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Donut Economics and a Micro Arts Company!

Updated: Jun 19

All the links from this blog can be found here.

We were hugely lucky to have been given a small grant by the Glasgow Life Arts Development Scheme to undertake a short period of research and development to create a new strategic framework for our organisation, informed by economist Kate Raworth’s model of the ‘doughnut economy’.

The 'doughnut economy' suggests an economy which sits between our social and planetary boundaries, which is an "environmentally safe and socially just space where humanity can thrive." We wanted a way that our environmental commitments could sit alongside and in dialogue with our commitments to social justice, to more caring ways of working and creative development - how could we view Produced Moon as an organism with interconnected parts?

As a result of this work we have created a Climate Policy, Strategy and Action Plan which we hope will be a useful, dynamic tool to help us make work and run our organisation.

To start sharing this learning we have written this blog about our process - signposting to the things we found most useful. Over the next 2 months we will also be releasing a podcast episode about the project, the donut and our experience trying to integrate it. We will also be releasing BSL and audio described versions of our key learnings and strategy. 

ALSO! We’re looking for questions about the project you’d like us to answer on the podcast.

We hope you find this useful and/or interesting! (Small sidenote to say that almost at the end of the project we realised Leo had been writing DOnut and Mel had been writing DOUGHnut. I (Leo) Googled it and both are legitimate spellings and as I am writing this blog you'll be getting donuts🙂)


Firstly, what is the donut economy?

Okay - we are by no means experts but we’ve done a fair bit of research and from our point of view IT’S VERY EXCITING.

This image was designed by economist Kate Raworth in 2012 but draws on lots of non-dominant models of economics. It was made in reaction to how 20th and 21st century economics is usually taught in western institutions - idealising the ‘rational economic man’ who loves competition over collaboration, has nature at his feet, “loves luxury and knows the price of everything.” 

Raworth’s work has become a widespread model for talking about other ways of managing the economy. It sticks two fingers up to the idea that our current capitalist economics are somehow innate, unchangeable or ‘natural’. It is also being used as a toolkit for designing businesses - where the focus is not on GROWTH, GROWTH, GROWTH but making sure services/products/arts companies are designed from the ground up to contribute towards a world where everyone’s needs are met and the planet is thriving, recognising the interconnectedness of both these things, and prioritising circular economies.

Raworth frames the model as a kind of recovery for Western economic minds, visualising the idea as a dynamic circle (a concept that’s already deeply embedded in many indigenous communities around the world.)


Our Research

We knew we wanted to find things that were free to use/watch and hopefully feel relevant to us as a tiny Scottish arts organisation who works project to project (as opposed to with a staff team). This was hard and was at points overwhelming. In some ways it was frustrating as we’d love to put bees on the roof of our building and transition our cafe to plant based but we don’t have a building. In other ways we have it easier - we don’t need to justify profit margins of a new product to shareholders. We managed to find some really interesting resources, some explicitly arts focused and some not - we’re sharing the highlights below with the recommendation to take what’s useful and leave what’s not.

Our research was led by a few questions

  • How do you write a good environmental policy?

  • How can we use the idea of the donut economy to influence how we run Produced Moon?

  • What examples can we find of arts organisations embedding climate responsibility into their organisations?

Below are some of the key things we used to develop our Policy, Strategy and Action Plan.

Info on making environmental policies

The resource we used the most was the Julies Bicycle website.

Julie's Bicycle

Julie’s Bicycle is a leading not-for-profit, mobilising the arts and culture to take action on the climate, nature and justice crisis.

Their website has lots of free tools, webinars and case studies - their focus is on the arts in England (they work with Arts Council England). Particularly useful was this 1 hour webinar on how to create effective environmental policies which also featured some case studies by arts organisations. The slide below is from this webinar.

They also have Creative Climate Literacy 101 series of webinars

Creative Carbon Scotland

Creative Carbon Scotland (CCS) has been working with cultural organisations to support them to reduce their environmental impact and collaborate for creative climate action.

From our experience CCS is sort of Scotland’s Answer to Julie’s Bicycle. Personally we found their website a bit less user friendly and accessible than JB - there’s a lot of dense text and we prefer video formats. However, still very useful! There is lots of great data and infographics, also very practical tools on how exactly to measure your energy use, your carbon use through travel, etc. 

This is a good starting point to see their resources

If you’re interested in carbon management and tracking your carbon use they have a useful webinar here:

As they say “this tutorial is targeted towards organisations required to report on their emissions and carbon management plans, but may be of interest more widely.” So, (if you have the choice) it’s worth deciding whether this is a priority for you and your organisation, for us we decided to put our efforts elsewhere which you’ll see in our action plan below.

We also particularly found their guide to Writing a Sustainable Travel Policy helpful as it has very practical suggestions. There’s a table with a column for ‘Policy’ and a column for ‘What would this look like in practice?’

The Donut Economy

Here’s a useful 35 minute intro to the donut economy (English with BSL and captions)

DEAL (Donut Economics Action Lab)

Turning the ideas of Doughnut Economics into action

We used DEAL’s Donut Design for Business Tool.

The tool includes

  • A set of materials to run workshops on Doughnut Economics for businesses. This includes slides, activity canvases, examples, guidance and pre-recorded training webinars for new facilitators.

  • Materials for a longer 5 hour version (core tool) and a shorter 2 hour version (taster tool) of the workshop.

  • Translations of the materials for the Doughnut Design for Business Core tool, available in French, German, Portuguese and Spanish.

It uses videos, slides and interactive Miro boards (which we love). Some things didn’t feel very useful as a micro org and as an arts charity but the framework was clear and it did encourage us to go deep. It made us identify key priorities for us which we then combined with our other research to create our Strategy, Policy and Action Plan. What was very useful was it got us to map out our organisation on the donut - where are we within the donut? Where are we in the red zones? Where are we in the green zones? Going through all the different sections (housing, food, political voice, biodiversity loss, air pollution etc.) helped us see some of the unintended consequences of things we do and poke at all the different parts of what make up a project to think about are there ways for example, that chemical pollution, is part of what we do? It got us looking at our purpose, networks, governance, ownership and finance and thinking of “transformational ideas” in response. It definitely engages a lot of business speak, and we had loads to say about some areas and not a lot about others but it was a useful way of being guided through a way of turning new learning into next steps and practical changes.

The Arts and Climate Responsibility

The Theatre Green Book

We are living in a climate crisis. If theatre is to be part of the most vital conversation humanity faces, then it has to change its practice.

The front of Book One says "The Theatre Green Book is an initiative by theatremakers and sustainability experts to create common standards and a common method for sustainable theatre. Sustainable Productions, the first volume of the Theatre Green Book, focuses on how to make productions more sustainably. This short version of Sustainable Productions is designed for smaller companies and productions. It contains exactly the same guidance as the full version, but in a form designed for small teams working under pressure of time and cost. The longer version gives much more information on the principles behind the Green Book, as well as a toolkit of resources for working sustainably. Sustainable Productions was inspired by the expertise of small scale theatre-makers in creating excellent shows with minimum resource. Sustainable Productions turns that knowledge into a clear path to sustainability."

This is the short version of Book 1

This book contains standards you can commit to when making a show. Either Baseline, Intermediate or Advanced. This is handy if you are looking for specific targets for example: 

For baseline: 50% materials need to have had a previous life, 65% to be reused 

For intermediate: 75% materials need to have had a previous life, 80% to be reused.

The Theatre Green Book also has a very extensive Toolkit, including guidance for designers, clauses for actors contracts and Best Practice for Unavoidable Air Travel and a lot more. :

Sustainable Digital Creativity

Another JB webinar but specifically focussed on the use of digital technologies. We use tech a lot so this was super useful for us, but also it was a really fascinating insight into the carbon impact of the tech which most freelancers are using these days (Zoom, emails, laptops). Would really recommend! Did you know 4G uses x4 more energy than using Wifi?

Relatedly check out

The Green Web Foundation

DOES YOUR WEBSITE RUN ON GREEN ENERGY? The internet is the world's largest coal-powered machine. Check if your website runs on green energy — and help make the internet fossil-free.

Making Theatre in a Time of Climate Crisis

On 29 September 2023, the three National Theatres of the U.K. – Scotland, Wales and England – staged a day-long conversation for and with theatre directors from across the U.K., to mark the National Theatre in London committing to meeting Theatre Green Book ‘baseline’ standards in all its productions from the start of 2024. It was attended, online or in person, by 300 directors and director-adjacent theatre practitioners from across the UK.

This was filmed and you can view the recordings for free. It's useful as it directly speaks to arts organisations. We’d particularly highlight the Key Note Panel as it had Amanda Parker on it (legend) and also Kate Raworth. It’s 30 minutes so doesn’t go deep but lots of good stuff here - equity vs equality, belonging vs inclusion, challenging environmental racism and how can our budgets pay people instead of buying products. Also, please enjoy a direct quote from our notes on this video“@mel can we have a possum on the board, llama acceptable.”

The Power of Art

Digital and interactive media company squidsoup discuss the Power of Art project, a research and development project into off-grid renewable energy solutions for art installations

Super short (5 min) video case study.

Fast Familiar

Fast Familiar realised their website was using way more energy than it needed to. So they built a new one that was super efficient. Here’s a deep dive on what all that means:

Our Climate Policy, Strategy & Action Plan

We’ve created a draft of our plan! It has some info for freelancers we might work with, talks about our approach, and links to a living action document with things on a to do list. The formatting is inspired by Jack Tan’s Easy Read Artist Contract made for FACT which was designed for accessible reading and understanding - we’d recommend you check it out if you’re in need of a contract template!

If it's helpful, you are super welcome to have a look and use it to help you create your own. But we also need to say that we’re not lawyers or HR/policy professionals, we’re figuring it out as we go, and this is made specifically for our organisation in our specific context. So take what’s useful, leave what's not, and drop us an email if you want to chat :)

Thanks for reading this far!

That's cool, thanks so much! If this was helpful please let us know in the comments and if it wasn't and you fancy popping over some feedback that's also useful as we're figuring out how best to share the things we are learning.

Yours in solidarity,

Leo & Mel

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