Scotland’s visual arts sector is at an early stage of understanding and dealing with the impacts of the climate crisis but new research commissioned offers recommendations for the sector.
Alongside their participation in the Cultural Adaptations project, Scotland-based cultural charity Creative Carbon Scotland has undertaken deep research into specific impacts and actions for their local cultural sector.
Over winter 2018-2019, they commissioned research into the specific implications of projected climate change impacts for visual arts organisations, and undertook analysis and interviews of organisations and partners – across exhibition, education, outreach and support – to understand the impact on business models, operational capacity and even health and safety.View the summary infographic Read the research report
Key insights and trends
Although the research covered a wide range of sources and interviewed a diverse mix of visual arts organisations, there were some core findings:
- Instances of warmer, wetter and wilder weather will increase as a result of climate change, according to projections for Scotland.
- Expected impacts for the visual arts sector are typically around physical risk to collections, as well as the logistics of hosting events, exhibitions, outreach and education activities. Finances will be affected due to changing audience behaviour and associated costs of mitigating other risks.
- Organisations often underestimate the impact increasing temperatures will have on their collections and activities, seeing instead as almost exclusively a positive impact of climate change.
- There is a knowledge–action gap, with organisations understanding some of the expected impacts, without taking constructive action to address them.
- Expertise, staff resource and funding for long-term resilience improvements were some of the key barriers to adaptation action
- There is great opportunity (and currently little action) around the transformation the sector will have to go through to remain economically and socially sustainable in our climate changed future.
Opportunities to adapt
As well as providing an understanding of the issues and expectations of visual arts organisations, this research also provided some key suggestions of measures organisations could take to prepare themselves more fully for the coming challenges:
- Managerial adaptation: implementing climate change in risk planning, implementing internal and external communications warning systems, challenging the narrative around non-adaptive behaviour
- Practical adaptation: creating resources for staff use in case of extreme weather events, consolidating and protecting stored collections, comprehensive monitoring and maintenance of building condition