Julie’s Bicycle launched its theatre programme last week for reducing carbon emissions. JB‘s chief executive Alison Tickell said the theatre sector had been ‘short on vision, long on doubt’. What needed to be done, she said, was ‘to find a few priorities’ and ‘to commit on a major scale’. It was this thinking that lay behind the publication today of a new pamphlet Moving arts: managing the carbon impacts of our touring that gives the data on the most effective steps to take.
Nick Starr, executive director of the National Theatre, announced the names of the Theatre Group that he would chair. The list was impressive:
Nicholas Allott, managing director, Cameron Mackintosh; Gus Christie, executive chairman, Glyndebourne; Paule Constable, lighting designer; Vicky Featherstone, artistic director, National Theatre of Scotland; Vikki Heywood, executive director, Royal Shakespeare Company; Kate Horton, executive director, Royal Court Theatre; Judith Knight, director, Artsadmin; John McGrath, artistic director, National Theatre Wales; Andre Ptaszynski, managing director, Really Useful Group; Rosemary Squire, joint chief executive, Ambassador Theatre Group; Ben Todd, executive director, Arcola; Steve Tompkins director, Haworth Tompkins; and Erica Whyman, chief executive, Northern Stage
As the keynote speaker at the National this morning, Jonathan Porritt, applauded the practical well-researched approach that Julie’s Bicyclehad taken. He went on to widen the discussion, warning the audience against presenting climate change in apocalyptic terms. He thought the last government’s CO2 campaign that had used a bedtime story to convey the message was ‘shockingly awful’.
There were a number of good bits of news. He gave three examples. The new report that 98% of scientists concur with the science on climate change showed ‘Jeremy Clarkson is wrong’. He also couldn’t recall a time when ‘the innovation pipeline looked so good’. And the business case for an environmental strategy was something that ‘we had hardly started to understand’. His example was the huge advances made by Wal-Mart since its chief executive ‘got the green bug’.
But these upsides, Porritt said, left one thing missing, which was particularly relevant to today’s audience. Science was not enough. The Enlightenment idea that the truth would set us free has proved illusory. What’s needed is creative talent. ‘How can we fire up the sense of empathetic connectedness between people?’ he asked, ‘It makes the creative industries absolutely pivotal.’