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Cornwall Museums Partnership

#RDNetwork: Sustainability in Museums

In January I had the supreme honour of taking over the CMP Twitter account to talk about all things sustainability in the cultural sector. 

Conscious Creatives is one of the UK’s leading sustainability marketing agencies and there are four of us in the team based all over Cornwall. We believe in keeping sustainability simple but really educating organisations of all shapes and sizes to get to know what that word, sustainability, really means.

A selfie by Mark- he is wearing square glasses and a red check shirt, smiling into the camera.


As members of the United Nations Global Compact part of our commitment is to advocate for organisations to use the Sustainable Development Goals as a framework for understanding sustainability. In this framework there are 17 goals and only one of us those is related to climate action. With another really important 16 goals, how can we shout from the rooftops that there has to be a bigger conversation in order to set the best strategy. 

A graphic showing 18 different coloured squares in 3 rows. At the top is the United Nations Logo and 'Sustainable Development GOALS'. Each square contains a different icon e.g. a book or bowl of food relating to the goal it represents.

Having just finished up working with CMP on their strategy we were excited to talk to other organisations in the cultural sector to hear what they thought about sustainability. 


We asked the following questions:

  1. What are the barriers preventing the cultural sector from leading the way in public engagement of sustainability? 
  2. How can the cultural sector adapt its supply chain to meet the demands of a carbon neutral world?
  3. The UN Global Goals are a blueprint for a better future for all. Goal 10 recognises inequality as a barrier. What opportunities do museums have to support a more equal society?
  4. Sustainability is often thought of as just environmental issues. How can the cultural sector create more noise about the importance of social issues that need addressing too? 


On a Friday night in lockdown there was no better place to be than on Twitter and thinking about global challenges and how to tackle them at a local level. We saw some brilliant insights from people on the CMP team and their followers. Here are some of the highlights from each question.

A screenshot of two tweets - one from 'celine elliott' saying 'Q1. I think it's a question of the sector understanding that it's our job to do this - perhaps historically it wasn't political but we know #MuseumsAreNotNeutral & the cultural sector is perfectly placed to connect the dots... (& the people) #RDNetwork'. The second by 'Sophie Meyer' reads 'I think employees feeling empowered to make the changes in a big thing. If management/trustees are openly supportive and transparent about values, it makes employees feel emboldened to act and know it's supported.'

A screenshot of three tweets. 1. Emmie Kell: 'I think there is some excellent practice eg. @McrMuseum and @HornimanMuseum - but still plenty more potential in the sector and too much division between environmental and cultural sectors'. 2. Natalie Chapman: 'A1. I think institutions especially large-scale cultural orgs can too easily be seen as the enemy rather than an ally'. 3. Stephanie Clemens: 'I think overwhelm and focusing on survival. But sustainability IS survival.' A screenshot of a tweet from 'Charlotte Morgan' reading 'A1. I also think there is a disconnect between climate activists and museums; we (museums) can do more to make ourselves visible and available to grassroots work' A screenshot of four tweets. 1. Celine Elliott: 'Q2. No easy (or short) answer to this! However @ace_national @JuliesBicycle and @Happymuseum all have thoughtfully produced resources that can help make a #CarbonNeutral cultural sector a reality #RDNetwork'. 2. Emmie Kell: 'we asked for evidence of companies' alignment with the UN global goals in our recent procurement - we're also reviewing our procurement policy to better support local suppliers'. 3. Cornish Ramblings: 'A2 - transparency? Asking for environmental policies or evidence that they're working in a way which is in keeping with your own values and ethos'. 4. Natalie Chapman: 'Totally agree with this - make sure you're participating with those just as committed to a sustainable future as you are!' A screenshot of four tweets. 1. Celine Elliott: 'Q3. Better access to the cultural sector is a huge opportunity - opening doors to everyone. Orgs like @GalleryPool are breaking the mould with young people & #Culture Card @cornwallmp lead on with @CarefreeV4US is exemplary in this respect (I may be biased)...' 2. Emmie Kell: 'Actively addressing partial and exclusionary versions of history. Encouraging empathy. Building community.' 3. Stephanie Clemens: 'Building community is key here surely. Asking and actually properly listening' 4. Natalie Chapman: 'A3. Museums are perfectly placed to amplify and celebrate diverse voices and perspectives in the sector #RDNetwork'. A screenshot of 6 tweets: 1. Celine Eliott: 'Partnership is key. rly excited to be part of the Happy Museum No Going Back program looking at sustainability...' 2. Emmie Kell: 'diversifying the workforce is fundamental here I think and being more open and connected to the communities they serve'. 3. Natalie Chapman: 'The two issues are not exclusive! For me a great example is the Culture Declares Letters to Earth anthology...' 4. Sophie Meyer: 'Also, eliminate hard to reach audiences. They're not hard to reach, they're hardly reached'. 5. Cornish Ramblings 'oh yes absolutely!'. 6. Sophie Meyer 'understanding that MUSEUMS ARE NOT NEUTRAL. Use your platform to pull up others and take that stand.'


I think that it was evident from the conversations that there is still more to do for the cultural sector as a whole, while also some really exciting stuff happening too. Opportunities to figure out who in their supply chain is supporting a more sustainable future for all, getting more transparency and partnerships to create a combined effort. 

In our world it’s often quite a hard job to get people excited about focusing on purpose over profit but the energy from those involved in the takeover gave me great hope that there is a revolution starting to happen in this sector with CMP and others leading the way! 


– Mark Roberts, CEO Conscious Creatives


A dark photo of chairs at a conference. On the left is the 'Conscious Creatives' logo. On the right it says 'Conscious Creatives is proud to be a member of the UN Global Compact Network.'

We’d like to say a huge thank you to Mark for hosting this wonderful takeover!

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