The Arts Council England Programme

Julie’s Bicycle has been working in partnership with Arts Council England to inspire environmental action across the arts and cultural sector for over a decade.

This collaboration led to a pioneering policy intervention in 2012, when the Arts Council became the first cultural body to make environmental reporting and policy part of funding agreements for National Portfolio organisations. Collectively, these organisations have reduced energy consumption by 23% and made savings of £16.5 million.

This crucial policy intervention is supported by an Environmental Programme devised and delivered by Julie’s Bicycle which is transforming the vision of the arts.

Our partnership with Arts Council England is firmly built on the shared vision of the transformative role of culture and creativity. Julie’s Bicycle supports that vision through an ambitious Environmental Programme with a strong focus on leadership, giving the arts and cultural sector agency to act on sustainability and climate change.

“Policy interventions can enable and accelerate positive change on a large scale. Arts Council England’s decision to introduce environmental requirements to its funding agreements has translated five years later into significant environmental, financial, organisational and creative benefits, jump-starting a more sustainable cultural economy.”

— Francis Runacres, Director of Enterprise and Innovation, Arts Council England

The Arts Council Environmental Programme

The Arts Council’s Environmental Programme is designed to support and stretch the ambition of their arts and cultural portfolio.

The new Colour Green Lab is an environmental knowledge and skills programme that supports cultural practitioners and artists of colour to lead environmental action. The first four-part digital course, aimed to advance sustainable practice and co-create expertise at the intersection of culture and climate justice, ran from January to March 2021.

Environmental reporting

The Arts Council requires all NPOs to submit their environmental impact data and an environmental policy and action plan as part of their funding agreements. Find below all relevant links and resources to fulfil these requirements:

Download reporting requirements guidance

Environmental policy and action plan guidelines

IG tools


The Environmental Programme Activity

In order to support organisations further, Julie’s Bicycle delivers an ambitious and inspirational programme of activities. This programme is aimed at building literacy, skills and capacity in the sector so organisations feel confident to act on climate change and reduce their environmental impacts. Our programme includes:

For the 2018-22 phase we have also designed two new targeted programmes to drive innovation and further reductions in the sector. These new strands of work, the Accelerator programme and the Spotlight programme will aim at supporting further the environmental work of cultural organisations and drawing together expertise and innovation pioneered by the sector.

Accelerator Programme

Spotlight Programme

Environmental programme’s achievements to date:

  • 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.

Download our 18/19 report

Knowledge Sharing and Community Building

We are committed to building capacity within the sector and do so by sharing expertise with arts and culture professionals. We facilitate and host a range of national events, networks, peer exchanges to share the vast range of experience now hot-housed within the sector. We have built a strong creative climate community with skills to scale-up workable solutions and approaches to sustainability.

Networks represent a powerful mechanism to share good practice, provide peer support and foster local leadership. We currently work with networks such as Manchester Arts Sustainability Team, Newcastle Gateshead Cultural Venues, London Theatre Consortium and Powerful Thinking. We provide opportunities for other cultural networks, associations and representative agencies to connect and learn about collaborative approaches to tackling sustainability and enabling change at scale.

Stories of Change

We’ve collected inspiring stories and case studies documenting ideas and thought-provoking action that creative organisations have pioneered to make the way they present, produce, and tour art more environmentally sustainable. These case studies celebrate ‘best practice’ and establish ‘new norms’ of practice in the steps towards a sustainable sector.

Explore our case studies


We have developed a range of resources to support your journey to sustainability. Our practical guides and factsheets will take you through the practicalities of greening your organisation and artistic work.

Explore our resources


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