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Going green helps English arts organisations save £16.5m – report

The Royal Court (photo: Stephen Cummiskey) and the Lyric Hammersmith (photo: Jim Stephenson) in London are among organisations that participated in the six-year Arts Council/Julie's Bicycle project
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An environmental programme designed to help arts organisations become more sustainable has helped its participants reduce their energy consumption by almost a quarter in the past six years, saving £16.5 million as a result.

Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Organisations have also decreased their carbon emissions by 35% in this time period, according to a report on the scheme by ACE and green arts charity Julie’s Bicycle.

These figures are the culmination of a partnership between Julie’s Bicycle and the Arts Council that began in 2012 with the aim of encouraging arts organisations to become more environmentally sustainable.

As the number of organisations reporting data can vary from year to year, the methodology uses a core sample of 136 organisations, including 47 theatres, which have reported consistent data since 2012, in order to extrapolate figures to represent the entire portfolio.

Julie’s Bicycle said it was unable to provide broken-down figures for the theatres in the National Portfolio.

According to the report, 65% of the organisations are now producing work with an environmental theme, while 70% of the NPOs said the sustainability programme had a positive impact on staff well-being.

Case studies include the Pegasus Theatre in Oxford, which reduced its carbon emissions by 4.3 tonnes in 2018, compared to the previous year, and Glyndebourne Opera House in Lewes, which reuses and recycles props, costumes and sets as much as possible.

Nicholas Serota, chair of Arts Council England, said: “At a time when society is tasked with taking unprecedented action on climate change, the ACE-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, chief executive at Julie’s Bicycle, added: “This report shows how a deceptively simple policy – ACE’s environmental reporting requirements – can prompt big shifts.

“Hundreds of creative organisations are demonstrating how a sustainable cultural ecology can work.”

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