A More Sustainable Future for Outdoor Arts: Look back on the Without Walls Green Forum

18 October 2023

On 17th October 2023, Without Walls hosted the Green Forum at 101 Outdoor Arts in Newbury, bringing together 32 dedicated festival organisers, producers, and artists to tackle the crucial challenge of sustainability in the outdoor arts sector. With the climate crisis being a critical issue for the sector to address, the forum provided a much-needed space for collaboration, knowledge sharing, and inspiration.

The day kicked off with a conversation between Mark Denbigh, Head of Production & Programme at Norfolk & Norwich Festival and Chris Johnson, Chair and Co-Founder of Vision: 2025, setting the stage by exploring the current state of environmental sustainability in the industry and highlighting the urgency of action. The following panel discussion, facilitated by artist and activist Lorna Rees, delved deeper into the collaborative efforts needed between festivals and artists. Each speaker, representing diverse areas of the sector, brought unique perspectives and experiences to the table. Paula Birtwhistle, Senior Producer and Green Champion at Super Culture emphasised the importance of shared responsibility and transparency, while Mark Denbigh presented practical steps taken by the Norfolk & Norwich Festival. Suba Subranamiam, Artistic Director and Joint‑CEO of Akademi shared Akademi’s commitment to education and community engagement, and Emma Powell, Artistic Director of Air Giants highlighted the power of large-scale installations to spark conversations about environmental issues.

The afternoon saw a series of peer-sharing sessions, offering a glimpse into inspiring sustainability initiatives happening across the country. Hannah Brady, Creative Producer at Squidsoup, Aileen Ging, Sustainable Operations Lead at Wild Rumpus, Becca Gill, Senior Producer – New Work at Trigger, Nathan Jackson, Head of Production at Walk The Plank, and Casper de Vries, Co-Director of Entr’Act, each showcased their projects, highlighting creative reuse strategies, site-specific interventions, and innovative approaches to minimising environmental impact. Every project showcased the ingenuity and commitment within the sector, demonstrating the diverse ways artists and producers are tackling sustainability challenges.

The Without Walls Green Forum proved to be a valuable platform for sharing and discussion, offering a vital space for the outdoor arts sector to come together and collaborate on a more sustainable future. The shared knowledge, innovative solutions, and renewed sense of purpose provide a foundation for positive change. As we move forward, it’s crucial to turn discussions into concrete actions, fostering a collaborative spirit and holding ourselves accountable for progress. 

Key areas for ongoing exploration:

  • Financing and budgeting: How can sustainable practices be integrated into budgets without creating undue financial burdens?
  • Audience engagement: How can we effectively engage audiences in understanding and embracing sustainable practices?
  • Policy and infrastructure: How can we advocate for policies and infrastructure that support sustainable practices in the sector?


‘I feel inspired by the forum and feel more ambitious in terms of what positive changes I can apply in my role and in my organisation.’


‘I feel empowered by the consensus that doing something, even if it is not perfect, is better than not doing anything at all.’


‘I enjoyed fruitful and frank conversations about Environmental Responsibility best practice, coming away feeling inspired.’

Attendee feedback

Image credits:

Green Forum © Danielle-Corbishley