EDN Campaign 2022

How are ecological concerns addressed by contemporary dance organisations? Which are the main challenges with “greening” the way we design, produce and present contemporary dance artworks? What do we need in order to achieve greater ecological sustainability? And what has to be taken into consideration in view of our diverse international realities?

These were some of the central questions raised during EDN’s workshops, meetings and exchanges in 2022, that gathered ideas, actions and good practices contributed by a diverse pool of participants; artists, thinkers, leaders and producers from the field of contemporary dance and beyond.

This campaign presents concrete actions and ideas to engage the contemporary dance sector in Europe, its advocates, funders and stakeholders, in a shared movement towards a sustainable future.

EDN Campaign “How Can We Move” started in October 2022, followed by an online conference and the launch of research publication

As the final result of the campaign, the European Dancehouse Network has released the final campaign document covering six themes: 

  • We Can Dance - ecological narratives in contemporary dance
  • We Can Do Less and Do It Together - sustainable production formats
  • We Can Travel Slow and Stay Longer - sustainable mobility practices
  • We Can Be Sufficient - sustainable development structures
  • We Can Be Many - sustainable community relations
  • Towards a Sustainable Future - policy recommendations

The final document is endorsed by all EDN's 48 members from 28 countries. The EDN Campaign document can be used by artists, advocates, funders and stakeholders to (re)think, (re)adapt and (re)invent their approach towards more ecologically sustainable practices in contemporary dance.

We encourage you to combine the use of this document with the EDN publication "Environmental Sustainability in Contemporary Dance: Emerging Issues, Practises and Recommendations" in your local, regional and national advocacy work.

1. We Can Dance.

“After all, dancing is one of the most sustainable activities imaginable.” (Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, EDN Conference 2020)

There is a potential embodied knowledge in the genuine artistic interest of a dance piece and the nature of the process it involves, which can change our ways of being in the world. Bodies are the site of values, behaviour and lifestyles which, for better or worse, are closely connected to climate change and may contribute to fostering environmental sustainability.


Next to measuring the environmental impact, develop monitoring and evaluation frameworks that highlight qualitative contributions of contemporary dance in adapting and transitioning to a more sustainable society.

  • Support artists and companies that work on climate and environmental sustainability by providing funding, working space, programming opportunities, and other forms of support provision of funding, working spaces, programming opportunities and other forms of support.
  • Host artist residencies in natural landscapes, offering opportunities to return something to nature.
  • Integrate environmental sustainability themes in programming for festivals or other events.
  • Present work in natural and outdoor spaces, encourage site-specific presentations.
  • Develop specific formats to discuss sustainability, such as talks, workshops, seminars or outdoor walks. 
  • Foster collaborations between artists and professionals in other fields (e.g. biologists, gardeners, urban planners, innovators, environmentalists, etc.).
  • Pesent programmes in upcycled venues  (old factories, warehouses, TV studios, etc.)
  • Integrate concepts from the natural world as an inspiration for the organisation of activities and the revision of organisational models (e.g. relations within natural ecosystems, traditional knowledge connected to biodiversity, etc.).
  • Develop educational programmes that connect dance and the performing arts with environmental sustainability.
2. We Can Do Less and Do It Together.

“We are so occupied with producing, that we forget to see what impact our work has. This is out of balance.” (René Alejandro Huari Mateus)

We need to start thinking outside the paradigm of production, embrace ‘de-growth’ and find a new balance between the production of new works and the circulation and presentation of that which already exists, as well as the impact of the works presented.


Reduce funding-related requirements for the number of productions and presentations, specifically the number of new productions.

  • Develop cultural ecosystems based on collaboration and sharing rather than competition.
  • Develop methods of measuring and reporting that focus less on the number of new works created. 
  • Support longer creation and production periods.
  • Nurture sustainable relations with local communities.
  • Bring more focus to activities that integrate education, community work, and participation.
  • Diversify job profiles and employment opportunities.
  • Rethink the length of a programming season.
  • Raise awareness about an environmental footprint of a production.
  • Next to the technical rider, create an ecological rider for implementing sustainable work.
3. We Can Travel Slow and Stay Longer.

“Many artists do not have a choice on whether or not to be mobile.” (Lázaro Gabino Rodríguez)

Adapting mobility to new circumstances should be a nuanced process. One that recognises diversity and applies a principle of ‘climate justice’ – that is, framing the climate crisis not only as an environmental or physical process, but one that has ethical and political implications as well, and applying concepts of justice, equity and historical responsibilities when devising more sustainable solutions.


EU bodies, as well as national, regional and local authorities and related bodies should adopt sustainable travel guidelines for the arts which balance environmental sustainability and cultural objectives. This must recognise the need for nuanced approaches which take regional asymmetries into account, and are in line with the principles of climate justice.

  • Contextually - by acknowledging the need for embodied, offline experiences and mobility of the artwork.
  • Combine online and offline formats in cross-border collaboration programmes.
  • Commit to more sustainable forms of travel, whenever possible.
  • Travel less, travel slower, stay longer: combine several different coinciding events or activities in one trip.
  • Strengthen local and regional collaborations.
  • Give priority to those who face more obstacles to travel or have more challenging contexts at home.
  • Consider the travel patterns of audiences and staff.
  • Develop sustainable hosting and accommodation facilities.
  • Consider performance formats that embody sustainable travel.
  • Raise awareness of imbalances that make mobility compulsory.
4. We Can Be Sufficient.

“Let artistic practices create structures that are capable of change.” Maija Karhunen

In addition to the nature of organisations and structures, change may also be hindered by the lack of financial, human or technical resources to undertake transformative approaches, the daunting feeling that measures for change are necessary in many areas and it is difficult to know where to start, the fear that adapting to sustainability puts the usual activities and procedures at risk, or the perception that environmental sustainability is only a secondary issue for performing arts organisations. 


Support the adaptation of dance organisations and venues to enhance their environmental sustainability, recognising the need for capacity building and revised approaches. This should be achieved through the application of incentives rather than penalties.

  • Foster a culture of positive and realistic change: identify needs and opportunities, and determine concrete measures which can effectively be applied in short, mid and long term.
  • Identify the areas in which change is necessary.
  • Analyse the needs to put change into action.
  • Involve external experts or consultants to engage with internal expertise.
  • Nominate a dedicated green team.
  • Conduct internal training and awareness-raising.
  • Measure, monitor, plan and report.
5. We Can Be Many.

“Dance is for community, for personal growth, for everything because words are just symbols of our experience. So, how do we get to the experience? Because the word is just one symbol, but movement incorporates everything.” Anna Halprin

A development of ‘slower’ forms of engagement involve stronger relations with local communities. The holistic, interconnected nature of sustainability, where environmental, social, economic and cultural aspects meet, implies new partnerships with a diverse range of profiles, including environmental, educational and social stakeholders, on the one hand, and other organisations in dance and the arts, on the other.


Foster the exchange of knowledge, experiences, and networking among dance and other arts organisations in areas related to environmental sustainability

  • Develop joint activities and campaigns with other sectors and civil initiatives.
  • Embed residency programs in local communities.
  • Organise dance performances in natural spaces or other non-traditional venues.
  • Involve audiences and stakeholders in thinking how organisations can be more sustainable.
  • Explore how climate impacts will affect your local area.
  • Identify relevant partners locally, in adaptation to specific contexts.
  • Form alliances with public authorities, including local and regional governments that may have sustainability and adaptation strategies and schemes in place.

6. Towards a Sustainable Future …

There are large asymmetries across Europe, with only a few countries having cultural policies strongly connected to environmental sustainability. Structured incentives for ecologically considerate touring are insufficient and goals of cultural policies are often incompatible with sustainable practices, excessively focusing on quantitative indicators. Making progress towards a model for creation, production and presentation which is consistent with sustainability, revising approaches to mobility, fostering organisations’ internal change and strengthening partnerships and community engagement requires transformation on policy level.


The EU, national, regional and local authorities and related bodies should revise and set up funding incentives and mechanisms which enable the dance sector to transition into environmentally sustainable practices, taking into consideration the sustainability of working conditions within the field.

  • Set up consultations with arts and environmental organisations to identify areas of concern, potential complementarities and priorities.
  • Include qualitative selection criteria in funding calls that help to appraise the contribution of the arts to environmental sustainability, going beyond purely quantitative indicators.
  • Set up funding mechanisms which enable arts organisations to adapt to environmental sustainability (e.g. adaptation of buildings or events, develop environmental action plans, provision of additional funds for sustainable mobility, establishing dedicated teams and building capacity within the organisation, etc.).
  • Transition towards funding models that place less emphasis on production and more on regular research and development of activities.
  • Set up mechanisms allowing arts organisations to get tailored support to adapt their operations and activities in the light of sustainability.
  • Support the sharing and pooling of resources between organisations, contributing to a more efficient use of materials and capacities.
  • Encourage networking and other collaborative activities between organisations in the arts and those in environmental sustainability.
  • Establish green labels and other forms of certification which recognise organisations that have adopted commitments and developed good practice in environmental terms.
  • Provision mechanisms allowing arts organisations to measure their environmental impacts.
  • Promote partnerships and alliances between organisations in the arts and culture and other sectors.