Toxic Chemicals

FRACKING: Art and Activism Against the Drill

Courtesy of Jacques del Conte

December 7, 2010 February 5, 2011
Opening Tuesday, December 7 / 7-9pm

NEW YORK – Exit Art announces Fracking: Art and Activism Against the Drill. Hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) is a means of gas extraction that accesses gas trapped more than a mile below the earth’s surface. This exhibition, a project of SEA (Social Environmental Aesthetics), will expose this process of gas extraction that is contaminating water supplies worldwide. Through documentary videos, photographs, commissioned works, public responses and literature, it will engage the public in dialogue on this issue through public lectures and calls to action and encourage audiences to continue educating themselves and their communities on fracking and its detrimental effects.

Exit Art invited the public to respond to the issue of fracking by submitting a postcard through the mail with original artwork on one side and a written statement on the other. The dozens of responses we received will be on view, forming a collective call to end fracking; postcards will be accepted throughout the run of the exhibition and will be added as they are received.

Organized by Lauren Rosati, Assistant Curator, with Peggy Cyphers, Ruth Hardinger, and Alice Zinnes.

MORE INFORMATION on FRACKING

Hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) is a means of gas extraction that accesses gas trapped more than a mile below the earth’s surface. When a well is fracked, small earthquakes are produced by the pressurized injection of millions of gallons of fresh water combined with sand and chemicals, releasing the gas, as well as toxic chemicals, heavy metals and radioactive materials that contaminate air and water.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005, passed under the guidance of then-Vice President Dick Cheney, exempts fracking from the Safe Drinking Water Act and major provisions of other protective laws, virtually eliminating the gas industry’s liability and E.P.A.’s regulatory oversight. Exemption from the Community Right to Know Law also absolves the gas industry from being required to report the actual chemicals used in the drilling processes—chemicals that can severely contaminate the water supply and cause serious illnesses. A drilling moratorium is in effect in New York State until the D.E.C. issues fracking regulation, potentially paving the way for drilling to commence in New York in 2011.

PUBLIC EVENT

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 / 7-9pm

Fracking and Its Effects: A Panel Discussion

Host: Mark Ruffalo, Actor / Activist
Moderator: Tracy Carluccio, Activist
Panelists: Joe Levine, Lobbyist / Activist; Michael Lebron, Grassroots Organization; Al Appleton, Policy; Michel Boufadel, Civil Engineer; Christy Rupp, Artist; and a representative from “Gasland” to be announced

This panel discussion brings together leading experts and activists on hydraulic fracturing, representing multiple facets of this issue.

Mark Ruffalo is an actor, director, producer and screenwriter. He is also a vocal critic of hydraulic fracturing, having recently appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show to discuss the issue and the 2009 FRAC Act.

Tracy Carluccio is the Deputy Director of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network. She has served on several township boards, inter-municipal steering committees and community organizations related to issues of water and environmental preservation.

Al Appleton is the former Commissioner of NYC’s Environmental Protection Agency and an international expert on water issues. He is also a Senior Fellow at the CUNY Institute for Urban Systems and an international consultant on issues of watershed and water utility management, financing, and land use.

Michel Boufadel is the Professor and Chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Temple University and the Director of its Center for Natural Resources Development and Protection. He is one of the nation’s foremost experts on oil spills and the Marcellus Shale natural gas deposits.

Michael Lebron is the key figure behind the collective lawsuits in Dimock, PA and is currently working with citizens of Bradford and Wyoming Counties, PA. He is also a spokesperson for litigants in cases related to hydraulic fracturing.

Joe Levine is the co-founder of NYH20 and Damascus Citizens for Sustainability, a grassroots nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the Upper Delaware River Basin from the ravages of deep-shale gas extraction and the threat posed by the natural gas industry. Visit http://www.damascuscitizens.org.

Christy Rupp is an artist and activist who has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions internationally since 1977. Her most recent body of work deals with fracking, mountaintop removal and oil drilling in the Amazon.

“Gasland” is a documentary film directed by Josh Fox that focuses on communities affected by natural gas drilling. It was released in 2010 and premiered at the Sundance Film Festival where it won the Special Jury Prize.

ABOUT EXIT ART

Exit Art is an independent vision of contemporary culture. We are prepared toreact immediately to important issues that affect our lives. We do experimental, historical and unique presentations of aesthetic, social, political and environmental issues. We absorb cultural differences that become prototype exhibitions. We are a center for multiple disciplines. Exit Art is a 28-year-old cultural center in New York City founded by Directors Jeanette Ingberman and artist Papo Colo, that has grown from a pioneering alternative art space, into a model artistic center for the 21st century committed to supporting artists whose quality of work reflects the transformations of our culture. Exit Art is internationally recognized for its unmatched spirit of inventiveness and consistent ability to anticipate the newest trends in the culture. With a substantial reputation for curatorial innovation and depth of programming in diverse media, Exit Art is always changing.

ABOUT SEA (Social-Environmental Aesthetics)

SEA is a diverse multimedia exhibition program that addresses social and environmental concerns. It assembles artists, activists, scientists and scholars through presentations of visual art, performances, panels and lecture series that communicate international activities concerning environmental and social activism. It provides a vehicle through which the public can be made aware of socially- and environmentally-engaged work, and a forum for collaboration among artists, scientists, activists, scholars and the public. SEA functions as an initiative where individuals can join together in dialogue about issues that affect our daily lives. Conceived by Exit Art Co-Founder / Artistic Director Papo Colo.

EXHIBITION SUPPORT

General exhibition support provided by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; Bloomberg LP; Jerome Foundation; Lambent Foundation; Pollock-Krasner Foundation; New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn; and public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts. We are grateful to Damascus Citizens for Sustainability and Delaware RiverKeeper for their help and expertise in the complex issues of fracking.

EXIT ART – Call For Proposals for Projects on Fracking

Exit Art announces an exhibition on fracking, on view from December 7, 2010 to February 5, 2011. Hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) is a means of gas extraction that accesses gas trapped more than a mile below the earth’s surface. Fracking: Art and Activism Against the Drill, a project of SEA (Social Environmental Aesthetics), will expose this process of gas extraction that is contaminating water supplies worldwide. Through documentary videos, photographs, commissioned works and literature, it will engage the public in dialogue on this issue through public lectures and calls to action; and encourage audiences to continue educating themselves and their communities on fracking and its effects. It is organized by Assistant Curator Lauren Rosati, and Peggy Cyphers, Ruth Hardinger, and Alice Zinnes. As part of this exhibition, Exit Art invites artists and the general public to respond to the issue of fracking by submitting a postcard-sized artwork and brief written response.

PLEASE SUBMIT:

a 4 x 6” postcard with original work on one side (original drawing, painting, collages, photograph, etc.) and a brief written statement responding to fracking on the other side. Postcards must be mailed or dropped off in person during regular hours.

ALL postcards must be received by Wednesday, November 24, 2010.

MAIL TO:

Exit Art
Attn: Fracking
475 Tenth Avenue
New York, NY 10018

All received works will be exhibited and handled by the public. Works will not be returned and will become property of the Exit Art Archive. No phone calls, please.

MORE INFORMATION on FRACKING

When a well is fracked, small earthquakes are produced by the pressurized injection of millions of gallons of fresh water combined with sand and chemicals, releasing the gas, as well as toxic chemicals, heavy metals and radioactive materials that contaminate the air and water. The Energy Policy Act of 2005, passed under the guidance of then-Vice President Dick Cheney, exempts fracking from the Safe Drinking Water Act and major provisions of other protective laws, virtually eliminating the gas industry’s liability and E.P.A.’s regulatory oversight. Exemption from the Community Right to Know Law also absolves the gas industry from being required to report the actual chemicals used in the drilling processes—chemicals that can severely contaminate the water supply and cause serious illnesses. A drilling moratorium is in effect in New York State until the D.E.C. issues fracking regulation, potentially paving the way for drilling to commence in New York in 2011.

via EXIT ART – Programs | Call For Proposals.

Relevant Info: New Guide For Healthy Flooring Materials

from healthystuff.org

October 19, 2010 – from HealthyStuff.org

Largest-Ever Study of Chemicals in
Home Improvement Products Finds Lead, Phthalates, Cadmium, Organotins and Other Harmful Ingredients

Study Finds Flooring & Wallpaper Contain Hazardous Additives
Already Restricted or Banned in Toys

Groups Call for Stronger Regulations of Toxic Chemicals in Consumer Products

(Ann Arbor, MI) — Researchers known for exposing toxic chemicals in children’s toys have turned their attention to home improvement products, finding ingredients in flooring and wallpaper that are linked to serious health problems. The nonprofit Ecology Center tested over 1,000 flooring samples and nearly 2,300 types of wallpaper for substances that have been linked to asthma, birth defects, learning disabilities, reproductive problems, liver toxicity and cancer. The results were released today on the easy-to-use consumer website – www.HealthyStuff.org – which also includes prior research on toys, pet products, cars, women’s handbags, back-to-school products and children’s car seats.

“The public needs to know that there are practically no restrictions on chemicals used in home improvement products,” said Jeff Gearhart, the Ecology Center’s lead researcher, who founded HealthyStuff.org. “Our testing shows that toxic chemicals show up everywhere in home improvement products. If we don’t want these chemicals in our toys, we certainly don’t want them in our floors.”

HealthyStuff.org tested home improvement products for chemicals based on their toxicity or tendency to build up in people and the environment. These chemicals include lead, bromine (brominated flame retardants), chlorine (PVC), cadmium, arsenic, tin (organotins), pththalates and mercury.

Phthalates — chemical additives used to soften PVC products — were particularly prominent in flooring and wallpaper, raising a number of health concerns. For example, a 2008 European study (Kolarik 2008) found an association between concentrations of phthalates in indoor dust and wheezing among preschool children, especially when PVC flooring was in the child’s bedroom. In addition some phthalates have endocrine-disrupting properties, meaning that they can disturb normal hormonal processes, often at low levels of exposure. Studies have also demonstrated possible links between phthalates and adverse impacts on the reproductive system, kidneys, liver, and blood. Finally, a 2009 Swedish study (Larsson 2008) found that children who live in homes with vinyl floors, which can emit phthalates, are twice as likely to have autism.

People spend about 90% of their time indoors, so indoor concentrations of hazardous chemicals can be more relevant to human exposure assessment than ambient concentrations. Children and pets are particularly vulnerable, since they are frequently close to the floor and therefore have high levels of exposure. In fact, many of these substances have already been restricted or banned in children’s products.

In addition to finding many products with chemical hazards, HealthyStuff.org test data shows that many products do not contain dangerous substances, proving that safe products can be made.

Highlights of Findings from HealthyStuff.org’s Home Improvement Study:

Flooring: Flooring that was tested includes wood, bamboo, cork, carpet cushion, sheet flooring, and vinyl and ceramic tiles.

  • 52 of 1,016 (5%) of all flooring samples had detectable levels of lead. Products with the highest percent of lead included: Vinyl Sheet Flooring: 23 of 731 (2%) samples of the vinyl sheet flooring had detectable levels of lead. Vinyl Tile Flooring: 29 of 39 (74%) of the tiles sampled contained detectable lead, with levels as high as 1,900 ppm.
  • Flooring samples contained numerous phthalates, at up to 12.9% by weight. Limited testing for phthalate plasticizers indicates most vinyl flooring contains four phthalate plasticizers recently banned in children’s products. Four representative samples of vinyl flooring were tested from two national brands, Armstrong and Congoleum, and two discount brands, Crystal and tiles sold through a local hardware chain.
  • Two-thirds 39 of 61 (64%) of PVC flooring tiles contained organotin stabilizers. Some forms of organotins are endocrine disruptors; and other forms can impact the developing brain and are toxic to the immune system.
  • Safe alternatives are available. Linoleum, cork, bamboo and hardwood all tested free of lead, cadmium, mercury and other hazardous metals. Non-vinyl flooring products are half as likely to contain hazardous chemical additives.
  • Wallpaper: HealthyStuff.org tested over 2,300 types of wallpaper, from 11 different brands and manufacturers.

  • The vast majority (96%) of the wallpapers sampled contained polyvinyl chloride (PVC) coatings.
  • Over one-half (53% or 1,234 of 2,312) of PVC wallpaper samples contained one or more hazardous chemicals of concern (at > 40 ppm levels) including lead, cadmium, chromium, tin and antimony.
  • Limited testing for phthalate plasticizers indicates that most PVC wallpaper also contains phthalates plasticizers which are now banned in children’s products.
  • Nearly one in five (18% or 419 of 2,312) wallpaper samples contained detectable levels of cadmium (>40 ppm). 13% (290 of 2,312) had levels over 100 ppm. All wallpaper with cadmium was vinyl coated.
  • To sample the home improvement products experts used a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzer and laboratory testing. XRF is an accurate device that has been used by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to screen packaging; the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to screen food; and many State and County Health Departments to screen for residential lead paint. Additional samples were analyzed by laboratories using EPA test methods.

    “With each new scientific report linking toxic chemical exposure to a serious health problem, it becomes more obvious that the law intended to keep harmful chemicals in check — the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976 — is not working,” said Andy Igrejas, Director of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, a coalition of 250 groups, including the Ecology Center, working to overhaul our failed chemicals policy.

    In response to the increasing consumer demand for safer products, Senator Frank Lautenberg and Representatives Bobby Rush and Henry Waxman have introduced bills to overhaul TSCA. The Safe Chemicals Act in the Senate and the Toxic Chemicals Safety Act in the House are expected to be re-introduced in the next Congressional session.

    The full home improvement database and more information about what consumers can do is available at www.HealthyStuff.org.

    Links:

    Green Flooring Materials (from the Center for Health, Environment and Justice)   http://www.healthybuilding.net/pvc/PVCFreeResilient.html

    Alternative Building Materials (Healthy Building Network)  http://www.healthybuilding.net/healthcare/Screening-the-Toxics.pdf

    Green Alternatives for Pipe, Electrical Cable and Switching: (pdf)http://www.healthybuilding.net/pvc/Vittori_Div15-16_GreenBuild.pdf

    > Read More About the Release
    > View Home Improvement Research FindingsHome improvement products can also be searched or viewed in a variety of ways:> Search by Brand> Search by Type

    > Products with Low Level of Detection

    > Products with Medium Level of Detection

    > Products with High Level of Detection

    > Products with Detectable Levels of Cadmium

    This post is part of a series documenting Sam Breen’a Spartan Restoration Project. Please see his first post here and check out the archive here. The CSPA is helping Sam by serving in an advisory role, offering modest support and featuring Sam’s Progress by syndicating his feed from http://spartantrailerrestoration.wordpress.com as part of our CSPA Supports Program.

    Why Eco Products

    Rather than just removing non eco products in the theatre, I thought it would be useful to provide a bit of info about why this is important.

    “Many products we use in everyday life, from shower gel to T-shirts and even children’s toys, contain harmful artificial chemicals, which contaminate our air, food and drinking water before finding their way into our bodies. Most of the time we use them without even realising, or stopping to think about the long-lasting effects they are having on our health, and the health of the natural world. If you were to analyse the fat in your own body, you would be likely to find harmful chemicals such as brominated flame retardants, DDT, dioxins and many other persistent organic pollutants (POPs). POPs are chemicals that your body cannot get rid of, so they gradually build up over our lifetimes. Worryingly, POPs are even found in babies still in the womb.”
    www.greenpeace.org.uk/toxics/problems

    and

    “Here at the health-report site we cannot condone the use of potentially toxic synthetic chemicals on the skin. It may be safer to eat the toxic chemicals rather than apply them to the skin. At least through the digestive system the body can produce specific enzymes to break down the toxic chemicals in the gut and excrete them. No such mechanism exists when chemicals are absorbed through the skin into the body. It is a well proven fact that chemicals applied to the skin are readily absorbed into the bloodstream where they can lodge in any part of the body or organ.”
    www.health-report.co.uk/Dr_Samuel_Epstein.html

    Rachel.

    Go to Arcola Energy

    Trafigura, reputation management and the arts

    Last week the much-tweeted Trafigura affair collided with the world of art –  with ungainly results. It’s not just Trafigura and Carter Ruck’s reputation that have taken a pasting over the last few days on Twitter.

    On Friday, Twitterers claimed victory in a freedom of speech issue surrounding the oil trading company Trafigura. At the heart was a report, commissioned by Trafigura themselves into thedumping of slops in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, which Trafigura did not want the public to see. The toxic chemicals are alleged to have caused the deah of up to 18 people and injury to at least 30,0oo more.

    When the existence of the report was raised under the privilege of a parliamentary question, the solicitors Carter-Ruck effectively imposed an injunction on The Guardian reporting what was now parliamentary business. At which point the Twitterverse scented a rat and began publicising not only the injunction and its history, but disclosing the full contents of the damning report. Bingo.  The company’s efforts to keep the report quiet resulted in it being transmitted around the world to millions of internet users. The result was that a whole swathe of those who had been perhaps a little sceptical about the use of Twitter became converts.

    While old media were impotent in the face of the injunction, new media simply swept all this  aside. Hurrah for new media.

    Well, not quite. It was a little more complicated than that. The Guardian had very cleverly dropped a hint of the injunction on its front page knowing that the unfettered world of new media was likely to pick up and run with it. For all its self-congratulation, it’s not likely that the Twitterverse would have picked up the story on their own. What it should be seen as is an exemplary act of collaboration between old and new.

    Anyway, to THE ART BIT.

    During Tuesday’s Twitterstorm, an artist called Ivan Pope was amongst those who, googling for stick-like facts to beat Trafigura with, noticed that the company were sponsoring The Trafigura Art art prize as part of the Young Masters exhibition.

    As an artist he was quite reasonably shocked to see an arts event associated with a company who were the subject of a damning UN report into the dumping incident. As Pope and others spread news of the prize, the Cynthia Corbett Gallery and exhibition curator Constance Slaughter became the target of the widespread rage against Trafigura. Pope blogged:

    OK, so bringing Trafigura and artists together seemed like a good idea.
    Except that it is damaging to the artists, the judges, the gallery and the art world generally.
    But it is great news for Trafigura, who paid £4,000 for the privilege.
    Yes, that’s right. It cost them £4,000 to attach their name to an art world prize.
    The prize is run by suckers who think Trafigura are really ‘the good guys’, and that it’s all media lies.
    Yes, the organisers of the prize are giving out great PR for Trafigura. If you know how much Pottinger-Bell type PR costs, you’ll see the value in this prize to them.

    On Friday, after  four days flak, the Cynthia Corbett Gallery finally announced that they were withdrawing the Trafigura Prize.

    OK. Kudos should be given to anyone seeking sponsorship for artists. But.

    Sponsorship, as Pope points out, is an exchange. It’s bizarre that no one from the gallery,  nor any the judges who had agreed to take part in the prize, nor or any of the artists in the Young Masters exhibition, had bothered to consider whether it was a Good Idea to be involved with Trafigura until Tuesday’s Twitterstorm.

    Though some, like the artist Tom Hunter who was one of the prize’s intended judges, publicly disassociated themselves from the prize following the ruckus, it took until Friday for the gallery itself to pull out. That leaves the impression that they only did so when the PR negatives of the association outweighed the positives, not because of any concern with the wider issues.

    As public funding decreases in coming years, sponsorship is going to become increasingly central to the long-term health of the arts. But any sponsorship is an act of partnership – a joining of reputations.

    There’s no excuse for not knowing about the controversy surrounding Trafigura. Despite the injunctions, the allegations have been in the public domain since 2006. The Ivory Coast dumping was the subject of a major Newsnight investigation in May this year.

    Talk about reputation management. This sort of thing leaves the arts looking unengaged, aloof and frankly a bit dim.

    Photo of flash mob protest outside the Carter Ruck offices by lewishamdreamer.

    Go to RSA Arts & Ecology

    What Would Elphaba Do? The Broadway Green Alliance Squeezes Broadway Into Smaller Shoes

    “I wasn’t green, but I’m organized,” says Wicked Company Manager Susan Sampliner.  ”I’m a manager.” When Sampliner signed on to the Stephen Schwartz musical in 2003, little did she know that environmental thinking would become an integral part of her work in the arts. But the term ‘carbon footprint’, alongside terms like ‘places’ and ‘10 out of 12′, quickly became part of her arts management lexicon.

    Wicked producer David Stone, like many Americans, saw Al Gore’s Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth and began to wonder what he could do to find viable solutions to our planet’s growing environmental crisis. Having facilitated Eve Ensler’s successful V-Day initiative to stop violence against women, Stone began wondering if he could use his new hit musical to educate the Broadway community about its role in the issues of climate change and sustainability.

    Stone realized that smaller shows didn’t have the financial resources to invest in greening operations, but that “big shows have big power”.  Knowing that he could commit the upstart capital needed to make energy-saving investments, and with the extremely eco-minded Universal Pictures as a producer, he decided that Wicked would be the first Broadway show to explore green procedures and procurement.  He began by tasking Sampliner with researching ways in which the production could green its operations.  And in the early stages of the show’s run, NBC/Universal provided in-house health and safety experts who ensured that toxic chemicals were stored, labeled, and handled properly.

    When the hit show launched multiple companies, Stone encouraged each department in Wicked’s U.S. companies to find more energy efficient and earth-friendly options for carrying out daily duties. Over an 18-month period, Sampliner worked to tabulate each company’s (and each individual department’s) eco-efforts.  To date, the New York company alone has saved over $80,000 by recycling batteries and replacing incandescent front-of-house lighting with compact fluorescents. Additionally, Wicked’s makeup designers were encouraged to work with actors to adjust their makeup palettes to account for CFL lights, as opposed to traditional incandescent dressing room bulbs. These actions were not only good for the environment, but allowed Stone to invest financial resources in additional backstage eco-efforts.

    In addition to environmental thinking in Wicked’s backstage areas, Stone and his staff wanted to integrate environmental education with their community engagement and marketing efforts. After being approached by Bette Midler’s New York Restoration Project, Stone funded the Wicked Friendship Garden in Upper Manhattan, which opened on the fourth anniversary of “Wicked Day” in October 28, 2007. The Wicked producing team made the decision to use all subsequent Wicked Day events around the globe to educate the show’s fans about environmental action they can take in their daily lives. Local environmental organizations and eco-minded companies have been invited to provide information to Wicked Day participants in London, Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, and other cities worldwide.

    Wicked’s producers and marketing team decided to curtail the show’s traditional billboard campaign andfocus on media outlets that would help spread Stone’s vision for a greener Broadway. Marketing firm Serino Coyne suggested a new marketing campaign that highlighted Wicked’s green efforts. Using the portion of the show’s marketing funding earmarked for taxi and bus advertising, Serino Coyne developed the “This is a Wicked green bus/taxi” campaign, advertising the musical on the sides of hybrid buses and tops of hybrid taxis throughout the city. Additionally, ads at commuter stations, including Penn and Grand Central Stations, encourage patrons to utilize mass transit when making their way to the Gershwin.

    In Spring 2008, Stone contacted the Broadway League regarding Wicked’s newfound environmental ethos, only to find that the League was discovering the importance of inserting environmental considerations into Broadway productions. The League encouraged Stone to host a town-hall style meeting in June 2008 to inform the Broadway community about Wicked’s eco-efforts and source additional interest from theatre owners, producers, general managers, and industry members. After hiring an outside marketing consulting firm, the League was paired with Allen Hershkowitz, PhD, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. Hershkowitz was brought on board to help the New York theatrical community realize its impact on the local and global ecosystems. After learning of the efforts of the Wicked companies to date, Hershkowitz was quick to admit that Stone and Co. had taken more environmental action than a major US soft drink company!

    Hershkowitz, who has worked to green the Oscars and Grammy Awards, used NRDC’s Major League Baseball Team Greening Program to show theatre owners and producers how the Broadway community could take similar action. “We’re using the audience’s passion to educate them,” says Sampliner. “A baseball fan’s favorite players are heroes just as our favorite theatre stars or characters are our heroes.” Stone concurred, saying that if Wicked’s Elphaba were living in the present day, the environmental crisis would be her raison d’être just as animal rights influence her thoughts and actions in the musical.

    The town-hall meeting proved that going green was on the radar at many New York producing offices and non-profit theatre companies. Due to the overwhelming concern and commitment voiced at the meeting, the League began to work with Stone to gather an ad hoc committee that would decide on further research and action. August 2008 marked the first meeting of the “Broadway Goes Green” Committee. Broadway League President Nina Lannan appointed Sampliner and Charlie Deull (of Clark Transfer) as co-chairs. Upon realizing the scope of the new initiative, the committee agreed to divide their research into three subcommittees: Pre-/Post-Production, Production and Venues.

    The Venues Subcommittee, headed by Jujamcyn Theaters Head of Operations Jennifer Hershey, was the first subcommittee to analyze their piece of the puzzle. Because most Broadway theatres had already received energy audits as first steps toward potentially receiving state funding for energy-efficiency upgrades, baseline measurements already existed for the energy-intensive act of housing a Broadway production. Thanks to these numbers, the Venues Subcommittee had a clear vision of the work ahead; but shops and shows had a bit more research to conduct before disseminating findings among program participants. Jujamcyn Theatres has moved to add recycling bins to dressing rooms, with other theatres soon to follow.

    The Pre-/Post-Production Subcommittee, headed by Showman Fabricators owner (and LEED AP) Bob Usdin, is analyzing the building of sets with a focus on end-of-life cycle recycling or reuse. The Production Subcommittee, headed by Stage Manager Spook Testani, began researching green practices for the running of shows from rehearsal through their runs. The Production Subcommittee distributes a monthly publication, called The Green Sheet, which features the eco-efforts of different departments across various productions.

    Two more subcommittees were recently added to the Ad Hoc Committee: Touring and Education & Outreach. The Touring Subcommittee, headed by Kirk Wingerson of Broadway Across America, is working to gather green practices being implemented across the country and see if they can work in New York. Additionally, this subcommittee will address the issues of trucking and travel associated with touring productions. Finally, the Education & Outreach Subcommittee, headed by 9 to 5 Producer Seth Greenleaf, will explore ways to inform audiences about Broadway’s green efforts and establish partnerships with other members of the entertainment industry.

    Having worked to challenge local colleges, universities, and hospitals to explore sustainable options, New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg quickly set his sights to other major industries, including the commercial theatre sector. The Mayor’s Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability began working with the League to examine commercial Broadway’s carbon footprint. On November 25th, 2008, Mayor Bloomberg was joined by representatives from various Broadway productions at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre to launch “Broadway Goes Green”. Since the press conference, the newly-named Broadway Green Alliance has worked hand-in-hand with the Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability to establish set recycling data tracking, retrofit marquee lights for energy efficiency, and develop various sustainable strategies for productions and theatres. The Broadway Green Alliance will reexamine Broadway’s eco-efforts in November 2009 to assess efforts to date and make industry-wide recommendations. Additionally, the Alliance hopes to hold discipline-specific seminars highlighting “better” eco practices, including workshops with costume, set, and lighting designers in theatre and film.

    Disney Theatricals, who has been a leader in sustainability, has also joined the Alliance and appointed a representative to each of the subcommittees. Disney was the first show to appoint a “Green Captain” at each of their shows. Since then, other productions have elected Green Captains who will receive regular briefings on actions that can be implemented at their own shows. The Alliance is also exploring levels of green certification that will enable venues and productions of various sizes and means to participate in the initiative. In the near future, participants that join the Alliance may post signage in their theatre’s lobby area to educate the public about the initiative. The Alliance is also working to obtain an energy baseline for the Tony Awards to green aspects of the awards ceremony is the near future.

    In March, 2009, Broadway theatres turned off their marquee lights from 8:30 to 9:30 pm to “cast their vote for Earth” during Earth Hour. The folks at Wicked took the challenge one step further, encouraging cast and crew to turn off as much electrical equipment as possible during the hour. Sampliner plans to encourage the Wicked company to have their own “off the grid show” once a month. (For productions in which cast members spend the majority of the show away from their dressing rooms, exploring the off switch might be a good route for one hour a month, or even one show a week.)

    Sampliner refers to Broadway’s recent green awakening as a grassroots movement. “We’re helping the different departments talk to their colleagues at other shows to figure out what works and what doesn’t.  I was around when Broadway Cares started and this is the first initiative I’ve seen since that one that affects everyone in the community,” she adds. “That’s what’s so interesting to me. Everybody can do something. You might not be able to do it all but you can make a difference.”

    Links:

    Wicked’s Green for Good page

    The Broadway Green Alliance

    9 to 5’s Green from 9 to 5 page

    ShareThis

    Go to the Green Theater Initiative