Malachy Orozco, 24 January 2015

Session Caller:

Malachy Orozco ([email protected])

In Attendance:


Sarah Jane Booth


Kate McStraw



Ellis Kerbhoven


Elspeth Murray

Ayesha Casely-Hayford

The foundations have been laid for a search aggregate site that links together

Gumtree, SetExchange, ScenerySalvage, universities, transporters, charity shops,

and artists in an effort to curb waste by the arts industry.

The worlds of performance pieces are as varied as books on a shelf. Some take place

in abstract spaces, some in very specific homes, complete with running water, gas

hobs, and working fireplaces. The materials used in bringing a production - whether a

musical production, a drama, a comedy, a live or performance art work, or something

else that defies categorisation - are myriad. And yet, it is not uncommon to see, at the

end of a show, a skip packed in as high as it can be, as tightly it can be, filled with

materials that other artists would gladly use in their own work.

Surprisingly, theatre and the environment are two words not often heard together,

though, of course, concern is growing and efforts are being made to link not only these

two words, but other words and phrases like “industry”, “waste management”, and

“corporate responsibility”.

We would like to create a website that can easily link together institutions - both

arts-oriented and not - that are about to get rid of materials they can no longer use and

the artists and budding arts groups & institutions who can use them.

This is not just about the materials themselves, however.

When the stories and histories of the materials come to light, they, too, can

themselves become a meta-material with which designers and artists can play. John

Cage's bed used in a dance piece based on Merce Cunningham. A section of set used

in a production of Waiting for Godot re-used in a short film about Pinter. These are not

perhaps the most interesting examples, but you, the reader, might be able to

extrapolate other ways in which these stories may intermingle in a given production.

The issue of industry standards comes up, as well.

Fashion students are required to consider the “Cradle to the Grave” concept in their

work. This concept is something that not only includes the materials used in the

construction of a given work, but also the logistics in transporting those materials, the

dyes used, how biodegradable those materials are, et cetera.

Theatre design baccalaureates who have graduated as recently as three years ago

(2011) from major universities have had little to no interaction with these concepts in

their design curricula.

The goal would be to make the recycling of arts materials the rule, rather than the


If this was an inbuilt feature of the learning of future designers, then these materials

would not only have longer life cycles, but the carbon footprint of the theatre industry

as a whole would be reduced.

There are contractual matters that would come into play, as well, if this were

implemented on a national scale, such as clauses allowing set designers to opt out if

they do not wish to have their material re-used unless it is altered and not recognisably

their own design.

In terms of corporate responsibility, it should be possible for the materials donated to

other companies to be classified as a donation, resulting in tax breaks for the most

generous institutions - whether arts-related or not.

The climate of arts funding is always competitive, and there never seems to be

enough money.

If it were easier to share resources between artists and art institutions, though,

perhaps there just might be a little more to go around.

For more information, please check out:

Julie's Bicycle

Tanja Beer

Broadway Green Alliance


Paines Plough


Set Exchange

Scenery Salvage



upcycle, sharingeconomy, climatechange, recycle, sustainability, tax, Sustainability