Without Walls recognises its responsibility in reducing the negative environmental impacts of its activities and is committed to understanding, measuring, improving and communicating its environmental performance.
Identifying and understanding the impact of Without Walls’ business activity is the first step in planning action to reduce any negative environmental outcomes as far as practicable.
Without Walls’ is one of several companies housed in an ethical/ cultural cooperative workspace, the Work for Change Co-operative building in Hulme, Manchester. Environmental design was a priority in the original development of the building which benefits from good insulation, efficient heating provided by a biomass boiler, low-E glass, grass roofs, ethically sourced materials and recycling points. A range of environmental targets for the building are constantly monitored, including CO2 emissions, energy use and waste.
Without Walls will continue to embrace good practices in energy-saving (switching off hardware at the end of each working day, maintaining equipment etc) and the management and reduction of waste materials (recycling procedures, internal printing protocols to reduce paper and ink consumption, and the prioritisation of digital over paper-based working wherever possible etc), embedding this working ethos in its induction procedures for new staff.
In its financial and procurement procedures Without Walls will favour sustainable choices where practicable, defined by a set of criteria to assess the credentials of the product or service supplied. Those with purchasing responsibility will be required to comply with these guidelines as far as is practicable, for example seeking alternatives to purchasing new materials where possible to reduce unnecessary waste; purchasing from suppliers local to the activity being delivered; and demonstrating a preference to work with suppliers which demonstrate environmental policies that complement the network’s approach.
As a national network with over 35 partners, business travel is a major consideration, and is the biggest contributor to the carbon impacts of the management of the network. Following the rapid transition to flexible working practices and remote meetings, the network aims to maintain a minimum of 50% of all meetings and activities delivered online. This is aligned with broader digital and access strategies that support an increase in digital distribution, remote meetings and webinar-based training.
Without Walls maintains and regularly reviews a transport and expense policy that applies both to its staff when carrying out in-person events and Without Walls’ Board and partners, seeking to reduce unnecessary travel and favouring public transport / low-carbon travel where practicable. Flexibility in working hours and the timing of meetings, events and activities is being considered to best support this.
Broader responsibility for environmental sustainability sits with the individual organisations that make up the network, with several already taking steps to explore and implement a range of ideas to reduce the carbon footprints for their own activity, including the production of public-facing events, festivals and touring shows. Many partners have established policies, plans and broader approaches to environmental sustainability in place.
Without Walls can play a key role in educating partners and the wider sector on sustainable approaches through training, information-sharing, amplifying examples of good practice and creating opportunities for collaboration.
Over the period 2023-26 Without Walls makes a commitment to:
- Develop a set of tools and resources focused on carbon reduction that is specific to outdoor arts and suitable for different levels of engagement.
- Deliver the Without Walls Green Forum, an annual event for festivals, artists and other industry professionals to connect, share knowledge and examples of best practice to take positive and proactive steps to address the climate emergency.
- Provide opportunities for peer-to-peer learning, information sharing and creative approaches to sustainability with partners and artists.
- Further develop the remit of the Environmental Responsibility Action Group (ERAG).
- All Without Walls supported artists have access to training and recorded online resources to embed environmental responsibility into the creation and touring of their work, raising their level of ambition.
- Continue to build existing relationships with industry experts in the UK and internationally to support and inform strategic activity and training.
- Prepare a Carbon reduction pathway with realistic actions and timescale.
- Encourage partner festivals to adopt the Vision 2025 Green Events Code of Practice.
The scale and diversity of Without Walls’ activity offers a valuable opportunity to inspire positive action on environmental sustainability across the Outdoor Arts sector. During the period covered by this policy, Without Walls will work with industry experts specific to the culture sector to inform its strategic activity and define a sector-leading role.
For more information on Without Walls commitments to sustainability, please see the Environment Policy and Action Plan 2023-26.
Feature image – Arts by the Sea Festival, © James Bridle.