Arcola’s Top Ten Tips to produce a Sustainable Theatre Production

The Mayor’s Green Theatre Plan outlines how London theatres can and should reduce their CO2 emissions by 60% by 2025.

Arcola Theatre work with production companies to help them reduce their environmental impact without compromising artistic vision and here are our Top Ten Tips to producing a low impact theatre production.

There are three main areas where you can reduce your production’s environmental footprint: physical production, company activity and audience behaviour.

Physical

1. Re-use – decisions you make at the start of production will have a big impact on waste at the end. Can the materials be re-used, or at least recycled? – Careful handling and fitting of the set contributes its ease of re-use.www.scenerysalvage.com will collect your set & they also sell salvaged items – worth a look if you need cheap doors, furniture, casters, electrical equipment etc. Aim to avoid landfill as nothing is ever really ‘thrown away’.

2. Purchasing – key are timber and paint (see below) but the Mayors Green Procurement Code has useful resources for ensuring minimal environmental impact if buying new items: www.greenprocurementcode.co.uk

3. Timber – try to source timber that is recycled or, if new, FSC certified. Try Leaside Wood Recycling Project for cheap recycled timber – www.lwrp.org.uk

4. Paint – avoid harmful airborne chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) used in ordinary paint, a big contributor to climate change, and many of the chemicals are also highly toxic and linked with health problems such as respiratory disease, asthma, dizziness, headaches, nausea, fatigue, skin disorders, eye irritation, liver and kidney damage and cancer: www.sustainablebuild.co.uk/NonToxicPaint.html

5. Lighting – consider employing innovative low energy lighting technologies / setting an energy cap as per Arcola production of Living Unknown Soldier (2008). Visit Arcola Energy site for a wealth of information including kit lists: www.arcolaenergy.com/contribute/category/green-theatre/low-energy-lighting/

Switch the rig on as near to the performance as possible and promptly turn it off at the end of a performance. Also see White Light’s Green Guide to Lighting – www.whitelight.ltd.uk/greenguide

6. Recycling – Try to find a reuse for materials wherever possible, or implement recycling schemes for sets and props, batteries, lamps and costumes. Use www.freecycle.org to donate costumes, props etc. (also see point 1)

Company

7. Travel – encourage company members to cycle or use public transport. Plan meetings/rehearsals to minimize travel requirements where possible.

8. Electricity use – turn off lights when not in use / when vacating rehearsal space.

9. Waste – use the theatre recycling and composting facilities. Where appropriate report waste to a member of the Arcola Sustainability team who will support in its sustainable disposal.

Audience

10. Audience travel – publicise your sustainability efforts and encourage green travel methods on marketing materials. Market to, and engage, local audiences.

What do you think about our Top Ten Tips? Would you add or change anything? Let us know!

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