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Climate Action Programme case study – Bristol Beacon


Rosa CorbishleyBristol Beacon are hoping to become the first zero emissions cultural and musical venue in the UK. In this case study, Rosa Corbishley, Development Director at Bristol Beacon outlines their approach to climate action and shares some top tips.

In 2019 we decided that we wanted to become the first zero emissions music venue. We made a public announcement as it felt important to make a statement, especially as we were embarking on a large building project. We started the process without knowing a huge amount about emissions and scopes, but it felt positive to make an announcement and just start doing.

We did a lot of research and made a connection with the Sydney Opera House who had already done a lot of work around becoming a net zero venue. We planned to release our sustainability plan a year later but then the pandemic hit. We finally completed our plan in May 2022 after working with Hope Solutions who have lots of experience in the cultural sector.

Linking climate ambitions with our core purpose

Our purpose is to share the unity and joy of live music, and our climate ambitions are inextricably linked to this mission. We did a major survey of ourBristol Beacon electric van audiences, suppliers, and artists to help us decide the principles areas of focus and thought a lot internally about how to frame our climate work within the Sustainable Development Goals, and ensure this work aligns with our core purpose.

In the background we got on with tackling scope 1 and 2 emissions as they are quite process oriented. We moved suppliers, changed to an electric van, reduced our emissions across site, and made sure the new build was as low emissions as possible, including installing a huge solar array on the roof with Bristol Energy Cooperative. I’m pleased to share that we are now net zero on scope 1 and 2 emissions.

Embed sustainability across the organisation

We really understood the need to embed our climate goals across the organisation. It can’t just be one sustainability person doing the work, we needed to get our audience, board, and staff along for the journey. There is a lot of nervousness around getting it wrong and of course we need to be serious about it and commit to science-based targets but really this is a good positive move and you’re never going to get there unless you commit to something. We recognise that our audiences want more, and it works well and supports sector wide change if we all do something and work together.

Be positive but not foolhardy

The challenge is to be positive about it but not be foolhardy. The journey needs to be led by people who are inspired, and our staff team is so important – there are people in our team who are incredibly passionate. We have 10 individuals from across the organisation who are our green champions. They are really engaged in each bit of the journey.


Another challenge is finding budget for our climate work, especially in the early days. It needs to be considered a business priority and we were fortunate to have great support and expertise from our trustees.

Next steps

Scope 3 is a huge challenge for us and a massive part of our work. 60% of our scope 3 emissions are from audience behaviour and artist travel so our green champions are now focussing on communications and engagement plans. Through lots of research and focus groups we hope to get a clear plan of action that we can start from when we reopen. We’ve also recently launched a partnership with First Bus that will reward concert-goers for travelling sustainably by offering discounted bus travel.

Top tips

  • Consult with your audiences, stakeholders, and suppliers.
  • Take specialist advice where you can.
  • Be inspired by what others are doing – we really value being part of the Climate Leaders Group for this.
  • This isn’t a reinvention of the wheel, you don’t need to do it in a new way, you just need to do it.
  • Communications plays a massive part in scope 3. The work around engaging our audiences and artists will really be led by our communications and marketing teams.
  • This work needs people who are passionate and willing to champion it even if it’s not in their current job role. My day job is Development Director, but I’ve taken this on as I feel so passionate, and it’s been fruitful and rewarding.

Bristol Beacon is a is a member of our Climate Leader’s Group. Find out more about their sustainability journey on their website. There is also support available for arts and cultural organisations via Julie’s Bicycle.

Business, Arts Heritage and Culture, Case Studies, Climate Action
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