scotland is a partnership of arts organisations working to put culture at the heart of a sustainable Scotland. We believe cultural and creative organisations have a significant influencing power to help shape a sustainable Scotland for the 21st century.

In 2011 we worked with partners Festivals Edinburgh, the Federation of Scottish Threatre and Scottish Contemporary Art Network to support over thirty arts organisations to operate more sustainably.

We are now building on these achievements and working with over 70 cultural organisations across Scotland in various key areas including carbon management, behavioural change and advocacy for sustainable practice in the arts.

Our work with cultural organisations is the first step towards a wider change. Cultural organisations can influence public behaviour and attitudes about climate change through:

Changing their own behaviour;
Communicating with their audiences;
Engaging the public’s emotions, values and ideas.

Go to Creative Carbon Scotland

Carbon Reporting: Understanding Sector Impact

This post comes from Creative Carbon Scotland

Scotland’s arts, screen and creative industries show increased levels of confidence in carbon reporting and embracing of environmental responsibilities, a new report published by Creative Carbon Scotland today reveals.

Since 2014, environmental data – including carbon emissions associated with travel, energy and waste – has been submitted as part of the annual reporting process for Creative Scotland’s Regularly Funded Organisations, becoming a compulsory requirement in 2015 –16.

Over the three years for which reports have been submitted the quality of the data provided has improved substantially, reflecting increasing environmental confidence and carbon literacy in the sector.

In 2015 – 16, significantly more organisations submitted carbon emissions information, with 117 reporting compared to the previous year’s figure of 90 and a 31% increase in the amount of data reported.

This increase in reporting has also increased the overall reported carbon footprint from 8,000 tonnes CO2e in 2014-15 to 14,500 tonnes CO2e in 2015-16. This isn’t because there was a sudden rise in carbon emissions, but because of better and more confident reporting by the larger number of organisations. Such a rise is comparable with other sectors which have introduced carbon reporting and is likely to continue until reporting is well-established.

In particular, the reporting process gathered more data in 2015-16 and more of the data was based on actual recorded figures rather than estimates. As a result the figures from the reporting can be considered more accurate and relevant for identifying areas where future carbon reductions can best be achieved.

Theatres reported the largest overall emissions figures, with around 8000 tonnes of CO2e, comparing with 4000 tonnes from Art Centres and 2300 from organisations who rent their working spaces.

73% of the data from theatres were actual figures, while from art centres and tenants 64% and 46% respectively were actual. As tenants often have little or no involvement in the payment of utilities, reporting inevitably becomes more estimate-based and reporting rates are lower.

Ben Twist, Director of Creative Carbon Scotland said:

“It’s very encouraging to see the increasing sophistication, consistency and engagement of cultural organisations in reporting their carbon emissions. In particular, the increase in overall data submitted, and the proportion of data derived from actual rather than estimated figures, highlights the commitment these organisations have to their sustainability goals. With better and more detailed information we can make better decisions on how best to help Scotland’s cultural community continue their hard work in this area.”

Kenneth Fowler, Director of Communications at Creative Scotland added:

“Creative Scotland welcome this report from Creative Carbon Scotland and we thank all the organisations who have contributed to it by recording and submitting their data. It’s great to see that, as a cultural sector, we are taking our carbon reduction responsibilities seriously and this report is testament to that. It also enables us all to make informed decisions about how we operate in the future, so we can continue to minimise and reduce our environmental impact and be as environmentally sustainable as possible across the arts, screen and creative industries.”

This year’s data will help the sector move on to stage two of the programme when Creative Carbon Scotland will be helping organisations with Carbon Management Planning to reduce emissions relating to their future projects. CCS will continue to support RFOs to improve reporting levels and to make the most of the information gathered to benefit their organisations and sustainability ambitions.

The full version of the 2015 – 16 report is available to download here.

Press Release for Carbon Reporting 2015 – 16 is available to download here.

Creative Carbon Scotland provides year-round training and support on carbon reporting to Scotland’s arts, screen and creative industries. For more information visit our Carbon Reporting page or our Carbon Reduct Project Manager directly at


The post Better Carbon Reporting Leads to Better Understanding of our Sector’s Impact appeared first on Creative Carbon Scotland.


About Creative Carbon Scotland:

Creative Carbon Scotland is a partnership of arts organisations working to put culture at the heart of a sustainable Scotland. We believe cultural and creative organisations have a significant influencing power to help shape a sustainable Scotland for the 21st century.

In 2011 we worked with partners Festivals Edinburgh, the Federation of Scottish Threatre and Scottish Contemporary Art Network to support over thirty arts organisations to operate more sustainably.

We are now building on these achievements and working with over 70 cultural organisations across Scotland in various key areas including carbon management, behavioural change and advocacy for sustainable practice in the arts.

Our work with cultural organisations is the first step towards a wider change. Cultural organisations can influence public behaviour and attitudes about climate change through:

Changing their own behaviour;
Communicating with their audiences;
Engaging the public’s emotions, values and ideas.

Go to Creative Carbon Scotland

The Fifth Wall: Climate Change Dramaturgy

This article was originally published on HowlRound, a knowledge commons by and for the theatre community.

In Finale, by Kendra Fanconi, a single actor on stage addresses an audience member. “Friend,” the actor says, and asks that person if they can hold hands:

Okay, it’s a little freaky maybe and I have sweaty palms. But we are friends and we have opposable thumbs so I just thought. I mean, we are not the only one in the world with opposable thumbs. You should see the raccoons get into my compost. But you and I have this thing we can do with our hands that no other mammals can—that is the way our hands fold and our fingers do this. (Touches fingers to bottom of palm.) It means we can hold things tightly. It’s a defining characteristic of our species. It’s this powerful thing we can do. Can I take your hand? Will you hold mine?

They do, of course, and they even wind up slow dancing together, sharing a physical and social closeness that communicates itself powerfully to the onlookers.

It’s no surprise that reaching across the fourth wall is one of the ways contemporary theatre is engaging with the ecological crisis. After all, forging intimate bonds between actors and spectators has been a powerful part of political theatre for the past half century, formalized in genres like the happening, environmental theatre, and—more recently—immersive performance like the wildly successful Sleep No More. As such, it has a lot to offer to theatre engaged in the project of ecological consciousness-raising. Fanconi’s actor ends the play by stating, in the simplest possible terms, a new destiny for the theatre of co-presence in the age of climate change:

…fellow-human-who-can-hold-things-tightly […] don’t say a word. Just know that I am here, okay? When it feels very large and very daunting remember that. This is something we are doing together. Spinning around the sun. Very slowly. On the one planet we have. That the ones like us, who can hold things tightly, must save.

Actress Allegra Cox and director Brooklyn Robinson during the shooting of the film adaptation of Darrah Cloud’s TESS Talk at the Pomona College School of Theatre in California.

Many of the plays that emerged in response to the 2015 Climate Change Theatre Action project used forms of direct address to capture the range of feelings this subject arouses: urgency, fear, despair, rueful resignation, even savage mockery. Thus Darrah Cloud’s TESS Talk parodied the smug talk of the expert lecture circuit by giving its audience step-by-step instructions on “How to Deny Climate Change”:

Step 2: Join PEHA, People for the Ethical Hating of Animals. Let’s face it, guys. Animals are stupid. They can’t talk, they don’t wear clothes, they certainly don’t contribute to the economy by buying anything. They’re all victims of the developing world and we hate victims. Victims ask for it. They like being victims. They’re weak and ignorant and can’t even hire a good lawyer. And they smell. If your grandkids complain, take away their teddy bears and replace them with real taxidermy so they know what it is they’re whining about. That’ll stop ‘em! Hah!

These are just two of the many instances in which theatre addressing climate change is making powerful use of the representational strategies and modes of address developed over the past half century. But it’s doing something else as well: inventing new strategies that will align the theatrical apparatus—its conventions, protocols, and possibilities—with the altered conceptual frameworks offered—or necessitated—by climate change. My shorthand term for this new set of inventions is “Fifth Wall Dramaturgy.” Explaining it involves sketching in certain theoretical considerations, in particular about what else changes as the climate does.

Climate change, we’re realizing, goes way beyond climate. The changes coming—or already happening—affect every level of human activity and experience, including fundamental things like where we (can or cannot) live, what’s left for us to eat safely, and how we’ll think and what we’ll say about our species in light of our unplanned world-changing effects on this planet. Recognizing for the first time that we humans are a geophysical force—that our activities shape and hence are part of geophysical and ecological systems—forces us to expand the frames of our self-understanding. The fact that our current and recent lifeways have inadvertently affected such massive entities as the ocean (acidification, rising sea levels, etc.) and the polar ice caps (glaciers melting, ice sheets breaking up) tells us that our usual frames of self-analysis—mainly, the psychological, sociological, and political—are no longer adequate. We need to redraw the boundaries and expand the frame within which human meaning is created. We need to understand the human in its complex relation to the nonhuman, a relation that is both determining and determined, partly under our control, mostly outside it.

One of the first boundaries that climate change disrupts is also one of the most ideologically powerful conceptual structures of modernity: the boundary that defines a nation. As the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change signals in its very name, climate change doesn’t respect national borders. The nation—the master-fiction of the world politics of the past several centuries—is under attack from both economic and ecological directions. Economically, it is utterly undermined by globalization; ecologically, by climate change. The waves of refugees currently crashing on the shores of Europe are figures of both forces, and the incoherent political and moral response to their plight is evidence of how increasingly entangled the skeins of politics, economics, and ecology now are. When this entanglement suddenly produces an image that rivets the attention of the world—for example, the image of little Aylan Kurdi, the three-year old Syrian boy lying dead on a beach in Turkey—we are challenged to align these complex realities with our deepest emotional responses, challenged to balance our sorrow for Aylan with our feeling of helplessness before the forces that brought him to that beach: the devastating droughts that have displaced countless populations, in Syria, Africa, and elsewhere, leading to conflicts which become politicized (and which the media insists on representing as solely political or sectarian, ignoring their ecological dimensions and origins).

The image of Aylan that caught the world’s attention, and the many artworks that image has inspired, open a space for reflection about the new intersection of politics and ecology that climate change is ushering in at great speed. As climate change, sectarian conflict, and globalization increasingly make nonsense of the political power of nations, it is forcing us to reckon with that border that all countries share and that all have always ignored: their border with the atmosphere. Other than occasions when a country’s “air space” is “violated,” or when enemy bombs rain down on us, we rarely think of the sky as a political space. Climate change is challenging that assumption, forcing us to recognize that the ways we’re affecting or interfering with each other’s national spaces is not restricted to modes like trade, diplomacy, and warfare: rather, the carbon emissions of one nation can play an inordinately large role in damaging the ecology of distant places, with the atmosphere, our common border, serving as the major conduit—a “free” space: totally unregulated by the laws of nations, utterly uncontrollable by human beings, completely impervious to our species’ wall-building prowess. To begin to take this space seriously will require us to develop an “atmospheric” consciousness.

Looking up at the sky has been, traditionally and archetypally, a figure for aspiration. On occasion, as when we are exhorted to contemplate the vastness of the universe, it has been a figure for humility, a call to acknowledge the puniness of our humanity. Both moves are sentimental and inflated, whether in self-aggrandizement or self-effacement. The same two kinds of inflation are currently tempting the discourse around climate change. There are those who see in the looming crisis a chance for our species to make paradigm-shifting leaps in technological innovation and scientific mastery. There are others who see it as the twilight of human civilization, a time for mourning and letting go.

Fifth Wall Dramaturgy (and the “atmospheric imagination” it reflects) is an alternative way of “looking up.” It’s an activation of the “diegetic” mode of literary communication—the “telling,” as opposed to the “showing,” or “mimetic” mode—that ecologically-prescient modernists had begun to use decades ago to point to the natural world that always silently surrounds the clamorous social interactions on stage. To be sure, in the past that “view beyond the social world” had been fleeting, and decidedly dismal, as in the following moment in Pinter’s The Caretaker:

DAVIES: What’s that? A pond?


DAVIES: What you got, fish?

ASTON: No. There isn’t anything in there.


This is a “world” view only a shade less despairing than Beckett’s notorious one, voiced by Clov, in Endgame, as he looks out of the window: “Nothing.”

While twentieth-century playwrights registered only the alienating gap between the social and natural worlds, the views of the “outside” world registered by recent climate change plays see a great deal more. Looking up and beyond the social world, they see forces as powerful and as fearful as the supernatural forces that had reigned over the dramas of antiquity. Instead of wrathful gods and goddesses, the drama of climate change invokes, for example, pitiless physical realities. So in Run from the Sun by Daniel Gallant, we meet a man who’s been locked up, judged a “danger to myself” for being outdoors during the day without sunblock. “The sun,” he declares, “is my enemy. My antagonist and oppressor. I cringe when it rises.” But then, with a sudden surge of the self-delusion that has brought him and his species to this dangerous pass, he consoles himself: “But still, the sun doesn’t rule my life. I can walk outside anytime I want, between 9 p.m. and 9 a.m., covered head to toe.”

Besides expanding the dramatic frame beyond the social world, Fifth Wall dramaturgy also expands it temporally, pushing past cultural history to locate the human story in the deep time of the earth. In Original Fire, Kevin Loring offers a flash history of human civilization as a brief and deadly obsession with fire, a history of burning whose concluding conflagration could inaugurate a more elementally balanced history:

Maybe… we need to look away from the fire.

Maybe we need to look deeper into the water—

Maybe we need to look into the wind and the subtleties of the Earth.

Maybe we need to harness the other elements we take for granted.

In Jeremy Picard’s Martha, the expanded temporal frame includes past, present, and future, linking the habits and assumptions of an ecologically unconscious society to the far-reaching destruction they produce. Inhabiting the continuum, as the play invites us to do, realigns the human with the geological time scales that matter now:

When I turn my head to the left, you disappear. When I turn my head to the right, you are still here, even seven hundred years in the future.

You can see that far?

My neck is extremely flexible.

But if I’m still here in seven hundred years, what does that mean?

It means you also wish to invest in time.

Mother by Chantal Bilodeau, performed by Esther Sophia Artner at The Box Collective in Brooklyn, NY. Photo by Julia Deffet.

The view of the world that climate change calls for is a wide view and a long one. It is a view we must learn to borrow from the earth itself, from whose perspective the human is a complicated, fascinating, and—above all—evolving phenomenon. As the ageless voice of the earth says in Chantal Bilodeau’s Mother,

I should have seen it coming of course

I should have realized when you crawled out of the ocean

that something was happening

that something had been set in motion

But the truth is

it was all random

A little mutation here

a little mutation there

and boom

there you were

with your big head and your big brain

so proud of yourself for standing on your own two feet

The evolving human is the protagonist of Fifth Wall dramaturgy, trying out forms of ecological consciousness that are more attuned to the scale and complexity of climate change. To make that consciousness something more than an abstraction or a new kind of inflated self-importance, to make it a compelling theatrical experience, will require that intimacy not be sacrificed to achieve scale. And this is where the theatre’s unparalleled articulation of the literal and the metaphoric, the embodied human and his or her frames of meaning, can accomplish something that other art forms can’t as easily: expand the frame while preserving the voice, body, and emotion with which new ecological consciousness will be made. That is the voice, body, and emotion whose task it is to reach across inherited social and national boundaries, to break the fifth wall of anthropocentrism. “Look at me,” the earth’s voice instructs, “If I see myself in your eyes, I’ll know that everything will be okay.”

(Top image: Colin Waitt and audience member in Kendra Fanconi’s Finale as part of Where Have All The Glaciers Gone, conceived and directed by Erin B. Mee in New York City. Photo by June Xie.)


Una Chaudhuri is Collegiate Professor and Professor of English and Drama. She is the author of No Man’s Stage: A Semiotic Study of Jean Genet’s Plays, and Staging Place: The Geography of Modern Drama, as well as numerous articles on drama theory and theatre history in such journals as Modern Drama, Theatre Journal, and Theatre. Recent publications include Animal Acts: Performing Species Today, co-edited with Holly Hughes, and Ecocide: Research Theatre and Climate Change, co-authored with Shonni Enelow. With director Fritz Ertl, she has developed a number of theatre pieces using a process they call “Research Theatre,” and she has worked collaboratively with the artist Marina Zurkow, most recently in a multi-platform project entitled “Dear Climate.”