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Arts and culture sector acting on climate change

Public Realm


November 24, 2016

Arts and culture engagement with environmental sustainability is the highest it has ever been, according to a report released today by Julie’s Bicycle, a leading charity that supports the creative community to act on climate change and environmental sustainability.


Julie’s Bicycle has been working in partnership with Arts Council England since 2012 to inspire environmental action across the arts and culture sector, with a focus on National Portfolio Organisations. This report demonstrates the success of the programme in supporting the sector to act on national and international climate targets.


Key report findings include:


  • The sector continues to reduce its environmental impacts; notably greenhouse gas emissions from energy use decreased by 17% between 2014/15 and 2015/16 despite a growth in cultural activity.
  • Environmental action is making the sector more resilient,avoiding £5.1 million in energy costs during 2015/16 (compared to taking no action), and improving staff wellbeing in 71% of reporting organisations.
  • The sector is taking action in multiple ways, engaging audiences and other stakeholders in the process. 37% of organisations have produced, programmed or curated work on environmental themes, with a further 28% planning to do so or exploring possibilities.
  • People are increasingly working together to address environmental issues, with 45% of reporting organisations having found their environmental action plans useful for developing new partnerships.
  • The sector’s work is having an international impact, with more knowledge-sharing taking place between cultural organisations internationally, and other funding bodies considering policy interventions inspired by Arts Council England.


“As the first national council in the world to introduce environmental reporting for its regularly funded organisations, the Arts Council has been a major driver for unlocking the sector’s contribution to environmental responsibility. This report demonstrates the response taking place, and the sector’s potential to engage the public, design solutions and initiate a shift in cultural values to support a more sustainable future.”Alison Tickell, CEO, Julie’s Bicycle


“We see sustainability as being intrinsic to resilience. It’s not only environmentally responsible but it makes economic sense. Our collaboration with Julie’s Bicycle is introducing us all to new ways of working. Our funding supports not only the mechanics of compliance – the environmental reporting tools, help and support but also thought-leadership. We all believe that art and culture can make the world a better place; this programme shows how our actions can make a real difference.”Darren Henley, Chief Executive, Arts Council England


“This important partnership is a beacon of international best practice and shows how our arts organisations are leading the way in building a more environmentally responsible industry. The report demonstrates that a sustainable sector can also have a positive financial impact and improve staff wellbeing.”Matt Hancock, Minister of State for Digital and Culture


The report is available to download online from Julie’s Bicycle and Arts Council England from 24th November.






For more information please contact:


Courtney McLaughlin, Marketing & Communications Consultant, Julie’s Bicycle


020 8746 0400


Alison Millar, Communications Officer, Arts Council England


0207 268 9648


Notes to Editors


The report has been endorsed by leading professionals across the creative sector:


“The work completed already by Julie’s Bicycle and Arts Council England demonstrates that UK arts and culture are indispensable to addressing our wider social challenges, with a highly skilled workforce from creatives to technicians bringing their creativity and skills to create a real, meaningful difference economically and environmentally. The groundbreaking cross-sector work that it highlights is another example of where the UK’s creative industries are world-leading.”John Kampfner, Chief Executive, Creative Industries Federation

“At the Young Vic we’ve been enthusiastically exploring what environmental sustainability means to us practically, creatively and in relation to our staff and audiences with the support of this programme. Our series of ‘sustainable production’ pilot projects, ‘Classics for a new climate’, have brought the whole organisation together to consider our joint responsibilities, and how we can most creatively respond while maintaining the quality and rigour of our work. It is having a profound impact on everything and everyone: artists, stakeholders and, critically, my team whose well-being is mutually reinforced by improved environmental sustainability. Simultaneously, What Next?, the national movement bringing together the arts and cultural sector, of which the Young Vic hosts a chapter, is leading an enquiry into the civic role of the arts. As part of this we are exploring synergies between the role of culture in politics, place-making, community building, the climate change movement and more.”David Lan, Artistic Director, Young Vic Theatre

“Julie’s Bicycle has been a game-changing partner and critical friend to us at the Royal Court, and particularly to the group of 14 theatres that make up the London Theatre Consortium. Julie’s Bicycle’s transformative faith, expertise and support made profoundly impactful change happen over a 5-year relationship. At the Royal Court we strive to produce theatre that shifts the way people think – sometimes this has dealt with climate science head on, sometimes the world in all its current crises is very present in the plays our writers write. Julie’s Bicycle has always been alert to the stories we tell, as well as the operational mechanics of sustainability – their profound belief is that creativity unlocks the fastest social change…This is why artists and the sector have come to consider Julie’s Bicycle an indispensable ally and agent of change, and are empowered by their deep, rigorous programme with Arts Council England which supports, pushes and underpins all of our practice.” Lucy Davies, Executive Producer, Royal Court Theatre & Chair of London Theatre Consortium



About Julie’s Bicycle

Julie’s Bicycle’s vision is a creative community powering action on climate change. Founded in 2007, we work with more than 2,000 arts and cultural organisations across the UK and internationally to embed environmental sustainability into their operations, creative work and business practice. We provide tools and resources that enable practical actions for ambitious transformation.  For more information please visit www.juliesbicycle.com


About Arts Council England

Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2015 and 2018, we plan to invest £1.1 billion of public money from government and an estimated £700 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country. www.artscouncil.org.uk


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