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New report showcases arts and cultural sector’s role in embracing global challenge of climate change

A report released yesterday, Tuesday 20 November 2018, by Arts Council England and Julie’s Bicycle, celebrates the successes of arts and cultural organisations in acting on national and international climate targets. 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 long-term funding partners, the National Portfolio Organisations.

Over the past six years, theatres, galleries, museums, music venues, festivals and other cultural organisations across the country have taken great strides to improve their environmental practice. From Contact Theatre and The Poetry Society, to Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art and Glyndebourne Opera House, these organisations are emerging as leaders and key collaborators in sustainability. They are also presenting artistic and creative work that raises environmental awareness among their audiences in innovative ways.

Key findings of the report include:

  • Organisations are consistently reducing carbon emissions: CO2 emissions have decreased by 35% across the National Portfolio since the programme began.
  • Organisations are more energy efficient: Direct energy consumption has been reduced by 23% since 2012/13.
  • Organisations are increasingly financially resilient: The ongoing drive to reduce energy consumption has led to financial savings of £16.5 million since the programme began.
  • Organisations are experiencing benefits beyond reductions: Environmental practice and carbon literacy are being linked to improvements in other organisational priorities, including team morale and strategic decision-making.
  • Organisations are contributing to a new creative ecology: The above trends drive demand for – and generate new skills and knowledge that support – clean technologies, sustainable goods and services, greener waste solutions and the emergent circular economy. A quarter of the Portfolio are now on a green energy tariff.

In response to the growing commitment demonstrated by the sector, Arts Council England and Julie’s Bicycle will now shift focus towards accelerating impact and stretching ambition. This includes two new strands of work: The Accelerator Programme, which offers organisations resources and expertise to develop innovative ideas into deliverable projects for greater impact, and a targeted carbon reduction scheme for organisations with large infrastructures, The Spotlight Programme.

Nicholas Serota, Chair, Arts Council England, said: “In a time when society is tasked with taking unprecedented action on climate change, the Arts Council England commissioned 2017/18 Environmental Sustainability report makes for extremely encouraging reading. The report evidences that with leadership, commitment and creativity arts and cultural organisations are delivering truly inspiring results.”

Alison Tickell, CEO, Julie’s Bicycle, said: “This report shows how a deceptively simple policy – Arts Council England’s Environmental reporting requirements – can prompt big shifts. Hundreds of creative organisations are demonstrating how a sustainable cultural ecology can work. Environmental literacy is inspiring deeper connections between climate and social justice, investment and innovation, clean energy and new materials, empathy and biodiversity, the past, present and why we must shape the future.”

Christiana Figueres, Founding Partner, Global Optimism and Former Executive Secretary, UNFCCC 2010-2016, said: “Arts and culture are some of the most effective drivers of transformation. They change our minds, move our hearts and spur us into action. So it’s wonderful to see the collaboration between the Arts Council, Julie’s Bicycle and the creative sector succeeding in bringing together so many different cultural organizations to transform the public conversation on climate change, while tackling their own impact as well. Thank you for all your commitments so far and let’s keep blazing the trail, this work has never been more important.”

Notes to editors

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

Arts Council England is the national development body for arts and culture across England, working to enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to visual 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 2018 and 2022, we will invest £1.45 billion of public money from government and an estimated £860 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.

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

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Nisha Emich – National
Communications Officer

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