Creative Climate Census

Julie’s Bicycle are pleased to release the Creative Climate Census, the longest-running research which captures the attitudes, values and actions of cultural leaders in response to climate change and environmental sustainability and their impact on business planning and decision-making. The results of the first edition were published in May 2014, under the heading of  Sustaining Creativity. In partnership with research consultancy Social Value Lab, the survey was repeated in early 2017 to see what trends have emerged since then.

This research has been supported by Arts Council England and the Knowledge Transfer Network.

The Creative Climate Census attracted 476 responses representing an estimated cumulative business turnover of £1.1 billion covering the breadth of the cultural sector in the UK, including  combined arts, dance, literature, museums and heritage, music, theatre and visual arts. The responses highlight the vital role and impact of Julie’s Bicycle at defining and re-defining the environmental sustainability agenda with the sector.

Key Findings

  • More than four in five organisations (83%) have benefited from their environmental sustainability practice. Benefits range across financial, reputational, and well-being indicators.
  • Senior leadership is now driving action on environmental sustainability (whereas in 2014 initiatives were mainly being driven from the middle of organisations).
  • The three top drivers are:
    • the commitment of staff or senior management;
    • reduced costs; and
    • compliance with regulations or funders.

Audience demand is also a strong driver for organisations that do not receive public or grant subsidy.

  • Climate change and environmental sustainability are creative catalysts, helping to animate new work, partnerships, and practices. Three quarters of responding organisations are collaborating both within and beyond the sector.
  • The sector does not always recognise, nor give itself credit for the incremental progress it is making.
  • The scarcity of green suppliers and services able to match the quality and cost of ‘conventional’ suppliers and/or deliver to scale continues to limit environmental action. This is compounded by the complexity of assessing and comparing the sustainability credentials of different products and services.
  • A lack of capacity and time remains, unsurprisingly, the highest cited challenge.

Recommendations from respondents to support the Creative Climate Movement:

  1. Development of a compelling shared vision and strategy for change for the sector
  2. More opportunities to share knowledge and network, which many consider essential
  3. Development of collective procurement options for greener products and services, such as green energy, to be identified regionally and locally
  4. Training, mentoring, and skills development for individuals working in the industry, alongside support in finding the right partners for strategic and creative projects,
  5. Leadership voices, funders and policymakers to recognise their influence in shaping this work, helping to reinforce – including through funding  – ambitious responses which:
  •    ensure that environmental issues are connected to, and not in conflict with other priorities such as audience development, diversity, and new revenue streams;
  •    advocate for the role of the creative industries within the UK’s low carbon economic growth strategy.

The responses reflect a creative community that recognises environmental sustainability as core to strategic and creative decisions, not just an ‘add-on’. However, this recognition is not yet translating equally across the sector, despite the growing evidence for the associated benefits. Because of the voluntary nature of the survey, respondents are likely skewed towards those organisations that are more actively engaged with environmental sustainability.

Together the findings and key recommendations of the Creative Climate Census give us new insights which, we hope, will inform policy-making and shape and inspire the cultural sector do more, with even more creativity.

Published 2018.


Special thanks to all respondents to the survey for sharing their insights, thoughts, and good practice; to Martin McKee and Rick Rijsdijk at Social Value Lab for working with us on the research; and to Tom Campbell at Knowledge Transfer Network for his tireless insight and support.

Creative Climate Census 2018: 

Executive Summary

Creative Climate Census Synthesis Report (Julie’s Bicycle)

– This document contains the Executive Summary, a synthesis and analysis of findings, as well as the individual sector and topic summaries below.

Summary by Creative Sector: 

Summary for Funders and Sector Development Agencies

Summary: Innovation & Greening the Supply Chain

Summar: A Role for Julie’s Bicycle

Creative Climate Census – Full Report (Social Value Lab)

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