Set designer Sandra Goldmark is starting up a new sustainability project with her husband, Michael Banta, a production manager and technical director, along with several theatre colleagues. They are opening a 4 week Pop-Up Repair shop in northern Manhattan, this June. The shop is a challenge to the cycle of use-and-discard consumer goods, and will be staffed by theatre artists. This experimental project is asking the question: can we as theatre artists create social change, not only with the theatre that we make, but with the way we make theatre – by hand.
We wanted to give you an update here at the end of our second week of the LA STAGE Space campaign! Thanks to the over 130 of you who’ve stepped up to make this happen, we are 95% of the way to our initial $25,000 goal!
We’re pushing over the next few days to hit the $25,000 mark, and then the campaign will continue to accomplish our stretch goal to build out some other aspects of the space and to have a STRIKE TRUCK that can make transporting the shared materials easier between theatres and the Warehouse.
Please continue to tell your friends, family and colleagues about the campaign. The most valuable thing you can do at this point is to think of one other person who you know would love this idea and who could make a donation, and email or call them directly to encourage them to join you. That direct request helps tell them that you really mean it and really care about this, and that makes all the difference!
As a fun other note – here’s a photo from the warehouse today, showing some scenic racks we had built this week, and some of the items that are already in, just waiting for shelves to be inventoried!
I was in Glorious Govan yesterday for Alastair McIntosh‘s Kandinsky and Spirituality event. What a difficult subject to tackle in the here and now. Ran into many friends and colleagues. I suppose I wanted more politics (constructivism), more discussion of the idea of art as service with a spiritual dimension (Mierle Laderman Ukeles), more in depth on I and Thou Martin Buber and the idea that there are two possible ways to think about the other – as ‘it’ or as ‘thou’. ‘It’ is objectification. ‘Thou’ is another being with agency with whom one can have a meaningful relationship.
ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.
Museums and galleries, along with a plethora of other ‘event’ based organisations such as theatres, festivals and so on, have been attempting for many years now, to assess their resource use and reduce it. Sustainability is big news in the world of culture.
To integrate sustainability into an organisation’s core practices it’s important to understand why you are taking the trouble. Don’t attempt to pay a lot of money to eco-profiteers who have no understanding of your core business. Many organisations hope to buy change. Unfortunately all that does is wipe the surface of a problem that may not even be truly understood yet.
There are plenty of companies and consultants out there ready to offer a few impressive powerpoint presentations and one-liners. It looks good on paper to say you’ve had an ‘expert’ in, but what have you really achieved? Introducing environmental sustainability into an organisation where the standards equal unsustainable consumption is never going to be easy. If your colleagues have no reason to go to the trouble of introducing new and alien practises that potentially harm the quality of their output, then who can blame them if they choose to ignore the experts.
An organisation needs to carefully plan each step without rushing into change. One way to utilise external expertise is to pilot organisational change with one department.
A museum for instance, might undertake a thorough audit of practices in the Conservation department across a six month period. Materials, products, energy, and costs should all be examined. This of course can be coordinated in-house by the conservation team themselves.
It is natural for the team to harbour a strong curiosity around the results and their impacts. Don’t waste their curiosity. Build upon it. This is where external expertise – guided by the museum and not the other way around – is invaluable. After a professional environmental sustainability team has audited the impacts one of the most important elements of this exercise comes into its own. In a workshop allowing the team to ‘find’ the solutions, the assistance of professionals explaining where eco perspectives and assumptions are mistaken or correct can be an engaging and transforming experience. Most people are shocked to find out that their beliefs around what’s good and bad are totally at odds with the facts.
Some of the biggest misconceptions involve the risks of higher costs, increased effort and comparable ineffectiveness of alternatives. Your workshop will need to integrate, not ignore, colleagues’ concerns. This might mean prior research on alternatives and even a couple of demonstrations. Peeling back the layers of disguise to uncover what a material or product needs to function can be a powerful tool in altering mindsets. At least it’s an improvement on a bunch of motherhood statements!
For instance, just imagine your marketing team comes to their workshop with a figure related to how much time they spend utilising online resources such as Facebook and Twitter. Their assumption might be that the dematerialistic nature of online communications is extremely eco friendly. Until you explain the impact of cloud computing and the enormous energy needs of data centres that organisations like Facebook require. Then show them this video.
It demonstrates how cheap energy is now being sourced and purchased for some of these data centres. Many of these data centres are choosing to buy renewable energy, but not all. So when your marketing team logs on to Facebook knowing that organisation uses dirty coal to fuel their enormous data centres, at the very least they’re not living in ignorance any longer, and they are conscious of Facebook’s impact on the environment.
The museum or gallery that chooses an educational strategy over motherhood consultants will be able to demonstrate tangible organisational change, not just a meaningless sentence buried in their Annual Report.
the EcoMuseum, is a project of Carole Hammond, Exhibition Manager and museum professional: combining the complex ideologies of aesthetics, culture, objects, entertainment…and environment.
The artist-inspired Feast has become a remarkable part of London’s calendar, bringing together Londoners to produce food for a giant community meal. For the last two years it’s culminated in a giant Feast on the bridge on Southwark Bridge. Created by artist Clare Patey and colleagues, Feast on the bridge took part last weekend – another extraordinary example of arts transformational involvement in horticulture and community that I’ve written about earlier here, here and here.
RSA Arts & Ecology is teaming up with the RSA’s Connected Communities project to create a new garden based scheme in New Cross. More of that soon.