Making Creative Places Sustainable

March 27, 2015

SEFM steering group members Nadine Loach and Ian Rimington attended two fascinating events organised by Julie’s Bicycle highlighting some inspiring views on sustainability and significant projects across the country. The focus was on Manchester as a leader in the field with the two events taking place at Contact Theatre and The Whitworth on Oxford Road in Manchester.


This event brought together cultural networks from across the country working as part of the Manchester Art Sustainability Team (MAST), @MASTGreenArts, to discuss creative and collaborative ways of approaching sustainability. After a light networking lunch, we were given a warm welcome by MAST.


You can listen to the podcast of the event here and download the presentations here.


The talks began with a series of case studies:


Jack Thompson, Technical Director, Manchester International Festival: Jack discussed energy-saving developments at Manchester City Galleries after identifying their air conditioning and humidity system as the main source of energy use. Late night openings and a move to opening seven days a week exacerbated the problem. To tackle this, they chose to turn off their air conditioning overnight; use lower energy lighting; install a revolving door to reduce exterior climate interference; and discard seasonal BMS set points. They are now focussed more on passive controls.


Dave Woodward, Technical Manager, The Lowry: Dave took us through their building-wide energy efficiency project as part of their 2020 capital project. Focusing on the overhaul of The Lowry’s lighting system, Dave described the benefits of lighting experts GDS and the resulting successful reduction of costs by 90%.


Gawain Forster, Projects & Facilities Manager, Band on the Wall: Built in 1868 and after four years of renovations, Band on the Wall is a venue with a number of impressive examples of sustainable innovation and build. Gawain described their embracing of new technologies, recycling of materials and reusing those from elsewhere that would otherwise have been scrapped. An interesting scheme that they employ is recycling chewing gum using the Gum Drop who then collect the gum and use it to make new materials and products such as flooring.


Steve Connor, Founder and CEO, Creative Concern & Editor, Platform: Steve shared Platform with us: ‘the everyday portal for sharing knowledge and intelligence on sustainability across Greater Manchester’. Steve explored creating audience drive through city sustainability platforms that share information, projects and campaigns; an idea that is growing rapidly.



A city perspective: Beth Perry, SURF/University of Salford Manchester and Mistra Urban Futures:


We were then given a ‘city perspective’ from Beth who talked us through the work of Mistra Urban Futures; an international organization devoted to mapping urban cultural perspectives. Beth is involved with the Manchester ‘A Certain Future’ strategy focused on carbon reduction and integrating culture as part of sustainability. Mistra Urban Futures are currently working with Julie’s Bicycle on a project exploring the tangible and intangible notions of cultural heritage.



Across the country: chaired by Sholeh Johnston, Julie’s Bicycle:


Sholeh started off the conversation looking at how environmental/energy reduction works alongside cultural growth. Sholeh pointed out that working in this way grows team morale and improves staff and community relationships. Culture will be at the heart of the UN’s post-2015 sustainability goals; this inclusion for the first time is recognition of the value of culture.


Emma Rees, Senior Coordinator, London Theatre Consortium: Emma shared the work of the LTC who focus on collaborative lobbying and sharing of resources and expertise within the London theatre industry. The group successfully supported 45 apprenticeships in 2014. LTC are interested in the ethical and global contexts in addition to economic and environmental. Case studies can be found through #LTCGreen.


Deborah Keyser, Creu Cymru: Creu Cymru, a development agency for theatres and arts centres in Wales, have been working closely with Julie’s Bicycle on a behavioral change project covering institutions, museums, community projects small and large across Wales. Deborah explained that this is focused on developing sustainability through staff engagement, changes to buildings and operations, and artistic and creative collaborations.


Fren Smith, Emergence: Fren shared the work of Emergence, a ‘collaborative project that advocated creative practice for a sustainable future through hosting artful events and gatherings’. These are immersive, creative and communal events that encourage deep imaginative dialogues around aligning our practices with our values. Artists play a significant role in leading these gatherings and can vary from workshops to nature trails to interactive performances.




  • Discussions focused on the results of industry-wide cuts leading to a reduction in costs leading to the developments in more sustainable approaches to working and living.

  • Communication arose as a key issue within organisations – how we share our ideas between lower/middle/upper ends of our organisations so that we can then share them outside.

  • Issues around funding and the importance of understanding the long term benefits vs. the short term cost.

  • Tips such as reusing or sharing old equipment and build were discussed with the Museums Freecycle network and SEFM mentioned.



A round up of the evening event at The Whitworth to follow...

Please reload

Featured Posts

Museum Freecycle

October 23, 2014

Please reload

Recent Posts

December 13, 2017

November 17, 2017

Please reload

Please reload

Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square