Insights from April’s Green Production Lab
Exploring the challenges and opportunities for reducing the environmental impacts of outdoor festivals, events, and touring productions
Green Production Lab
The Without Walls Green Production Lab is a new initiative that aims to bring together production management professionals working across the Without Walls consortium and wider Outdoor Arts sector to explore the challenges and opportunities for reducing the environmental impacts of outdoor festivals, events, and touring productions.
Through facilitated workshops and discussions, the Green Production Lab will aim to provide a forum for production managers to connect with peers, share knowledge and examples of best practice, and feel inspired and empowered to take positive and proactive steps to address the climate emergency through their work.
For this first edition, Without Walls are pleased to have partnered with outdoor arts specialists Walk the Plank to develop and deliver this four-week programme in Spring 2021 – addressing several key topics on environmental sustainability and imagining a greener, more inclusive return to outdoor arts production.
Image: As the World Tipped by Wired Aerial Theatre (c) James Mulkeen
Season for Change
This event was a part of Season for Change, a UK-wide cultural programme inspiring urgent and inclusive action on climate change, led by Artsadmin and Julie’s Bicycle, and supported by Arts Council England and Paul Hamlyn Foundation.
Find out more here: www.seasonforchange.org.uk
Taking place online over four consecutive weeks, each session addressed a different topic each week. Sessions included a combination of presentations and reflective discussions.
- Embedding sustainable thinking in the production process: This session will provide an overview of sustainability in relation to the production planning process for outdoor arts events taking place in public space and encourage participants to share useful resources and examples.
- Energy: Approaches to sustainable power and managing temporary power supplies to reduce consumption.
- Circularity: The principles of circularity and approaches to move towards a circular model in your productions – from greening your supply chain and procurement, to reviewing the brief for your set/event design and specifications.
- Touring: Considering the impacts of touring both for outdoor artist companies and receiving festivals, and the importance of communication and collaboration to effect change and work towards establishing more sustainable models of touring.
Session One - Introduction
This session looked at ‘embedding sustainable thinking into the production process’ and introduce participants to the programme.
- Welcome & introductions
- Mark Denbigh – Norfolk and Norwich Festival / Without Walls
- Nathan Jackson – Walk the Plank
- Hannah Hartley – XTRAX
- The Green Production Lab Participants
- Breakout: What does sustainability in production mean to you?
- Speaker: Chris Johnson – Sustainability Consultant – Vision: 2025 / Shambala Festival / Kambe Events / Ecolibrium
Session Two - Power
This session focused on approaches to sustainable power and managing temporary power supplies to reduce consumption.
- Tim Benson – Chair and Founder, Powerful Thinking
- Mark Denbigh – Head of Production and Programme, Norfolk and Norwich Festival
- Rachel Candler – Project Manager, Quays Culture
- Dan Fox – Director, Sound Intervention
Session Three - Circularity
Covering the principles of circularity and approaches to a circular model in productions – from greening the supply chain to sustainable waste management.
- Vikki Chapman – Head of Sustainability (UK & Ireland), Live Nation
- Suba Subramaniam – Artistic Director, Akãdemi
- Mandy Dike – Co-Founder, And Now:
Session Four - Touring
Considering the impacts of touring both for outdoor artist companies and receiving festivals including the importance of communication and collaboration.
- Claire O’Neill – A Greener Festival
- Claire Haigh – Greener Journeys
- Feimatta Conteh – Manchester International Festival
- Paul Moss – The Handlebards
- Aileen Ging – Production Manager, Wild Rumpus
- Andrew Hammond – Production Manager, Motionhouse and various independent projects
- Andrew Stock – Technical Manager, Norfolk & Norwich Festival
- Audrey Leonard – Independent Production Coordinator/Site Manager, currently working with Stockton International Riverside Festival, Durham Lumiere and Artichoke
- Ben Stephen – Head of Production & Operations, The Albany
- Beth Piggott – Producer, ArtReach
- Cordelia Ashwell – Director, Decordia
- Dan Lake – Production Manager, Brighton Festival and Same Sky Festival
- Danielle Harris – Production & Stage Manager, Middle Child Theatre and various independent projects
- Gareth Green – Production Manager, Wired Aerial Theatre
- Gareth Hughes – Event Production Lead, Stockton Borough Council
- Joey Valiunas – Head of Production, FESTIVAL.ORG
- Judy Connor – Production Manager, Cecil Green Arts
- Mat Ort – Independent Production Manager working for: Milton Keynes International Festival, Winchester Hat Fair, Inside Out Dorset Festival, Salisbury Festival and various artist companies including the 2021 Without Walls programme
- Matt Evans – Production Coordinator, Birmingham Hippodrome
- May McQuade – Programme and Community Coordinator, Bradford 2025
- Mia Harris – Independent Production Manager/Producer working with various festivals and outdoor touring shows including Boomtown Festival, Mandinga Arts, London School of Samba, Wild N Beets, Punchdrunk and Theatre Temoin
- Paula Birtwistle – Independent Production Manager and Green Champion for Culture Weston, currently working with Theatre Orchard and Extraordinary Bodies
- Priti Paintal – Director, ShivaNova/Equator Festival
- Rachel Candler – Project Manager, Quays Culture
- Suzette Farrier – Technical Manager / Event Manager for Outdoor Events, Watermans Arts Centre and Bell Square, Hounslow
About Without Walls & Walk The Plank
Walk the Plank is one of the UK’s leading outdoor arts specialists with nearly 30 years’ experience working with artists and communities to create amazing work in the public realm.
From festivals to immersive installations, parades to podcasts, Walk the Plank’s portfolio is diverse, spectacular and award-winning. The company has just undertaken R&D for Festival 2022, and for a new installation, BODY and is leading a Creative Europe project building the capacity of creative practitioners in 11 EU Capitals of Culture. National and international work sits alongside ongoing projects in Salford: working with schools and the Salford Culture and Place partnership.
Walk the Plank is a keen advocate for sustainable practice in the outdoor arts sector and is committed to a wide range of initiatives that maximise positive social and economic impact and minimise negative environmental impact. The company approaches sustainability like its health and safety responsibilities – crucial, non-negotiable and at the forefront of all planning. Walk the Plank produces Manchester Day, a parade that is pushed, pulled, cycled and recycled and won a 4* Creative Green award from Julie’s Bicycle in 2019. As an active member of the Manchester Arts Sustainability Team (MAST) they work collectively to pursue best sustainable practices.
Without Walls is a national consortium of festivals and organisations dedicated to raising the profile of the UK outdoor arts sector, promoting artistic excellence and supporting innovative new work for the benefit of artists and audiences.
Established in 2007 as a partnership of five founding festivals, Without Walls has since evolved to include over 35 partners spanning three strategic groups. Without Walls brings together artists, promoters and commissioners to make high-quality multi-arts outdoor shows that tour to festivals across the UK and beyond. The consortium nurtures talent and skills by researching, developing, supporting and touring new work, enhancing the growth of the sector, and reaching large audiences, many new to the arts.
XTRAX The strategic development and day to day management of Without Walls and its activity is managed by XTRAX.
XTRAX is an independent management and production company based in Manchester with over 15 years experience in Outdoor Arts. It is one of the Without Walls founder members in 2007 and has provided management and development services to Without Walls since 2012. The role of XTRAX includes regular reporting to and liaison with the partner festivals, the Chair, and the Board of Directors, and helping artists to create and tour ground-breaking new outdoor work.
Outside of Without Walls, XTRAX manages a portfolio of projects designed to promote the UK Outdoor Arts sector on the international stage.