The 50 Shades of Green Conference: GAI Exchange Room

This post comes from Creative Carbon Scotland

The arts often reflect and challenge the society they exist within, and the sector has a wealth of experience in engaging those it works with on a whole range of issues. The GAI Exchange Room heard from three members of our Green Arts Initiative as to how they had explored engaging their various stakeholders in environmental sustainability.

Summaries of the presentations of each of our speakers can be found below:

Martin Latham, Aberdeen Performing Arts: Engaging Staff in Sustainability

Mark Latham of APA kicked us off with a run through of the theatre’s green team and how it functions. He explained some of the green team’s fundamental features:

  • Only one member of staff from each department can join to ensure equal representation across the 300 staffed organisation
  • They meet every 2 months
  • Anything can be added to the agenda by any of its member
  • They review their policies (which includes monitoring and reducing energy and water usage and waste production) annually

Some successful initiatives have included

  • BINWATCH, saving money by keeping an eye on how full the bins are for collection and also keeping track of waste outputs according to what’s on at the APA venues.
  • Power down policy: successfully engaging staff to turn off appliances both in the office and at home, having double the impact

The green team have ensured the credibility of their decisions be ensuring that their meeting minutes are reviewed at board meetings. Martin emphasised the benefit of this in reducing the space between different levels within the organisation – “Housekeeping now has a direct line of communication to the board”.

Donald Smith, Scottish International Storytelling Festival: Engaging Audiences in Sustainability

Donald gave us a different angle on the connections between creativity and environmental crisis, suggesting the two might be more linked than we think. He questioned whether we are at a tipping point both in terms of how we experience culture and how we inhabit the planet. Suggesting, with a twinkle in his eye, that gardening might be the new art form for the 21st century – as an activity which binds creativity and our wider ecosystems – he advocated a more open and more participatory view of culture that involved audiences in its making with the potential to connected participants with the natural environment.

Barry Church-Woods, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Barry provided an overview of some of the initiatives instigated by the Edinburgh Fringe to engage artists and audiences in environmental sustainability when participating in or attending the summer festival. He highlighted the influencing role that an organisation such as the Fringe can play, when working with such a large number of visiting companies (3000+ shows this August), to highlight creative opportunities for more resourceful practices. Examples included the Fringe Sustainable Practice Guide, the Swap Shop for unwanted props and materials to be re-used/upcycled, and the Fringe Sustainable Practice Award which celebrates innovative practice.

50 Shades of Green: Stories of Sustainability in the Arts Sector took place on 6 October 2015 at the Pearce Institute in Glasgow. It was Creative Carbon Scotland’s first conference for green arts organisations working to affect their environmental sustainability. A copy of the programme for the event can be found here.

To become part of the Scottish green arts community, and to hear more about events like 50 Shades of Green (as well as our other free training sessions and resources), sign up to the Green Arts Initiative.


The post The 50 Shades of Green Conference: GAI Exchange Room appeared first on 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

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