Mapping sustainability challenges in Outdoor Arts
Considering how outdoor artists and festivals can address the climate emergency through their work
Without Walls is committed to promoting best practice in environmental sustainability and supporting its member organisations and artists to reduce their environmental impacts.
To better understand what the challenges are, Mark Denbigh, Head of Production and Programme at Norfolk & Norwich Festival was appointed as an Environmental Production Manager for the network in April 2019 and tasked with supporting artists as they created their work to tour. Mark contacted each of the 18 Without Walls artists commissioned for the 2019 programme to get a sense of the issues and challenges they face in creating work for outdoor touring and to identify ways in which Without Walls might be able to support artists and touring companies to engage with environmental sustainability in their work.
You explore Mark’s findings and case studies from a selection of the artists in the report available to download at the bottom of this page.
In response to the findings in this report and the concerns highlighted by the artists, Without Walls aims to develop further opportunities to explore models for low carbon touring and encourage best practice across the wider sector through targeted training and development programmes.
Without Walls is at the beginning of a journey to define how the consortium can lead the sector in taking innovative steps towards a low carbon future, recognising the potential reach and impact of its collective actions and would welcome feedback and contributions from artists, touring companies and presenting partners to shape how we take this work forward.
What are the key considerations for embedding sustainability practices into your work?
- Create an environmental policy and action plan that is appropriate to the nature of your work, and the buildings you work in. Identify in this what your impacts are
- Set targets for your organisation that reduce the impacts of your work on the environment. These might be organised by short, medium, and long-term goals
- Nominate a Green Champion in your team to represent environmental interests both internally and externally – this person can take responsibility for keeping everyone on track with your planned actions and ensure sustainability is on the agenda for any planning meetings
- Create a page on your website or use social media to talk about what you are doing in relation to environmental sustainability. Share examples of best practice; help to amplify positive messages and support other companies doing good work in the field of sustainability
- Contact other artistic companies to ask them what they have done in the past, and what they are thinking for the future. Many are very willing to share their experiences and you may find ways to collectively overcome common issues
- Create a Green Rider for your show, and share your expectations with presenters by making them a contractual obligation
- Create a green brief for your designer
- Produce a more ‘tourable’ set (e.g. think about the materials used. What can be sourced/hired locally? How does the set physically move?)
- ‘Freecycle’ approach to sets and props e.g. Set-Exchange
- Use local supply chains for sets and equipment
- Keep productions on the road for longer rather than creating new content
- Become familiar with the Circular Economy
- Use green lighting and production technology
- Switch your energy supplier to a green sustainable source
- Monitor your impact – creative a travel log
- Chose train, not plane, where possible
- Chose sea freight, not plane
- Share transport where possible
- Can non-critical and production staff be sourced locally to reduce your touring party?
- Book geographically proximate tours and put pressure on presenters to encourage this
- Stay in places for longer (e.g. for residencies or workshops)
- Offset your carbon (but tread carefully and read around this subject as it can often be contentious)