Environmental sustainability is an issue of global significance. The Arts Council want the arts and cultural sector in this country to take a lead in making the world a more sustainable, responsible and equitable place and to transform itself into a low-carbon, sustainable and resilient sector. The consequences of climate change require us all to take care in our use of resources, and to ensure that we do not pursue short-term gain at the expense of future generations.

In October 2013 we published the second edition of our strategic framework, Great art and culture for everyone in which we stated that the Arts Council is committed to ensuring that we, and the organisations and projects that we fund, embrace environmental sustainability and reduce our carbon footprint.

We will:

  • support the arts and cultural sector to take practical steps to embed environmental sustainability into their creative and business models.
  • support creative and imaginative responses to climate change
  • support the sector in developing the vision and leadership to innovate for the low-carbon economy of the 21st Century.

Julie's Bicycle

As part of our renewed partnership Julie’s Bicycle will be delivering a nationwide programme of workshops, webinars, resources and leadership dialogues  - and much more to help push for change at all levels.

Julie’s Bicycle is the leading global charity bridging the gap between environmental sustainability and the creative industries. Their aim is a creative community with sustainability at its heart and their goal is to provide the inspiration, expertise and resources to make that happen. 

International Federation of Arts Council and Cultural Agencies (IFACCA) recognises the pioneering work that the Arts Council and Julie’s Bicycle partnership has achieved and commissioned this report looking at best practices from around the world. 

Funding agreement requirements

In 2012, Arts Council England became the first arts funding body in the world to embed environmental sustainability into the funding agreements of its major programmes.

Our most recent published report (November 2015) looks at the impact of this requirement and clearly shows the value for organisations in engaging with environmental sustainability.

  • 98% of reporting Arts Council funded organisations (699) were involved by 2015 compared to 14% in 2012

  • 40% have gone beyond the Arts Council’s reporting requirements

  • 80% now consider themselves engaged or very engaged with environmental sustainability.

  • Between 2013 and 2015 £2.3m was saved with an average annual 5% decrease in CO2 emissions despite growth of the sector

  • 51% reported financial benefits, and 70% found their environmental policy useful when applying for funding.

  • Scaling up these results across the entire sector would see annual savings of £15m.


However, we recognise that organisations are all different in their scale, activities and ambitions. Our funding agreement requirements for 2015-18 reflect this.

Environmental Sustainability is also central to our Capital programme and a key element in others such as Developing Cultural Resilience.

View our infographic

Infographic - Environmental reporting year 3 results (2012 - 2015)