Our news feed here now includes the work of Matthias Merkel Hess from his Eco Art Blog. Matthias is also responsible for Mammut. Mammut is a biannual magazine dedicated to exploring all forms of creative production that have a relationship with nature, landscape and environmentalism——or what they call ecological aesthetics. Featuring scholarly investigations, reports on current discussions and debates, and artist’s projects, Mammut is a sourcebook for readers seeking to understand the intersection of art and nature. It is edited by Matthias Merkel Hess and Roman Jaster and designed by Roman Jaster. You can order Mammut or download a pdf at their website: http://www.mammutmagazine.org/
Let’s face the music and dance…
The papers are awash with stories of economic disaster, with images of bankers losing their jobs, empty shelves at Woolworths, and gloom and doom stories about what is still to come…
Times are indeed difficult but I believe the challenge we face economically can, and should, benefit the environment, and ultimately benefit everyone. For too long the majority of us have danced around the idea of living more sustainably. Now we are faced with a recession, the possibility of job losses and the fear of debt hanging over us, this may be the ‘tipping point’ required to push us into living more sustainably – the need to spend less, reuse more and find cheaper alternatives to everyday goods and transport modes overtaking the days of excess and waste.
The days of excess may be over but that’s not a bad thing. Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of the Black Swan, a book which forecast the slump says ”…good wine, restaurants…will all become cheaper now”.
However, it’s not just the reduced cost of luxury goods that we should be focusing on. More may holiday in Britain, rather than paying for flights to destinations abroad. Environmentally this is only a good thing. Cutting the amount of flights we take each year will have a dramatic effect on our individual carbon footprints. Measure your footprint at www.carbonfootprint.com to see how much it can be reduced by avoiding flying as much as you did in the past.
Even the Chairman of Mastercard is waxing lyrical, “People will spend less time feeding their wallets and more time feeding their souls”. A society obsessed with material possessions, the latest Hermes handbag at £5000 anyone?, is not a happy society. If our focus is solely on the latest fashions and gadgets, the most exclusive holidays, then this promotes anguish if we can’t afford them, competition between family and friends for who has what and how much – ultimately all negative and disparaging. Instead, if we aim towards an environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling and socially just society, everything and everyone who occupy the planet benefits positively.
We may start to change our attitudes to other issues like the Olympics. Seen by some as an expensive waste of time, it could be viewed as a Keynesian boost to the economy.
If you are a business, reducing energy use makes perfect business sense; it saves money and enhances your organisation’s reputation. Increasing numbers of customers are asking for an organisation’s ‘green credentials’. What would your response be? Would it attract more custom or turn people away?
Theatres and other cultural institutions now have an enormous amount of materials at hand to help reduce their energy consumption and save money. Take a look at www.greeningtheatres.com if you are a theatre, music venues should check out www.juliesbicycle.com, the Arts Council have an eco-toolkit for arts organisations, to measure energy use and reduce it, http://www.artscouncil.org.uk/aboutus/project_detail.php?rid=8&id=379, and all other businesses could saves thousands by following advice given on www.carbontrust.co.uk. Many of the steps towards becoming greener are easy and cost nothing.
Thus political, social and environmental attitudes may, and more importantly should, change. If new, more sustainable ways of living become increasingly attractive to the majority rather than the minority, we will produce less waste, emit fewer emissions and treat it other more respectfully…the opportunities for becoming more sustainable are endless. Join Freecycle and swap goods rather than buy new ones, start cycling and help reduce congestion on the roads, buy ingredients rather than frozen and over-packaged prepared meals, join local action groups like the Transition Town movement and meet locals with similar interests, hold a dinner party rather than meeting friends at expensive gastro pubs.
Businesses will need to take heed of these changes and adapt their services accordingly. Whatever we do, we are moving into a new era, it’s up to us to make sure we choose the right direction.
Anna Beech, Sustainability Project Manager, Arcola Theatre, email@example.com
I noticed recently that Frank Lloyd of the Frank Lloyd Gallery in Santa Monica started a blog last fall. So far, the posts focus mainly on the art and artists that fill his roster, but it’s nice to get an inside view into a gallery and what its director thinks about.
So often, gallery sites just have photos and bios and nothing really interactive. I’ve also enjoyed reading Edward Winkleman’s blog, but I’m really not aware of other gallerist bloggers out there. I think it’s a good thing and I hope to see more.
Ken Davenport writes a blog called producer’s perspective at http://www.theproducersperspective.com. He is also involved in BroadwaySpace.com, a social networking site for theater in NYC, with a focus on the commercial (as opposed to BigCheapTheater.com, a social networking site for small theater, primarily in Los Angeles).
We’d like to direct you to two posts he made this week. One is on the ever present New York Playbill, the half sheet folded programs that people collect to fill bookcases. They aren’t solely a NYC thing, the Alley Theatre and other Regional Houses use them as well and there is a company in LA that produce’s a similar publication called a Stagebill. Whatever you want to call it, a lot of them get printed (in advance) and a lot get trashed without much thought.
– Could we allow customers to leave their Playbills for the next patron (we could put a sleeve on the back of the seat in front of the customer, and the Playbill could be like an airline magazine. Take it if you want, leave it if you don’t.)
– Could we charge $1 for the Playbills and use the money to plant trees to offset the paper we’re burning through (in the same way that trucking companies like Clark Transfer dedicate monies to offsetting carbon emissions
– What about removing the casting information from the Playbills altogether so they don’t have to be reprinted as often, and using new inserts each week or each day (London doesn’t even have Playbills)
– Issue one Playbill for every two people or have the ushers add “share your playbills” messages to their “be seated” speeches.
The first and third ideas are my favorites, but you can take a look at the original post by clicking here.
I also want to direct some attention to his writing on the impact of the economy on theater:
Those of us here working on the Big Broadway tend not to worry about what’s happening in the hinterlands, but we should, because it affects us all.
Actors’ Equity Association just lost three major employers, and our investors and writers just lost three major distribution houses that generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in royalties every year. That means it just got a little harder to recoup shows and for writers to earn money post-Broadway.
This is in referrence to the troubles faced by The Magic Theatre in San Francisco, North Shore Music Theatre (running HSM2 of all things and on the losing end), and Carousel Dinner Theatre in Ohio.
Interesting. An organisation called Artport – an offshoot of suffragette-inspired Climate Rush – are issuing a “call for submissions” for artists to to take part in events on January 12th at Heathrow Airport:
CLIMATE RUSH 12TH JAN 2009
ARTPORT is working in collaboration with the Climate Rush for a Dinner
at Domestic Departures, Heathrow, at 7pm on the 12th January 2009
A project set up to harness the power of art and imagination to help stabilise the climate. We
are looking to find individuals and artists who are passionate about
producing ideas and actions focused on and directed at treating the
enormous challenges of climate change...
They are hoping for events/installations that will appear “at 7pm sharp.” Read more on Artport’s Facebook page here. Note particularly the line that says: “IF TROUBLED BY THE POLICE, ARTPORT STRONGLY RECOMMENDS THAT YOU COMPLY WITH THEIR DEMANDS.”
I don’ t think they mean troubled by the police in a philosophical way, but after the Plane Stupid protest at Stansted earlier in the week, it would be foolish to assume the police would react as an enlightened contemporary art audience.
Photo: Heather and Ivan Morison: I am so sorry. Goodbye (Escape Vehicle No 4) Tatton Park Biennial 2008, one of the Best of 2008
Go to RSA Arts & Ecology Blog
From January 16, Superflex will be showing their new work Flooded McDonalds at The South London Gallery. Superflex are the radical Danish threesome who create a wide range of interventions they describe as “tools”; with Rirkrit Tiravanija a few years ago they created Social Pudding – in which communities or gallery-goers “manufacture” and then eat a pudding together.
This is low-res version of their last film, Burning Car:
Go to RSA Arts & Ecology Blog
Totnes artist Janey Hunt is offering refreshments in exchange for you letting her know your “eco-sins” and successes.
Exchange either by visiting
Birdwood House Kitchen in Totnes, Devon on Saturday 10th and 24th 10.30am – 5pm
and Saturday 17th 10.30am – 1pm, where you can get a free cup of tea or coffee
and cake in return for your participationor by visiting my web site www.escapelane.co.uk.
Hunt is arts facilitator for Transition Town Totnes.
Go to RSA Arts & Ecology Blog
Athens for you in the following days? Maybe I can’t and maybe I
shouldn’t and for that I have to say this now. Art may echo this page of
Greek contemporary history, but I’m not convinced it’s entirely
necessary unless we’re willing to individually evaluate the role of art
within the contemporary Greek society and further admit openly the kind
of voice it has for each one of us, and then get on with our day.
There is life after art and if artists are willing to react, or make a
stand, they are not obliged to call it art – an artist is also a
citizen. Sometimes we come closer to art outside the art world.
Photo by murplej@ne
Go to RSA Arts & Ecology Blog
Reprinted from Lighting & Sound America, October 3, 2008:
Staging Concepts, the maker of stage risers and modular staging pieces, reports that it has begun offering products that can be built using eco-friendly materials. The benefits of the materials range from wood certified by the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) to steel with a recycled content value as high as 100%. These products can contribute towards satisfying several LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) credits.
In addition, Staging Concepts, Inc. has become a member of the USGBC (U.S. Green Building Council). The USGBC is a 501(c)(3) non profit composed of leaders from every sector of the building industry working to promote buildings and communities that are environmentally responsible, profitable and healthy place to live and work.
- Staging Concepts’ green product line at Arcat.com
Reprinted from Lighting & Sound America Online, October 2, 2008:
Protech Theatrical Services Las Vegas announces its plans to re-direct its product lines to manufacture “green” products. “We will be making every effort to use recycled, organic, and natural materials and methods to create a new line of products that will be made of raw and recycled materials that will reduce our carbon footprint and make a difference to our planet,” said Will Brants, president of Protech and now GreenScene. “It has been too long that we have taken part in the wasteful use of our planet’s precious resources,” he added.
Revealing his first new GreenScene products at LDI in Las Vegas, Brants reports that virtually all stage equipment is manufactured from steel, castings, aluminum, plastics, and nylon, a high percentage of which are recyclable. Protech’s challenge was to implement a higher percentage of recycled raw materials that could be manufactured and performance-tested to conform to stringent industry standards. Brants and his R & D team worked for the last 16 months to find new manufacturing methods and new sources and expertise.
Brants took his mission to his own manufacturing plant in North Las Vegas, which reduced their landfill output by 90%, by placing recycling bins on site and training employees. The plant also switched to all recycled paper products, energy-efficient lighting, and more efficient air conditioning.
One challenge faced was to find recycled materials that were certifiable, at a reasonable cost. “I even contacted DuPont and, to my surprise, they responded to me and were very cooperative and willing to support my efforts to find sources for recycled nylon right here in my own country,” Brant says, adding that he is issuing a challenge to the industry: “What are you doing for your planet?” He calls for an open forum to solicit ideas from anyone who knows of new sources for raw and recycled materials and new technology to continue to reduce our collective carbon footprint.