Five cultural venues have been working together for four months as part of our new Act Green travel pilot project to encourage their audiences to travel more sustainably to events. Audiences travelling to Chichester Festival Theatre, The Point & The Berry in Eastleigh, Farnham Maltings, The Old Fire Station Oxford and The Electric in Guildford have collectively created more than 4000 sustainable travel plans since July.
Cultural organisations across the UK are committed to becoming more sustainable, but they face a challenge when trying to cut the significant proportion of emissions attributed to audience travel. Funding by Arts Council England has enabled five venues in the South East of England (who are all part of the house theatre network) to take part in the Act Green travel pilot, which aims to see whether a combination of technology and messaging can successfully influence audience behaviour. The project is being run by Indigo in partnership with sustainable travel demand management platform ‘You. Smart. Thing.’ (YST) and audience engagement platform crowdEngage.
YST’s travel assistant technology allows audience members to see the carbon impact of a range of travel options, make a selection and receive updates if there are any changes or disruptions. crowdEngage enables the venues to send timely communications with a range of messaging to encourage audiences to use the travel assistant service, highlighting the benefits and convenience while encouraging each audience member to play their part to help reduce each organisation’s carbon footprint. A new integration between the two systems makes for an even smoother experience for the user, with the details about where they are travelling from and the performance they are attending pulled through from their booking information.
The first travel plans show that visitors are opting for low-carbon active travel methods or public transport rather than driving to the venues. When compared to their usual travel behaviour (based on baseline travel data to participating venues from 2022), those who used the route suggested by the travel assistant service reduced their carbon emissions by 41%, together saving an estimated 8 tonnes of carbon over the last three months.
The project follows our Act Green survey from May 2022, a UK-wide piece of research into the attitude of cultural audiences towards the climate emergency, and what they think cultural organisations should do to become more sustainable. The research, which ran for a second year in July 2023 generating 17,500 responses through 86 participating cultural organisations, found that the majority of audiences are very concerned about the climate emergency and think cultural organisations should be doing more.
Two thirds of audience members expect organisations to provide them with information about how they can travel more sustainably to the venue as part of the visit. If provided with that information, more than half (56%) said they would be quite likely to support organisations by choosing more sustainable travel methods to get to the venue.
The pilot project will run until May next year, with results being published in the spring along with a toolkit for other cultural organisations who want to adopt this approach.
Indigo CEO Katy Raines says:
“The Act Green research we have run for the last two years with audience members across the UK clearly shows audiences want to see more from arts organisations when it comes to sustainability. Audiences want the organisations they love to lead the way with initiatives which bring audiences on the journey with them too. It has been a pleasure to collaborate on this project to enable audiences to play their part to support organisations, and the early results suggest that they are willing to do that.”
You.Smart.Thing. CEO Chris Thompson says:
“We are delighted to see adoption of our technology across the cultural sector, and in particular, by theatre going audiences. Behaviour change and model shift can be hugely difficult to achieve. It is brilliant to see these theatres offering tailored routes and low-carbon travel options that ultimately enhance the overall cultural experience they deliver.”
Activity Stream Founder and CEO Einar Sævarsson says:
“We're thrilled to engage in collaborative projects like this, as they showcase the power of integrating data and targeted communication features from crowdEngage with sustainability initiatives to drive meaningful change. By leveraging the capabilities of data-driven solutions, we can motivate audiences to embrace eco-friendly choices while enhancing their cultural event experiences.”