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Green Leader Q&A #42: Anaïs Biaux, Head of Festival Networks at Without Walls

Anaïs Biaux is the Head of Festival Networks at Without Walls, a network of 35+ festivals and arts organisations bringing innovative outdoor arts to towns and cities across England. She leads on the strategic development of various programmes, including partnership projects, training and professional development programmes. She is the Sustainability Lead and heads up the network’s Environmental Responsibility Action Group.

Prior to this, she produced a range of festivals and events celebrating art and nature at Wild Rumpus, including Just So and Timber Festival; delivered a range of collaboration projects at XTRAX promoting UK outdoor arts internationally, and over the years has been involved in programming and delivering various outdoor festivals, both in France and in the UK.

1 What is the proudest sustainability achievement or moment of your career?

I’ve recently become a Trustee at City of Trees which I’m thrilled about. CoT are a brilliant organisation tackling the climate emergency head on through planting trees and restoring woodlands for the people and wildlife of Greater Manchester.

2 What was your worst ever sustainability-related decision, project or initiative and why?

Believing that I don’t have the knowledge or power to support or influence others. Letting my imposter syndrome creep in.

3 What are you excited about implementing this year?

I’m excited to be working with artist and activist Lorna Rees (Goggledegook Theatre) to develop a template Green Rider for artists working outdoors. We want to help artists feel more empowered and encourage further conversations between festivals and artists about ways to create and tour outdoor work more sustainably.

4 Which environmental issue do you most care about?

Excessive (and unnecessary) use of plastics. Anytime I see packaged apples, my heart sinks.

5 What sustainable change have you made in your personal life that you are most proud of?

Cycling to work more, which is quite a balancing act with all the school bags and lunch packs (not to mention my daughter at the back!)

6 What do you read, listen to or watch to stay in touch with green issues?

Positive News – we all need more positive environmental stories to lift our spirits up.

7 What is the most memorable live performance in your life?

Sea Odyssey by French company Royal de Luxe in Liverpool (2012). Seeing hundreds of thousands of people gathering to see giant puppets was pretty special.

8 Was there a moment you committed to taking action on climate change?

Not a pivotal moment at such; simply the more you inform yourself, the more you get a sense of the sheer scale of the issues posed by climate change and urgency of the situation.

9 What is most important issue to tackle at your events?

Getting better at monitoring our carbon impacts so that we understand where to focus our efforts.

10 What do you think is the most significant challenge for the events industry becoming more sustainable?

In the context of funding cuts, rising production costs and political uncertainties, it can be challenging for festivals and artists to plan and deliver long-term environmental strategies.

11 Can you share something sustainable about/from another artists or event or company that inspired you to make a change?

Lots of artists across artforms inspire me; Squidsoup exploring off-grid renewable energy solutions for art installations; NoFit State circus using solely British grown bamboo in their new show; or Sam Lee’s approach to slow touring, taking audience members on nature walks between gigs.

12 What is the secret to your sustainable success?

Perseverance and positivity – it’s a long journey and true change takes time.

13 Tell us something you feel positive about right now that relates to the environment.

The use of single-use plastics is decreasing, preloved fashion is booming, demand for locally sourced food is increasing. People are generally choosing a more sustainable lifestyle.

14 Tell us a book, film or recent article you feel others should watch/read and why about positive change?

This article by Theatre Director and Performer Daryl Beeton exploring the compromise between access and sustainability in outdoor arts. Daryl is Artistic Director of Daryl and Co, a Disabled-led children theatre company. In this article Daryl discusses some of the barriers faced when embedding access and sustainability on Look Mum, No Hands! and how the company had to find compromises to achieve both.

15 Can you give people new to sustainability in event a top tip?

Focus on one initiative at a time; don’t attempt to fix everything all at once.

16 What is the favourite festival moment of your career?

Tough question as there are so many! I’d say volunteering at my local arts festival in my teens. It sparked something in me and fuelled my passion for decades.

17 What habit or practice has helped you most in your personal journey in life?

Spending time outdoors, no matter the weather.

18 Is there anything new or exciting you are planning or changing for the future that you can tell us about? Even a hint!

I’m planning quite a few opportunities over the coming months for artists, festival organisers, production managers and producers working across our networks to connect, share ideas and experiences of embedding sustainable practices into their work. Hopefully we will come out feeling inspired and empowered to try out something new.

19 Will we save the world?

I said I was positive, so I can only say yes!

20 What would your sustainable super-power be?

I’d make the richest countries take responsibility for climate change and finally pay their dues.

Follow Without Walls on

Twitter @WithoutWallsUK

LinkedIn @WithoutWallsUK

Facebook @WithoutWallsUK


Find Anaïs on Linkedin

This Q&A originally appeared in our May 2024 Vision: 2025 newsletter. Sign up to receive monthly event sustainability news, case studies and guest blogs direct to your inbox.