Since 2012, Arts Council England has partnered with Julie’s Bicycle to deliver a flagship Environmental Programme, inspiring new ideas and sustainable practice across the country. Collectively, National Portfolio Organisations have reduced energy consumption by 22% and made savings of £11 million.

'Arts Council England and Julie’s Bicycle offer one powerful blueprint to inspire the leadership we need.'

- United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

The Accelerator Programme is a new strand of this work, recruiting two cohorts of up to ten organisations or consortia to work with Julie’s Bicycle to advance their sustainable practice and share insights with their peers and the wider sector. The programme will be looking at everything from touring models and audience engagement to design and supply chains to income generation and governance

  • Cohort 1: October 2018 until March 2020
  • Cohort 2: April 2020 until Oct 2021

Other organisations will join the programme as Associates to work with the Cohort Organisations to test emerging models.

Download the full programme prospectus

Find more information about the Accelerator Programme in the FAQs section below


I’d like to learn more about ACE’s Environmental Programme’s success

Julie’s Bicycle has been working in partnership with Arts Council England since 2012 to inspire environmental action across the arts and culture sector, with a focus on National Portfolio Organisations. The Sustaining Great Art report demonstrates the success of the programme in supporting the sector to act on national and international climate targets.

The key findings from the 2016/17 report demonstrate a compelling narrative of a sector committed to engaging with and stepping up to the climate challenge:

  • Overall emissions continue to decrease with 17% decrease in energy use emissions between 2015/16 and 2016/17.
  • The sector is improving energy efficiency with 9% reduction in energy use between 2015/16 and 2016/17.It’s also prioritising action, with 19% of organisations on clean energy or green tariffs.
  • The portfolio has managed to save £11 million since 2012/13 (compared to not taking action). To Arts Council England this means an impressive return on investment of 8.6:1. Furthermore, 82% of NPOs find their environmental policy useful to support funding applications, which speaks of further financial benefits.
  • Literacy (understanding of environmental issues) in the National Portfolio has increased by 33%: The number of organisations able to report robust data has increased by 33% since 2012/13 which shows an increase in understanding of environmental impacts and a growing confidence in measuring and managing them.

Download the latest Annual Report

How do I best structure my submission of interest?

We are as interested to learn about your track record in implementing sustainable practice as we are in hearing about your ambitions and your plans to take your work on this field to the next stage. At this stage, we only require a summary (600 words max) so we suggest that you evenly distribute the content between past activity and future ambitions. You’ll be prompted to choose your desired location to attend one of the workshops. But please note places at the workshop are not automatic and this will be the first stage of the selection process. In the interests of a balanced and diverse programme, we will look at artform, geographic area, organisation type and proposed area of activity to ensure good representation.

Cohort organisations and Associate organisations

The Accelerator Programme will be made up of two Cohorts of up to ten organisations or consortia. Cohort organisations will be supported through:
  • A three-day training programme adapted from Julie’s Bicycle’s Creative Climate Leadership course
  • Two days of tailored mentoring from a specialist mentor to help develop ambition, practice and thinking
  • Two days personalised support from Julie’s Bicycle to help organisations achieve their plan
  • Knowledge Exchange Support including an Exchange Day themed around relevant ideas and projects
Other organisations may also join the programme as Associates (up to five Associate organisations might be recruited) to test models and ideas emerging from the programme. Associates will be matched with Cohort projects to help test and share models. These partnerships will also boost the Associates’ expertise and accelerate practice.
You can state your preference on whether your organisation is interested in becoming a Cohort or Associate organisation through your submission of interest (28th May - 8th June) or when you submit your proposal (applications open from 9th July to 31st August).

What’s the purpose of the workshops?

Through these collaborative workshops we want to prompt organisations to explore new ideas, find collaborators and have the chance to inform the programme as well as the ideas of other organisations attending.

We also want the workshops to be valuable for all organisations attending, regardless of whether they go ahead with a proposal.

Can I still submit a proposal on Stage 3 if I can’t attend the workshop?

We strongly encourage participation in the workshops as we think these will be highly informative and a good opportunity to understand the running themes in the sector, build networks and find collaborations. However, if you can’t attend the workshop, your application will still be welcome.

What criteria can help my organisation chose a project or idea and how it might connect to the bigger picture?

Accelerator will help organisations find encouragement, focus, time and support to build on and develop existing or new ideas around sustainability. These ideas will ideally connect their practice with at least one of the following international conceptual frameworks:

  1. Nine Planetary Boundaries: The framework was first introduced in 2009, when a group of 28 internationally renowned scientists identified and quantified the first set of nine planetary boundaries within which humanity can continue to develop and thrive for generations to come. More information here.
  2. Sustainable Development Goals: On September 25th 2015, countries adopted a set of goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years.
  3. Circular Economy: In a circular economy, economic activity builds and rebuilds overall system health. The concept recognises the importance of the economy needing to work effectively at all scales – for large and small businesses, for organisations and individuals, globally and locally. More information here.
  4. Doughnut Economics: Humanity’s 21st century challenge is to meet the needs of all within the means of the planet. The Doughnut of social and planetary boundaries is a playfully serious approach to framing that challenge, and it acts as a compass for human progress this century. More information here.

Areas of focus for projects could include:

Buildings and infrastructure:

  • Sustainable technologies
  • Management & efficiency
  • Urban regeneration & place making

Design for sustainability:

  • Circularity models
  • Resource management & supply chains
  • Material innovation

Artistic Practice:

  • Programming & commissioning
  • Touring & production models
  • Audience engagement

Cross-sector collaborations:

  • Commercial business & partnerships
  • Education sector
  • Policy changing

Business development:

  • Investment & sponsorship
  • Funding models & diversifying income
  • Governance & management

What will the training entail?

The first strand of this programme will begin with a three-day Creative Climate Leadership retreat taking place from the 31st October to the 2nd November 2018 (location to be confirmed).

Adapted from Julie’s Bicycle’s highly-rated one-week intensive Creative Climate Leadership programme, this three-day short course will combine the development of skills with existing experience in environmental leadership focused on the Cohort organisations’ role as conveners and peer support champions.

More about the Expert Support

Julie’s Bicycle will work with each Cohort organisation to find a mentor whose experience and expertise can enable them to achieve their ambitions and projects. Julie’s Bicycle will draw on their extensive network of expert associates and peers in the environmental sector to match people to skilled mentors who, aside from mentoring, will bring added value in new networks and opportunities.