UK performing arts industry commits to working towards greener tours.

Added on 16th Jun 2010

Julie’s Bicycle launched the most definitive study on the greenhouse gas (GHG) emission impacts of international touring on June 17th at Royal Albert Hall - setting the scene for a change in the way bands, orchestras and theatre tour by putting the environment at the heart of the action.

Moving Arts: managing the carbon impacts of our touring: Bands, Orchestras and Theatre’ is a three volume report which measures the impacts of touring and presents practical  solutions to help cut  touring emissions. Taking 9 months to complete and with contributions from over 300 people and organisations, these important reports are the first of their kind.

Alison Tickell, Director Julie Bicycle said today “the assumption that if we focus hard enough on celebrity, regulation or science we will effect behavioural revolution, has proved distinctly shaky. By understanding the science and deploying our creativity in the manner in which we consider best we are much more likely to shape our future in a manner befitting our business."

The research, which focuses on the core elements of touring, looked at 97 tour leg samples in 2009 across the UK and internationally. It estimates that approximately 85,000 tonnes of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) emissions were produced as a result of bands taking their show on the road. Touring theatre produced approximately 13,400 tonnes of CO2e emissions and orchestras produced approximately 8,600 tonnes CO2e emissions.  Unsurprisingly the majority of touring emissions are from overseas tours, with personnel travel and freight accounting for the lion’s share of those figures.

The report recognises that there is concern about the environment within the industry, and whilst high profile names are speaking out, that concern is not yet being reflected in the practices of touring. A number of barriers have been identified  including the perceived financial cost; the availability of low carbon equipment and vehicles; and audience and artist expectation for spectacular shows.

Julie’s Bicycle have identified 11 priority recommendations aimed at those responsible for all aspects of a tour - artists, managers, suppliers, promoters and venues. These involve environmental planning to sit  alongside artistic and financial contributions, and sharing the data on emissions produced from a tour, as well as a range of other actions which reduce environmental impacts.

Julie’s Bicycle will launch today a free online tool which will measure the carbon impacts of tours, as well as re launching the website so that practical resurces are available for all aspects of the music industry.

John Elkington, Founder of SustainAbility, said: "the music industry can play a pivotal and transformative role.  Touring--the international  communications tool par excellence--can be one crucial, living vehicle for propagating the relevant messages and information, and for modelling the appropriate new behaviours."

Watch John Elkington's inspiring keynote speech here.

Click here for a full transcript of the keynote speech.