Sustainable Materials in the Creative Industries

Lead Research Organisation: Royal College of Art
Department Name: School of Art and Humanities

Abstract

Over the past two decades sustainability has developed from a peripheral concern to a pressing mainstream issue, affecting domestic and industrial domains. The creative industry's diverse outputs, ranging from physical artworks and hard luxury goods to publications and films, all entail multiple entanglements with material sustainability. The project team will scope current and immanent sustainable practice around the sourcing, use, disposal, recycling and reuse of materials, to help understand the creative sector's ongoing responses. Recognising that different creative disciplines have different prerogatives and operate under specific pressures, the research will take a discipline-led approach, whilst also acknowledging where cross-discipline activity is evident.

The project will cover: Architectural Design (including architectural model making); Applied Arts (Ceramics; Furniture making; Glass; Goldsmithing and silversmithing; Instrument Making; Jewellery); Design (Industrial design; Packaging design; Product design; Design for medical applications), Fashion (menswear, womenswear; accessories, including leather working), Filmmaking; Fine Arts (Installation; Painting; Printmaking; Sculpture), Museums, Galleries and Heritage (Collection conservation and restoration; Curating contemporary art; Museum display and storage; Heritage building maintenance); Photography, Textiles, Theatre and performing arts (including Scenography, Costume, and Lighting).

The result will be a comprehensive record of the current positions on materials sustainability and related issues held by the spectrum of creative industries active across the UK. This will be supplemented by a series of case studies of individual initiatives from other countries, predominantly in the developing world, where improving sustainability is an evident element of the activities under examination. In both cases, reference will be made to how the identified activities relate to the United Nations' Sustainability Development Goals.

The project activities will include a comprehensive literature review, remote surveys and informal scoping interviews with practitioners and associated professionals working in one of more creative disciplines, as well as (conditions allowing) engaging with members of the creative industries through small, discipline-focused workshops and project roadshow events held at the project team members' institutions in Brighton, Edinburgh, London and Plymouth. These events will be opportunities to engage in dialogue, present the interim findings to the attendees and to gather further information. Should travel and social distancing restrictions make some elements of this approach unviable, the team will focus on a more digitally orientated data collection, review and result broadcasting strategy. The case studies will draw on the team members' previous overseas research experience and professional networks, supplemented (where possible) by field visits to enable them to understand how sustainability ideals are informing individuals' practice and perceptions in the context of the case study initiative.

The key result will be a composite report, authored by all the research team. The report will act as a benchmark of state-of-the-art practice and perceptions around material sustainability in the creative industries, identifying existing trends and showcasing cutting-edge developments, as well as flagging sector-wide and discipline specific barriers that will have to be negotiated or addressed to achieve widespread sustainably orientated practice. The report will also provide insights into the creative industries from an international perspective and contribute to an understanding of how the Global Challenges Research Fund and Newton Fund might be utilised to instigate or support sustainability initiatives relating to the creative industries across the developing world.

Publications

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Description The report submitted to the AHRC contains the results of a twelve-month scoping study of current sustainable practice around materials across the creative industries. The project team has explored current and immanent sustainable practice around the sourcing, use, disposal, reuse, recycling, and upcycling of materials, to help understand the creative sector's ongoing responses and its current and potential contribution to the development of a circular economy. It provides a snapshot of practice and perceptions around material sustainability in the creative industries, identifying existing trends and showcasing cutting-edge developments, as well as flagging sector-wide and discipline specific barriers that will have to be negotiated or addressed to achieve widespread sustainably orientated practice.
The report has five core chapters, each covering a sector of the creative industries: Crafts and Applied Arts; Design; Fashion, Textiles and Accessories; Film and Photography; and Performing Arts. It also has chapters examining two cross-sector aspects: firstly, electronic and electrical equipment; and secondly, carbon calculation tools, as well as a further chapter identifying and unpacking other cross-cutting issues. In addition, the report presents thirteen case studies of initiatives or innovations in the creative industries relating to sustainability and identifies a set of topics that would benefit from research interventions.
Exploitation Route The report was written in response to the AHRC call, which specified that the research should include recommendations that could inform the Council's future funding strategy.
The report includes a chapter that presents two key recommendations, both of which have wide resonance across the creative industries. It also records twelve further recommendations drawn from each of the sectors covered in the report: crafts and applied arts; design; fashion, textiles and accessories; film and photography; fine arts; performing arts.
Sectors Creative Economy

URL https://www.rca.ac.uk/research-innovation/projects/sustainable-materials-creative-industries/
 
Description The interim findings from the research have fed into the development and promotion of more sustainable practices across the creative industries through involvement in the development of action plans and members of the research team taking roles on advisory boards, panels and similar groups. Within the Theatre and Performance sector the project has contributed to the implementation of the Theatre Green Book. Within the Crafts and Applied Arts sector the project's findings have contributed to the inclusion of sustainability in the draft content of Craft and Design T Level and informed the relaunch of the SGT's online Ethical Making Resource.
First Year Of Impact 2021
Sector Creative Economy
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description Invitation to join consultancy panel to review draft content of Craft and Design T Level
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
Impact Thank you for registering to attend the Craft and Design employer engagement event on Monday 11th January 2021 to review the draft outline content for the T Level and feedback your views. For your convenience, we have attached a copy of the Craft and Design draft outline content for you to review beforehand. This draft document contains the core content for the Creative and Design pathway and the Craft and Design occupational specialisms on which we'll be asking for your views. We have also attached the agenda to give you an insight about the discussion points for the day.
 
Description Membership of the Interfolio Strategic Committee for Researchfish
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
Impact The strategy group inputs result in ongoing improvements in the efficiency, economy, and coverage of the ResearchFish platform and ensures its continued and enhanced relevance for the subscribed funders, including those managing UK public funds. The group also considers the ongoing impact of changes to the system on the researchers that provide the annual data reports, ensuring a balance between the necessity of gathering and collating substantive and useful data and keeping the demands and complexity of the submission process to a miniumum..
 
Description Ethical Gold & Government Policy
Amount £10,992 (GBP)
Funding ID PO/SPF/201 
Organisation Royal College of Art 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2021 
End 03/2021
 
Description SMICI-Crafts Council: Sustainability Craft Practitioner Group 
Organisation Crafts Council
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Led discussion group sessions attended by craft practitioners that had taken part in Craft Council initiatives or professional development programmes.
Collaborator Contribution Provision of the group attendees through the Craft Council contact lists. Management of the site logistics (room, catering, payment of attendance fees)
Impact The contributions to the discussion groups helped inform the report chapter covering Crafts and Applied Arts.
Start Year 2021
 
Description CICP 2021 Award Holders symposium presentation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 'Introducing Sustainable Materials in the Creative Industries' was part of the Creative Industries Clusters Programme Award Holders Symposium organised by the AHRC, 22 April 2021.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description CRAFT ON LIVE Keynote 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 'Why Craft Mediation is Important for a Sustainable world'. Keynote presentation for the CRAFT ON LIVE craft management programme awards ceremony, Kookmin University, Seoul, 4th December 2021.
The session consisted of a 20 minute presentation in English subtitled in Korean, with a question and answer session, delivered in English with Korean subtitles.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Craft Practitioners discussion groups 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact Convener and Lead for two practitioner-focused discussion group sessions on craft and sustainability, organised in partnership with the Crafts Council. Held as part of the Sustainable Materials in the Creative Industries project, 2-3 Nov 2021.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description SMICI webpage 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The SMICI project webpage provides an easily accessible description of the project, as well as identifying the project team members and their interests, expertise and affiliations. The website also explains the challenge, the team's approach, activities and the project outputs.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.rca.ac.uk/research-innovation/projects/sustainable-materials-creative-industries/
 
Description Scottish Goldsmiths Trust 2021 presentation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 'Gold in the Context of Sustainability', was an online presentation given as part of 'Sustainability in the 21st Century: how policies impact gold supply chains', organised by the Scottish Goldsmiths Trust, 22-23 June 2021.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://hopin.com/events/sustainability-in-the-21st-century-how-policies-impact-gold-supply-chains
 
Description SustainLab 2021 presentation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Leading presenter for the Sustainable Materials Online Workshop, a session organised by SustainLab, 10 Nov 2021.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://sustainlabrca.org/sustainlab-smici-sustainable-materials-online-workshop-10-11-2021/