Leeds Arts University & SAIL Knowledge Exchange Project

Posted Case study, News

At SAIL, we are passionate that for the sector to work proactively towards our zero carbon / zero waste goals, we need everyone working within the creative & cultural sector to be equipped with sustainability knowledge and skills. One essential way to do this is to ensure that the next generation of graduates are ready to join our changing sector, and are sustainability literate, culturally aware, and keen communicators of challenging subjects.

In 22/23, we partnered with Leeds Arts University on a pivotal project, developing a programme of activities as part of our Knowledge Exchange Partnership. Leeds Arts University recognised the value brought by connecting their students with the creative & cultural sector, specifically to explore sustainability projects – providing opportunities for students to test new ideas, stretch their experience to encompass sustainability-related projects, and provide much needed support to creative & cultural organisations.

The carefully designed programme engaged 151 students: including 2 student placements, and 9 paid student opportunities. In addition, 41 students were trained to be carbon literate, and 102 students were engaged through subject-specfic workshops.

Finally, as an outcome piece of the project, in collaboration with Leeds Arts University, SAIL developed ‘From Imagination to Action’: a climate communication best practice guide’. This guide acts as a framing guide for climate communication across all creative mediums, supporting students in future years to embed sustainability throughout their creative expression, storytelling narratives, and marketing & communications.

Creative Live Briefs: Leeds Arts University Students Produced Impactful Climate Communication Content

Six Leeds Arts University Students; Erin Jones Tarling, Maria Kimberley Furtado, Elly Bazigos, Lydia Roe, Samita Anekritmongkol, and Katy Hartley, showed the pivotal role that creativity can play in effectively communicating climate related issues to the general public, through their work on set live briefs as part of the Knowledge Exchange Programme.

In total, 7 Live Briefs were completed, with 4 dedicated to SAIL and 3 to SAIL members, including Harewood House, Buy Nowt LS6, and Little Motel Studio. The feedback from the SAIL members were incredibly positive, with all organisations stating they would work with the students again.

Samita Anekritmongkol (MA Graphic Design) artwork in response to SAIL's brief: To create a brand design for the 'SAIL Pale Ale'

Lydia Roe (MA Illustration with Graphic Novel), artwork in response to Harewood House brief: To create a one-page illustration, telling the story and mapping the journey from field to fork of Harewood House walled garden

SAIL Student Placements Drive Social Media Engagement

SAIL facilitated two student placements working with the SAIL team throughout the programme. Guy Parsons, a final year BA Honours Illustration student, and Ellen Worrell, a BA Honours Graphic Design graduate brought fresh perspectives and skills to our social media communication and engagement.

During Guy’s internship, SAIL experienced a 700% increase in our instagram engagement which was made possible through Guy’s creative experimentation with several social media techniques, whilst strategically recording their impact on audience interaction. Soon afterwards, Ellen developed a evidence-based communication strategy for SAIL’s social media channel, website, and general external relations, which have since been implemented and has strengthened our capacity to connect with our audience effectively.

Training and Educating the Future Workforce

At the beginning of 2023, SAIL delivered 5 Sustainability Workshops, engaging 102 students overall. These workshops were carefully curated for the interests of the participants, featuring discipline specific content and welcoming two industry guest speakers to present their lived experiences integrating sustainability within their work, or creative practice.

Additionally, throughout the programme, 4 carbon literacy sessions were delivered where 41 students were trained. All received a Carbon Literacy Certification, which is independently accredited by The Carbon Literacy Project, providing students with an additional qualification, increasing their employability in a sector that is demanding environmental sustainability awareness in their employees.

To find out more about our Carbon Literacy Training, please click the link below.

What's Next?

Reflecting on the Knowledge Exchange programme, one significant lesson learned was the importance of effective climate communication and how creatives can use their skills to teach, inspire, and motivate people to act on climate related issues.

Through discussions with the team at Leeds Arts University, this learning led SAIL to create the ‘Imagination to Action Guide’, a practical handbook on creative climate communication. This guide is to be published in our next blog post, and will be available to the sector to support creatives, storytellers, and marketing & communication professionals in framing their climate messaging in the most impactful and engaging form as possible.

To read the full SAIL X LAU Knowledge Exchange Impact Report, please click the link below.