Sustainable audience travel project 2023

posted Sat 10 June 2023

News Story

Arts organisations across the southeast trial new system to help audiences travel more sustainably to their venues.

To coincide with The Great Big Green Week 2023, house southeast theatre network is launching a new sustainable audience travel initiative alongside arts audience specialists Indigo-Ltd and five cultural organisations from the South East to help audiences adapt their travel plans and take action to cut their carbon footprint.

house and Indigo-Ltd have worked together closely following Indigo’s 2022 Act Green survey to develop new initiatives to involve audiences in the sustainability actions taken by theatres and arts centres. Using You.Smart.Thing’s Travel Assistant software, used at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games and Rugby League World Cup last year, venues will provide audience members with personalised sustainable travel plans for specific events. Unlike other travel apps, the Travel Assistant tells users the relative carbon impact of each type of journey used whether that is by car, bus, train, cycling or walking, and offers real time updates should travel conditions change. The initiative will also trial different messaging techniques to promote audience involvement.

Through support given by Arts Council England, a trial of the software is being offered to five organisations across the southeast over a 12-month period to determine the uptake by audience members and the impact it has on their travel decisions. The ambition is that the project will result in a toolkit for venues across the UK to use to influence audience travel.

It is being offered to theatregoers at Chichester Festival Theatre, Farnham Maltings, The Point & Berry Theatres in Eastleigh and Hedge End, The Electric Theatre in Guildford and The Old Fire Station in Oxford. The Great Big Green Week is the UK’s biggest ever celebration of community action to tackle climate change and protect nature. This year the week takes place from the 10–18 June and coincides with festivals taking place across the venues participating in the project. Unwrapped outdoor arts festival in both Eastleigh and Hedge End and thread textile festival at Farnham Maltings takes place over the weekend of the 10 & 11 June and Offbeat festival in Oxford runs from the 15–17 June. We hope that the large audiences expected at each festival will consider adapting their travel plans and share their feedback of using the system so we can improve the experience for future users over the next six months of the project.

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"Getting audiences to consider travel choices to venues by environmental impact rather than the ease of jumping in your car is an important step to help arts organisations and individuals cut their carbon footprint. Through embedding the You.Smart.Thing Travel Assistant into their ticket booking experience, we hope that audiences will be surprised at the ease of adapting their travel plans and the impact they will make by travelling more sustainably."

Jonathon Summers-Mileman, Audience Development Manager from house

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"The results of our Act Green research in 2022 clearly showed that audiences expect cultural organisations to lead the way when it comes to sustainability. Crucially though, the majority of audiences also said they were willing to do more to support this if given the opportunity. Thanks to funding from Arts Council England, this initiative is enabling organisations to show their commitment to reducing their carbon footprint, whilst giving audiences a way to proactively play their part. We’re really grateful to the five organisations who are on this journey with us, and look forward to sharing the results with the sector in the coming months."

Flo Carr, Associate Director of Indigo-Ltd

The project runs until the end of 2023 when the impact will be assessed and learnings will be shared with arts organisations across the house network and beyond.