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, income generation and governance.

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

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

Download the full programme prospectus

Submitting your proposals

Submissions are open from 9th July to 31st August (at 5pm) and are limited to organisations that have previously submitted an expression of interest:

Cohort Organisations submission form

Associate Organisations submission form

A total of 56 organisations/consortia submitted an expression of interest to join the Accelerator programme. Find out more about these organisations and their future plans through this interactive map:

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


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 want to:

  • Build on their extensive experience of embedding sustainability into their practice
  • Stretch their ambition and action around sustainability
  • Develop their ideas into deliverable projects that can help shape a sustainable future
  • Make a greater impact by sharing learning, practice and replicable models throughout the sector
  • Work in a collaborative, open, curious and generous way

Associate Organisations will want to:

  • Do more with their sustainable practice but currently lack the expertise and resources to do so
  • Learn from case studies and the practice of other organisations
  • Try new ideas and help Cohort organisations to test new approaches

The Accelerator programme will support Cohort organisations 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

Associate organisations (up to five Associate organisations might be selected) won’t receive formal support from the Accelerator programme but will be “matched” to Cohort organisations working on related or/and complementary ideas/projects/sectors. Associates will be first to benefit from the insights and learning arising from the programme and will potentially help test models and ideas emerging from the programme. These partnerships should also boost the Associates’ expertise and accelerate practice.

Organisations can state their preference on whether they want to become a Cohort or Associate organisation when submitting a proposal (from 9th July to 31st August - limited to organisations that have previously submitted an expression of interest).

Submitting a proposal as an individual organisation or as a consortium:

We appreciate it might be difficult to decide whether to apply as an individual organisation or as a consortium. It depends on the scope of your idea and its development stage. It may be helpful to think about whether you are wanting to try something completely new that needs to be researched and trialed or whether your intention is to roll out the results of an idea you’ve already investigated and tested. If the former, you might want to operate at smaller scale, to make sure you’re in control of the changes that need to happen, communicate with a reduced number of stakeholders, pilot ideas, etc. If your intention is to roll out an already successful model, perhaps it’d be beneficial to consider partnering up with organisations that have similar or complementary experience/knowledge. It will also depend on the specific situation of the organisation and its ability to influence change and at what scale. We encourage you to think about the impact you’re trying to make and the influence you’re able to have in the sector, which is not necessarily defined by the size of an organisation or a collaboration.

We are aware that building the foundations of a new collaboration takes time, so it might be that establishing a new consortium or network and working out a joint action plan becomes the object of your proposal for the Accelerator Programme.

The interactive map above is intended to help you identify potential collaborators for the programme.

What’s the purpose of the development workshops?

In early July, Julie’s Bicycle delivered three workshops across the country. Through these collaborative workshops, we wanted to prompt organisations to explore new ideas, find collaborators, give organisations the chance to inform the programme and support organisations in building their proposals.

I couldn’t attend the workshop, can I still submit a proposal on Stage 3?

If you submitted an expression of interest but couldn’t attend the workshop, your proposal 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 environmental 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.

What will the training entail?

The first strand of this programme will begin with a three-day course 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.

Can I speak to someone at Julie’s Bicycle about shaping my proposal and whether this programme is right for us?  

Hopefully, we will have designed a straightforward questionnaire for organisations to submit their proposals. We have broken it into short, specific questions to simplify the process, but if after trying to answer these you still have doubts on whether this programme fits your organisations’ plans, you can always get in touch with us on [email protected] and we will do our best to help solve your questions.

When will selected organisations be notified?

Selected organisations will be notified towards the end of September and will be given seven days to accept their space in the Accelerator programme. A public announcement of Cohort 1 participants will take place on the 11th October 2018.

If your proposal doesn’t get selected for Cohort 1 you can still apply for Cohort 2 in 2020.

Who is going to be assessing the proposals submitted?

Julie’s Bicycle will review and assess all the proposals submitted.

What kind of projects is the programme looking for?

We’d like to see projects or ideas that seek innovative solutions or approaches to environmental issues and related challenges. The scope for this programme is wide and we will be looking at everything from touring & production models, to artists & audience engagement to design and supply chains to income generation and governance.

We’d like to see projects that aim at pushing the boundaries and disrupting existing models. Some examples of innovation projects (not part of the Accelerator programme) already developed in the sector are:

Classics for a New Climate

The Young Vic Theatre has run two productions under its ‘Classics for a New Climate’ banner, created to push forward thinking about how theatre productions could be approached sustainably, and working with Julie’s Bicycle to provide training and quantify impact. Alongside energy efficiency and transport initiatives, a particular focus was put on the physical materials of the shows, from design to end-of-life. For the first production, After Miss Julie, most of the props were sourced from previous shows, sourced locally from markets, or made from secondhand or recycled material. The costumes were refashioned from vintage clothing or 1940s fabric found in local markets. For the second production, La Musica, 50% of the set (predominantly plywood) was recycled from another Young Vic production. A key focus was on local sourcing, with associated distances and journey times 75% lower than for other Young Vic productions of a similar scale. After the production, 80% of the wood used for the production was recycled and 15% reused, 90% of the steel was recycled and 10% reused.

Shambala Festival

Shambala Festival is now completely free from disposable plastics. They have achieved this using a multi-faceted approach that tackled plastic bottles, cups and serveware; banning the sale of bottled drinks, working with the charity FRANK Water to provide free water refill points, selling stainless steel reusable bottles, selling reusable bamboo coffee cups, only providing reusable plastic cups at the bars with a £1 deposit and making all serveware 100% compostable.


Roundhouse has built a new office block, using contractors that specialise in buildings that are innovative, efficient to construct and operate, and most importantly, sustainable. The offices are made from 71 upcycled shipping containers, halving construction time and using far less energy to build. Roof-top solar panels provide renewable energy for the building, with the aim to generate 38% of the site’s electricity this way. The system is also designed to be thermally efficient (double glazing, sunshades, insulation) and all lighting is provided by LEDs.

Exeter Phoenix

Arts venue Exeter Phoenix installed solar panels on its Studio 74 cinema in late 2015. These have produced around 11,000 kWh of onsite renewable energy. Since then, a further PV system consisting of 54 panels has been added to create a solar-powered auditorium, made possible through the Naturesave Trust and the Postcode Local Trust. LED lighting was installed throughout the building through a loan from Exeter Community Energy (ECoE). Exeter Community Energy is a social enterprise that enables local people to take ownership of renewable and energy saving projects in Exeter. The LED lighting is expected to lower Exeter Phoenix’ environmental impact by 38.12 tonnes of CO2 per year.

Somerset House

As a cultural hub on the Strand, Somerset House aims to embed sustainability across organisation. Shortlisted in 2016 for an Efficient Building Award, a new combined cooling, heating and power plant now produces around 63% of all electricity at Somerset House. The 2016 Utopia Festival incorporated sustainability throughout a year of creative programming looking at imagination and possibilities.

Skipping Rocks Lab

Skipping Rocks Lab develops sustainable packaging products, using natural materials with a low environmental impact. Their first product ‘Ooho!’ is an edible water bottle made from seaweed.

BBC to ban single-use plastics

After the TV series, Blue Planet II highlighted the scale of sea pollution, the BBC is to ban single-use plastics by 2020. By the end of this year, they will ban all plastic cups and cutlery, followed by plastic containers by 2019.

Christopher Raeburn – REMADE Studio

Fashion designer Christopher Raeburn focuses his design around the three principles of REMADE, REDUCED, and RECYCLED. He reworks surplus materials and products into new limited edition designs, and seeks out sustainable materials and green technologies to incorporate recycled fabrics and fibres. His studio, the REMADE Studio, the old Burberry Textile factory in Hackney, hosts a range of workshops and open studio days for the local community as well as more advanced workshops in which attendees are invited to design and create their own pieces.


Albert supports the UK production and broadcast industry’s transition to environmental sustainability. In order to get a much better deal for renewable energy tariffs, Albert decided to create and Energy Basket called The Creative Energy Project. As a number of arts organisations have moved to the same REGO certified energy provider in the form of an energy basket, they have reduced the cost of that energy by effectively bulk buying it from Good Energy.

Roskilde Festival

In 2015, 50,000 Litres of urine were collected on-site at music festival Roskilde. This was processed into fertiliser for malting barley, which in turn was brewed into 60,000 bottles of ‘Pisner’ beer by Danish brewery Norrebro Bryghus. Denmark’s Agriculture and Food Council says that using human waste as a fertiliser on such a scale is new. The urine collected at Roskilde replaced the animal fertilizers or factory-made nutrients that would more commonly be used and captured the nutrients in the urine that would have otherwise been lost.