Skip to main content
European Commission logo print header

Creative Practices for Transformational Futures

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - CreaTures (Creative Practices for Transformational Futures)

Okres sprawozdawczy: 2021-01-01 do 2022-12-31

Creative practices have already demonstrated transformational potential but are fragmented, badly understood, and underused in the task of changing cultures towards sustainability. The CreaTures project (Creative Practices for Transformational Futures) seeks to demonstrate the power of creative practices to move the world towards socio-ecological sustainability. The project brings together diverse creative practitioners that share the intention to support sustainable societal transformation, through direct engagement, reflection and co-creation. The project aims to examine common processes towards sustainability and create insights that allow creative practitioners to focus their efforts more effectively and policy makers to see the merits of employing these techniques.The project has two main objectives:
1) To promote action for socially and ecologically sustainable futures across Europe and the world through creative practices and, with the development of a framework that will demonstrate effective transformational paths towards sustainability, social cohesion and peaceful co-existence in a time of rapid change.
2) To increase the visibility of existing transformational creative practices and strengthen their reach and effectiveness. This is done by creating opportunities for experimentation and evaluation in a systematic way.
The CreaTures project set out to explore and understand how creative practice can be a source of change. CreaTures has explored and promoted innovative approaches to societal challenges through a range of different forms of creative engagements. These approaches to eco-social transformation were studied through a systemic review (WP2 – ‘Observatory’), experimenting (WP3 –Laboratory), creating evaluation tools, policy frameworks and an online framework (WP 4 – evaluation) and promoting and ensuring uptake (WP5 – engagement).

The CreaTures Framework, is one of the main outcomes of the project. It sets out how creative practices can stimulate action towards socially and ecologically sustainable futures. Four curated paths through the Framework – Research, Policy Making, Creative Practice and Funding – each offer resources charting the key concepts and terms, processes, and tools for evaluation, for various types of creative practices. The Framework is designed as a website that presents these insights in an approachable and accessible format for a range of audiences. The Framework
• helps the user to engage with and understand, the diverse concepts, approaches, motivations and challenges that our research has identified.
• provides insights about our key learning about the transformational strategies used by creative practitioners.
• contains video messages and stories of practitioners who have engaged in eco-social transformation; their approaches, motivations, goals and hopes for the future.
• offers a detail-rich catalogue of 20 experimental artistic productions conducted as part of the project that address sustainability concerns in distinct ways as educational cases.
• compiles various creative and research materials that invite readers to dive into the theoretical background to these approaches, offering a means to reflect on one’s own – and others’ – creative practice.
• provides reflections and ideas as to what to be considered when evaluating the role of creative practice, in stimulating action

The Laboratory developed descriptions of 20 experimental productions (ExPs) with different thematic focus and scope of engagement. All ExPs addressed large-scale societal problems related to the climate emergency by taking a series of interconnected, localize-able actions. The ExPs were accompanied by a range of diverse engagement activities. The ExPs and associated activities were documented by project researchers together with the ExPs artists themselves and disseminated widely.

CreaTures engagement events, online and in person, reached more that 300 000 people. Invited by the City of Seville, the CreaTures Festival in June 2022 was a considerable effort to assemble our learning, and a significant opportunity for the CreaTures creative practitioners, researchers, other experts and public to come together, share, get inspired, and network. The success of the in-person event has been extended through careful documentation: videos of festival events, and festival exhibition engagements can be watched online.
As the global ecological and climate crisis grows, it becomes more and more clear that the ‘usual’ ways of dealing with change are not going to be enough. This is fundamentally a crisis of political and social imagination – a limited ability to imagine, and therefore enact, better futures beyond current, destructive modes of being. But this raises other questions: What do societies need to be able to imagine better futures in a way that actually matters for change?

The CreaTures Framework's intended impact is that it will help all those with an interest in the role of creative practice in bringing about eco-socially sustainable futures to
• focus efforts more confidently and effectively.
• communicate the transformative role of creative practices more convincingly
• demonstrate how impact can be evaluated.
We foresee that impact will grow in the following months and years.

During the project the interest has grown, and more broadly, the value of creativity, creative practices in imagining, reflecting, engaging has become more prominent. For example, in the European Commission, the new European Bauhaus initiative promotes the enriching power of art and culture along with sustainability and inclusion, which as is also connected to CreaTures engagements.

In the study we witnessed that political decision makers are poorly equipped to recognise and support the role of art and culture in the wellbeing of citizens and of the creative practitioners themselves. In this area we have still a long road ahead. The policy recommendations, based on conversations with policy makers and funders and a literature review on impact, offer support for evaluating the role of creative practice in stimulating action. For example, they remind that evaluation is creative and that unexpected outcomes are valuable. Adopting these recommendations would mean that the value of creative practices for eco-social change is better recognised and appreciated.

In line with the insights on unexpected and valuable outcomes, we conclude how the co-creative and exploratory nature of the CreaTures project’s goals, actions and results underline the need to address specific attention to the management, risk setting and implementation of this kind of a project. The coping with unexpectedness and securing space to creative explorations and solutions should not be taken for granted. The CreaTures project is an example where the exploration of the unexpected is appreciated in contrast to the more traditional EU-project frames. Not only did it achieve a remarkable suite of learning, tools, outputs and outcomes, it also created a nurturing environment where collaboration and co-production was undertaken with care, shared values and excitement. In this sense we see the The CreaTures project as an agent of change.

We believe that our research centering creative practices in the wider eco-social transformation discourse, and captured in the evidence-based Framework, offers a strategic research agenda for key stakeholders.
Cover of the Co-laboratory book
CreaTures collection of Experimental Productions on the website gallery
The CreaTures framework entry points
CreaTures festival photos
CreaTures project logo
The nine dimensions tool