Evolving beyond International Touring and Environmental Responsibility programme 2023/24
Composer Liv Vester Larsen and Dancer Yamit Salazar. Photographer Jeremy Henderson
Travel and touring are essential to creativity and culture, but they come at a cost. As the urgency of the climate crisis increases, so does the need for our sector to fully understand its touring footprint, and to sustain a means of sharing art which supports our transition to a global low carbon future.
- Arts Council England
In spring 2023, Eliot Smith Dance (ESD) was one of 20 artists and companies (10 from England, 10 from Denmark) that had taken part in round 2 of the International Touring and Environmental Responsibility programme.
A three-month interactive, online programme exploring key touring challenges, with provocations, frameworks, and practical approaches to reducing their carbon and environmental impacts delivered by Julie’s Bicycle in partnership with Arts Council England and Danish Arts Foundation.
Following the programme, participants were invited to apply for funding in partnership with one another. Three projects were awarded a grant to seed fund concepts originating from the programme.
ESD and Danish-based composer Liv Vester Larsen were one of three successful partners.
Dancers Yamit Salazar and Rowan Parker at Woodhorn Museum. Photographer Eliot Smith
The ITER programme aims to support performing arts professionals in England and Denmark to push the boundaries of international touring and explore new ways to address environmental and sustainability concerns within the performing arts sector.
- Arts Council England
In October 2023, their project "MERGE" brought together ESD's creative director Eliot Smith, Liv Vester Larsen, and two ESD dancers Yamit Salazar and Rowan Parker to what was once the largest pit village in the world, Woodhorn Museum in Ashington, England.
The result was the creation and performance of an interdisciplinary contemporary dance work titled "COALFIELD TO LANDSCAPE" with the aim to highlight the sustainable transformation from coalfields to the landscape of south-east Northumberland — an area of outstanding natural beauty.
Liv, said: “During our planning of MERGE and this collaboration, I realised that Eliot and I have many similar values when it comes to artistic approach, local engagement and how to include nature, diversity and sustainability in all aspects as a frame for creative works.
"The music for “Coalfield to Landscape” includes sounds-elements reffering to the Northumbrian small-pipe, hooves from pitponies, coal and other collected natural materials from the area around Ashington and Woodhorn as well as materials from the industrial past, continued Liv, who travelled to the Ashington using train and ferry – avoiding air travel to make the journey more environmentally sustainable.
“Sound recordings of coal, steel, factories, and wind vibrations in-interaction with trees to amplify the natural experience of this piece.”
Eliot, said: "The work focuses on coalfield communities in Northumberland that share the benefits of a renewed landscape, welcoming visitors from afar to celebrate their unique heritage and promote stewardship of the land, shaped by understanding of the past and needs of the future.
“As ESD grows, we are committed to being accountable in all aspects of our work in relation to the environment by submitting our carbon entry for all future projects to the carbon calculator devised by Julie’s Bicycle, alongside delivering our pledges in our Environmental Policy which launched in February 2021."
Coalfield to Landscape Promo Image. Photographer Darren Irwin
Dancers Rowan Parker rehearsing outdoors at Woodhorn Museum. Photographer Eliot Smith
Submissions of Creative Climate Tools Entry to the Julie's Bicycle:
Total emissions for COALFIELD TO LANDSCAPE: 541.4 kg CO2e
There is so much more we can do, as a company and within our industry, to address the climate emergency and we will continue to explore ways to be greener (without greenwashing) in all areas of our operations.
- Eliot Smith, Creative Director
Eliot Smith Dance acknowledge the support for MERGE from: