UK wide theatre programme launches

Added on 21st Jun 2010

Julie’s Bicycle has launched a new UK wide theatre programme to support the theatre industry to improve its environmental sustainability and adapt to a low carbon economy. The programme will start by working to reduce carbon emissions across the industry and brings together both subsidised and commercial sectors to address this shared concern.

More than 60 senior figures from across the theatre industry attended the launch event on June 22nd at the National Theatre.

Nick Starr, Executive Director of the National will chair a Theatre Group made up of senior figures from across the industry whose role is to give the programme an informed steer. Theatre group members announced at the launch are:

Nick Starr (Chair)           Executive Director, National Theatre
Nicholas Allott                Managing Director, Cameron Mackintosh
Gus Christie                   Executive Chairman, Glyndebourne
Paule Constable              Lighting Designer
Vicky Featherstone          Artistic Director, National Theatre of Scotland
Vikki Heywood                Executive Director, Royal Shakespeare Company
Kate Horton                    Executive Director, Royal Court Theatre
Judith Knight                  Director, Artsadmin
John McGrath                 Artistic Director, National Theatre Wales
Andre Ptaszynski            Managing Director, Really Useful Group
Rosemary Squire            Joint Chief Executive, Ambassador Theatre Group
Ben Todd                       Executive Director, Arcola
Steve Tompkins              Director, Haworth Tompkins
Erica Whyman                Chief Executive, Northern Stage

A key principle of the programme is to support collective action focused on the greatest impact. This ensures that the right ideas, once proven, can be taken quickly to scale.  JB is working with clusters of organisations across the country who have common interests perhaps resulting from geographic location or organisation type. These groups are able to act as a source of advice, inspiration and peer support as well as places to work together and develop new ideas and approaches to theatre specific challenges.

By collating and analysing the information gathered by these communities JB will support more accurate benchmarking for the industry and feedback on progress. Ultimately JB hopes to be able to produce an annual report for theatre on GHG emissions and progress towards targets based on the data collected by the industry.

JB is working with existing groupings wherever possible to avoid duplication and wasted resources and is making active links between the various networks and consortia to support the sharing of knowledge and ideas and the rapid adoption of best practice.  Examples of the groups JB is working with include:


A group of 11 cultural organisations including the Sage Gateshead, Live Theatre, Northern Stage, the Theatre Royal looking at measuring and reducing carbon emissions across the group.


A three year programme with the joint strategic body for the Edinburgh Festivals including the Fringe to work with the city’s venues to help them measure, monitor and mitigate the impact of their operations during Festival time.


A group of 12 London producing venues: Almeida; BAC; Bush; Donmar; Greenwich; Hampstead; Lyric Hammersmith; Soho; Royal Court; Theatre Royal Stratford East; Tricycle; Young Vic working together to improve their environmental performance and to explore cross-consortium projects in this area.


Grown out of the mayor’s green theatre plan work JB is now facilitating this active network of more than 100 representatives from London-based venues, touring companies, industry bodies, trade associations, suppliers and funders
Similarly JB is also working closely with a full range of industry bodies and funding bodies and examples of this approach can be seen in the joint commissioning by Arts Council England and British Council of 'Moving Arts: Managing the Carbon Impacts of our Touring'  or work with the TMA to facilitate discussion and training on sustainable touring with its membership.
Linked to this community approach Julie’s Bicycle is able to provide a range of services to individual organisations including free web-based resources, tailored advice and guidance, Industry Green certification and connections to networks and peer support systems.

JB has also re-launched its website to include top tips, practical guides, case studies, theatre specific carbon calculators and information on key issues for the industry. Further content will be added over the coming months including an e-community for online networking and information exchange.

Sian Alexander, Associate Director, Theatre for Julie's Bicycle said, 'In setting up the programme we’ve found a huge appetite to tackle this issue and for the kind of practical support the programme can offer. This is demonstrated by the number and calibre of people and organisations who have already engaged with this work, from the steering group through to the various networks and consortia. It tells you everything you need to know about the importance of this issue for our business.’
Jonathon Porritt, Forum for the Future, speaking at the launch event, said ' A new report out today has 98% of scientists affirming that the science shows that climate change is happening and that it is human induced. So I can say to you today without any doubt:  Everything you are doing is definitely going to be worth it. '

Read Jonathon Porritt's full transcript here.