Arts Council England triggered a profound change in the cultural sector by introducing environmental requirements to its funding agreements.

This crucial policy intervention is supported by an Environmental Programme delivered by Julie's Bicycle that 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. The ACE Environmental Programme has a strong focus on leadership, giving the arts agency to act on sustainability and climate change.

We are calling upon a new form of leadership at both operational and strategic level, to stretch the ambition of the sector to lead the journey towards a more sustainable future.

"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

So far, the programme has achieved

1.     Literacy in the portfolio has increased: the number organisations able to report robust data has increased by 33% since the beginning of the programme (from 469 organisations to 623), which shows an increase in their understanding of their environmental impacts and a growing confidence in measuring and managing them.

2.     Emissions continue to decrease with 17% decline in energy use emissions in the last year. From 2012/13, we have tracked a 5% average annual reduction, well within national and international emissions reduction targets.

3.     The cultural sector is improving energy efficiency and prioritising action with a 9% reduction in energy use in the last year and with almost a fifth of all reporting organisations now on clean energy or green tariffs. Onsite generation of renewable energy has tripled since 2015/16, demonstrating the sector’s investment in clean energy and sustainable technology.

4.     The sector is more resilient: the reporting portfolio has managed to save £11 million since the beginning of the programme.

5.     The environmental programme has catalysed change in the sector provoking creative and operational responses.                                                             

·       84% of NPOs use their environmental policy for strategic business-planning

·       46% found their environmental policy useful for establishing new collaborations

·       73% (an 8% increase from last year) of NPOs are already producing or planning to produce work exploring environmental themes

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Our programme includes

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 your through the practicalities of greening your organisation and artistic work.

Explore our resources

National Portfolio Organisations

Find out more about environmental reporting requirements for National Portfolio Organisations.

Reporting and FAQs for 2015-18 

Reporting and FAQs for 2018-22