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Design Futures: Carbon Literacy Training from the SBTD

21 June 2023

Design Futures: Carbon Literacy Training from the SBTD


by Alison Neighbour

Carbon Literacy Training is finally up and running, and we were excited to share our progress recently at the Prague Quadrennial, in the main programme of talks, as well as on the UK exhibition space and at the OISTAT conference.

So what is carbon literacy training, and why should you be interested in it? Well, have you ever had a tricky conversation with a director or production manager when you’ve suggested taking a more sustainable (but probably more time-consuming) approach? Have you had to back down and buy it on Amazon or put it all in the skip at the end because you were overwhelmed by the pressures of the job and didn’t have the energy to work out what else to do? Our carbon literacy course is created by designers, for designers – it aims to support designers to develop knowledge, confidence and legitimacy in having these discussions and solving these kinds of problems. We also want directors, choreographers, production managers to train with us, so we are all collaborating in this important step forward for the theatre industry.

We’ve called the course “Design Futures” because it invites creative discussions around what the future of theatre design can be when we take a more environmentally friendly approach, and explores the exciting possibilities of thinking and working in this way. The course looks at what the problem is, both as a big picture, and close to home in our industry and in our local area; and then we explore what we can do to address that problem. We discuss climate justice and doughnut economics, wellbeing, and circular design processes. The course finishes with each participant committing to an action that they will work on to make their practice more sustainable – so you’ll come out of the room with a clear focus and part of a group who’ve committed to making a change. We’ve also put together a set of online resources that you can continue to refer to beyond completing the course.

The course is accredited by The Carbon Literacy Project, a unique initiative that seeks to offer everyone working with everyone a day’s worth of training to the Carbon Literacy Standard. They believe that once Carbon Literate, we have an instinctive understanding of the carbon impacts of our activities, are able to make informed choices, and, driven by urgency, act positively to address climate change.

In Prague, we were surprised to find the UK leading the charge on sustainability and we are looking at how we can bring the framework of the training that we’ve developed into international contexts, supporting each place to develop training specific to their circumstances.

Closer to home, we are looking for regional facilitators! If you live (or regularly work) outside of London, and would like to deliver carbon literacy training to your peers in that area, please get in touch with us -you’ll need to take the course first of all, and then we can support you to deliver it in your own region. If you have a connection to a venue that would be willing to host, then so much the better! In time we’ll also be increasing our bank of London-based trainers.

Carbon Literacy is becoming increasingly important as the Theatre Green Book baseline standard for productions requires all lead creative team members to be carbon literacy certified. This is something theatres and producers are aspiring to across the country, and you’ll get a certificate, a badge to put on your website and email footers, plus membership of a supportive community of fellow theatre makers trying to work more sustainably.

We’ve just run a course at the Albany Theatre in Deptford on 20th June; the next up is at Folkestone Quarterhouse on 31st August. More dates are to be announced. Follow the SBTD Sustainable Design Working Group on Eventbrite to find out more.

To book, follow the Eventbrite links for each course. A limited number of discounted places are available for SBTD members. ALPD are also offering discounts to their members.

We’re always looking for more venues to host training days, and also for companies who may wish to sponsor places for freelance designers – what is a small amount from your production budget means a lot to a freelance designer. Get in touch with if this is of interest.



Alison is a Welsh artist and scenographer who creates holistic designs for performance, installations and public artworks, locally and internationally, often in surprising locations. She is interested in the connections between people, place and time. (

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