On Thursday 9th of June, Creative Informatics was delighted to present a short film at the New European Bauhaus Festival in Brussels entitled “Data-driven Innovation for Sustainable Creative Practice.” The film, led by researchers Dr. Inge Panneels and Dr. Susan Lechelt, highlighted eight cases studies of data driven innovation for sustainable creative practice that Creative Informatics has supported. The film trailer is included below, and this blogpost details the film’s intent and narrative, as well as our experience at the New European Bauhaus festival
Our Film’s Intent and Narrative
We created our short film to showcase case studies from the Creative Informatics portfolio that demonstrate a diversity of ways in which data and data driven innovation is helping creative businesses and organisations to become more sustainable themselves and support other businesses and communities to do so too. Through the case studies, the film looks at two linked approaches how work from the creative industries is tackling climate change: a Net Zero economy will require both a 1) fundamental culture shift and 2) a radically new means of doing business. For the first, the work of composer Michael Begg (Connected Innovator recipient), and graphic designer Rebecca Kaye from Ploterre (Resident Entrepreneur) demonstrate how artistic responses to environmental data can connect people to the environment, in order to develop an appreciation and love for the natural world as well as develop awareness of the impact of climate change.
The latter approach, of new ways of doing business, is exemplified in the other six case studies. Jeni Allison from Knit One (Resident Entrepreneur) and Edinburgh Tool Library (Resident Entrepreneur) are exemplars of changing patterns of ownership and consumption where data driven innovation can support more bespoke and less wasteful manufacturing and practical carbon reduction. Carbon literacy features in two further projects: Caro Overy from Climate Friendly Culture (Connected Innovator, Resident Entrepreneur recipient) and Looper (Resident Entrepreneur) support communities and other (creative) businesses with their understanding of carbon footprints, thus enabling them to make better decisions on sustainability. Finally, Mairi Lowe from Sustainable Fashion Scotland (Connected Innovator) and Mary Michel from Creative Cred (Creative Horizon) discuss how their respective projects empower sustainable and circular communities in the creative sector.
These case studies thus present an insight of how shifting towards more sustainable ways of working, will require a more expanded approach of the concept of sustainability, where economic sustainability (making a profit) needs to also be aligned to environmental sustainability (planet) and social sustainability (people). This concept of the “triple bottom line” (Elkington, 1994) is no longer a desirable but required ways of doing business in a world where climate change has become a key factor. The case studies demonstrate how data driven innovation can be deployed to help make smarter and better decisions and to inform, support and connect communities to work together towards more sustainable business practices.
The full film (~35 minutes) is included below.
What is the New European Bauhaus?
The New European Bauhaus is a creative and interdisciplinary initiative by the European Union that connects to the European Green Deal and thus places creativity at the heart of the collective efforts to make Europe carbon neutral by 2050 in its efforts to combat climate change. The seminal Paris Agreement from COP21 in 2015 set the global target to keep global warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius. This translated into the U.N. Goals for 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Developments also known as the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that provide a roadmap for climate actions and reduce emissions and build climate resilience.
Reflections on the Festival
The Festival itself brought together a vast array of projects from across Europe that address sustainability through creative practices. The Fair provided a main hub of activity at the impressive Gare Maritime, itself a location of regeneration, re-use and re-purpose of old defunct industrial heritage now fit for the new industrial era of sustainable futures. The Fair provided an opportunity to see, connect to and discuss with other projects from across Europe on exemplars of sustainable practices: from 3D printed clay houses in Spain, token incentivisation of public transport in Portugal, a pan-European network for sustainable textiles from Poland or an innovative business removing toxins from PVC plastic in Belgium. Gare Maritime also hosted the Forum which brought speakers from around Europe to discuss and highlight initiatives on green transition, from architecture and heritage, to design and education and from policy makers to citizens and educators. Meanwhile the Fest provided a more cultural offering of music, performance and other activities to engage the wider public in the Festival and its ethos and focused mainly on the aptly named Mont des Arts. Finally, the programme of Side Events hosted a wide variety of events across Brussels and satellite venues in Europe. Creative Informatics is grateful to BE-HERE, an exciting sustainable venue in the heart of Brussels, as the excellent venue that hosted us in Brussels.
On reflection, it was both encouraging to see the Festival as a manifestation of how policy can galvanise and coalesce good practice and of course also painful to witness that taking part in the funded opportunities is no longer available to UK based organisations post Brexit.
However, it is clear that creativity, technology and innovation will be key catalysts that can support and enable the necessary shift towards a more sustainable future.
Future Film Screenings
We are looking forward to screening the film to a diversity of communities and audiences, at a number of other venues this summer. This includes to our Creative Informatics community at the 2022 Creative Informatics Showcase, to an academic community of Human Computer Interaction researchers at BCS HCI 2022, and to the international Districts of Creativity network at the Creativity World Forum in Stuttgart. In addition, the film is freely available for all to watch and share via our Vimeo.
If you would like to get in touch about other events where the film might be screened, feel free to contact Inge and Susan at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
This work was informed by an earlier paper presented by Creative Informatics researchers Dr. Inge Panneels and Dr. Susan Lechelt on 29 September 2021 at the ‘Sustainability’ panel presented at the Old Stories, New Narratives symposium organised by Applied Arts Scotland: you can watch the recording of the presentation here: https://vimeo.com/channels/craftfestival2021/page:2
Thanks to Dr. Marlen Komorowski from Cardiff University and Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Dr. Ruba Saleh from ICHEC (Brussels Management School) and UNECE or taking part in our panel discussion in Brussels.
With thanks also to Euan Gilmour of Video Production Edinburgh for his sterling effort in pulling the film together.
And of course, also thanks to the eight creative businesses and organisations who kindly agreed to take part in this film. You can read more about each participant on the Creative Informatics Community pages: https://creativeinformatics.org/community/