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Here, There and Everywhere: Cheltenham Festivals’ Accessibility and Sustainability Toolkit

30.08.2023: A new Accessibility and Sustainability Toolkit has been devised in a trail-blazing partnership between arts and events organisations Cheltenham Festivals, Vision:2025, music-focussed disability charity Attitude is Everything and Cheltenham Borough Council.

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30.08.2023: In the fourth of the Here, There and Everywhere series, inspired by the report, UK Music takes a look at Cheltenham Festivals’ Accessibility and Sustainability Toolkit. 

A new Accessibility and Sustainability Toolkit has been devised in a trail-blazing partnership between arts and events organisations Cheltenham Festivals, Vision:2025, music-focussed disability charity Attitude is Everything and Cheltenham Borough Council.

The toolkit offers a self-assessment system to help event organisers of all sizes, not just understand their accessibility and sustainability scores, but also improve them. The project offers an innovative way for the live music industry to work alongside local government in the future.

Cheltenham Festivals’ Innovation Manager Andrew Lansley explains how it can make events better for both people and the planet.

“The toolkit began with a very simple aim: to make live events better for everyone. I first began thinking of a toolkit when I was working on accessibility in music research at the University of Gloucestershire alongside Attitude is Everything. Once I took up a post at Cheltenham Festivals, I was given the support to begin to bring people together in the live events sector, to try and co-ordinate and facilitate change across the industry.

In October 2022, I attended the launch of the Green Events Code of Practice and began to incorporate both it and the Attitude Is Everything charter into Cheltenham Festivals’ strategy, in a practical toolkit we had been working on with Cheltenham Borough Council.

Later, I was introduced to Chris Johnson at Vision:2025. Two calls later and we were presenting the project at the Event Production Show in London and taking sign-ups for a pilot project from local authorities across the UK.

It uses a framework developed by specialist communities within the live events sector to standardise practice across an entire regional economy. Broadly speaking there are two areas event and festival organisers find challenging in this respect: variance across different local authorities and the lack of a statutory framework on which to base their accessible and sustainable practice.

This toolkit integrates these community-driven standards into a licensing commissioning process that produces three distinct outcomes:

• Advisories for the event organisers, articulated within a social value model.
• Reporting, and potentially enforcement detail, for event commissioning groups or Safety Advisory Group officers.
• Aggregate data that will allow for identification and analysis of priorities, producing a people and planet first cost saving strategy for the organisers.

Cheltenham Borough Council became an early adopter of the project, but all partners plan to make the toolkit available as an online tool to help event organisers across the UK – and the world –transform their events for the benefit of diverse populations and the planet. We are already working with other partners, including Manchester City Council, to explore how the tool can provide workable solutions across a range of uses and contexts.

This work is so important because intersectionality is a key part of sustainability; if it doesn’t work for everyone then it cannot be sustainable. One of the aims of the project is to help promote culture for everyone, forever. Taking a ‘whole economy’ approach to collaboration at this scale has brought so much to our town already.”

Read more about Here, There and Everywhere, the report on music tourism, here

Read more about how local governments can create music powerhouses here

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