Theatre Green Book One Toolkit – Site Specific & Outdoor productions


26. Urban Arts Festivals

Contributed by Norfolk and Norwich Festival and Without Walls
This Toolkit page is aimed at town- and city-based arts festivals (rather than green field music / arts festivals) and is designed to complement the contributions already made in the ‘outdoor arts (urban) / site specific shows’ section.


• Collaborate with your local authority to find joined-up solutions to power usage. Look to get mains power points installed in locations that are frequently used for outdoor presentations (such as parks or market places).
• Is your town or city powered on a renewable tariff? Talk to your local council about changing if they have not already.
• Think about creating power budgets for incoming companies (this is mentioned in the outdoor production section in chapter 2 already – but very relevant for festivals).


The following notes are in addition to the Green Book’s general guidance for making.
• Establish a procurement policy if you don’t already have one.
• Hire in equipment rather than buying where possible. If buying is required, make sure you have a plan for what happens to that equipment after you have used.
• Work with hirers to share costs of equipment.
• Store and save equipment for future use.
• Store touring companies sets and equipment in between dates. Use existing storage space to reduce the amount of freighting required and support slow touring.
• Take things theatres or other makers throw away and make use of it.
• If you need to make or purchase something, make sure your designer and builder are building it to last outdoors and that is easy to break down to transport or store.
• Make sure your designer and builder think about the future too. How can you reuse the whole install/piece of work in different places, different contexts etc.
• Design circularity in from the beginning.
• Use standard equipment for sets and décor such as pedestrian barriers, scaffolding poles, staging etc.
• Design sets that interact with standard equipment, so it still has artistic merit but less waste and less touring weight.
• Share resources with other partners – such as flags, hand sanitisers, décor, as well as other items that you only use for a small part of the year that other festivals could also use.
• Ensure your reusable materials are not year-, brand- or colour- specific. This way they can be used again and again and also shared with other events and organisers.
• Consider collaborating with other partners to create a city wide re-useable cup scheme. This eliminated the need for single use cups for your bars.
• Plan promotional material sustainably – recycled paper, eco-friendly inks, reduction of print copies etc.
• Set up a Good Suppliers spreadsheet with a traffic light system of checklists which can be adapted by all.


• Encourage your audiences to use public transport, cycle or walk to your events (see guidance in Theatre Green Book volume 3 : Sustainable Operations).
• Survey audiences and their travel methods to be able to have data to try and reduce impact.
• Survey data available can be reported in Julies Bicycle Creative Green Tools (carbon equivalents calculator) in the Audience Travel section. This includes walking and cycling.
• Think about pairing with a city-based bike scheme to offer travel to and from the venue.
• Support artists and visiting companies to use train travel, rather than car or plane.
• Think about partnering with a vehicle manufacturer who can supply you with electric vehicles for your event.
• List Park and Ride schemes, train stations, bus stops and bike racks on your events listing pages or maps.
• Make sure that incoming international companies have more dates in the UK than just your own. Where possible, discuss festival dates with surrounding festivals, to try and encourage circular touring routes from visiting companies. Work with other festivals to create tours and reduce the impact of international travel and freight.


• Think about language at your event. Try referring to ‘waste’ as ‘resource’ at your events.
• Provide recycling points.
• Liaise with your local Waste Company to understand how they treat waste, recycling, and food waste so that you can tailor you provision for artists and audiences.
• Create sustainability criteria for concessions who sell food at your event. Supporting them to become more sustainable in their practice.
• Ensure your food caterers only use Food and drink packaging and utensils made from biodegradable or compostable materials e.g. corn starch, bagasse, wood pulp and palm leaf.
• Partner with a food waste charity such as ‘Olio’ and ‘TooGoodToGo’ to avoid wastage at the end of each day.
• Ensure the sale of single-use, non-recyclable items will be strictly prohibited on your site.
• This about standardising your artist riders. Offer a ‘menu’ of food and drinks. You can work towards the offer being more sustainable and reduce waste as a result.


• Think about liaising with your local authority to install mains water on site. This will enable you to provide clean drinking water for your crew, artists, and audiences.
• Can you take a water bowser on site to do this job if not?
• Request that your crew and artists bring their own reusable drinking bottles.
• Use public toilets / compostable / trenches where possible.



• Communicate your work with audiences in a way that encourages dialogue and inspiration.
• Look towards training for your contractors, freelancers, volunteers, and delivery team on sustainable initiatives
• Showcase innovative/create ideas for behaviour change. Integrate sustainability into the festival offering, encourage engagement over social media.
• Share your work with your colleagues in the sector to encourage an ethos of openness and transparency.
• Fold sustainability into organisational strategy to associate this messaging into communications with audiences.
• Find and develop relationships with accommodation providers/hotels with a good sustainability policy and work with them to accommodate your touring artists.

With contributions from:
Mark Denbigh – Norfolk & Norwich Festival
Without Walls – Environmental Responsibility Action Group including but not limited to;
Hannah Hartley (XTRAX)
George Soave (XTRAX)
Paula Birtwisle (Theatre Orchard)
Rowan Cannon (Wild Rumpus)