Creative Access masterclass: climate change and the creative industries

Climate change and the creative industries

Posted on March 31, 2023

What are creative organisations doing to respond to the climate crisis and what jobs exist in this sector? Our latest masterclass focused not only on the roles available in this growing space, but our panellists also advised what our audience can do in their own workplaces, communities and careers to push forward climate solutions.  

Our panellists occupied very different roles across the sustainability space. Zoe Constantinou feeds into a more corporate environment as a sustainability manager at ITV in its social purpose team, whilst Creative Access alumni Anthony Shehan Lewis works as a digital campaigner at established campaigning organisation Greenpeace. Destiny Boka Batesa is the co-founder of Choked Up – a grassroots campaign founded by herself and two friends at the age of 16, focusing on the disproportionate impact of air pollution on marginalised communities. Our chair for the evening, former Creative Access intern, Sunita Ramani is a climate justice campaigner and account manager at Greenhouse Communications, a PR and digital communications agency specialising in driving positive environmental change.  

“We’re all fighting for the same cause but we’re speaking different languages” – Destiny 

Our panellists told us that while they’re all fighting the same battle, they sometimes have to speak different professional languages within each space they work in. Zoe ensures that ITV plans and organises strategies which make the business and its productions more sustainable. She explained that a huge part of her job is people management and says this is a skill you’ll need in any social purpose career: “You’ve got to translate your purpose into business and finance terms”. Continuing, Zoe says she recommends putting a positive spin such as explaining how caring about the planet will help the business model: “The business doesn’t know how to respond, so we are the translator saying this is what you need to do.”    

Destiny and her co-founders with their road sign campaign.

Shifting dialogue depending on who’s listening is something Destiny can relate to. Choked Up’s overall goal is for the UK to create an up-to-date version of the Clean Air Act (which was last updated in the 1990s). The campaign aims to tackle disempowerment around climate justice in Black, Brown and working-class communities. Whilst “it’s been really great to speak up for our peers and our families”, Destiny says that she often has to code-switch in political spheres explaining, “we have to find some sort of rhetoric to resonate with an audience who might not ordinarily listen to us”. Despite dealing with imposter syndrome, Destiny says it’s imperative to empathise and use that empathy to make people listen. 

Meanwhile, Anthony says he’s privileged because at Greenpeace he gets to make “outrageous memes” about the climate crisis to engage the public through digital campaigns. He says that online engagement is a vital part of his role – alongside everything from encouraging people to write letters to their MP to making TikToks – it’s all about galvanising people to take action. This is ultimately what wins campaigns and ties into Greenpeace’s mantra of ‘people power’. Anthony stated that Destiny and Choked Up are a great example of this. However, he also added, the movement needs people like Zoe in businesses to lobby the people above them.  

“One thing everyone I’ve met in the sustainability space has in common is the thirst for knowledge” – Zoe 

All our panellists stated that they had no idea that jobs in this sector even existed when they first entered the world of work. Both Anthony and Sunita were involved in climate action before finding their internships at Greenpeace and Greenhouse Communications via Creative Access respectively. Anthony worked as a street fundraiser for Greenpeace in Brighton after graduating without having much interest in politics or climate justice. However, despite not being the best street fundraiser – “I think I lasted about two months” – the experience inspired him to get involved with local grassroots activism back in London. He applied for an internship at Greenpeace, and has stayed for 6 years, working on campaigns ranging from plastic to palm oil and ocean protection, with a new campaign on deep-sea mining dropping next week (keep your eyes peeled!). 

Greenpeace delivers messages on postcards from supporters asking for the establishment of ocean sanctuaries. They are being handed in to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) in Central London. This is part of the Protect the Oceans campaign.

Meanwhile, Sunita was involved in activism at university and knew she wanted to do something creative that also helped to tackle the climate crisis, but just didn’t know what was out there. Sunita found the internship at Greenhouse via Creative Access and, like Anthony, has stayed and progressed there since. Sunita works with businesses, NGOs and activists to get the message out there, and her role sometimes requires lobbying the government or businesses. Last year, she was even able to attend COP27 in Egypt to support a coalition of organisations in food and agriculture. 

Zoe has worked in sustainability for a couple of years but admitted she had a bit of an ‘odd journey’ into the sector. After graduating into the pandemic, she worked for a TV catering company and realised that she loved the TV industry. However, through this role she realised how much food waste there was in the TV and film industry and decided to address it in her career. She pitched to a company on reducing their food waste to improve their image, made contacts in the industry and became the first food waste professional in TV and film. Zoe recommended that the audience learn as much as they can about their niche or passion within the sustainability space to propel their career forward in the ever-changing landscape. She spent her evenings attending free courses to upgrade her knowledge and recommends CPD as a great source! 

“You have strength in numbers, which is the people power element of campaigning” – Anthony 

One thing that really came through in last night’s masterclass was that no one can fight climate change on their own, with each panellist reflecting on how each of the other speakers’ roles contribute to saving the planet. They talked so inspiringly about drawing on your communities, be that in your local area or your colleagues, to find ways of addressing the issues affecting you.  

Our panel ended the session with their recommendations to anyone looking to change things in their day-to-day lives. Destiny – who had been mentored by The Advocacy Academy who helped Choked Up develop their road sign campaign – emphasised the need to draw on your networks when implementing campaigns and ideas. She stated, “Start that conversation. There will always be something you share in common with someone that you can work on.” Zoe echoed this and said, “you have no idea what influence you have on the people around you”, with Anthony adding that “you have strength in numbers, which is the people power element in campaigning”. Sunita left us with a final piece of advice for anyone looking to make a career out of their passion: 

Find what you’re passionate about in this space and what speaks to you. Whether that’s social media, art, or TV. There’s no one climate career, there’s no one way to be in this space. Use your passion as the guiding light.” 

Huge thanks to our panellists for an inspiring evening and sharing their journeys with us and of course thank you to our audience for attending and asking great questions. Watch the session in full here 

Want to learn more about the roles available in the sustainability space that you never knew existed? Read our blog with Creative Access intern Salomé Revault d’Allonnes who is an activist engagement intern at Greenpeace!