What is SPRINGBOARD and why are we doing it?

As this post goes live, so too is SPRINGBOARD: Assembly for creative climate action going live online for the first of four days of collaboration, networking and thinking with more than 200 cross-sector delegates. It’s an apt moment to remind ourselves, and you, what SPRINGBOARD is and why we’re doing it. 

SPRINGBOARD is Creative Carbon Scotland’s response to the increasing urgency of the climate emergency.

Creative Carbon Scotland has been working on climate change with Scotland’s arts organisations and others for the past 11 years, and together we have done good work and made great progress. But the challenge has become more urgent, with tougher carbon reduction targets and the increasingly devastating impacts of climate change in Scotland and around the world, which we are seeing almost daily now. We need to step up our actions, our work.

We’re clear that culture – the arts, screen, creative industries, museums and heritage and libraries – needs to massively decarbonise to achieve zero carbon, and to be resilient in the face of a changed and changing climate. And we’re also clear that the rest of society needs to do the same, and that culture has a huge role to play in what will be a transformation of society. Art and culture help society think through difficult questions; cultural organisations enable communities to come together to do that thinking. Culture has knowledge, skills, ways of working and contacts to offer to those working on climate change; those climate change people have knowledge, technologies, finance and skills that culture needs. So, cultural- and climate-focused organisations and practitioners need to work together, and they need to work together at multiple levels. Deep decarbonisation and resilience can’t be achieved by anyone on their own.

Our aim with SPRINGBOARD is to strengthen the ambition of the cultural sector in this important work, to understand the transformational change that cultural organisations and individuals will need to undertake and enable them to start the process. We want the cultural and other sectors to recognise the essential role culture has to play in this transformational change and importantly, to facilitate their collaboration to address systemic blockages to deep decarbonisation. And we, Creative Carbon Scotland, want to know what we can and need to do to help.

But what is ‘transformational change’?

Here’s a useful definition from the health sector:

‘Transformational change is the emergence of an entirely new state, prompted by a shift in what is considered possible or necessary, which results in a profoundly different structure, culture or level of performance.’

(King’s Fund[1])

Transformational change is about more than scaling up; it is complex and it will challenge us all. We believe it involves (and our thanks to Ruth Wolstenholme, Managing Director of the resilience charity Sniffer, for her ideas about this):

  • Taking a whole system approach, by which we mean thinking about interventions to bring about change at multiple scales and across sectoral divides rather than one-off interventions. An example of this from the health sector, because there isn’t a climate sector one yet, might be the UK-wide smoking ban. That change affected individuals, organisations such as pubs and cafes, which had to change their policies and behaviours, and had an impact on social structures including the health service, with many fewer heart attacks and strokes. We could even say it influenced the whole of society: how we see smoking, how we see pubs, how we see the impacts of our own choices on people around us.
  • Going beyond a business-as-usual model and looking afresh at our aims and objectives and thinking about how we can achieve these in different ways, not simply doing what we currently do more efficiently.
  • Considering ethical questions, including challenging the status quo of the current system. For example, looking at power imbalances in terms of who makes the decisions, who is dominant. How much of a say do young people and future generations, who will have to deal with the impacts of climate change, have?
  • Taking a social justice approach. This means addressing the underlying socio-ecological root causes of the actions and activities that are causing climate change and the vulnerability to it. As well as a climate crisis and a biodiversity crisis – among others! – we are also in the midst of an inequality crisis, and this is being further exacerbated by climate change. Pakistan is responsible for almost none of the global carbon emissions but the monsoon flooding last year has pushed around 9m people into poverty. At home those most affected by climate change are generally the poorer and more disadvantaged, who have the lowest emissions.
  • Acknowledging that transformation is complex and requires greater investment and longer time frames than one-off measures. These sorts of changes won’t happen quickly, which underlines the urgency of getting started and planning well.

So transformational change isn’t just about doing more or doing more efficiently – it’s about being differently.

And that’s a complex task, but that’s why we believe the SPRINGBOARD assembly is an important thing to do: Scotland – the whole world! – needs people and organisations at all levels and from all fields to work together now to meet the challenge of climate change. Creative Carbon Scotland is proud to be leading this charge and we look forward to you joining us on the journey.

Follow #ClimateNeedsCulture on Twitter throughout SPRINGBOARD.

Apart from the assembly taking place from 27 February to 2 March, the SPRINGBOARD project has another strand:

  • A series of in-person local assemblies for creative climate action around Scotland – informal networks of cultural- and climate-focused organisations of individuals, meeting in-person to share knowledge, learn together and collaborate. Creative Carbon Scotland is supporting local partners to establish these assemblies.

[1] https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/publications/transformational-change-health-care[opens in a new tab]

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