Please send me SCA's fortnightly briefing:

< Back to '27th October 2021' briefing

October 26, 2021

Circular creatives

Ever since industrialisation took hold, our economy has been linear in nature. We extract raw materials, we make stuff with those raw materials, we use what we make and then we throw it away. And that is why, in large part, we are experiencing a climate and nature emergency and why we need to reshape every part of our economy away from being linear to one that aims to make waste the exception rather than the rule. This is the mission of one of SCA’s member networks, CRNS, who were commissioned recently to take a look at our creative industries. 



Executive Summary

For full report – Click here

The creative industries in Scotland are an incredibly diverse sector with a global reputation. Contributing to the economy, employment, health, and wellbeing of Scotland, as a growth sector it has the potential to support the delivery of green recovery ambitions and align with, and progress, Scotland’s wider environmental policy and strategy intentions. 

Funded by Creative Scotland and delivered by Community Resources Network Scotland, this project considers the extent to which the creative industries are embracing the circular economy, moving away from a linear ‘take, make, waste’ model, towards a more resource efficient and environmentally sustainable way of operating. It also considers how the sector is using its creativity to educate, inform, inspire, and support others in making the transition towards more circular practices. 

Through interviews with a range of stakeholders across the creative industries, a snapshot has been taken of the sector and a series of case studies developed. The challenges and barriers that the sector faces in making the transition have been identified, and whilst it is evident that many organisations appear to be at the start of the journey, there is a strong desire across the sector to support the principles of the circular economy and embed more circular practices. Examples of activities that organisations are delivering include: the development of reuse networks and opportunities to maximise the value of materials and resources already in use, and reduce overall consumption; use of creative learning opportunities to inform and educate; creative commissioning of exhibitions and programmes to promote creators adopting circular economy practices and also to promote positive messaging in relation to resource use to a wider audience; and, strategic development and collective commitment to implementing and delivering more sustainable consumption and resource usage and management.

Through this research a number of characteristics of the sector have been identified, which lend themselves well to facilitating transformational change. For example, the ability to present information in an unusual or interesting manner, through different mediums or from different perspectives, in essence the storytelling ability of the sector. This is a strength that can be exploited to help drive systemic change towards more sustainable practices, well beyond the creative sector and into mainstream society. In addition, it is evident that the relationship with materials in the creative space can be more intimate and aligned, which lends itself to seeing inherent value in items which others may consider to be of little or no use. Those working in the creative industries also have an extensive bank of skills to draw upon, practical abilities associated with artistry and making, that can help support the development and implementation of more circular practices. 

It is clear from the research that momentum towards better understanding of materials and resource use is starting to emerge which can be built upon and the challenge is to ensure the sector as a whole, with all its variations and diversity, is on the same journey. With this in mind, a number of steps have been proposed, as a call to action to stimulate change. These include addressing the biggest barriers to progress, specifically space scarcity and lack of sufficient understanding of actions that can be taken; raising minimum standards and prioritising environmental requirements to ensure that ambitions and expectations of the sector are high; ensuring that collaboration within and outside of the sector is maximised and opportunities to coordinate and align support are taken; and finally, ensure that needs are being met to deliver change, through a review of the support tools available and addressing any skills gaps. 

In essence this report represents a celebration of a sample of creative organisations who have made progress in achieving or committing to more circular ways of operating, shining a light on their success, and incentivising those who have yet to start on this journey to consider the changes they could make to manage their resource use more effectively and protect the environment that they operate within and beyond.