In recent years, James Batchelor and Collaborators have created and presented work across many different countries between Australia and Europe. This marker of success is also an indicator of high carbon creation and moving forward we want to make a commitment to reduce this. As freelance artists, we don’t have the structure of a building to maintain or ensemble of dancers, but we believe that every level of the global performing arts industry needs to do its part to generate a more sustainable future.
During the COVID-19 lock-down, we were afforded an Australia Council of the Arts Resilience grant to undergo a Carbon Audit for 2019, giving us a bench mark of previous touring habits and the chance to identify opportunities to improve practices.
Working in often precarious conditions as freelance artists has led to many unsustainable choices such as taking discounted air travel, gigs requiring large amounts of travel in short amounts of time and always choosing the cheapest option both in time and money. This audit and report is the first step in generating a better relationship to touring and acknowledging the sustainable practices already employed in our work.
Emissions Breakdown 2019:
2019 Travel Emissions: 58.6722285 (tonnes CO2 e)
2019 Electricity Emissions: 0.29520704 (tonnes CO2 e)
TOTAL EMISSIONS: 58.96743554 (tonnes CO2 e)
Long Haul Flights (over 1600km): 24
Medium Haul Flights ( 500-1600KM):56
Short Haul Flights (under 500km): 14
Train Legs: 37
Car Legs: 13
- Each Flight/Leg is representative of one person travelling a distance one way.
TOTAL DISTANCE COVERED in 2019: 237,643km
Countries Travelled: Australia, France, Germany, Netherlands (transit), Italy, Switzerland, Lithuania, Denmark (transit), Sweden, Finland, Latvia (transit) Czech Republic, Belgium, Luxembourg, Serbia, Norway, Cyprus, Scotland, England, Spain, Slovenia, Croatia (transit)
To give an indication of the scale of touring, we are typically 3-4 bodies travelling with one extra suitcase. (We have no freight). We use minimal synthetic lights in theatres and in some cases just natural lught and typically use four powered speakers and one subwoofer in all our touring shows.
Existing Offsetting Practices
In considering the overall picture, what is revealed is that we are already committed to sustainable practices in our creation of projects.
- Deepspace and Hyperspace* are designed to be performed in natural light in non-traditional spaces such as warehouses, galleries, churches and museums. These projects use minimal electricity. *Hyperspace uses a single projector when not performed in natural light.
- When travelling, the team works hard to engage deeper within the community offering workshops from 2hours to 5 days. The deeper impact of the creative practice allows for a better offset of the Carbon.
- In 2017 -2019 JBC stayed in Europe for long periods of time to avoid the carbon and expense of returning to Australia.
New Offsetting Practices
In 2021 we are shifting our contracts with artists and presenters to ensure that:
- All journeys under 800 kms will be taken by train. Train journeys over 800kms/8hours will be negotiated with artists and presenters but when available this option will be taken.
- Touring schedules focus on regions - condensed touring times (focus on 2-4 weeks of touring) and regional focuses will reduce the amount of travel required for the entire team and create a more sustainable environment.
- All catering/ refreshments on our technical rider will be requested to be Vegan.
- We will continue to ensure greater impact at each touring location offering workshops, secondments and artist talks to provide greater access to the artistic process.
- When possible we will reduce the travelling party to the absolute essential personnel and will avoid travelling for meetings - preferring to have them online.
- We will reinvest the money we would spend on carbon offsetting on our internal carbon processing i.e. offsetting the cost for additional travel days, overnight trains and any other costs that cannot be covered by the presenting party.
- We will continue to create and perform work that has minimal power requirements.
Moving into the future we hope to reduce our European based air travel by 75% in 2021. This will be aided by more focused regional touring and a new touring landscape. We want to set a standard of working practice that can be adopted and encouraged by other larger touring companies and become contractual from venues. We hope to make it look easy and enjoyable - relaxing into slow travel, saying goodbye to stressed travel.
This audit and report was prepared by Bek Berger JBC collaborator/producer. Bek underwent the Greenie-In-Residence program at Arts House (Melbourne) in 2014 with Matt Wicking.