University of Plymouth Dance Student Nozomi Kishimoto. Experimental dance piece at Foggintor Quarry on Dartmoor

The University of Plymouth is part of a collaboration that will conduct an innovative study of sustainable practices across the creative sector. 

Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), ‘Sustainable Materials in the Creative Industries’ will look at the sourcing, use, disposal, recycling and reuse of materials by organisations and artists. 

Led by the Royal College of Art in association with the Universities of Brighton and Edinburgh, and with support from the School of Advanced Study at the University of London and Birmingham City University, the project will seek to create a comprehensive record of practice and perceptions around sustainability across the arts in the UK.

Roberta Mock, Professor of Performance Studies at the University of Plymouth, is a co-investigator on the project. She said: 

“The creative industries is the fastest-growing sector of the UK economy, contributing more than £110bn each year. Economic activity on that scale has significant implications for sustainability, and it’s apparent that there has not been consistent engagement nor analysis of the benefits of taking a more sustainable approach.”

Each of the partners in the project – one of six funded through the AHRC’s Where Next? Scoping Future Arts and Humanities Led Research call, will concentrate on different sectors within the creative industries.

The Royal College of Art will look at architectural design, applied arts, design, fine arts, museums, galleries and heritage, and the use of general digital equipment; Brighton will focus on fashion and textiles; Edinburgh is studying film and photography; and Plymouth will lead on theatre, dance and performance. Each of the leads will write a report and contribute a case study of an outstanding performing arts organisation outside of the UK.

Professor Mock, who is the Director of the University’s Doctoral College, will conduct interviews and focus groups with theatres, performance venues, performing arts companies and artists about their approach to sustainability and use of materials.

“We will be working with Theatre Royal Plymouth and TNT Theatre among others,” she added. “And it is through engagement with a wide variety of organisations, producers and practitioners that we can encourage the sharing of best practice and create a dialogue around what sustainability might look like in this context.”

The project, which will run until September 2021, will include four knowledge-sharing events.