Report on ‘How Can We Create More Climate Conscious Theatre
Convened by Tahir
Report by Ben

Present: Tahir, David, Maryam, Paul, Henry, Dean, Ben

Shows create a lot of waste and traditionally, show materials are trashed.
Perhaps a pre-condition of funding that all materials are recycled/re-purposed?
Tahir’s company Freedom Studios have a non-human board member eg potted plant

Evidence of best practice from Opera North with an active carbon conscious policy.
Henry: Report that the major fact in carbon emissions is from cars travelling to theatres, not materials / energy used by shows themselves

Need to travel to audiences, or to incentivise travel by public transport with lower ticket prices.

Maryam worked on show using materials directly affected by climate change, for example wood burned by wildfires in Morocco, or melted glass bottles. Powerful idea of objects themselves as testimonies.

Considerable cost to companies in implementing environmental policies in time and money.

There is now a Sustainability Award at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Fashion industry far more damaging than entertainment industry. Of course wardrobe departments connected with buying fast fashion.

Wide feeling in group that we need to practice more minimal stagings. The idea that small is beautiful idea dating back to 1970s theatre.

Are we at the tipping point of scale? We have sunk so much investment into big energy hungry venues. Discussion of 1970s fun palaces for example Joan Littlewood and Theatre Royal Stratford East where big theatres used for communities during the day. Multi-use to make maximum use of buildings that are costly to heat/cool/maintain.

Artists generally doing a powerful job of making sustainability more visible/ creative could partner more with other industries working in green sector.

Importance of found spaces. Need to perform where the heating is already on! Rather than West End theatres which are so energy-draining.

Less printing. Many companies already embracing this by abandoning leaflets and programmes (replaced with QR codes). Larger companies have greater responsibility than small ones.

The Edinburgh Fringe a major culprit in encouraging people from all over the world to fly in! Festival Fever in many UK cities now; often not sustainable. Could Edinburgh Fringe have sliding scale of participation charges- higher if you fly in from Australia for example; almost free if you are local / or prove you came by train. Need to reward local work. However what about under-represented voices at UK festivals, for example from Global South. Need to strike balance between representation and ecological agenda.

The city could tax the Edinburgh Fringe for poor environmental practice.

Tahir shared story of board meeting with Bonsai plant where they decided not to proceed with a show that required buying new wood.

Earth Spirit Festival – these ideas are at least as old as this festival going back to 1970s

Example of show where the audience power the lights and sound with bicycles.

Handlebar Theatre- another example of sustainable practice.

Aim for lean productions. Pigfoot Theatre show Hot in Here foregrounding the climate emergency in form and content. Work 100% carbon neutral. An associate company of English Touring Theatre

NVA Scottish environmental arts company deliberately being careful with any damage to natural environment, and gifting any equipment bought back to local community on Skye.

Example of a solar – powered outdoor stage built into a trailer that opens out for music festival in Yorkshire.

Importance of verbatim theatre- the lived experience of local communities.
A ‘voice’ for objects and plants.

Govt could put a tax of ‘unneccessary’ productions, but who arbitrates this? Example of a light entertainment Sherlock Holmes show that travels from UK to Adelaide each year. Is this venture ‘worth’ the environmental damage?

Boomer and Gen X generations still insisting that it’s their right to fly. Challenged by millennials and especially Gen Z.

Controversial aspects of ‘Offsetting’- an excuse for poor environmental practice? Or better than nothing?

Incentivise low-carbon participation- scales of ticket prices relative to mode of travel / degree of environmental participation in the work- for example, if you power the lighting with a bike your ticket is free!

Arts need not solve all the problems of the climate emergency. Do your bit. Building a culture of understanding and most powerful and effective practice.