Dance Studios

A Public, Private, Planetary Partnership Grows in LA

Joel Shapiro_Justin Yoffe_72dpi

Joel Shapiro and Justin Yoffe, co-founders of Arts:Earth Partnership

About seventy people gathered on Friday, June 26th at the Santa Monica Museum of Art in Bergamot Station to celebrate the launch of a new organization that uses only one color in its visionary design: green. The kind of green that speaks to fresh foods, verdant forests, sustainable living and a healthy planet.

In the main gallery, several speakers addressed the audience, including Ken Genser Mayor of Santa Monica, Ernest Dillahay, Director of Cultural Facilities for the City of Los Angeles, Justin Yoffe, Cultural Affairs Director for the City of Santa Monica, and Joel Shapiro, Artistic Director of the Electric Lodge in Venice.

They shared their vision to reduce, recycle, reuse and rethink energy in measurable ways that are specific to the cultural community. The mood was leisurely, but the message from behind the podium was passionate: for the creative community to take a leadership role in halting the effects of global warming, we must think and act differently now.

The mechanism to do this is The Arts:Earth Partnership. Not some utopian fantasy, The Arts:Earth Partnership, or AEP, is a collective of cultural leaders, facilities, theaters, museums, dance studios, art galleries, performing arts companies and individual artists committed to achieving environmental sustainability.

AEP co-founder Joel Shapiro told the audience that 25,000 people come to the Electric Lodge each year. The energy of this performing and visual arts space is supplied by solar panels. To rent the space, independent producers are required to have a recycling plan for their sets, and all front of house and off stage lights are energy efficient.

Shapiro said that he and Justin Yoffe, who is the board president of the Lodge, got the idea for AEP when they started to wonder: what if more facilities shared the same philosophy as the Lodge? How many theaters or galleries or performing arts centers would share resources, reduce their own costs and contribute to the health of the planet? How many people would learn about the cost savings and start to make changes at home?

They started doing research seven years ago and found that bloated applications, expensive start up costs and programs that did not meet the needs of cultural organizations made ‘going green’ a black hole of despair. They decided to develop a new model, one that would make sense to most non-profit organizations whose daily work is often characterized by stretched dollars, resources and staff.

Shapiro and Yoffe started knocking on doors. The cities of Los Angeles and Santa Monica answered and joined with them as AEP founding partners. The City of Los Angeles pledged to convert all of their cultural facilities (30-35) into certified sustainable operations. Santa Monica also connected AEP to their own resource for going green, Sustainable Works, the non-profit organization that, in four years, has helped convert 35 businesses into green companies.

The staff at Sustainable Works trained AEP auditors to conduct energy use assessments at cultural facilities that want to reduce their environmental impact. AEP offers a two-year certification program that includes the assessment, tools, resources and staff support for changing to green technology and practices. Organizations pay a fee for the service and then become members of the collective. Fees are based on the size of the organization’s operating budget. To attract more organizations of all sizes, both Los Angeles and Santa Monica pledged to pay the first year of the two-year AEP certification fees for the artists and organizations that signed up at the reception to join the collective.

Jan Williamson_Joel Shapiro

Jan Williamson, Executive Director of the 18th Street Arts Center and AEP advisory board member talks with Joel Shapiro.

Shapiro said that certification requires each member to use at least 25% renewable energy. The Lodge itself is the gold standard, using 100% renewable energy. In the first year, with 30 current members using at least 25% renewable energy, AEP will reduce CO2 emissions into the atmosphere by 50 tons. That’s roughly equivalent to the annual output of 7 households of 4 adults each. It may not sound like much, but the more organizations and artists join, the more CO2 emissions will drop, the more the creative community can help tip planetary scales back towards balance and inspire others to do the same. Indeed, it’s working already as 25 artists and 25 cultural organizations signed up on Friday.

AEP will track the progress of certified members, as they change from wasteful to efficient energy use and then publish its findings in an annual report. AEP plans to hold annual ‘convergences’ so that cultural leaders can learn from each other by sharing stories, news and information. On their website, AEP also offers a materials exchange board, a resource especially suited to theatres and galleries that rotate sets and exhibitions and frequently use production materials.

After the speeches, small groups hovered near the podium, eager to continue the conversation. The rest of the crowd took in the exhibition of Barkley Hendrick’s bold life-sized portraits, or wandered out into the warm evening air and over to the literature table and makeshift bar. Next to the bar was a sporty car that had been turned into a planter, with succulents and cacti bursting from its windows, trunk and hood. If you can envision a world where abandoned cars are ideal places for gardens, then AEP is an organization that needs your energy (renewable, of course) and commitment to paint the world green.

Job Openings with the Arts:Earth Partnership

Arts / Environmental Program Administrator

Electric Lodge Visual and Performing Arts Center, Venice, CA.

Salary: $25 per hour / 10 hours per week. (flexible schedule)

Do you love the Arts and the Environment? If so, this job may be for you…

The principal responsibility of this part-time position is to administrate a new ‘green standards’ program called Arts:Earth Partnership for cultural facilities, art galleries, performing arts companies and individual artists.

The successful candidate will serve as the main contact for both the general public and for AEP members who might have a question about the program as well as keeping the website up to date, managing the Materials & Exchange Bulletin Board and keeping track of the facility auditing process and needs.

This is a growth position as hours and responsibility will grow as the program expands.

Requires: High school graduation or the equivalent.  A passion for the environment. Two years of recent, paid progressively responsible work experience in cultural programming, environmental programming or facilities operations. A degree in the arts, cultural programming, environmental sciences or a closely related field is highly desirable. Ability to handle most office software and manage websites a big plus. Good customer service skills and phone manners a must.

Application deadline5:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 7th, 2008.

Please send resume and cover letter expressing interest to:

livearts@electriclodge.org or mail to:

Electric Lodge c/o AEP
1416 Electric Avenue
Venice, CA. 90291

 

Arts & Cultural Facility “Green Standards” Auditor

Electric Lodge Visual and Performing Arts Center, Venice, CA.

Salary: $80 per site visit  (1-3 hours per visit) (flexible schedule)

Do you love the Arts and the Environment? If so, this job may be for you…

The principal responsibility of this ‘As-Needed’ position is to audit cultural facilities, art galleries, dance studios, individual artist studios and offices to advise them on how they can gain compliance with Arts:Earth Partnership requirements necessary to become a member.

The successful candidate will be trained on Arts:Earth Partnership guidelines and sustainable practices and audit facilities that wish to join the Arts:Earth Partnership. Auditors will have an initial site visit at which they assess the facility and provide a to-do list for membership. Once the facility is in compliance the auditor returns to validate and hand them their AEP materials or advise them on what they still need to do.

Requires: High school graduation or the equivalent. A passion for the environment. We are looking for regional auditors who use hybrid or alternative fueled vehicles or prefer to use alternative transportation to and from facilities such as bus, bike or foot. Experience in environmental sciences or the eco-auditing of facilities or a related field is preferred but not required. Good customer service skills and professional appearance a must.

Application deadline5:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 7th, 2008.

Please send resume and cover letter expressing interest to:

livearts@electriclodge.org or mail to:

Electric Lodge c/o AEP
1416 Electric Avenue
Venice, CA. 90291