Act Green is a sector wide research intuitive that explores the role of cultural organisations and their audiences in tackling the climate crisis. This month we published the report for the second year of Act Green, sponsored by Supercool, which took place during July 2023.
Summary of findings
- Cultural audiences and visitors are concerned about the climate emergency and the majority have made changes to their lifestyle to help tackle it.
- They think organisations are not doing enough or feel that they are not communicating what they are doing effectively.
- Audiences and visitors want to play their part to help organisations fulfil their sustainability goals but need information and infrastructure to help them do that.
- Audiences see cultural organisations having a role in leading the way and facilitating conversations about the climate emergency – but they don’t want to feel they are being told off or ‘preached at’.
- Audiences recognise the unique power cultural organisations hold, both individually and collectively, to influence society at all levels.
Respondent and organisation profile
- 17,479 cultural audience members responded to the survey sent out by 86 participating organisations
- Over half of those participating organisations were theatres or arts centres. 12 museums and galleries, and 25 other organisations including cinemas, libraries and touring companies took part.
- A large proportion of responses came from those aged over 55. 8% of responses were from under 35s, 16% of them have children under 16 and 14% identified as disabled.
- Respondents are frequent attenders who go to a wide range of types of cultural events. 51% say they attend cultural events and venues every few months. A significant proportion of respondents either gave regularly or had donated in the past and support of a cultural organisation.
Cultural audiences and the climate emergency
- 88% of cultural audiences are worried about the impact of climate change, compared to 76% of the general population.
- Concern is high across all age groups, though there is slight variation by age – 92% of under 35s are worried compared to 87% of over 55s are worried.
- 93% of respondents have made changes to their lifestyle to tackle climate change.
The role of cultural organisations
- 77% of cultural audiences think cultural organisations have a responsibility to influence society to make radical change to address the climate emergency – including 85% of under 35s.
- Only 17% think cultural organisations place great importance on playing an active role in tackling climate change.
- When asked to say how much importance the organisation who sent them the survey places on playing an active role in tackling climate change, 25% said they don’t know.
"Cultural organisations are trusted influencers in communities, they are well placed to increase awareness of the urgency and devastation of climate change and engage communities in ways they can make a difference. Crucial work." - Respondent
"Conversation is key but also helping others in finding ways to be sustainable is also important." - Respondent
Organisations and sustainability initiatives
What sustainability initiatives do audience members expect from cultural organisations and which do they think are the most important? Respondents had high expectations in many areas – in particular:
- 94% expect organisations to be reducing and recycling waste.
- 93% expect organisations to ensure they are as energy efficient as possible.
- 91% expect them to ensure materials are reused after an event or exhibition.
- 90% think organisations should avoid disposable packaging and single-use plastic.
- 89% think they should minimise food waste.
- 88% expect organisations to provide designated recycling bins.
"It’s important to embed good climate-friendly practice in every aspect of the working life of a cultural organisation." - Respondent
"Cultural organisations play a vital role in addressing climate change. They should influence public opinion through creative expressions, educate about climate issues, lead by example with sustainable practices, and foster collaborations across sectors." - Respondent
Getting audiences involved
- 51% of audiences and visitors say they want to actively play their part in support a cultural organisations efforts to become more sustainable
- A further 29% would make changes if it is easy and doesn’t inconvenience them.
- When asked what they would do to support organisations, 91% would reduce their use of disposable packaging at the venue, 67% would choose more sustainable food options and 15% said they were quite likely to donate their time as a ‘green volunteer’.
"I can be active if I can see the organisation doing the same" - Respondent
"Organisations need to show they are genuine for change" - Respondent