Green Alliance

Earth Matters On Stage 2012 at Carnegie Mellon University

  There have been a bevvy of eco-theater conferences in recent years, but it’s great to bring it all together with Earth Matters on Stage, which took place this past May 31st-June 2 at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburg, PA. It included a collection of performances, presentations and panels covering everything from carbon footprint to eco-dramaturgy. Session titles included: “Sustainable Design,” “Ecocriticism & Contemporary American Theater,” and “The Carbon Footprint of Theatrical Production,” among many others. That last one was by CSPA’s Ian Garrett, and involved discussions of all the usual players: Arcola Theatre, Julie’s Bicycle, the Broadway Green Alliance . . . Discussions of sustainable design carried throughout the festival and bled into discussion of performance throughout the weekend. Again and again: how do we make theatrical production more sustainable? How do we incorporate or cultural dialogue with the planet into the work? How do we make work that goes beyond “being less bad” into something that actually has a positive impact on the environment?

Below are a selection of photos from the event. Keynote speaker and performer was Holly Hughes, one of the NEA four, whose most recent work (“The Dog and Pony Show: Bring your own Pony,”) examines her relationship with her pets. Ecodrama Playwright competition winners this year included Chantal Bilodeau, whose work “Sila,” explores a cultural cross-section of inuit culture, scientific researchers, and polar bears, and Mark Rigney, whose play, “Bears,” depicts a slow deterioration of civilization through the intimate stories of a group of zoo-bound bears.  The work of Earth Matters founder Theresa May was ever-present in the discussion on eco-dramaturgy, and the weekend ended with a discussion of conferences past and future. The dialogue continues, as we discuss and discover more ways that our set of skills can serve the environment.

Jame Bedell’s Greener Lighting Design in the Real World

Check out this presentation by lighting designer James Bedell. He originally gave this presentation at an event for the Broadway Green Alliance exploring Greener Lighting Practices in the theater. As a sustainability advocate, James encourages lighting designers to integrate sustainability into their design priorities whenever working on a project.

Broadway Green Alliance Gel Project

The Broadway Green Alliance is pleased to announce the pilot program, “The Gel Project.” Each year thousands of dollars of lighting gel must be changed out on Broadway shows as part of the maintenance procedures. This lighting gel is usually not damaged nor faded, and in great condition. The goal of “The Gel Project” is to transfer good lighting gel from Broadway shows to the collections of regional theaters for only the cost of shipping. This will keep lighting gel out of the dumpster and into theatrical productions throughout the country.  We are happy to announce the first “The Gel Project” participants as Broadway’s Wicked and The Old Globe in San Diego, California. We look forward to future pairings in 2012.

If you are a regional theater is who interested in continuing your greening efforts by receiving gel from a Broadway show, please contact The Broadway Green Alliance at dwerle@broadwaygreen.com

If you are involved in a Broadway show and would like to donate your used gel, please contact The Broadway Green Alliance at dwerle@broadwaygreen.com.  This commitment would entail the following:

  • letting us know when you have your next scheduled gel change (yearly or bi-yearly) so we can get it on our calendar
  • collecting all gel & scroller color when you do your change over and pack into ship-able box(es)
  • Contact the BGA so we can pick-up the box or boxes.  We will take care of the shipping; the regional theater will cover the cost of the shipment.

The Broadway Green Alliance will work with the theater & show to create successful matches. This pilot program is slated for the calendar year 2012.  In December 2012 we will evaluate the progress of the program and determine how to proceed going into 2013.

On behalf of the Broadway Green Alliance and the Pre & Post Production Committee, we would love to have you join us in this exciting new program of creative re-use and outreach.

Sustainability in Theater Conference: People, Planet, Profit, Purpose

April 30 – May 1, 2012

Minneapolis, Minnesota

A blended conference dedicated to providing tangible, practical strategies to implementing greener theater practices, ensuring theaters remain a vital part of our community.


Early bird discount through December 31
Discounts for members of MTA, TCG, and CSPA
Register now
Sponsor the SIT Conference
Make a donation

Day One: Learn

A full day of learning and networking, featuring sustainability experts, sustainability in theater pioneers and success stories. If you don’t live nearby, all Day One activities will be broadcast online. By attending virtually, you can save money, time, and carbon emissions. We will take full advantage of social media to allow virtual attendees to participate, connect and network.

Speakers and facilitators will cover four focus areas:

  • People (stakeholders)
  • Planet (environmental impact)
  • Profit (keep the doors open)
  • Purpose (artistic vision and values)

All feeding into the question “How can we tangibly change the way we run our theaters to ensure we survive and have a significant positive impact on our environment and community?”

Presenting organizations include:

  • Broadway Green Alliance (New York): helped convert 97% of Broadway’s marquees to LED technology
  • Center for Sustainable Practices in the Arts (Los Angeles): working on SHOPLAB, a materials reuse and sharing facility
  • York University (Toronto): developing the Theatre Artisans Green Skills forum
  • Mo`olelo Performing Arts Company (San Diego): published the Green Theater Choices Toolkit
  • Childsplay (Arizona): host of the Sustainability in Stagecraft conference, 2009
  • Earth Matters on Stage: presenter of ecodrama playwrights festival and symposium
  • Center Energy and the Environment: providing practical, innovative, energy solutions for homeowners, businesses, nonprofits, and government

Day Two: Do

Presentations will focus on local resources available in Minnesota. Participants will break off into separate sessions based on their roles in their organizations and with the help of conference facilitators will work on specific challenges and problems they encounter in their work. The goal of the sessions will be to produce tactics for tackling these challenges, to be published and shared with every attendee. We encourage communities outside Minnesota to organize their own local working sessions.

  • Meet like-minded and like-titled individuals to share best practices and strengthen your network.
  • Learn ideas, case studies and tactics for building a sustainable organization.
  • Address common sustainability challenges theaters and professionals like you are tackling now.
  • Gather an arsenal of practical, immediate tactics that can help you spur change in your organization and celebrate small successes right away.

Presented by the Minnesota Theater Alliance and the Twin Cities Sustainable Theaters Group
Hosted by Brave New Workshop

The SIT Conference Task Force
John Bueche, Bedlam Theatre
Leah Cooper, Minnesota Theater Alliance
Kat Duvic, Brave New Workshop
Erin Farmer, Brave New Workshop
Ian Garrett, Center for Sustainable Practices in the Arts
Todd Hintz, Guthrie Theater
Elena Imaretska, Brave New Workshop
Ellen Jones, Bemidji State University
Jenna Papke, Minnesota Theater Alliance
Jill Underwood, Guthrie Theater
Alicia Wold, CostumeRentals

In partnership with Theatre Communications Group and
Center for Sustainable Practices in the Arts


International Green Theatre Alliance Launched

New international initiative to green the theatre sector founded by environmental organizations Julie’s Bicycle (UK) and Broadway Green Alliance (USA)

A new International Green Theatre Alliance (IGTA) has been launched at this year’s LDI show in Orlando, Florida. The IGTA formalizes the growing partnership between Julie’s Bicycle (UK), which works on environmental sustainability across the creative industries in the UK, and the Broadway Green Alliance (USA), which works with the US theatre community and its patrons to adopt environmentally preferable practices.

The Alliance’s first project is a new website www.igtalliance.com which will go live in December 2011 and provide an entry point for international practitioners seeking information and resources on environmentally sustainable best practices in the arts. The website will introduce the extensive sustainability programs of alliance members and direct users to international resources and support networks.

Alliance members will be working together on a range of projects over the coming years. A major aim will be to pool their collective knowledge and experience to help the theatrical industry respond better to the specific challenges it faces in its transition to a low carbon business. This will include sharing and disseminating research; case studies and practical tools; and collaborating on new resources and events. One of the first projects is focusing on sustainable practices in stage lighting.

The founding members hope that the alliance will grow into a worldwide initiative of similar organizations working at a national level to bring about an environmentally sustainable future for the creative industries.

Alison Tickell, Director of Julie’s Bicycle said, “It is fantastic to find like-minded partners committed to the same sustainable vision, and prepared to pick away at the obstacles that make tackling climate change seem so tough. When creative people come together anything is possible, and the energy, creativity and focus of the BGA has been inspiring.”

Sian Alexander, Associate Director, Theatre for Julie’s Bicycle said, “We have enjoyed an increasingly productive and collaborative relationship with our colleagues at the Broadway Green Alliance and this new international alliance is the logical next step for us. We feel that we have much to learn from each other and that through collaboration we can achieve more, faster as we work to improve the environmental sustainability of our industry. In the first instance we hope to provide a useful international resource for practitioners through our website. We expect to see other practical outcomes of our work together over the coming year, and in time we hope that our alliance will grow to include other countries. To this end, we are already in positive conversation with colleagues in Australia and Canada, among others.”

Charles Deull, Co-Chair of the Broadway Green Alliance said, “The BGA is thrilled to launch the IGTA with Julie’s Bicycle, a proven leader in working with arts organizations in making their operations greener.  Bringing together the best sustainability innovations from Broadway, the West End and the theatre communities in the UK and US will enhance our effectiveness and support the many companies and individuals creating a greener theatre.  We look forward to expanding the IGTA to encompass other national organizations focused on a greener theatre community.”

Julie’s Bicycle is helping to make environmental sustainability intrinsic to the business, art and ethics of the music, theatre and creative industries. Established in 2007 by leading figures in the UK music industry, Julie’s Bicycle is a non-profit company working across the arts and creative industries, providing expertise in environmental sustainability to over 350 organisations in the UK and internationally. We offer practical advice, tools, resources and Industry Green environmental certification, informed by world-leading research into the environmental impacts of the creative industries.

www.juliesbicycle.com

The Broadway Green Alliance (BGA) was launched in 2008 as an ad hoc committee of The Broadway League and is a program of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids. The BGA brings together all segments of the theatre community, including producers, theatres in New York and around the country, theatrical unions and their members, and related businesses. Working closely with the Natural Resources Defense Council, the BGA identifies and disseminates better practices for theatre professionals and reaches out to theatre fans throughout the country.

www.broadwaygreen.com

LDI is the largest tradeshow and conference for live design professionals in North & South America. Over 9,000 professionals attend LDI each year for pro-training, to spec gear and to network with colleagues and industry leaders.

http://ldishow.com/LDI11/public/enter.aspx

What is it that art could do for the environment?

This post comes to you from Ashden Directory

Kellie Payne reports on the Green Alliance’s summer debate about the arts and the environment.

For their summer reception, the environmental think tank Green Alliance hosted an evening of opera and debate at the Royal Opera House. In conjunction with The Opera Group, the evening began with a fifteen minute excerpt of Luke Bedford‘s new opera Seven Angels, is inspired by Milton’s Paradise Lost and has environmental degradation as its theme.

Following the opera taster, there was a panel discussion entitled ‘What have the arts ever done for the environment? The panel included a mix of representatives from the worlds of policy, the arts and academia. It was chaired by Julie’s Bicycle’s Alison Tickell, and panellists included: The Southbank Centre artistic director, Jude Kelly, RSA chief executive Matthew Taylor, Arcola Theatre executive director Ben Todd, the sculptor Peter Randall-Page and David Frame, fellow of Oxford University. In her introduction, Tickell indicated that the Seven Angels was one among a crop of new work being made by British artists that addressed nature or the environment among those artists she listed were Antony Gormley, Ian McEwan, Jay Griffiths.

One of the main themes of the evening was an attempt in the discussion to answer the general question of what it is that art can do for the environment. It was generally agreed that one of the strengths of art was that it was well equipped to deal with the complexities that many environmental issues such as climate change raise. Matthew Taylor saying that art should be one of the many interventions required to tackle climate change.

One of the most eloquent responses came from the scholar, David Frame, who highlighted art’s ability to deal with complexity and tension. He felt that as climate change and environmental problems are so complex in nature, with for instance climate change knowledge dispersed amongst many specialists without a graspable whole. He said that the arts community has ‘a unique ability to convey complexity, delicacy, and beauty and among the things you can do is you don’t need to simplify…’

He pointed to the deficits in mediums such as Twitter or the 1,000 word Op Ed piece and contrasted this with the length of a novel or a film where he said ‘the possibilities for the ideas you can upload to people is phenomenal.’ This type of medium he said was also more able to cope with uncertainties. ‘You leave interpretation open which isn’t considered acceptable in other forms and I think that in doing so you can bring out tensions between these parallel values’.

Changing values seemed to be one of the key roles identified for art that emerged from the discussion. Alison said she has observed what she describes as a ‘palpable’ shift in values taking place rapidly and for her ‘the arts do have a role to play in reflecting and shaping and engaging with those values.’ While Matthew didn’t agree with Alison the extent to which values have already changed in the positive direction Alison described. In fact, he warned that during this current time of disturbance there is a clear dissatisfaction with current values but which way public opinion would turn was not decided. He said the dissatisfaction could lead in two ways, and not necessarily in a progressive direction he lamented that ‘it can go in a dangerous direction as well.’

The question of how politics should be addressed raised differing opinions. Jude Kelly began by announcing she ‘didn’t mind a bit of bad art’ provided that art had some sort of message. She went on to say, ‘I don’t think it’s a hanging offence to produce a message’ However if it’s not particularly interesting it might ‘bore me after awhile’. Further, ‘I don’t mind artists having a go. I really dislike the idea that artists shouldn’t be allowed to take centre stage to comment on things.

While Peter conceded that there was ‘nothing wrong with political art’, for him it was less the politics which art was best equipped to address. He was more of the mind that art’s quality was that it didn’t have a direct ‘purpose’ that it was its intrinsic values alone that made art great. He believes that ‘arts are not well placed to (do) issue based lobbying’ contrasting what he finds often to be the pragmatism of the environmental movement with the arts ability to nourish imagination and the spirit in the way the natural world does. ‘I think the role that I feel for the arts in environmentalism is that it… reminds us that we’re not all bad. If we only feel negative it’s impossible for us to move forward and remove this exclusively pragmatic approach to looking after the world.’

Matthew wanted to introduce a third way of thinking about the issue agreeing that art shouldn’t attempt to kick us around the head. However, he felt art could ‘challenge people to live differently and value things in slightly different ways.’ Providing a vision of how ‘a different, deeper kind of understanding about what makes life worth living and what it is society wants to be.’ This task he felt art was ‘incredibly well suited’. That is, ‘art is there to explicitly to get you to think about what the good life is.’ He concluded this thought saying ‘art shouldn’t be ashamed to say that art is here to help you rethink what our values are and I don’t think that requires you to revert to a kind of crude placard waving.’

In addition to the discussion about art and politics, the panel also touched on the controversial issue of artists lifestyles and the high carbon footprint of the arts. The general attitude on the panel was that this shouldn’t be paid as much attention as it has been. Jude Kelly saying that this arts requires face-to-face interactions and not allowing artists to fly amounts to a cultural boycott. But Matthew Taylor thought artists should be accountable, and if they want to have influence on others they have to take account of their own actions.
Increased collaboration amongst artists was encouraged, suggesting that the problem of the environment is one that artists should attempt to do together. Arts organisations such as Cape Farewell and Tipping Point were highlighted as doing exceptional work, helping to inform artists of climate change and bringing the topic to their consciousness.

It was edifying to see an organisation such as the Green Alliance, who normally deals with more policy related issues such as building a sustainable economy, investigating climate and energy futures, designing out waste and political leadership to host a conversation with the arts community. A cursory glance over badges of audience members saw representatives from business and policy, including the Department for Energy and Climate Change and The Environment Agency, so the wider these issues can be encountered and discussed the better. It’s time the arts community made it’s voice heard in the conversation about climate change. Peter concluded well, stating that it is artists who need to create metaphors and narratives which make it possible to go into the future.

“ashdenizen blog and twitter are consistently among the best sources for information and reflection on developments in the field of arts and climate change in the UK” (2020 Network)

The editors are Robert Butler and Wallace Heim. The associate editor is Kellie Gutman. The editorial adviser is Patricia Morison.

Robert Butler’s most recent publication is The Alchemist Exposed (Oberon 2006). From 1995-2000 he was drama critic of the Independent on Sunday. See www.robertbutler.info

Wallace Heim has written on social practice art and the work of PLATFORM, Basia Irland and Shelley Sacks. Her doctorate in philosophy investigated nature and performance. Her previous career was as a set designer for theatre and television/film.

Kellie Gutman worked with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture for twenty years, producing video programmes and slide presentations for both the Aga Khan Foundation and the Award for Architecture.

Patricia Morison is an executive officer of the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts, a group of grant-making trusts of which the Ashden Trust is one.

Go to The Ashden Directory

Considering Sustainble Design @ PQ 2011

Historically, the Prague Quadrennial has been an international exhibition of scenography (stage design), where countries come together to display the best of their theater work and the spirit of their design methodologies. It’s a mass of gatherings. It’s discussions and performances and lectures and guerilla moments in the streets (is that a performance or a conversation? Is she injured or just creating an interesting shape? Is that a flamboyant dress or a costume?). It’s also Scenofest, the educational arm of the Quadrennial, featuring a series of workshops and organized talks.

At DAMU, the Czech Academy of Dramatic Arts, CSPA Executive Director Ian Garrett gathered with Nick Moran of the Central School of Speech & Drama and myself to discuss sustainability in design on a panel led by William Mackwood of York University (best known for hosting the Staging Sustainability conference earlier this year). While no one walked in with a paper dress or noisemaking speakers, some fascinating discourse ensued regarding the nature of performance.

Ian Garrett started off with a powerpoint overview of green practices in the arts. He’s extensively acquainted with the overall carbon impact of the average theater production: length of run, power consumption, material. In the years that he’s been building the CSPA, he’s also been gathering a mass of information on the complexity of the arts’ environmental impact. Garrett brings into the discussion issue of audience transportation (a huge factor in carbon footprint) vs. the potential impact of audiences if they had just stayed at home that night. He also discussed the work of groups like Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company and the Broadway Green Alliance.

Following him was Nick Moran, who focused on the resources on the site Julie’s Bicycle and the need within the green movement to make changes on a small (and totally unsexy) level, like type of toilet paper, while continuously pressing for systematic change in arts production culture. He discussed everything from tungsten lamps to fuel cells from the standpoint of a lighting designer who fiercely believes in sustainability.

I stepped up and discussed my obsession of the past several years—ecologically restorative art, including works from Xavier Cortada and Mierle Ukeles, and some of my own work.

Then Mackwood wrapped up presentations with examples of his current work and research at York and Out of the Box Productions, including a greening of “Opera Erotique,” which used all-LED lighting. He discussed design qualities unique to the famously energy-efficient lighting, including cut-lines on dancers, strobe capabilities, and the ability to fit an entire lighting rig in the trunk of a car. What followed was an interesting and brief discussion of LED design. Nick Moran brought up the fact that, unlike tungsten, LED color properties don’t change as they fade. “Imagine that you’re in a world where, for the first time, your lights change color as they fade out. WHAT?! What have you done? Change it!”

In the roundtable following, balance was a key issue in discussion: between medium and message, between creative and financial needs, between work and decompression.“You’ve gotta make good work, otherwise there’s no point: worthy, dull, theatre does not change anyone’s mind,” said Moran. The audience was a point of debate. Are we trying to change their minds, or just give them more sustainable spectacle? Are we trying to address the needs of their transportation, or just present eco-theater? In a field of limited resources it’s all about priorities, and needs are complex. As performances exploded all over the streets of Prague, a very grounding discourse took place at DAMU. Like every conversation about sustainability, it leads to more questions, more conversations, and a grab-bag of actionable items. Regardless, it’s refreshing to be in a room with sharp minds that are focused on this issue, and there is potential for a wider impact at the next PQ.

“Going Green in Theatrical Design: Set & Props”

Wednesday, December 8, 2010
6 to 7:30pm
The Broadway League
729 Seventh Avenue, 5th floor
New York, NY

The Broadway Green Alliance announces its first of several free workshops discussing sustainability in theatrical design.  From Bamboo Velour to Wheatboard, there are better & greener choices to be made. Hear what materials are available, see & touch new products, and learn tips to make your design/production more sustainable.  Open to all designers, artisans, technicians and managers who want to create greener sets & props. Feel free to pass on this invite to your fellow
colleagues, assistants or students.

Space is limited.  Contact Donyale Werle at donyalewerle@gmail.com to reserve your seat!

sustainability in theatre


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The Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts, a Los Angeles-based non-profit arts infrastructure organisation, presents an overview of current trends and practices in sustainability for theatre from around the world. We will be looking at UK initiatives from Julie’s Bicycle, the Arcola Theatre and White Light LTD, as well as those of the Broadway Green Alliance, York University in Toronto, Mo’olelo Performing Arts in San Diego and other theaters, arts organisations and artists from around the globe. Join us to learn about the growing momentum towards ecologically-minded arts making! www.sustainablepractice.org/fringe

Sustainability in Theatre | Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2010

The Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts, a Los Angeles-based non-profit arts infrastructure organisation, presents an overview of current trends and practices in sustainability for theatre from around the world. We will be looking at UK initiatives from Julie’s Bicycle, the Arcola Theatre and White Light LTD, as well as those of the Broadway Green Alliance, York University in Toronto, Mo’olelo Performing Arts in San Diego and other theaters, arts organisations and artists from around the globe. Join us to learn about the growing momentum towards ecologically-minded arts making! www.sustainablepractice.org/fringe

via Sustainability in Theatre | Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2010.