Arts & Culture

Sustainability without compromising accessibility

Featured Image: Michael Bußmann from Pixabay

Attitude is Everything, Julie’s Bicycle and A Greener Future are set to publish a new toolkit for live events and festivals on how to make disabled people’s access to live events environmentally sustainable.

The non-profits are dedicated to promoting accessibility and sustainability in the live arts and cultural sector.

During the summer of last year, Julie’s Bicycle surveyed disabled people about access and environmental sustainability at live events and festivals. The survey found that over two-thirds of respondents were sympathetic towards sustainability challenges, while one-third of those surveyed felt that environmental solutions were not easy to navigate and did not meet their access requirements.

Additionally, only 22% of respondents felt included and able to participate in events that also aligned with their climate values.

A Greener Future then took an in-depth look at three festivals in the UK (Green Man, Forwards Festival and Shambala) and their experience of providing adequate accessibility that was also compatible with organisers’ sustainability goals. This highlighted where the issues were and the solutions that each festival had developed to combat them, while also noting areas to work on.

“Today’s festivals need to be viewed as an ecosystem of sustainable practices where every aspect of the event supports its sustainability goals recognising that accessibility is part of that ecosystem,” said Teresa Moore, director of A Greener Future.

The idea for the new resource came from Attitude is Everything’s founder Suzanne Bull during the COVID-19 pandemic, recognising rising concern that disabled people were being left behind in efforts to drive sustainability.

Working collaboratively, and funded by Arts Council England (ACE), a series of roundtables and interviews were conducted to discuss barriers and solutions.

The resulting toolkit will help to highlight the key barriers facing disabled guests with initiatives that tackle sustainability; practical ways in which venues, events and festivals can implement accessible solutions in climate and more.

Farah Ahmed, climate justice lead, Julie’s Bicycle, added: “We’re really proud to launch this toolkit with Attitude is Everything and A Greener Future. As the urgency of the climate crisis accelerates, we have to ensure that our responses are accessible, just, and inclusive. Live events and festivals have a responsibility to ensure that disabled people are included in shaping bold new ideas for climate action that leave no one behind.”