Julie’s Bicycle and Arts Council England release 19-20 annual report

Julie’s Bicycle and Arts Council England have released the Culture, Climate and Environmental Responsibility Annual Report, providing data, projections and initiatives from the 2019/20 year. It highlights the successes that Arts Council-funded arts and cultural organisations have achieved in acting on the climate and ecological crisis.

2021 is a vital year for climate action, with the upcoming United Nations COP26 climate talks taking place in Glasgow this November. It also marks nearly a decade since Julie’s Bicycle began working in partnership with Arts Council on their Environmental Programme, to inspire environmental action across the sector, with a focus on supporting and consulting with Arts Council’s National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs), who receive long-term funding and are demonstrating important CO2 emissions reductions and innovative approaches to sustainable creative practice.

Julie’s Bicycle and Arts Council England have worked in partnership since 2012 to inspire environmental action across the arts and culture sector, with a focus on long-term funding partners, the National Portfolio Organisations.

Alison Tickell, CEO, Julie’s Bicycle, said: “Arts Council England’s Environmental Programme has been building up to this moment: eight years of foundational work that is empowering arts and culture to take action by leading, collaborating, communicating and creating. Decarbonisation at scale and speed, adaptation, restoring what has been lost and centring on justice and fairness, for people and nature, are at the heart of it all. COP26 is almost upon us, and the recent IPCC Report is unequivocal: this is the red alert for humanity. If culture has a vocation, this is it.”

Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair, Arts Council England, commented: “Sustaining the environment is an urgent priority for us all. As we emerge from the pandemic, Arts Council England has adopted Environmental Responsibility as one of the principles that will guide our investment of funds. We remain committed to giving the necessary support to the creative and cultural sector so that it can be at the forefront of leading change on these issues. Although the data presented in this report reflects a time pre-pandemic, it still shows that the organisations we fund are leading by example, making marked changes to the way they work and reducing their environmental impact as a result. We will continue to strive for further progress.”

Key findings of the report:

  • The Spotlight group (which includes organisations like the National Theatre, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums and the Royal Opera House) is the first cluster of major cultural organisations to set decarbonisation targets, in order to reach net zero carbon and has reduced its energy use emissions by 18% in 2019/20.
  • Comparing the 346 buildings, for which consistent data was provided in 2018-19 and 2019-20, total energy use emissions (electricity and gas combined) decreased by 12%.
  • A quarter of cultural organisations are now procuring green energy and investment in green tech is up 4%; 17% of organisations now benefit from renewable technologies such as solar photovoltaic panels and electric vehicles (or EV charging points).
  • 70% of Arts Council NPOs are on the way to eliminating single-use plastic and business vehicle ownership is increasingly discouraged in favour of car club schemes and low-emission taxi services (29%, up by 8% compared to 2018-19).
  • 99% of Arts Council NPOs consider it important that Arts Council England continues to help NPOs deliver a more environmentally sustainable future.
  • Being environmentally responsible brings significant value to organisations, through financial savings, boosting staff morale and reputational benefits; many organisations are also factoring climate change into their creative programming, engaging their audiences directly with these issues.

Header image: Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner by Jasmine Lee-Jones, Production Photos for the Royal Court Theatre (2021) – credit: Myah Jeffers