Going green is profitable, say 60% of theatre and dance groups

Dancers performing at the launch of the survey by Julie's Bicycle. Photo: James Allen
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Nearly 60% of theatre and dance organisations claim to have benefited financially from being more environmentally friendly, according to a new survey.

About 60 theatre groups and 10 dance organisations reported either “some” or “substantial” financial savings after taking action to operate in a more sustainable way.

The report, by green arts company Julie’s Bicycle and BOP Consulting, also found that organisations working to reduce their carbon emissions said this had benefited their company’s reputation. More than a third of theatre groups and nearly 20% of dance organisations reported a boost to their public profile.

While 80% of theatre groups said environmental sustainability was extremely or very relevant to their business and 67% said they had a policy on this, nearly 40% said it was a challenge to embed this into day-to-day operations.

Similarly, more than 60% of dance groups said that being environmentally friendly was relevant to their company, 80% had an updated green policy, but 43% found it was a challenge to implant green policies in their daily work.

Alison Tickell, chief executive of Julie’s Bicycle, said the survey had identified theatres as “leaders” in this area. She added: “The dance community, while not so active, is absolutely recognising the issues and opportunities sustainability presents.”

However, Tickell warned that there was still progress to be made: “We need to capture the imagination of boards and chief executives by making the case for environmental sustainability stronger; telling the stories, motivating and championing new ideas, and cementing the compelling business case.”

The report surveyed nearly 340 organisations, with almost a third of respondents coming from the theatre
sector and 6% from dance.

Across all groups taking part – which also included combined arts, museums, galleries and commercial music companies – those organisations based in a building were found to be more likely to take environmental action.