The Arts on the Road: Accessing Smarter Travel Choices

25th September 2015

During the early part of 2015 our Carbon advisers spoke with over 100 organisations and discussed how their activities affected …

During the early part of 2015 our Carbon advisers spoke with over 100 organisations and discussed how their activities affected the way they travelled. Avoiding travel is difficult, and many of the organisations we spoke to work with artists who have disabilities which constrain their travel choices, so it’s important to understand and plan around these. Among the arts, musicians, actors and dancers have to travel for rehearsals, workshops, performances and tours. Visual artists have to ship works to different locations or may have to travel to specialist facilities to create works.

Fiona MacLennan met with Garry Robson, the director and Green Champion for Birds Of Paradise Theatre Company and he spoke about their approach to organising travel and touring for artists with disabilities.

“Our particular focus in promoting the work of professional deaf and disabled artists and performers in Scottish Theatre and internationally brings with it its own challenges. We are a touring theatre company who present and develop work nationwide necessitating a degree of travel. Sadly trains are still relatively inaccessible with wheelchair users requiring assistance on and off the trains and support to negotiate stations, and once at the destination because of the inaccessibility of much public transport there is usually a need to make use of taxis to complete journeys, thus adding to the expense and carbon footprint. With this in mind, driving is often a preferred option though wherever possible we car share and try and fill the vehicle. We are currently carrying out nationwide outreach work directed towards aspiring deaf and disabled performers and young disabled people. To make this financially feasible and ecologically sound we’re currently looking at ways of delivering some of these projects on line and developing our website to include more distance learning opportunities.

There is evidence of an increasing demand for live performances in venues both nationally and internationally as well as an appreciation of the social and economic benefits of local performances for both performers and audiences. The social benefits are particularly important for the group of artists working with Birds of Paradise as underlined by Gary’s next comment:

‘In the general population disabled people are far more likely to be in fuel poverty. In particular, those people who are housebound will necessarily have larger fuel bills as they spend much longer in their homes. Many disabled people fall into the classic poverty/energy inefficient housing/increased fuel usage trap. We can’t sit around waiting for a strategic approach to accessible public transport and energy efficient housing so we try to work as carbon conscious as we can, but a bit of joined up thinking wouldn’t half help.’

As Gary points out, the lack of joined up infrastructure can make travel by public transport difficult for anyone less able bodied. This is also true for anyone travelling to more remote locations away from the major cities where public transport services become infrequent or don’t exist.

The best choices for travel will minimise emissions while still achieving the primary purpose of delivering the work of the organization. Providing guidance to everyone in your organisation via your travel policy can help them to travel the smartest way, save time and minimise emissions. Encouraging forward planning can also save on costs. Making the best travel choices can take some creativity and research so share the best ideas and knowledge with both your colleagues and your audiences. To see a simple and easy to share example you can download Creative Carbon Scotland’s travel policy.

Recording your travel and calculating your travel impacts is also important in developing your travel plan and finding ways to reduce your travel emissions. This helps you to develop an understanding of the emissions associated with different travel modes as well as highlighting the costs helping you choose between hiring a minibus for 8 or filling 2 cars or deciding between flights and trains.

Claimexpenses home pageWe know that recording travel can be time consuming so we have been trying help artists to understand how to measure their travel and develop an understanding of where their emissions are generated. Check out the project page for our online recording tool claimexpenses where you can find information and a video user guide for this tool which has been specially developed to help to capture your travel miles and calculate your emissions with the minimum of effort.

If you are an Arts organisation based in Scotland register for a free account on claimexpenses.com.

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About Creative Carbon Scotland

We believe cultural and creative organisations have a significant influencing power to help shape a sustainable Scotland for the 21st century.


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Supported by

Edinburgh Festival City Edinburgh Festival City

A project initiated by Edinburgh’s Festivals with key partners the Federation of Scottish Theatre and Scottish Contemporary Art Network

Edinburgh Festival City Federation of Scottish Theatre Scottish Contemporary Art Network