Yearly Archives: 2008

Carthage College Aims for Green with New Performing Arts Center

Excerpted from Lighting & Sound America Online, November 13, 2007:

HGA Architects and Engineers has completed schematic designs for a new environmentally-friendly performing arts center for Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The subject of theatre arts is central to Carthage’s liberal arts curriculum. In recent years, growth in theatre, theatre production, musical theatre, and technical theatre classes has increased the need for updated and expanded theatreand theatre-support spaces at the college.


The 62,000-sq.-ft. complex will include two performance spaces. An intimate 400-seat proscenium theatre will include a full fly loft, orchestra pit, and trap space. This theatre will support all the theatre department’s drama, theatre dance, and musical productions. The expanded capabilities also will improve the quality of visiting productions. These will include professional touring groups, guest speakers and simulcasts events.

Complementing the main theatre, a 150-seat black-box space will provide students with flexible space for experimental work. Technical theatre training will be accomplished in separate shops for set design and production, custom design and construction, make-up art, and lighting design.

All of these spaces are open to the main circulation “spine,” giving the casual passersby a view into the artistry of theatre production. A third-level rehearsal hall is sized for blocking out a main stage production. With a view of Lake Michigan, the rehearsal hall will double as a campus-wide special events space. Front-of-house spaces will provide the audience, students and visitors a welcome lobby, reception area, box office, and concession area.

Located on a pivotal site, the Performing Arts Center will become a gateway at the main campus entry. The selected site is covered with mature oak trees and slopes down toward the Pike River nature preserve. Reinforcing both Carthage College and HGA’s commitment to the environment, no trees will be removed. The building is being designed as a truly green theatre, with sustainable materials, high-efficiency mechanicalsystems, and alternative energy sources.

The project is scheduled to open for the 2011 academic year.



Go to the Green Theater Initiative

Call from Exit Art: Social Environmental Aesthetics

In 2009-2010, Exit Art’s subterranean venue, Exit Underground, will present five exhibitions for its new initiative SEA (Social Environmental Aesthetics). SEA’s central mission is “to provide a vehicle through which the public can be made aware of socially and environmentally engaged work, and to provide a forum for collaboration between artists, scientists, activists, scholars and the public” through exhibitions, performances, panels and a permanent archive. SEA uses a curatorial model called ConceptPlus, which begins with a theme or concept that is then publicized through a call for proposals. The exhibitions and their entry due dates are: “Vertical Gardens” (January 15, 2009), “End of Oil” and “America for Sale” (both February 15, 2009) and “Consume” and “Contemporary Slavery” (both March 15, 2009). Exit Art is a 25-year-old cultural center in New York City founded by Directors Jeanette Ingberman and Papo Colo. [LINK]
Originally Posted on Community Arts Network

Request for Ecological Art Gallery Coordinator

Request for Ecological Art Gallery Curator / Coordinator

We are Requesting Submissions for an Ecological Art Curator for our annual Gallery at Topanga Earth Day

10th Annual Topanga Earth Day will take place on April 18th and 19th 2009 at the Topanga Community House Fair Grounds


*Experience and knowledge of Ecological Materials ( all biodegradable and environmentally friendly)
*Curating and hanging Art Shows / Galleries
*Attend Topanga Earth Day Committee Meetings

    Please Submit Resume and 2 References from past Galleries / and Artists you’ve worked with…

    Deadline to Submit: 12/ 15/ 08


    Stephanie Lallouz / Producer
    P.O.Box 671 Topanga, CA 90290

    SEEDS Festival: Somatic Experiments in Earth, Dance, + Science

    SEEDS Festival
    Somatic Experiments in Earth, Dance, + Science
    June 14 – 28th 2009
    Earthdance · Plainfield, Massachusetts

    SEEDS Festival will benefit from projects beyond the scope of our curatorial imagination. We invite you to propose and participate in the following projects: Single Workshops (Green/Body/Local & CI as a Social Experiment), Interdisciplinary Residencies, Presentations, Panel Discussions, Performances, Videos & Films, Archiving, and more! Our website lists the complete descriptions and downloadable application forms.

    SEEDS Festival (Somatic Experiments in Earth, Dance, + Science) is a unique interdisciplinary summer festival dedicated to arts and ecology. The two weeks will feature workshops, collaborative design projects, panel discussions, live performances, films, and interdisciplinary investigations.  This year’s format: Week One: A week of workshops, and a two-track weekend of eco-soma-regional research, & social experiments into CI. Week Two: Interdisciplinary investigations.
    This year, the Festival will focus on potentiality – in this year of potential political change & community organizing, we invite this phenomenon into our interdisciplinary investigations.

    SEEDS Festival 2009 Curatorial Team: Margit Galanter, Melinda Buckwalter, and Olive Bieringa

    SEEDS Team: Curators, Earthdance Staff, & Programming Committee.

    Earthdance is an artist-run residential retreat center and an international arts organization. Through a broad spectrum of activities and programs, Earthdance cultivates the art of improvisation, dance, collaboration, and ecological understanding. Located in Pioneer Valley, Western Massachusetts, Earthdance features two beautiful dance studios, farmhouse, comfortable dorm accommodations, delicious cuisine, wood-stove sauna, spring-fed swimming quarry, and 100 acres of outdoor bounty.


    Here it is: sustainable technology as performance. As device for interrupting habit. As spectacle. As crazy pedaling fun.

    It’s the Buscycle, a 15-passenger van converted into a zero-emission pedal powerhouse. Constructed by an all-volunteer crew, which included an MIT professor, a machinist, a robot enthusiast, some artists, a pastry chef, and leagues of bonafide sustainability nerds, the vehicle is made up of mostly recycled bike and auto parts. It requires the participation of 14 energetic passengers.

    This set of sustainable wheels completed a cross-country tour in 2006. Tales from the road seem mostly to involve spontateous pedaling communities and a lot of looks from passers-by. But then, that’s the point: part of the idea for the project was to shake the top-down dictum of alternative energy and making it visible and accessible to everyone, even Joe six-pack.

    Looks like a lot of glorious grins.

    Go to the Green Museum

    USGBC Greenbuild News and LEED Update

    If you’re in Boston right now, you might be at, or should check out Greenbuild, the United States Green Building Council’s (USGBC) annual conference. The USGBC was grown out of the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) and are best known for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Standard.   :

    From the Greenbuild Webpage:

    Boston – the historic cradle of the American Revolution, home to innovations that have far-reaching impact and the perfect place to celebrate Greenbuild 2008’s theme of “Revolutionary Green: Innovations for Global Sustainability.” Join us at the U.S. Green Building Council’s Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Boston November 19-21, 2008.

    Buildings play a critical role in protecting and improving our environment and the health of the people who occupy them. USGBC’s Greenbuild conference and expo is an unparalleled opportunity to connect with other green building peers, industry experts, and influential leaders as they share insights on the green building movement and its diverse specialties.

    As we’ve learned from EcoGeek, one of the things on the table at Greenbuild is that the USGBC has announced an update for the LEED standard, LEED 2009:

    “LEED 2009 will also incorporate highly anticipated regional credits, extra points that have been identified as priorities within a project’s given environmental zone. LEED has also undergone a scientifically grounded re-weighting of credits, changing allocation of points among LEED credits to reflect climate change and energy efficiency as urgent priorities. This will be one of the most significant changes to the rating system, and will increase the importance of green building as a means of contributing immediate and measurable solutions toward energy independence, climate change mitigation, and other global priorities.”

    But if you don’t have the chance to get to Boston for Greenbuild you don’t have to miss the master’s speaker series. These sessions will be simulcast from the expo on Here is the line up:

    • Van Jones, Wednesday, 2-3:30 p.m. President and Founder, Green For All
    • Leith Sharp, Wednesday, 2-3:30 p.m. Director, Harvard Green Campus Initiative (HGCI)
    • Stefan Behnisch, Wednesday, 4-5:30 p.m. Principal, Behnisch Architekten
    • Majora Carter, Wednesday, 4-5:30 p.m. President, Majora Carter Group, LLC
    • Richard Moe, Thursday, 8-9:30 a.m. President, National Trust for Historic Preservation
    • Paul Anastas, Thursday , 4-5:30 p.m. Director for Green Chemistry and Green Engineering, Yale University
    • Nancy C. Floyd, Thursday, 4-5:30 p.m. Founder and Managing Director, Nth Power, LLC
    • Bill McKibben, Friday, 9-10 a.m. Environmentalist and author
    • Howard Frumkin, Friday, 9-10 a.m. Director, The National Center for Environmental Health, CDC
    • Greener Good: USGBC Chapters present local green jobs and social equality initiatives, Thursday, 10-11:30 a.m.
    • Closing keynote address, Friday, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Featuring E.O. Wilson, University Research Professor emeritus and honorary Curator of entomology at the Museum of comparative Zoology at Harvard University; and Janine Benyus, the author of “Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature”; moderated by NPR’s Kevin Klose.
    Of course, if you’re like us at the CSPA — a non-profit, arts service organization for sustainability — all these conferences may make your head spin. Between the cost and the impact of that travel I tend to agree with David over at The Good Human:
    “Let’s all get together and pick ONE city each year to host any and all green festivals. Want to be truly green and support the message of these festivals?”

    Apollo Expands Its Green Initiative

    From Lighting & Sound America Online, November 11, 2008:

    As a continuation of its green initiative, Apollo Design Technology Inc announced at the recent LDI exhibition in Las Vegas its complete process switch to laser technology for all gobo production. Starting with steel gobos in 2007, laser technology is now being used to produce Apollo glass gobos. The change from chemical etching to laser technology eliminates thousands of gallons of hazardous waste annually, the company says.

    “Working with laser technology for the past three years has been amazing,” states company founder and president Joel Nichols. “The image consistency lasers provide will catch the user’s attention. The additional benefits to the environment and workplace safety that this technology provides make this change a win-win for everyone. With a transition to more eco-friendly packaging also in the works, we are extremely pleased to be delivering all of our gobos in a cleaner, safer way.”

    Other links:

    A short video on Apollo’s website detailing the new laser technology and its benefits


    Go to the Green Theater Initiative

    Arcola Receives Bronze Award!

    Arcola Theatre received a Bronze award at the Green Tourism Awards ceremony held on 13 November 2008. According to the assessor, ‘Arcola Theatre is an extra ordinary business with a range of exemplary green practices in an old and energy inefficient building. The green team is excellent and
    the staff have implemented some excellent practices as noted with the café produce,
    the fuel cell technology, the LED spot lighting and the work with the local
    community to establish a local transition town’.
    Next year we’d like Silver and eventually Gold, so we will be continuing to work towards
    making Arcola as sustainable as possible. The Green Assessment we received as part of this scheme provides a perfect basis upon which to inform our Sustainability Policy, so we would encourage others to sign up.


    Go to Source

    2008 Environmental Youth Conference

    GET YOUR GREEN ON at the 2008 Environmental Youth Conference December 13, 2008, Saturday 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Los Angeles Convention Center — South Hall. Be part of the largest youth environmental event in the west! All Los Angeles residents ages 12 to 21 are invited to this green education event for the youth and by the youth. Come with your school, faith organization, or neighborhood group, and learn all about environmentalism through tree plantings, green jobs, and buying eco-friendly. For more information, visit

    Planning for a Sustainable Future: American Theater Company

    Joining the growing ranks of American theaters that are constructing new green buildings, the American Theater Company of Chicago announced late last year the launch of a $4 million capital campaign to build an entirely new, three-story, eco-friendly theater in the Logan Square area. Recent figures estimate that buildings account for 20 to 30% of all of the energy consumed in the U.S., in the form of heating, cooling, lighting, and general electrical usage. Green buildings, depending on the technologies used in them, can do a great deal to lower that figure, while also creating a healthier environment for patrons and staff, lowering energy costs, and inspiring surrounding communities.

    PJ Paparelli, the newly-appointed artistic director who had just finished a four-year stint as the artistic director of Alaska’s Perseverance Theatre in Juneau, took up the challenge of ATC’s new building with enthusiasm, believing it to be a perfect expression of the theater’s mission. Board VP Macie Huwiler has taken the lead in planning and implementation. GTI had a chance to speak with both recently.

    Gideon Banner: How did the idea for a green building come about?

    PJ Paparelli: Our plan for a green building was created before I arrived here as artistic director in November. Our board of directors, with the previous artistic director, sat down and said, “We’re looking for a new facility.” All kinds of things were discussed, but one of our board members, Wyllys Mann, who’s from a long-standing real estate company here in Chicago, had pushed the idea of looking at green construction, and emphasized that there were a lot of opportunities for grants and other similar resources.

    Macie Huwiler: I have been working all along with Kevin Kelly, one of our founding members, who has some experience in the construction area and is really excited about this project. He’s the one who originally brought up the idea. It’s a hot topic in Chicago right now, because Mayor Daley has really pushed to green the city; but three years ago, when we first conceived of this project, it wasn’t nearly as prevalent as it is now. Everyone in the organization embraced the idea pretty much immediately.

    PJ: The main reason why we decided to do it was really about our mission statement, which addresses the question, “What does it mean to be an American?” That permeates the organization – our work, outreach programs, our board, everything we do. Looking at building a building, we want to be responsible Americans, and so we really wanted to deal with the environmental issue head on. That’s the big, exciting, passionate motor that was the genesis of the idea.

    MH: ATC was founded almost 25 years ago by an actor, a playwright, a designer, and a director as an interdisciplinary theater. Also, we were founded because they wanted a place where their blue-collar families could come and see theater and not be intimidated; we never intended to be a fancy downtown theater where you had to come and dress up and drink champagne; it was intended to be a theater for the people, where you could come in your jeans and drink a beer and be comfortable.

    As we’ve expanded over the 25 years, we’ve gotten to a place where we embrace all cultures, and we feel that being green and saving the environment is a really important thing right now. One of the things we can contribute to society, besides just creating art, is to educate people about this. The new building will not only have a ton of green features, but all of them will be highlighted. So when you walk into the lobby, there’ll be a little picture saying, “This is what geothermal heat is, and this is how it works.” We’re talking about putting in recycled insulation, and our architect is talking about putting a little plexiglass window into the wall, so that you can see it in action.

    GB: How do you anticipate your audience responding to a new green building? Are you looking to lead with this, or do you think it’s already something your audience is concerned about?

    PJ: It is a big deal for us, and our audience recognizes the issue already when asked about it. I think we’re the only theater in the nation aiming for a LEED gold certification (at least we were a year ago), so we do feel like leaders in that sense.

    [LEED stands for “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design”, and is a set of standards (bronze, silver, gold, and platinum) administered by the U.S. Green Building Council that are awarded based on a point system. Points are awarded for each element of the building – anything from solar panels to proximity to public transportation — that contributes to its overall sustainability.]


    But it’s not only the building itself, but also the location we chose. We chose to build in Logan Square, a part of town that’s gentrifying quickly but has a very rich and diverse community, heavily Hispanic and African-American. People were nevertheless shocked that we chose something so far “off-Loop”. The big theaters in Chicago are downtown within the Loop, and we’ve always been one of the largest off-Loop theaters. But our theater is very connected to the working class; we were originally called the American Blues Theater, as in “blue-collar”. That blue-collar has changed in Chicago, from the Polish working-class roll-up-your-sleeves population – we’re in a warehouse now, we actually love that aesthetic, and that new building will reflect that – to a more heavily Latino population. It’s important to us to continue to represent that part of America, both through the diversification of our programs and our location. We’re moving to a part of town that represents the rich diversity of America. Chicago has been called a very segregated theater town, as well as being a racially segregated town. We’re working very hard to break that mold, partly by creating a very diverse of ensemble of actors.

    So the choice to go green is a part of that; it’s not arbitrary. It’s a symbol of our commitment to being responsible Americans. I think we’ll become leaders in Chicago.

    GB: Have you personally had a concern for the environment for some time, or did it emerge when you joined the ATC staff?

    PJ: No, I’ve had that concern for some time. When I was in Alaska, I could directly see the effects of global warming on the glacier near Juneau, literally seeing it shrink over the four years I was there. And being in such a beautiful place, and seeing its effects on that environment, had a great effect on me. When Perseverance was building its new space, we even had to put in air conditioning because the summers were getting so much hotter. Al Gore’s film also had a great effect on me, and we’re playing An Inconvenient Truth on screens in the lobby at ATC.

    MH: My other thought is that we’ll get some kind of interactive kiosk which will serve a dual purpose: it’ll announce upcoming shows and talk about the green features of the building and the technologies involved. Every person who comes into the theater is going to be hit in the face with some green awareness.

    We’ll work this into the children’s outreach programs as well. We’ll have a studio space where those programs are conducted, so every kid who comes into the building will get a tour and learn about geothermal heat, recycled rubber tiling, recycled glass tiling, low-flow sinks, green roofs, rain barrels, and so on, and then they’ll sit down and write a play or whathaveyou.

    GB: Will green concerns become part of the plays that they write, i.e. joint artistic/environmental education?

    MH: We’ve talked about that, but we haven’t made a definitive decision. We’re still a few years away from being in the building, so as we’re getting closer, we’ll flesh it out.

    GB: Was your board gung-ho about this from the beginning? Did you have to do any persuading?

    MH: No, there was no persuading whatsoever. We walked into the room and said, “This is the idea we have. What do you think of it?” And they said, “Great!” There were a few questions as to cost, and we said, “Well, it probably will increase our costs a little bit.” But the price of building green has come down significantly, even in the two years since we started discussing this. And it continues to come down. But yes, there will be costs. Obviously it will be more expensive to install a geothermal heat system. But it will pay for itself in seven years, and then your energy costs are a third of what they would otherwise be, as the model from our mechanical engineer showed. So it’s well worth it in the long run.


    GB: Several other theaters have built new green buildings, some LEED-certified. Did you look at all their models – how they found funding, or what technology they incorporated?

    MH: Yes, we did: to the Balzer Theater in Atlanta, and Portland Center Stage. We did in fact talk to them, and ask about their fundraising and the elements of their buildings.

    It’s a journey. We started out not knowing a whole heck of a lot about what we were doing, but we started making inquiries immediately. We luckily found an architectural firm, Hartshorne and Plunkard, that’s currently doing a lot of green work in Chicago, and they’re very knowledgeable. They’re very experienced in theater design, so we didn’t have to use an outside consultant for that, but we did end up getting a green consultant.

    We talked to a woman in Nevada, Jan McAdams [her website, “Funding Green Buildings”, is viewable here] who specializes in grantwriting for green buildings, and she was a goldmine of information. She spent two years conducting seminars all over the U.S. on the subject, and we contacted her at the tail end of that, just before she was about to quit. We actually sent a board member down to Florida to attend her last seminar and get all the information. So we talked to a lot of different people.

    GB: Were they pretty open to speaking with you?

    MH: Completely. Everyone that we have spoken to – unanimously – has been very excited about this project, and more than willing to share information and help in any way they could. Interestingly enough, by the time we talked to them, most of what they told us we were already working on, and that was by virtue of our architect and our green consultant.

    GB: How has the funding come through? I saw that you have some funding from the Kresge Foundation, and that you’ll be located in a special economic zone.

    MH: We’re still in the early stages of fundraising. We’re applying for TIF funds from the city of Chicago, which are set aside for certain neighborhoods in which they want to encourage economic development, and Logan Square is one of those districts.

    We also have a planning grant from Kresge and one from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation.

    GB: Is there a pre-existing building on the site now, or will you be building from the ground up?

    MH: No, it’s an empty lot.

    GB: How does the geothermal heating work?

    MH: It’s a really interesting technology. They drill a well, anywhere from 200 to 400 feet deep, and they put a U-shaped pipe down all the way to the bottom, and there’s a fan that forces air through the tube and back up. What happens is when you get below the frost line, which in Chicago is closer to the 400-foot mark, the temperature of the Earth is very constant; it stays at 50 degrees, more or less. So then when you pump that air back up, it’s already at 50 degrees. In the summer, that’s your air-conditioning; nothing else is needed. In the winter, there’s a device called a heat exchanger that slightly warms it up to 68 degrees (or whatever temperature you want), and that’s your heat.

    But it’s all done without oil or gas, it’s all done with electricity, so it’s cleaner, it reduces your carbon footprint, and it reduces your energy costs by about two-thirds. It drastically reduces your air conditioning costs, because all you have to use is fans.

    We’re also going to have some solar thermal collectors that will provide hot water in the building, and we’ll have a green roof, which acts as natural insulation for the building so that you lose significantly less energy from the building.

    GB: It reduces stormwater runoff as well, which must be a big issue in Chicago, since everything runs straight into the lake.

    MH: Yes, absolutely.

    Almost all of the materials in the building will be recycled, everything from floor tiles to wall tiles, recycled carpet. We’ll be using non-VOC paint. All of the plumbing fixtures will be low-flow, to save water. All of the light fixtures, with the exception of theater lights, will be fluorescent or LED.

    The insulation will be made from recycled materials, but we haven’t decided on a type yet. There are multiple choices, one of which is leftover denim from a blue-jean factory. Ideally we’ll use that, but we have to sort through some cost considerations before choosing. The other option is some sort of spray-on foam that is sprayed into the walls.

    GB: Did you look into LEDs for stage lighting?

    MH: We did. I have to say this with a strong caveat, because we might change our minds, depending on the timing of construction: they’re considerably more expensive. In many theaters, you have your standard lights but you may go out to rent extra lights that fill the specific needs of that show. What we found is that, first of all, the general cost of the system for LED lights – the board, the grid, and the individual light fixtures — is really expensive, almost more than double the cost; and secondly, if you need to rent extra lights, you can’t really do that, because they’re not prevalent enough.

    We think that’s going to change, and we think it’s going to change pretty fast. The cost of LEDs is projected to come down pretty significantly in the next few years because of demand. We don’t really have a timeline for the building yet; but when the time comes that we’re ready to move in, if the cost has come down significantly enough, we’ll use them.

    GB: You’re aiming for a LEED gold accreditation. Was that a mark you wanted to hit and then you decided what technologies to use in order to hit that, or was it that certain technologies were cost-feasible and they added up to a gold standard?

    MH: More the latter. We weren’t really sure where we were going in the beginning. We just wanted to work through what was pragmatic and practical, what we could afford, and as we went along, we discovered that there were more and more green features that wouldn’t cost us an arm and a leg, so we incorporated them. When we started adding up our points, we realized that we could hit the gold standard.

    LEED is a hard standard to meet, but if you’ve worked with any government entity, you know that you have to be very methodical, you have to follow procedure, you have to be very careful with your paperwork. But it’s not that much harder to do; it just requires a lot of extra painstaking detail work.

    GB: Are there things that ATC is already doing to go green before you break ground on the new building?

    MH: Yes. We’ve made a very concerted effort to recycle and to encourage our patrons to recycle. There isn’t much more that we can do in the space that we’re in; it doesn’t lend itself to that, and it’s a rental space.

    GB: Are you saving money by recycling?

    PJ: Yeah. We made a commitment to saving paper, and we almost cut the cost in half. We have a huge stack of used paper right here that we use for printing other documents. When it comes to printing scripts, printing on both sides has saved us a lot of paper.

    GB: How has your staff responded to the idea of the new building?

    MH: They love it. The great thing about having a green consultant is that when we finally move into the building, he’ll do a daylong workshop with the staff. He’ll go through all of the building’s green components, how to maintain and use them, how to talk about them. So that, going forward, everyone in the building will be on the same page.

    We’ll also have bike racks and a shower for people who bike to work. So we’ll really be promoting a green way of living.

    PJ: We’ve had some staff members who are very vocal about biking to work. We’re constantly addressing the question of how we create an example that we want other people to follow; it’s something we’re very aware of, and I’m not just saying that to be dramatic.

    GB: Was audience travel a part of the planning process as well?

    MH: Yes; we’ll be directly across from the L stop, and near the commuter rail. Being near those stops earns us LEED points, as well.

    We also may have – this hasn’t been finalized – one designated parking spot in front of the building only for hybrid cars.

    We’ve also tried to tackle one difficult problem: I had a conversation with Kevin Kelly and our green consultant a few months ago about the possibility of creating, I don’t know, a giant recycling center for theaters in Chicago, a warehouse somewhere where everyone could stow their old sets, costumes, and so on. Except for the major theaters here like the Goodman and the Steppenwolf, most of us are working on shoestring budgets, so we don’t have a ton of space; we have no storage space. So every time you do a show, you strike the set and it all gets thrown out, except for the elements the rented.

    So the idea would be to have a central clearinghouse where all of this stuff could go. If everyone chipped in, maybe we could afford a storage space. And then when you’re doing another show, you can go down and pick out what you want and paint it and reuse it.

    If we got that going, it might serve as a model for other cities. Have you heard mention of this anywhere?

    GB: Not really. I do know of a woman here in New York, Janet Clancy, who on an ad hoc basis will recycle elements of sets. At Fashion Week here in New York, they throw away huge amounts of material, and she’ll show up and take it and place it at local arts centers. After Rent closed, she tried to find homes for their set pieces.

    I asked her if we could scale it up and standardize it, perhaps make some money off of it. Part of her argument is that when a show closes down, they have to pay huge costs simply to cart away their set pieces. So this would be a way to cut down on disposal costs, and perhaps they would pay a small amount of money for her time. But she’s too busy to try and scale it up.

    It seems as though it requires a recreation of the model. You have to have designers building things in such a way that they can be easily disassembled.

    MH: We talked about that here. A lot of our set pieces are not only nailed or screwed but glued, because they don’t want them falling apart in the middle of a show. But when I was talking to the guys, they said they thought it was doable: if you knew going in that you wanted to be able to disassemble, you could plan for that.

    I’m sure it’s the same thing in every city. Everyone in the theater world is so busy; everyone’s so busy just trying to keep their heads above water to get the next show up.

    GB: It might take one devoted person in one city willing to set it all up, to figure out how it works, to deal with the pitfalls. And then other cities could emulate that model.

    MH: It seems like not only would you be saving the environment, but you could be saving money as well. You pick a warehouse; you’ll have to have a truck. People could take stuff at no cost, saving them a lot of money.

    GB: Perhaps it would be good if people had to pay a small amount for the materials. Say, Steppenwolf could sell their pieces to the warehouse, and the warehouse could then turn around and sell them at a higher price to other theaters, who then would be saving money by not buying virgin materials. So everybody would benefit in the process, but the model could sustain itself.

    MH: And that way you could pay for rental of the warehouse and the truck as well.

    GB: I’ve spoken with Bob Usdin of Showman Fabricators, one of the big scene shops in New York. I know that he’s committed to using recycled materials or to recycling elements of sets. He has a pretty keen eye to constructing things that can be disassembled quickly, easily, and in a reusable manner.

    I wonder if a good place for this discussion might be at a major conference, where everyone in the room can throw out ideas to figure this out.

    MH: It’s a very intriguing idea, and we’ve been kicking it around in our heads, but we just don’t have the manpower to take it up.

    [We encourage readers to write back to join in this discussion about materials recycling – ideas for a new model, people they know that have undertaken such efforts, other industries that recycle and share in a similar fashion. GTI will be posting an article in the near future about individuals who have already taken up this challenge, including Janet Clancy and Eva Radke of FilmBiz Recycling.]


    Go to the Green Theater Initiative