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

Key headlines:

In summer 2023, Julie’s Bicycle surveyed disabled people about access and environmental sustainability at live events and festivals.  

The key findings are:

  • Sustainability is a consideration for over two thirds of disabled respondents.
  • One third of respondents feel that environmental solutions are not easy to navigate and do not meet their access requirements.
  • Only 22% of respondents feel included and able to participate in events and festivals that align with their climate values.

A Greener Future took an in depth look at three festivals and their experience of providing accessibility for disabled people compatible with the festival’s environmental sustainability goals. 

These case studies highlight where the issues have been and the solutions that each festival has developed along with areas where further work is needed.

Attitude is Everything, Julie’s Bicycle and A Greener Future will publish an innovative new toolkit which supports the UK’s events industry to implement practical solutions that tackle both climate change and accessibility. 

The toolkit will be launched today at (GEI6) Green Events and Innovation Conference 6 with a presentation by Julie’s Bicycle and A Greener Future –  followed by a panel discussion chaired by Tori Tsui – Bristol-based climate activist, writer, speaker and consultant from Hong Kong, with Attitude is Everything Patron Blaine Harrison of Mystery Jets, Arts Council England’s Senior Manager for Environmental Responsibility Feimatta Conteh and Forwards Festival’s Accessibility Manager Harry Jones.

The toolkit can be accessed here.

Context 

This new resource came from Attitude is Everything’s Founder Suzanne Bull MBE during the Covid-19 pandemic. She had a rising concern that disabled people were being left behind in efforts to drive forward sustainable practices. 

The disabled community weren’t included in the climate change conversations, and their access requirements weren’t being considered. Therefore, practical solutions to tackle the climate crisis were often conflicting with solutions that improve access.  

Suzanne felt that there was only one course of action to take – to bring together the leaders in accessibility in live events, Attitude is Everything, and the leaders in climate change solutions for culture, Julie’s Bicycle and A Greener Future.  

We chose to combine our expertise as a force for change. 

Funded by Arts Council England, we began our powerful collaboration. Over 2023, we brought together disabled people and the UK’s live events sector through a series of roundtables and interviews to discuss the barriers and solutions.  

There was a strong commitment to innovative thinking and co-design practices, working collaboratively to discuss the most accessible, but also the most environmentally-friendly way forward. 

Our learnings form the foundations of the toolkit.

Toolkit  

As well as revealing the key barriers that disabled people experience within initiatives that tackle sustainability, the toolkit outlines practical ways in which venues, events and festivals can implement accessible solutions to combat climate change.

There are also three case studies from Green Man, Forwards Festival and Shambala from assessments carried out by A Greener Future.  

These festivals volunteered to be transparent about their own difficulties and commitments to find solutions that are inclusive to all.  

However, this is only the start of the conversation.  

The toolkit does not have all the answers or the solutions, but instead comes with a ‘call to action’ to the live events industry to make access and environmental solutions equal partners. 

The toolkit gives the foundations for the sector to build upon. 

Throughout 2024, we’re asking for venue managers, festival organisers, and promoters to test out the toolkit and give us feedback.  We’ll use this to create an updated version in early 2025.

Key messages 

  • We have an opportunity as a sector to approach access and sustainability more holistically, with connected policies and solutions across different focus areas.
  • Transport is a huge and complex barrier – local authorities, planners, events’ organisers and disabled people need to come together and find collective solutions.
  • We can examine our supply chains, supporting suppliers to make accessible and sustainable equipment, which can be scaled up across the country and re-used or recycled more efficiently. 
  • We need new and creative solutions around accessible waste management, food and water use, and power supply. 
  • We should acknowledge that sometimes there might not be a solution available yet that is both accessible and environmentally-friendly. Disabled people sometimes might require the use of single use items, cars, or additional equipment but they should never be blamed or shamed for this.

Next steps

We’re asking the sector to:

  • Test the suggestions throughout this toolkit for how we can work differently.
  • Connect your Sustainability Team with your Access Team and work through solutions together.
  • Engage with disabled people throughout every step of your planning process. Listen to disabled people and work with them to find solutions.
  • Connect with other local events, venues, and festivals to share ideas and resources.
  • Connect with membership organisations, and as a collective, find ways to increase the supply of sustainable, accessible equipment and facilities.
  • Keep informed about the initiatives and resources that Julie’s Bicycle, Attitude is Everything and A Greener Future have – someone, somewhere will have the solution!

Pledges:

This toolkit is part of a pilot programme. We want to hear from you about how your events and festivals use these suggestions to strengthen your commitments to sustainability and accessibility.  

We’d like you to:

  • Use the toolkit and to give us feedback – what has been missed, what can be included next time?
  • Report back on up to three ways that you have made sustainability solutions, accessible by September 2024.
  • Come together with disabled people, industry colleagues and suppliers to design, create and then increase the supply of accessible, sustainable products and facilities.

Attitude is Everything 

“I’m really looking forward to taking part in the panel discussion at GEI6 in February.  As a touring artist with my band Mystery Jets, I have witnessed huge changes in the live music industry over the past 20 years – both good and bad. Climate Justice is perhaps the most important conversation of our time and from a grassroots level to the mainstream, I feel that solutions around the environmental impact of our industry need to feel inclusive to all.” 

Blaine Harrison, Mystery Jets, Attitude is Everything Patron, and joint Attitude is Everything and FAC Artist Ambassador. 

“Just like there’s no music on a dead planet, there’s no access either.  Public demand is growing for businesses to take their environmental and access responsibilities seriously, and that public includes disabled people.  More than 1 billion disabled people worldwide are more impacted by climate change than non-disabled people due to the additional access requirements and health concerns many of them have when disasters strike countries and our cities become clogged with polluted air.  My hope is that this collaboration and the toolkit will be the catalyst for change.”

Suzanne Bull MBE, Founder, Attitude is Everything.

Julie’s Bicycle 

“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.” 

Farah Ahmed, Climate Justice Lead, Julie’s Bicycle 

A Greener Future

“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.” 

Teresa Moore, Director, A Greener Future