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All Blog

Can the creative industries take on sustainability?

In the past, innovation and creativity has often have often been a nnegative part of our sustainability conundrum generating more ‘stuff’ to fuel ‘use and check’ lifestyles, creating novely for its own sake. But today creatives are becoming part of the solution.

Our friends at Forum for the Future have been doing some amazing work looking into how the creative industries can lead the way to a sustainable future. The following blog, written by Fiona Bennie, will fill you in and give you links to some interesting further reading.

The first part of the creative industries project, commissioned by the CIKTN, enabled us to get an overview of who is proactively working on sustainability challenges across the UK creative industries – as well as a few international examples.

We highlighted three key areas of activity:

  • those who are working to reduce the direct footprint of the creative industries;
  • those who are working to enhance the creative persuasion they can have on society and;
  • those across the industries who are working to promote technology and innovation for sustainability in order to enhance UK competitiveness.

The findings were encouraging, with pockets of interest, initiatives and projects specifically aimed to shift UK consumers and businesses towards sustainable practices and lifestyles. This is all happening via creative approaches, methods and influence – through architects, designers, musicians, filmmakers, actors, artists, theatres and more.

Though encouraging, we and many across the industries felt the combined initiatives are simply not enough compared to the challenges we face. It’s a good and inspiring start, but there’s still a long way to go and many more to get on board. The creative industries are lagging behind the ambitions of big businesses which buy their services. They need to be doing more to influence those they inspire – speaking out about the sustainability issues that are shaping our world and hogging the global headlines.

So what’s happened? Have creatives lost their artistic flare for influence and outspokenness? With so much brilliant content built around the injustices of war, famine and inequality, to name but a few, where is the creative uprising on climate change? Who is inspiring their fans to live a fairer, greener life that enhances and doesn’t degrade our beautiful natural world? A few creative folk in the UK are working tirelessly on this, but not nearly enough of them.

We are absolutely convinced that we need as much creative input as possible to ensure that the growing low-carbon, sustainable lifestyle options and business practices are accessible. These approaches need to engage and be desirable – consumers will only change their behaviour if creatives use their immensely powerful and inspirational work to inform and influence them.

Instead of waiting for the regulations and legislations which will push us into lifestyle and business choices that may well be less desirable, the creative industries can help this shift happen voluntarily. Their job is to make the green/fair/low-carbon/healthy option the one everyone wants to choose.

With all this in mind, we’ve pulled together a set of practical opportunities and resources, as well as some provocations for creative businesses, policy makers and big businesses buying creative services – for them all to consider their role in enabling the shift to sustainability thinking. This is a starting point for creatives to get on the path to achieving a sustainable future – we address future-proofing the industries, skilling up creative practitioners and ultimately aim to enable them to drum-up sustainable business. In short, a quick fire toolkit to enable the industries and its business and policy stakeholders to help create the sustainable future the UK so urgently needs.

Follow this link for more info on the project, to see which creatives are leading the way and to download the toolkit.

To get in touch email Fiona at f.bennie@forumforthefuture.org

This blog was orginally posted on the Forum website on the 1st March 2011.