New Report highlights culture’s response to the climate emergency, showcasing four-year action plan for the sector

Major summit on culture and climate, ‘We Make Tomorrow’, announced for February 26th

A report released today, Tuesday January 14th, by Arts Council England and Julie’s Bicycle celebrates the successes of arts and cultural organisations in acting on national and international climate targets, ahead of a flagship event in February.

The report, Sustaining Great Art and Culture 2018/19, details data, projections and initiatives from the opening year of a four-year programme, underpinned by two new strands of work: Spotlight and Accelerator.

This is the first environmental report to cover the Arts Council’s 2018-22 National Portfolio, which has grown by 20% and includes 184 organisations new to environmental reporting. It reveals that the Portfolio’s total carbon footprint is 114,547 tonnes of CO2e – an amount which would take almost 115,000 trees 100 years to absorb – yet also highlights initiatives organisations are undertaking in response to this challenge: from Bristol’s Colston Hall pledge to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2030 to the London Theatre Consortium developing a roadmap for a 60% reduction in carbon emissions by 2025.

Key findings of the report include:

  • Organisations are making sustainable energy choices – 54% have installed energy efficient lighting and controls and 32% of purchased electricity is on a green tariff contract.
  • A new, creative ecology is emerging – 47% are trailing sustainable production or exhibition methods and 30% are with banks that invest in social and environmental projects.
  • Sustainability is powering creative expression – 50% developed new creative or artistic opportunities as a result of environmental initiatives and 49% have produced, programmed or curated work on environmental themes.
  • Business communication is changing – 70% actively promote virtual communications technology as an alternative to travelling.

Nicholas Serota, Chair, Arts Council England, said: “The success of this programme goes far beyond data collection and carbon reduction. Cultural organisations are embedding climate action into the core of their operations – developing creative solutions, forging new partnerships and sparking valuable conversations on sustainability with their audiences. The actions taken to address climate change over the next decade will be crucial and, as society faces up to this challenge, the imagination, ambition and commitment demonstrated in the Arts Council’s 2018/19 Environmental Report point the way forward.”

Alison Tickell, CEO, Julie’s Bicycle, said: “Culture has a carbon footprint, and data matters. This report shows why. It also highlights, through the range of responses, that there should be no opposition between what art is and how art does: reducing emissions prompts creativity and activism, and vice versa. Sustainable practice is reframing cultural leadership, offering regenerative solutions and giving back more than we take.”

National Portfolio Organisations have been required to put environmental policy and action plans in place, whilst annually monitoring their environmental impacts using a carbon foot-printing tool designed by Julie’s Bicycle, since 2012 – when the Arts Council became the first cultural body in the world to make environmental reporting part of funding agreements.

The inclusion of internationally renowned organisations like The Royal Shakespeare Company, Glyndebourne, The Royal Opera House and Liverpool Philharmonic on the Spotlight programme demonstrates how the cultural sector is taking a leadership position on carbon reduction. Many organisations are also producing work on environmental themes, raising awareness with audiences – showcasing the unique role of the cultural sector in addressing this fundamental issue. 

Read the report here:

The report comes as Julie’s Bicycle, in partnership with Arts Council England, unveil a flagship event for 2020 in the year that COP26 will mark a crucial moment for the climate.

‘We Make Tomorrow’, on Wednesday February 26th at The Royal Geographical Society in London, will bring together high-profile speakers from the creative community and leading climate specialists to ask: ‘What will the world be like in 2030 and what can the creative and cultural community do now to push us closer to the future we want?’.


To book tickets and find out more visit:

For further information contact:

Nisha Emich, Communications Officer, Arts Council England

020 7268 9563 /


Ruby Kvalheim, Marketing & Events Manager, Julie’s Bicycle

020 8746 0400 /