green theatre

Green Theatre Network Meeting held at Arcola Theatre and Tent on 24th November

The event was an opportunity for members of the Green Theatre Network to meet up, share progress, discuss issues and find new ways to improve sustainable practices within theatres. The morning consisted of discussions and updates, particularly from members of the network who gave brief summaries on their latest sustainability initiatives. There were also discussions on the future of greening theatre and what we can ideally achieve by 2025.

The variety in projects ranged from new LED lighting techniques, introducing Green Riders into contracts, energy monitoring and measuring, Climate Week 2012 progress and more. It was inspiring and exciting to see how each theatre or company is using different initiatives to be more sustainable.

The event was organised by Julie’s Bicycle, an organisation working to integrate sustainability into the arts.

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Message vs. Action

This Post was originally posted to Mike Lawler’s ecoTheaer blog on April 25, 2007. We are reposting it here to share this ecoTheater classic with new readers while MIke continues to regain his health. You can read his blog about his ongoing battle with cancer, The “C” Word, by clicking here.

In 1992, American Theatre ran an article called Green Theatre: Confessions of an Eco-reporter, in which Lynn Jacobson traveled to three performing arts companies–Merrimack Repertory in Lowell, MA, the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans, and Dell’Arte Players Company in northern California–and wrote about the work they were doing on the allegedly emerging front of “Green Theatre.”

In the fall of this year my first published foray into “greening” our theaters is slated to appear in the pages of American Theatre too–over fifteen years after Jacobson wrote, at the close of her piece, “Can theatre save the earth? I don’t know. But from sea to polluted sea, I’ve seen it trying.” Well, Jacobson was certainly right about one thing: Theater can’t save the earth–at least not alone. But, it does seem that it can make more of an effort than it has. Because, though Jacobson failed to really take it into account in 1992, the greening of our theater isn’t just about putting on ecologically themed work. It’s also about putting on ecologically friendly work, whether it be new, old, experimental, or otherwise.

In my research, I am struggling to find theater artists out there who are striving for a more sustainable approach to theater production. If you are one, or know of one, get in touch with me–I’d love to hear from you.

Greening London Theatres Plan Launched

At PLASA 2008 the Greening London Theatres Plan was finally launched, with all important endorsement from Mayor Boris Johnson. We at Arcola are delighted to see the plan launched and look forward to working with all involved to drive delivery. Full press release below.

Download the plan and carbon calculator here:

  • Summary
  • Full Plan
  • Carbon Calculator

Plan is also hosted on:

  • London website
  • Theatres Trust Website

Press Coverage:

  • Evening Standard (PDF) or Link
  • London Paper
  • Building Magazine

Mayor’s Press Release:

Mayor and theatre industry launch Green Theatre action plan
The Mayor of London’s ‘Green Theatre: Taking Action on Climate Change’ plan was launched today (Tuesday, 9th September) in partnership with industry leaders at the Professional Lighting and Sound Association (PLASA) annual conference.

‘Green Theatre’, an action plan for the theatre industry, outlines the most practical and effective measures that can be taken to reduce energy use in buildings while also saving money in energy bills. The plan identifies how London’s theatre industry creates 50,000 tonnes of carbon emissions per year – the equivalent of emissions from 9,000 homes. It concludes that if all actions recommended in the plan were taken, the industry could reduce carbon emissions by almost 60 per cent by 2025 – the equivalent of converting over 5,000 London homes to zero-carbon.

Climate change is one of the Mayor’s key priorities and today’s announcement builds on his commitment to reducing London’s carbon emission by 60 per cent by 2025. The Plan, compiled in close collaboration with a range of key stakeholders, offers practical advice to the industry on how emissions can be cut and includes a carbon calculator that can be used to identify areas of production that create the largest amount of emissions. Advice outlined in the plan includes identifying where changes need to be made, designating ‘green’ responsibilities to staff, and writing ‘green’ policies into contracts to ensure that suppliers are also helping to cut emissions.

The Plan also details a number of successful case studies such as a battery recycling scheme launched by the Mayor in partnership with WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme), which helps London’s theatres start recycling their waste batteries.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “London’s theatres make a vital contribution to the capital’s economy and its productions and venues are renowned worldwide. The power of the theatre industry to set an example in the fight against climate change is immense. I have been impressed with the genuine leadership and commitment shown by the industry bodies we have worked with in developing this Plan. I am fully committed to reducing the capital’s emissions by 60 per cent by 2025 and forward-thinking contributions such as ‘Green Theatre’ will inspire many industries to help us meet this target together.”

Mhora Samuel, Director, The Theatres Trust said: “I’m delighted to be supporting the launch of the Mayor’s Green Theatre Programme at PLASA08. As the national advisory public body for theatres, The Theatres Trust is playing its part by helping to disseminate the report’s recommendations and raise awareness of the actions that theatres can take to reduce their carbon footprint. This report represents a major milestone for the theatre sector in London and demonstrates how much is possible through theatres, suppliers and manufacturers all working together to address climate change and reduce energy use.

“For their support in working with us to make the Launch a truly special event, I’d like to extend my special thanks to PLASA, the Sponsors of the Green Theatre Exhibition – Arup, ETC, Martin Professional, Philips, PixelRange and White Light, and all the Seminar contributors including ABTT, Ambassador Theatre Group, Arcola, the National Theatre, and Selecon.”

Moira Sinclair, Executive Director, Arts Council England said: “Arts Council England is delighted to be a partner in the Greening London’s Theatres initiative, recognising the importance of this work in helping theatres to increase the efficiency of their business processes thereby reducing the industry’s carbon footprint while saving money and continuing to attract artists and audiences.

“A programme such as this demonstrates that the arts in England can lead internationally in responding to the pressures of climate change, moving beyond a duty of compliance with issues such as energy management, to a role of inspiration and influence much greater than that due to the industry’s size alone. That this leadership should emerge from London is of great encouragement to those artists and audiences that are drawn to this world city for its ability to innovate.”

Nica Burns, Chief Executive of Nimax Theatres and President of the Society of London Theatre said: “As a high-profile and economically important British industry, London theatre is determined to lead from the front in minimizing our environmental impact. That’s why we support the Green Theatres initiative.”


Notes to Editors
1. Green Theatre applies to anyone and any organisation working in the London theatre industry, from small independent production companies and arts venues to large groups of commercial theatres. The full list of organisations involved in the work are Autograph Sound Recording, AEAT, Alistair McGowan, WWF, Ambassador Theatre Group, Association of Lighting Designers, Arcola Theatre, Arts Council, Arup, ATG, BECTU, Carbon Trust, Central School of Speech & Drama, Delfont Macintosh, Dewynters, ETC, Equity, ITC, Live Nation, London Remade, Martin Professional, National Theatre, Orbital Sound, Philips, PixelRange, PLASA, PMA, Really Useful Group, Roundhouse, Royal Court, SOLT, The Theatres Trust, Tipping Point, TMA, Vari-Lite, White Light, WRAP, and Young Vic.

2. Copies of “Green Theatre: Taking Action on Climate Change” are available from

3. PLASA is the lead professional body for those who supply technologies and services to the entertainment and performance industries. The organisation actively campaigns to bring advantages to the sector and plays a high level role in the development of industry skills. PLASA Show – a major event for the creative and technical industries, with over 300 exhibitors and 13,000 visitors. The most significant market sector for the exhibition is the Theatre and Performing Arts sector, with 19% of its visitor audience citing Theatre and Performing Arts as their market sector.

4. For more information on the batteries recycling scheme please contact G & P Batteries Ltd. on 0121 568 3200

5. Arup, the design, engineer and business consultancy firm behind the British Standard for sustainable event management, BS 8901, has been involved in the development of the Green Theatre: Taking Action on Climate Change”. Arup’s sustainability consultants have contributed to the user-friendly and informative guidelines, which will enable theatres to significantly cut their carbon footprint. Practical case studies demonstrate the quantifiable results that can be achieved. From pre-production and production activities, to the energy use at the venue itself and even influencing how the audience travels to the theatre, the Plan enables theatres to take action.

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