* *Contains sexual innuendo, foul language, and opinions upon the state of the earth.
Sexy Sustainability: The impact of Arts Council England funding changes, after the implementation of environmental policy, on the urban theatre industry in London from 2009-2012 and its implications on the future.
Joella Debra Tepper 22nd April 2013 BA (Hons) Theatre Practice: Performance Art
This essay is dedicated to those lives lost, minds forever changed, and global response evermore present than in the tragedies of the Boston Marathon bombings on the 15th of April 2013. The key paradox of spectacle is that it deals with humans in non-human ways. (Baz Kershaw, Theatre Ecology) We are all humans on earth, and sometimes, that can be overwhelming when a spectacle is used in such a non-human way.
The Introduction.................................................................3 Foreplay...........................................................................7 Impact............................................................................17 Change in practice from ACE funding changes...................................17 Young Vic vs. Central: paradigm shift within current practice................20 The Sustainable Theatre Maker.....................................................24
It’s time for ‘the talk’.........................................................29 The Now................................................................................30 Engagement............................................................................31 Cultural Currency.....................................................................33 Something Tangible: Education.....................................................35 The Talk................................................................................36
Carry on..........................................................................38 Appendices......................................................................39 Bibliography.....................................................................42
The Introduction Through the accumulation of relevant research in this essay, I am mapping history that has not been mapped before, therefore in the first chapter I highlight events in cultural, educational, and political contexts that have impacted the theatre industry in London from 2009-2012. The methodology in which I have approached this topic is by connecting intuitions from studying theatre in a context where sustainability has been on my mind since before study. As Environments Officer for the Student Union for the Royal Central School of Speech & Drama, I began to notice the correlation and collaboration of arts and sustainability beginning Before this essay I had never seen the two as practices which can interact with eachother, which is why I chose to investigate this relationship.
Because of the nature of this ever-present and current topic, by the time this is printed and ready for submission, some of the factors may already out of date. I chose to write about this topic when explaining practices, trying to define as much information about the theories of sustainable pr actices and behavioural changes. However if the reader needs more information about the scientific areas, they can look for reference in the Green Theatre publication referenced throughout the essay, and information from Julie’s Bicycle. If they are technicians, they should tak e this information and apply the behaviour change needed to engage with their colleagues about sustainable practices in the industry.
Sustainable can be defined as “conserving an ecological balance by avoiding depletion of natural resources.” Sexual can be defined as “relating to the instincts, physiology and instincts connected with physical attractionor intimate contact between individuals.” “Sustainability is not glamourous, it’s not sexy”– David Greig, Playwright, Summit on Environmentalism and Internationalism, Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2012 “Solar panels, now those are sexy, you know what’s not sexy? Secondary glazing.” Terry O’Dwyer, Buildings & Leasings Manager, Circus Space London The aim of this essay is to define what a sustainable theatre maker is, in the context of environmental policy changes in the UK affecting the cultural sector,
but specifically after the Arts Council changed its funding applicantions to include an environmental policy in all funding seekers applications. In the 2.5 years I’ve been living in the UK, I’ve seen theatre steer drastically into a spiral of sustainable research and collaboration to make less of an impact on the environment. The first reaction when I begin to tell anyone about my topic of research is one or a mixture of the following: 1. Rolling eyes 2. Blank stares 3. Checking phones or watches 4. A “why we should focus on the here and now because this is the only world and life we get so why should I care about making something environmentally friendly it’s too expensive I don’t have the time and you’re hindering my art how am I supposed to express myself” rant. To put the word “Sexy” in front of something immediately gets people’s attention, and brings out the red-faced giggles and slightly taboo feeling. To get the same reaction from sustainability, we need to stimulate the visceral and instinctive responses that something like, as Terry explained, solar panels give. There is also nothing sexy about living a completely carbon footprint free life. Recently I roughly calculated my carbon footprint to be 20.64 tonnes per annum, living as if there were 3.87 planets to support me 1. My sister ran a small farm in Northwest Vermont for 10 months, and in the 2 days I spent sleeping in below freezing tempuratures, climbing back to the house to use the toilet, and having numerous chickens poo on me, I couldn’t imagine living like this all year round, or for the rest of my life, just to reduce my personal carbon footprint. It was amazing the kind of work she did to support herself, living mostly off of just the land and animals she was tending to. But because the world is the world and there are exponentially more people who don’t care about the environment than the people who do, I want to begin looking at culture, business, government and how they can influence global change. There is now a sense of 'cultural currency' as I’ve seen investigating Claire Bishop. I've interpreted it to meaning that this ethical 'box-ticking' we're going to have to do diminishes the importance of human's responsibility to and within the 1
Calculate your own at www.footprint.wwf.org.uk/
world and context of how we're living. We should care about sustainable practice because we care about reducing our impact on the environment, not because we know it gives us a better chance of getting money from the government. Before we can figure out how to evoke the sexiness of sustainability or define the impact or implications on future practitioners, we have to look at where all of this stemmed from. The UK has been going through an environmental rediscovery in recent years, and has always been a leader, along with some other major powers across the globe, in trialing and encouraging sustainability. In this essay, I will explore the background of the UK and its involvement in culture and the environment, how this has informed the Arts Councilâ€™s decision to include an environmental policy in their funding applications, and what impact this has had on theatre practitioners in London.
Foreplay A timeline of this information is available in appendix 1. A company affected by the changes to ACE funding in 2012 was Circus Space of London, who will receive an average of ÂŁ300,000 in funding from 2013-2015 after success in their application in 2012. To get a sense of scale, theyâ€™re just one of the nearly thousands, and one of over 200 institutions in London alone, of National Portfolio Funding seekers in the UK who have been affected by the change in policy. Founded in the 1980s, Circus Space is one of Europe's leading spaces for circus training and education, and currently offers the only BA Honours degree in Circus Arts in the world. They're located in East London near Old Street where the building was built in 1896. The building was originally supposed to be used as a power station where members of the Old Street community would bring their rubbish, and it would be combusted and used as fuel for the houses nearby. The inscription above the door reads "E pul ve re lux et vis" which roughly translates to "Out of beauty is light and power." Unfortunately, they had to begin using coal, as the rubbish collected didn't give enough power for the neighbourhood. In 2008, Terry O'Dwyer was hired as Buildings and Leasings manager. From the moment I met him and we began to chat, I could tell that sustainability was not just at the centre of how he ran the building, but at the heart of his personal practice. He would have liked to make significant changes to be able to comply with the new policies, but exactly as his quote implies, upper management was only concerned with what was going to make, figuratively, an attractive impact on the faĂ§ade. They made changes that would get their students and employees thinking about their impact on the environment they work in 2. It certainly is ironic that something that was originally harmful to the environment now houses one of the leading arts organisations for environmental sustainability. Their story in their move towards a more sustainable business is a great parallel from the history the building has, and also a parallel to sustainable practices that are beginning to emerge in the current theatre industry in London.
See appendix 2 for Circus Space documents
The following are events which I highlight as historical processes of London becoming a source for sustainable living. These significant events have, in turn, had an effect on the UK from a global level, trickling down to making London a sustainable city, with Theatre at one of the main areas of focus for improvement and implementation. In this chapter I look at the significant historical events that have shaped the UK in the past 40 years in sequence up until 2012, where the impact we see today, as Iâ€™m researching and typing is constantly changing, being discussed, and acted upon. Worldwide events have affected such a sector of an industry in a capital city of a small country. Although there is countless amounts of research in both the performance and environmental sectors, I have highlighted these events to be the most significant in the merge of sustainability and the arts. Sustainable practices in the arts sector became most significant in the 1970s with
bioremediation is â€œthe branch of biotechnology that uses biological process to overcome environmental problems.â€?(Definition of Bioremidiation 2012) According to Lisa Woynarski, PhD student at the Royal Central School of Speech & Drama (Central), bioremedial performance is making a live art performance or installation that has beneficial effects on the environment (Woynarski 2012) 3. Woynarski states that there are two challenges faced by the bioremedial performance sector. Firstly that an artist must research to understand what areas need ecological reform, perform their piece, and then leave it to develop over the years, and secondly the impact of practicing bioremedial performance means that in contrast to the time of performance, the ecological change takes so much longer. The product is not necessarily seen by the public, performers, or even the company that had originated the idea if they do not monitor it over time, however it is incredibly hard to monitor, as the earth reacts to bioremedial change so slowly. How then, could this kind of performance make a difference and engage their audiences with sustainability if the outcome takes so long to see?
Examples of bioremedial performance in the 1970s are 7,000 Oakes by Joseph Bueys and Seed Bombing the Urban Landscape by Kathryn Miller.
Carl Lavery4, a professor at Aberystwyth Univeristy, took a position on Woynarski’s panel from her research presentation on Ecology and Performance. His performance “The Bowthorpe Experiment”5 showed how unfriendly the town of Bowthorpe was for biking, by taking audience members through the town to a secret location for a film screening. It had a positive effect, causing the town to take action on the unmanageable traffic and bike lanes, while locals got involved in either helping to map out, set up, or happen to walk upon the film screening that occurred at the end of the bike ride.
This project showed the
"interdependence of the environment" and the people living in Bowthorpe. Bioremedial performance and its place within making urban theatre more sustainable means the ecological repair through the medium of art and performance is possible. Carl also explained how the significance of his project was to show the orientation of self within the context of ‘worlding’ one’s self. Worlding, meaning the intimate, but shared environment based on nothing, or the entire world we live in, gives a sense of bringing together a wider community that is based off of one communities problem (Lavery 2012). The same sense of detachment was felt throughout the world, which is what led to the discovery of the Talloires Declaration; a promise to give a sense of worlding to the higher education sector. The Talloires Declaration, drafted by Tufts University President Jean Mayer, was signed in 1990 by 22 university presidents and chancellors that came together in Talloires, France in summit to bring Climate Change to the heart of Universities world-wide (Talliores 2013). The official signatory paper reads: As an institution of higher education concerned about the state of the world environment and the advancement of sustainable development, we shall strive to promote actions that will achieve a sustainable future. We endorse the Talloires Declaration and agree to support environmental citizenship at all levels including senior managers, administrators, faculty, staff, and students. Together we shall endeavor to advance global environmental 4
Carl Lavery is a professor at Aberystwyth University who researches and teaches ecology, environment, and landscape and contemporary French theatre and performance. 5 Reflections on Bowthorpe available at http://www.magnificentrevolution.org/2011/06/thebowthorpe-experiment-reflections/
literacy and sustainable development by implementing the ten-point action plan of the Talloires Declaration. (Talliores Declaration Signatory Form 1990) This immediately instigated change in the university system in which universities now felt responsible for engaging students in not only living a sustainable lifestyle, but engaging with the curriculum to embrace the inclusion of sustainability as a way of commenting on how the world needs to react to the immanent depletion of natural resources that threatened the world in the late 1980s. 6 Today, over 430 universities world-wide have signed to commit to a sustainable model, excluding University of London. Institutions in London who have signed are Open University and London Metropolitan University, but it has also been signed by 12 other large universities or affiliates around the UK. Learning about this has urged the Student Union at Central to have this singed, making Central the first conservatoire to sign. They are also urging the University of London Union (ULU) to sign, encouraging all constitute universities to encourage their senior management to put sustainability at the forefront. This is significant in the change towards the arts attitude within higher education, because Tufts University has mainly an engineering, medical and scientific based academic structure; an artistic university being engaged in this a noteworthy change. Universities all have the well-being of their students and staff in common. They were able to engage because the Declaration was written to be transparent to any university. The instigation of the Declaration in the 90s meant a global institutional push toward sustainability. The world was demanding the future of business to be taught in a more sustainable way. These attitudes are what moved the United Nations (UN) 7 toward adopting the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 because it got the country to start realizing that the people and â€œleaders of the futureâ€? wanted climate change to be the priority for the world. The Kyoto Protocol was composed to encourage countries to look at the greenhouse gases emitted by their citizens, and reduce them. There were many steps in the process of creating these guidelines, however what is significant for 6
For more information see www.worldresourcesforum.org/issue The United Nations is an international organization founded in 1945 after the Second World War by 51 countries committed to maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights. (United Nations 2012) 7
the purpose of this essay is this was the first protocol set by UN as a wakeup call to the world about climate change and global warming. Countries committed were to, on average; reduce their greenhouse gases (GHG) by 5.2% in between 2008-2012 (Kyoto Protocol 2013). So far, from recent searches on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change website, there have been no reports as to the percentage reached by each country. In December of 2012, a further goal of at least 18% reduction of GHG emissions was established for the time period of 2013-2020, however, the countries concerned in this second commitment are different, and have not been published yet. As will be seen in chapters two and three, it’s no coincidence that there has been an impact on the performance practices in the theatre industry in London after these reductions have not been met. As we move forward to 2007, we see the creation of Julie’s Bicycle, an environmental sustainability consultancy company to music and the arts, and the Kingston University Sustainability in Practice Conference. Both of these milestones brought together the progress that had been happening to begin a sense of urgency for the matter of climate change. The Kyoto Protocol made the world realise that this was the current climate, and not something to be thought about doing for too many more years, and making a public impact. Sustainability is a dynamic process which enables all people to realize their potential and improve their quality of life in ways which simultaneously protect and enhance the Earth's life support systems. –Forum for the Future (Sustainability in Practice 2009, back cover) Some years after the Kyoto Protocol was put into place, professionals from across the UK and US summit at Kingston University to look at how they can effectively engage with students in an overall category as well as residents of London, to instigate behavioural change toward a more sustainable lifestyle. The collection of research and essays was collated into “Sustainability in Practice, From Local to Global: Making a Difference” acts as a practical guide in leading towards more sustainable lifestyles rather than theoretical commentary on the subject. It mainly highlights and focuses on Higher Education institutions impact on leading the country in sustainable development. The main themes are changing behaviours of Londoners and students approach toward sustainability. It was
reported that not all students are engaged with the subject, but as the definition sets, there needs to be more processes that engage with a sustainable lifestyle, as it improves the life we are living. Their definition of sustainability can be interpreted to mean that all people can engage with sustainability, not just environmentalists and engineers who are directly affected, but the more separated sectors of business which exist. It means that a persons responsibility to and within the world can be quite infinite yet vague, but with their own personal and individual engagement, this lifestyle can be adopted to make a global effect. My approach in this chapter is to interlink how significant events within the ecological and environmental along with theatres sectors have been slowly becoming intertwined. However as Bruce Nixon, sustainability consultant and speaker at Sustainability in Practice questioned “why do years of successive summits and concerts like Live Aid and now Live Earth produce so little action?” (Nixon 2007, p94) His frustration about charity events being hypocritical about their intentions for making an impact on the environment is the exact reason why Julie’s Bicycle was founded in 2007. They wanted the music industry to actually respond to the issues they’re making music for. They set out how to make the most sustainable music events, and later concentrating on music production, they could. The company soon shifted their attentions to all sectors of the arts, flourishing in Museum and Theatre Management. Julie’s Bicycle might not make the biggest impact, but it is effectively a significant public way for London to engage with helping the UK reduce GHG. They’re also partnered with Arts Council England (ACE) in giving advice to National Portfolio Organisations, making guiding practices for all arts businesses to become more sustainable. The significance of Julie’s Bicycle and the summit for Sustainability in Practice is that these events connected a business sector that directly engages and involves residents and visitors alike to sustainable practices. Professionals in the industry and in the government begin to react, and there is finally some spark of change in the air. In the process of a theatre production, we're just closing in on the design deadline, and a couple weeks away from the first technical rehearsal. In 2008 came the publication of “Green Theatre” a practical guide with case studies and statistics for all sectors of theatre, presented by the Greater London
Authority for the Mayor’s Office. It outlines that this is not the only rules for every institution; in fact it mostly outlines the building usage of a production. As outlined in Sustainability in Practice, a ‘one size fits all’ approach will not work for any sustainable development, and this publication parallels it for theatre. The main players in case studies and research done by the Mayor’s Office are the National Theatre, Arcola, The Theatres Trust, and Ambassador Theatre Group. It includes a very powerful foreword which outlines how this is aimed at reducing negative impact on the environment, however not imposing on the artistic integrity or quality of the performance. This will be discussed in the forthcoming chapters. Boris Johnson, Mayor of London (2008-present), brought together these influential companies that have been making steps towards sustainable practices to respond "to the overwhelming concern of the theatre sector to reduce any negative impact on the environment. This plan is for anyone working in London's Theatre industries." (Green Theatre 2008, p2) To give some perspective, about 50,000 tonnes of CO2 was emitted in 2007 by theatres surveyed around London (excluding pre-production and audience travel, travel about 35,000) and 35% cause by front of house energy and waste usage (Green Theatre 2008, p5) These shocking figures clearly show that London should get ready to take steps toward becoming more sustainable in this sector. It is easy for the production and theatre managers to engage with because of the immediacy of the figures, but what actually is attractive about reducing CO2 emissions? And why must they be attractive? What is most significant about this publication is where it comments to "Help Theatre to communicate message about climate change to audience, without imposing on artistic integrity or quality of shows." The government understands the importance of the theatre industry in London; it reached 13.6 million individuals in 2007, making it a significant contribution to the economy. Priding itself as the birthplace of modern-day theatre, Boris recognizes that this aesthetic within the productions and the business of theatre itself will not change, but he is asking London to look at how to make less of an impact on the environment they're working in. Theatres might be reluctant to look at this because it is a new business element, which will be discussed in chapter two. Committed to a 60% reduction in CO2 by 2025, this (the quote and significance of this report) is one of the pioneering ways of guiding the city into urban sustainable development. Urban sustainable development is a
city designed with consideration of environmental impact, inhabited by people dedicated to minimization of required inputs of energy, food, water, waste, Co2, etc (Global Stewards 2013). To bring London towards sustainable development, the change needs to start somewhere, and this is a good initiative, but within the world we live today, this has to be regulated in some way. I question if it is up to the government, each individual institution, or the individuals within the institutions in the next chapters. In 2009, the Executive Board of Arts Council England took it into their own hands to begin environmental reporting in the arts industry as a requirement which has started to shape how subsidised companies are shaping their funding strategies, as well as their approach to sustainability. This was then finalised in February of 2012 at the Tipping Point conference, where Alan Davey, the new Chief Executive of ACE, gave light to the changes. Arts Council England is to become the first arts funding body in the world to put environmental sustainability in the funding agreements of all its major funding programmes. From April, every arts organisation or museum we fund will, as a minimum requirement, need to measure and improve their water and energy use between 2012 and 2015. (Alan Davey, Tipping Point Conference 24/2/12) On top of these significant changes to ACE policy, 2012 was a chaotic year that brought massive change to London's landscape, both physically and behavioural, that had an effect on the entire country. How can we ignore the fact that this was also brought on by the kind of publicity and global representation London had to present as the host for the Olympics. However with all of this transformation, came some mighty backlash onto corporate sponsorship. Although London 2012 succeeded in being coined as the ‘most sustainable Olyimpics’ 8 yet, there was a lot of disagreement surrounding it’s two major sponsors, BP and McDonalds. Although both companies pride themselves on setting examples for being as sustainable as possible, the fact that a cultural event determined to be a ‘blueprint for change’ was sponsored by an oil company and a fast food chain sparked controversy. In fact, BP’s arts sponsorship has caused such activism as
Further reading at www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-20334658
Reclaim Shakespeare Company’s protest at World Shakespeare Festival 2012 9 and the publication of Liberate Tate and Platform London, “Culture Beyond Oil.” Think it's really important to address that there is a darker, more negative side to theatre responding to climate change and the support that the arts might get. In August of 2012, there was a protest during the World Shakespeare Festival, where audience members were encouraged to rip the BP logo off of the program for the festival weekend because they felt that BP hadn't done enough to clean up their oil spills from the last decade, and feel that this contribution to get better PR is an effort to cover up their inability to clean up oil spills. 10 This is the negative side of corporate sponsorship and the arts which is the other way of getting funding, if finding funding through government funding isn't the option. The Arts Council made their funding changes official after their 2011/2012 annual review, embedding environmental reporting into their application for National Portfolio funding seekers. As previously mentioned, this was also the deadline for Kyoto Protocol reduction of 5.2%, which had not been met. Demonstrated by a slow progress in sustainable acceptance, London is taking two steps forward and one step back, climbing towards development that actually makes a difference, however the repercussions of this is more civil unrest towards climate change. Things are changing, but not fast enough, and if we’re going to begin to make a difference, we need to stop being distracted by the sexy technologies and money placed into projects that don’t directly make an impact on citizens in a positive, bioremidial way. Corporate and Government endorsement for things like The Crystal in London, a place for urban development education sponsored by Siemens, are a good way of making a show out of what the city could be, however it does not solve environmental impact they’re making on London. We created this problem with the concept that Land = Power = Money and all the forms that theory of colonialism that comes with, but by eradicating this phenomenon, we can take steps toward global climate change. Change is coming now. This is what now looks like. 9
Protested by Reclaim Shakespeare Company at World Shakespeare Festival 2012. Further reading at www.bp-or-not-bp.org 10 Liberate Tate and Platform London have also produced a report on the connection between BP and its contribution to sponsoring exhibitions as the same PR gesture to make them look like they're contributing to a good cause.
Impact In this chapter I will show how we are turning from a wasteful way of theatre making to a cleaner, sustainable one. This chapter also aims to help define such modern sustainable jargon seen in Arts Council funding research and procedures, creating language for the business sector to engage with in an attractive way. I also show reasons why a ‘sustainable theatre maker’ is becoming a common term in theatre practice. Before we define the term, we will look at how the term has emerged from the practice. In this chapter I’d also like to pick apart Alan Davey’s speech introducing ACE funding changes in February 2012 and see how these things he hoped would be changing, are or aren’t. As you can see from the series of events that have affected the UK in the past, as we creep into 2013, we are beginning to see how all of these policy changes will affect the way companies will have to run their businesses, as well as noting who is actually taking these steps forward into changing the way their businesses look at how to react to these changes. As this dissertation is being written, we are in the first deadline for environmental reporting to the Arts Council for National Portfolio Organisations. It is important to note what being a National Portfolio funded organisation means. The National Portfolio Funding scheme has replaced the Regular Funding programme11. As a National Portfolio funded company, you may not apply for “Grants for the Arts,” which give the small, new, and community-driven and emerging artists’ small grants of under £10,001; however, you would be in the running to receive regular funding for 3 years at a time of over £10,001. It was when this new funding scheme was introduced that the Arts Council also decided to include environmental reporting into these larger organizations reporting. Change in practice from ACE funding changes On May 31st 2013, thousands of organisations around the country will submit their reports to ACE, and we will see an accurate scope of how many emissions the arts actually contributes to the total emissions made by the UK. The organizations chosen to receive NPO funding will report yearly from 2013-2015 within the new changes, collecting data from every aspect of their productions from waste to 11
A company being funded yearly by annual review by Arts Council England.
travel, materials sources to energy consumption. The minimum requirement is to collect water and energy usage, and a plan to improve them, such as implementing an
environmental consultancy company for music and the arts, has partnered with ACE to bring free and easy to use tools to the public, so every NPO can have the resources to collect their data efficiently and clearly. In the Tipping Point conference in February of 2012, Alan Davey, Chief Executive of ACE, explained This isn’t about policing arts organisations; instead it’s about helping them to make a real step change in their environmental approach. And we want to make sure they won’t be alone in changing the way they work; that they have access to the advice and support they need to significantly reduce their carbon footprint. (Alan Davey, 24/12/13 Tipping Point Conference) Davey stresses the significance of the community aspect, which although it might seem daunting to an individual organization, there is direct support from the organisation that is demanding these reports. For the UK to begin to take a step toward creating a database of energy used across the country there is a need for unified accounting of this data. This is exactly the reason why ACE chose to partner with Julie’s Bicycle, so that there was consistency across the reports 12. With the addition of environmental reporting, companies such as Circus Space, Arcola Theatre, and the Bush Theatre, coincidentally leaders of sustainable management within their business in London, have all received consistent funding, give or take 2 or three percent. Every organisation must take into account two things; the success of their profit-making, and if looking for government funding, how well they can offer a service back to the communities they’re making work in. These have been the two bottom lines for making successful theatre in the UK from the organisation of the Arts Council in the 1940s. Until now, the two bottom lines that these organisations have had to undertake effect their budgeting and outreach, however, with the implementation of environmental reporting the
The new portfolio of Theatre organisations that are receiving funding have main components of audience experience, new writing, diversity, and children and young people in their work. ACE also funds companies that decide to tour their work to cities in the UK that haven’t had previous access to the arts. A full list of organisations and their funding can be found at: www.artscouncil.org.uk/media/uploads/portfolio_summaries/theatre_final.pdf
Arts Council is essentially introducing the third “bottom line” of their funding scheme. Unlike C.E.O.’s who believe that they have already integrated sustainability practices into their companies, I believe we are only at the beginning of a new period of transformative change for capitalism. If we are to create a global economy that works for the nine billion people forecast by midcentury, then for the sake of the global climate and for the survival of many other species we have no option but to turn today’s capitalism inside out and upside down. (John Elkington Going Green 2009, New York Times) The term ‘Triple Bottom Line’ (TBL) was coined in 1994 by John Elkington, a global icon for corporate responsibility and sustainable development, founder of SustainAbility, an environmental consultancy company for business founded in 1987. “For years we had to spell out the word [sustainability]” says Elkington in his article in 2009 on going green for the corporate sector. We have to acknowledge that the idea of changing behaviours in business management to become environmentally sustainable is still a sceptical concept and that only twenty years ago was seen as excessive towards keeping a business growing financially. The TBL thus consists of three Ps: profit, people and planet. It aims to measure the financial, social and environmental performance of the corporation over a period of time. (Idea: The Triple Bottom Line 2009, The Economist) One of the first times I heard this term was in an open discussion on sustainability and the arts at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2012. As the conversation steered toward a Marxist approach for theatre of ‘making more for less,’ Anthony Alderson, Director of Pleasance Theatre, explained "Arts organizations should provide conditions for artists and audience to get lost in, to persuade people to move faster than their organisation." (Edinburgh Fringe Festival Open Discussion on Sustainability and the Arts 2012) We can infer that this push of the ‘people’ having the ideas forces the organizations to cater to their needs as a mass 13. Elkington comments that we are on the cusp of a “One Earth” paradigm shift, meaning our approach to 13
Elkington highlights that 2012 was the anniversary of many projects such as the 25th anniversary of the Brundtland Commission report, Our Common Future , which helped put sustainability into the political mainstream, 40 years since the Club of Rome’s study, Limits to Growth, arguing that we would soon run out of a number of key natural resources, and 50 years since Rachel Carson’s eco-blockbuster, Silent Spring , spotlighting the devastating impact of synthetic insecticides on wildlife. (Going Green 2009)
sustainability means working within communities to create a sense of “worlding” as Lavery suggested in The Bowthorpe Experiment. This idealistic and romantic sense of community development to enhance the worlds sustainability is great, but it is very apparent that a “one size fits all” approach to reducing our environmental impact will not work. The phrase “a one size fits all approach will not work” is repeated in different ways throughout the publication of Sustainability in Practice (2007). From experience in performance practices, it is the same for individuals within a performance company when making work creatively. All practitioners are different and have a certain approach to creating work. Individual performance processes are the reason we constantly make work, make more of it, and never stop collaborating. However if the process to which we approach work isn’t efficient or sustainable, it needs to be changed. Changing those ineffective behaviours into professional ones can sometimes be daunting, which can also be said for changing behaviours in environmental sustainability. This is exactly the problematic process that Central and the Young Vic had to overcome to embrace sustainability in their production. Both had a traditional text and tried to incorporate an environmental sustainability approach within the making, production, audience participation, and marketing of the event. Young Vic vs. Central: paradigm shift within current practice The main aim for the Young Vic was to try to integrate sustainability into a single production, which eventually took over their entire infrastructure in regulating their heating/cooling systems. “It could have been relatively easy” for them as Natalie Abraham, director of After Miss Julie explained. “We could have picked a modern play with no sets, costume or props, and minimal lighting, but that would have meant not all productions could be sustainable.” (Young Vic Young Directors Programme 2013) Abrahame means that choosing a play like After Miss Julie14 was a challenge because it was a domestic setting in which the designer wanted to set in a period kitchen in the 1940s, still maintaining the sustainable aims of the production basis, those usually associated with current 14
The full case study can be found at www.juliesbicycle.com/resources/casestudies/production/after-miss-julie
work with minimal resources, therefore less Carbon Dioxide (CO 2) emissions, used in performance. With the same spirit of ‘Make do and mend’ coined in the 1940s after the Second World War, the production team pulled their resources from flea markets to antique shops to repainting the staircase from the previous production as a main focus of their set. JB’s aim for all of its associates is to develop sustainable production habits, so they encouraged even the rehearsal room to be a. close to the venue for minimal transport of set, props, costumes and people, b. only heated or cooled at crucial uncomfortable temperatures, and c. a polystyrene free rehearsal room. In the end they saw an overall of 38% reduction in CO 2 emissions across all areas of focus for production, compared to a regular production in their space The Maria. What was unique about their process was that they worked with the building as well, instead of against it. In an effort to reduce emissions from their heating and cooling Frederica Notely, Producer of After Miss Julie and General Manager at Young Vic, hired in the original architects of the building to look at how to make the system more efficient. In her lecture to the Young Vic Young Directors Programme, she called this the ‘unglamorous task’ which was actually the highest impact on their carbon footprint. In the end, this task proved to be the most sustainable in that it has impacted not only the event itself, but future productions, as well as the entire running of the business. Although I argue that the coined “unglamorous” procedures in sustainable improvements prove to have the most effect on reducing emissions, these alterations are being projected in the wrong light. How these impressions so grand can be titled as “unglamorous” is the exact attitude that even an established company, now engaged in sustaining their business aim of making less of an environmental impact, needs to eradicate from their vocabulary for the paradigm shift to climax. The effect of the practices the Young Vic went through show processes towards more sustainable theatre making; however one element that had been further developed after their production was the idea of a “carbon budget.” This
can be seen in talks with Kate Ward in 2012 where she suggested the use of a carbon budget for compliance with LIFT’s sustainability aims. Ward insinuates that in the future, companies will be governed by their hosting venues, festivals, or guiding organisations. It can be inferred then the opposite would happen, where performers or performance companies will only work with venues who uphold a specific environmental standard. This is a direct effect of the TBL taking precedence in global businesses. Central aimed to trial the sustainable theatre practices developed in research on such projects as Young Vic’s, it being Julie’s Bicycle’s prime case study, on a production with students. Julie’s Bicycle was brought into Central in 2011 to look at work already put in place by the Carbon Trust, a company that helps with the sustainability of the infrastructure. Julie’s Bicycle works with Theatre companies, venues and producing houses to make them have less of an impact on the environment, and this is what Peter Bingham, head of Estates, decided Central needed. Because Central is not just a university with lectures and classes, but a conservatories where the students are contributing to the producing of each production, Bingham felt that needed something that would help
understand how the actual productions were making an impact as well.
Having budding professionals in a learning environment where the practices from a company in the industry are taken on as the ‘new’ normal. I expand on this further in Chapter 3; however I would like acknowledge that this is what created a successful integration of sustainable practices into a student production. What both productions had in common was Sholeh Johnston, Performing Arts coordinator at Julie’s Bicycle. Sholeh coordinates the Julie's Bicycle Performing Arts Programme, working mainly with the theatre and dance sectors to share knowledge, facilitate events and workshops, provide networking opportunities and develop practical resources for the creative sector to embed sustainable best practice. (Julie’s Bicycle 2013) These projects were both ways of Julie’s Bicycle to trial systems for sustainable production, a new concept for Julie’s Bicycle’s development. With this research and testing new practices of theatre production, they could better develop their Industry Green Tools 15 (IG Tools) to be more thorough whilst developing its user-friendliness to be “just another column in the 15
Industry Green Tools are an online programme from Julie’s Bicycle to assist in calculation of carbon emissions. For more information visit www.juliesbicycle.com/industry-green/ig-tools
spreadsheet” as third year Technical & Production Management student Daniel Starmer commented on in an initial full production team meeting with Johnston. Johnston’s aim is to deliver new skills and knowledge to practitioners in the performance sector, in which sustainability is an ‘opportunity’ for reimagining work. Johnston does not phrase sustainable practices as a ‘necessity’ ‘obligation’ or “responsibility” but rather that of something that can actually inspire creativity. It is this exact use of even just particular words that make you believe that this is a business venture, not an endeavour as Frederica Notely, General Manager at Young Vic and Producer of After Miss Julie, had mentioned the beginning processes felt like for the Young Vic. This is significant because we are seeing the shift in the attitude of the paradigm toward businesses behaviour toward sustainability with just one word. Using this kind of language change to be relatable to all parts of the theatre industry are what the writers and researchers of Sustainability in Practice were trying to give context to while sharing the idea of a ‘one planet’ approach [p25]. What this means is that although there is not a ‘right’ way of incorporating these new behaviours in, there is the chance to make anyone engaging feel like this is not just their issue. Although people might not understand the difference between what it means to be green, eco-friendly, or sustainable, they are things that are effecting, and alternately when not acted upon are impacting the change in the climate around them. At this point, I would like to pick apart the definitions and the differences of ‘green’ or ‘eco-friendly’ and ‘environmentally sustainable.’ ‘Green’ and ‘ecofriendly’ are not dissimilar in that both deal with tangible products that have a low impact on the environment. ‘Green’ has been coined as the colour to represent environmentalism, as in many cultures the colour is symbolic of nature and growth. The most common known green symbol is the recycling sign. The words have become most ‘trendy’ in the past 10 years with more and more companies looking at ways of developing little or no impact on the earth while still running their business to make a profit.16 I argue that this is this is the definition of environmental sustainability within the arts sector. Where sustainable usually refers to the steady cash-flow of finances, which is the first bottom line, being 16
We can see this in the work of such large consumerist companies as Tesco, Asda, and Marks & Spencers, three businesses of, ironically, some of the biggest organisations of consumerable products.
environmentally sustainable is the third bottom line. These definitions are essential to know to be able to interpret for each situation of engaging in sustainable practices. Sometimes, it is detrimental to confuse the defining factors of being green and sustainable. We should strive to be green, but what happens when green becomes unsustainable, financially or in terms of time? A good example of this is the argument over whether or not to buy organically grown food. However good it might be for our bodies and our agricultural practices as well as the environment, it is significantly more expensive to buy because of the care it takes to oversee and grow. 17 We’re looking at the environmental impact, but not all things sustainable are green, alternatively not all green is environmentally sustainable. The commitment of ACE to incorporating environmental reporting, along with data cohesion and collection was a “commitment motivated by both ethical concern and economic imperative.” (Alan Davey 2012) How this change can be about environmental issues must be confusing because Davey is referring to the first and second bottom lines. It can be concluded then that with the concern of profit and people, there is an inherent need to be conscious of the planet as well. The Sustainable Theatre Maker As I aim to define what the ‘sustainable theatre maker’ is, we need to look at how interpretations of these words can affect the process of a theatre maker. Although Royal Central School of Speech & Drama is not affected by these changes, being a privately funded Higher Education institution, they have begun to adopt sustainable performance practices within their curriculum beginning October 2012. If we revert back to the example of Central, it foreshadows how most bodies affected by the ACE funding changes will cope in their reporting. Sometimes it can look like a somewhat jumbled mess of figures and calculations, without the depth of criticism that is needed to assess the needs of an organization. For example, if an organisation wanted to save power by switching all of their tungsten lights to LED, which can save up to 88% in energy costs (Green Theatre) if the tungsten bulbs or fixtures are not properly disposed of, this, is not sustainable for the earth. The impact of replacing bulbs or fixtures when not broken or old is actually less 17
Further reading please see www.independent.co.uk/money/spend-save/what-effect-will-organicfood-have-on-your-wallet-796117.html
sustainable then using those fixtures until they break, and only then replacing them with technology that saves power. The sustainable theatre maker is not blinded by sexy new equipment to refurbish their theatre with. They are constantly asking, what will last the longest, and what is the impact of this purchase, build, move or deconstruction? In a way, if comparing a sustainable theatre maker to an actor, they are one that follows the Stanislavsky technique constantly asking why and what the intention of every action is. 18 You cannot just ‘do’ with sustainability. There must be discussion of the implications on each action, ethically and environmentally. They consider the Triple Bottom Line. With this a new sustainable approach to theatre, there comes the question of whether this will affect a productions aesthetical aims. The Arts Council’s role is to provide a means for artistic talent to thrive, not to prescribe the kind of work that should be made and I recognise that bad art about climate change can be as damaging as no art about it at all. But I’m really heartened by the surge of enthusiasm for artists and arts organisations to confront the issue of environmental change – both in practical and artistic terms. (Alan Daveys, Tipping Point Conference) ACE is not asking companies to sacrifice their artistic and production aims. This can be misinterpreted as wanting organisations to change the stories they want to tell their audiences. What Davey’s is actually asking them is challenging them to continue the upward bound of changing minds in practices toward the issue of environmental change. It cannot be ignored, however, as Abrahame mentioned, that the stereotypical productions that are ‘eco-friendly’ are those that have no lights, sets, props, or costumes, and don’t necessarily have a clear aesthetical vision because it is sacrificed by the sustainable aims by that designer. This is the truth for some productions, as Davey’s explains that poor quality performances about or trying to incorporate climate change aren’t giving any artistic meaning to them, and aren’t engaging with their audiences in an effective way. However I argue that we don’t need to sacrifice the product in the process of the production. So how are these companies supposed to create the perfectly sustainably managed production? They must take the best elements from sustainable practices, and 18
From Stanislavsky’s Creating a Role: Analysis 1961: “This role of knowledge through feeling, or analysis, is all the more important in the creative process because only with its aid can one penetrate the realm of the subconscious…” [p8]
apply them to their artistic vision. As Boris Johnson had said to the theatre industry of London, he understood that this wasn’t about changing artistic integral, but rather changing the behaviours of the practitioners. What Johnson might not have understood, was that, inherently, the sustainable aesthetic was going to change, as can be seen in the design for After Miss Julie and Cabaret. I briefly touch on the concept of the 'sustainable aesthetic,' which could also be described as the 'new simplicity' of design, as Sholeh Johnston described the set of Cabaret19. Tanja Beers20 has created the concept of The Living Stage 21 Her idea of is that the dressings and backdrop made for performance are grown throughout the year in the local community. The end of the performance programme would then commence in harvesting the crops grown on the stage, and fed to the community and artists who helped make the work. Some would argue that this aesthetic does in fact hinder the artistic integral if they feel their only choice is to simplify designs. If this is the case, then we should aim to look at how to incorporate sustainable practices to make a spectacle. These things aren’t perceived as ‘sexy’ or that which has an attribute linked to physical attraction or intimate contact between individuals. However I argue that the engagements of sustainable practices are exactly this. They’re interactive and inter-linking between individuals and the relationship and catalyst that are created when there is communication between them. These new practices are also inspiring practitioners to think more about their work, and not the spectacle of the work. In Baz Kershaw’s book Theatre Ecology, he explains, ...spectacle has become fundamentally constitutive of performative societies, and in ways which are wholly integral to the encroaching environmental crisis. (B. Kershaw Theatre Ecology page 208) 19
In other productions of Cabaret, the set is set usually very ‘brechtian’ as well, but this was still a challenge to make this aesthetic possible using responsibly sourced sources or eco-friendly products, as well as making sustainable production choices. Bertolt Brecht was a German poet and playwright who developed "epic drama," a style that relies on the audience's reflective detachment rather than the production's atmosphere and action. His works include The Threepenny Opera(1928) and The Caucasian Chalk Circle (1948). 20 Tanja Beers is a leader in ecological performance and design practice in Melbourne, Australia and the originator of The Living Stage – an eco-scenographic concept that combines stage design, permaculture and community engagement to create a recycleable, biodegradable and edible performance space. 21 Reference images for the ‘The Living Stage can be found in appendix 3
Kershaw notes how spectacle in historical activism, i.e. Boston Tea Party and Guy Fawkes, effective as these events may be in a historical sense, making modern performance in this way is somehow making spectacle lose its value. The key paradox of spectacle is that is deals with humans in non-human ways, hence why it is so attractive to individuals.  Theatre has been able to propose ideas that are inherently non-human or supernatural; the creation of a world in which anything can happen behind the fourth wall 22. What we can infer from Kershaw’s findings is that if we create more theatre that is more ‘human’ we could therefore make more sustainable theatre because we wouldn’t be using resources to artificially create a spectacle. Albeit this simple solution to performance practices, we would have less engagement with the wider performance sector as this wouldn’t attract to a wider audience. How then, are we going to inspire individuals to look at themselves and their impact on the planet, while also integrating the attractiveness of the spectacle? Kershaw asks eco-activists to look at taking the non-human back into the human. The famous quote, ‘you don’t know how significant in individual is until you’ve slept in a tent with a mosquito’ or even the famous Tesco’s tag-line ‘every little helps’ makes an inference that individuals can make such a huge impact; an attitude that sustainable practices aim to teach. Kershaw concludes his chapter Spectacles: excesses of power that when we can evoke the emotion that comes after the deconstruction of a spectacle, the other more mechanical attributes of the non-human, then we can engage those who are blinded by spectacle.  This conclusion suggests two contrasting solutions. Firstly, where we can break down the spectacle to show how impactful it is and secondly, where we can show that the spectacle was made from minor impacts and that individual engagement makes it seem like there was amazing amount of effort. The latter being more of a positive engagement with the audience it proposes the work to. To encourage positive connections with sustainable practice, ACE has seen this and has engaged both of their ‘audiences’ with it.
‘The Fourth Wall’ as referred to in theatre as the intellectual barrier between the actors and the audience.
There are two groups ACE is trying to show the impact of theatre on the environment. One being the organisations receiving funding, and the other being those audiences in a way affected by these policy changes within large organisations. Here I begin to look at the actual impact of changing attitudes from the organisation engaged to their audience, and how this makes a ripple effect outwards to other organisation, and then individuals. The main reason to even have an organisation present its report is as I’ve argued before, to get a sense of scope for the nationally funded partners to the government. We cannot ignore the fact that these organizations granted funding are now, in some ways a partner to an organization for reporting the same type of reports as a financial or artistic report would give. There is no difference between this and a major sponsor giving support to a commercial theatre. In terms of just running a theatre with corporate or private investors, they want something back. As Karl Rouse 23, Lecturer in Performance Art at Central, have said in the past; your audience, your backers, your partnered organizations are all your sponsors, so you need to show them what they are paying for. What makes the collaboration between Julie’s Bicycle and ACE so different is that this isn’t just about creating the spectacle, it’s creating change and an impact on the earth we live in. It must be stressed that the fact that we live on an earth that is deteriorating cannot be ignored. These practices that are considered “new” at my time of research and writing will not be new forever. “Sustainable Theatre Making” will become “the new normal.”
It’s time for ‘the talk’ In this chapter outline the behaviours that currently surrounds sustainability in theatre. I maintain that although there are certain behaviours toward sustainability that want to make it more appealing to a wider audience or upper management, these things, as outlined in chapter two, aren’t necessarily the best decisions. I also pose questions that I want to further investigate, but the first part 23
Karl Rouse is a tutor and performance lecturer at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama who regularly speaks to Performance Art students about producing, production, and artistic direction.
of truly being able to understand is the power to ask, and to know what questions to ask in the first place. Terry O'Dwyer, Buildings & Leasing Manager of Circus Space described the process of environmental policy of that which had to 'appeal' to the senior management in charge of the funds to each department. Just “talking the talk” isn’t enough to see tangible benefits of sustainable practices. I look at what ‘the talk’ is, whether it is the relationship with those partners working towards sustainable practices or the ways in which those practices are received. I argue, that to fully embrace the changes happening, institutions must enhance the accessibility along with the attractiveness of sustainability, in turn, creating new kind of practices that will become normal in a few years time. The topic of sustainability is becoming more 'trendy'. It is now a business motive for organisations to express how they are reacting to social and ethical issues. Words such as 'green' 'eco-friendly' and even 'sustainable' can be concluded to be buzzwords for making ecological change by improving the way you create waste. However a sentence like that is not sexy, it is nothing to get engaged with. That’s why buzzwords are created, for people to easily get a sense of a topic that is somewhat hard to understand. That need for knowledge is the exact emotion that we will eventually be able to tap into for a full understanding of sustainable practices and the benefits of these practices to create a successful theatre production. The process of raising awareness about sustainability, and a theatre production are exactly the same. In the theatre industry, we already carry the tools needed to analyse data, cut down on costs, and make our audience aware of our efforts. In sustainable practices you must analyse your energy, water, and waste data, see where you could be spending less on multiple material costing, and make the organisation and the audience in its entirely aware of the benefits, as well as and efforts made. As we are still the early stages of sustainable practices being incorporated into theatre,
this will become apparent to
organizations straight after their first report to ACE. The key is in changing the behaviour of the opinion on sustainability to be that the whole subject is sexy, and looking at all the benefits. The ‘Now’
The 'now' that Ben Twist, Creative Director of Creative Carbon Scotland, talks about in a panel discussion of Sustainability in the Arts at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2012 is the 'new' economy that we are living in. In a time where we are constantly threatened by a triple-dip recession 24 and the uncertainty of promised funding, how can we adapt to 'the new normal' that is the economy as it stands at this moment? I can safely argue that investing time and some funds can reduce energy bills and cut down on repeat costs for materials in theatre production, therefore allotting new funds for other projects such as fundraising events or payment for staff. The engagement one feels in this process is that which gives enjoyment to the effort spent on a low impact production. We are in the middle of a paradigm shift 25 and there are two types of behaviours appearing. Those behaviours that are completely unengaged with the subject, and those who feel guilty when they feel they're not engaging enough. This can be seen at Royal Central School of Speech & Drama for example, when departments team would withhold information about their deliveries to the production manager, as they felt they were not as 'sustainable' as they could have been. Here I address the overwhelming feeling that the issue of climate change can bring. "We're all fucked in terms of the environment." (David Greig, Edinburgh Fringe Festival Panel Discussion on Environmentalism and Internationalism 2012)
A recession is defined by two consecutive quarters of falling GDP. Britain suffered a "double dip" recession when, after a brief period of growth, it slipped back into recession in the last three months of 2011.The country only emerged from the slump in the third quarter of 2012, after a boost from the London Olympics helped pull up GDP by 0.9 per cent. If this latest slide is followed by another quarterly slump, Britain will dip into negative growth for the third time - suffering a triple-dip recession. (Triple Dip Recession â€“ Key Questions 2013) 25
A reference image can be found in appendix 4
Engagement It is very difficult to get a person to engage with something that is beyond a human being. It is very difficult to engage with such a large subject as the earth or climate change. When playwright David Greig needed to process the emotion of being overwhelmed with the subject of climate change, something he felt many people were feeling around the late 2000s, he wrote the play Futurology to give a sense of clarity to the subject. Although the play received poor reviews and ultimately did not give him the same successes as some of his other works, it made him realise that "there [was] no context in which you cannot do theatre" (Edinburgh FF panel on environmentalism & internationalism August 2012). I interpret this to meaning that some of the scepticism about implementing sustainable practices should look at the new practices to be just a new context of creating work.
As phenomenologist David Abram says, “we are human only in
relationship with the more-than-human. This relationship is the most intimate, the most central to our lives - and yet, as is the case with such relationships, it tends to be taken for granted.” (David Abram 2013) This means that as humans we connect most with what we cannot fully understand, what is the super-being of human, our aspirations and our need to be more than human. I agree we take this for granted in that we don’t think we can ever be more than human. We understand that we are drawn to spectacular technologies such as solar power; however we do not understand how it works Yet have the understanding that it is ‘good’ and a piece of technology that is very super human and sexy. What doesn’t make sense is why can humans not actually connect with things that are more “real” and human to themselves, that it is EASIER to connect to things that are further from ourselves? When looking at a new paradigm for sustainability in chapter two, we are moving from 'doing less bad' to 'doing only good.' I see both of these paradigm as slightly negative because in trying to do only ‘good' we must understand what the 'bad' is. The 'bad' in the case of Centrals students would be the fact that the Stage Managers, pressed for time, would have to order in materials from China, rather than sourcing them from London or the UK, therefore adding to the amount of carbon they are emitting in travel and production costs. The 'good' would be taking the time to apply their sustainable processes to this task, keeping in mind their
carbon footprint. As I've said before in chapter 2, we must eliminate the use of negative language that makes these practices seem daunting and unattainable, and also something to feel guilty about if not achieved. I propose that the next step to 'doing only good' would be to 'recognise benefits.' As opposed to those who don't even try to engage in the subject, at least those who feel a sense of guilt when not feeling like they've achieved enough feel something. At this point I would argue that having an emotion towards the challenge that sustainable practices proposes is better than feeling no emotion towards it at all. When asked what the best way of getting anyone disengaged with the idea of sustainability within the arts excited about it, Harry Giles, Environmental Officer at Festivals Edinburgh, explained: There are three groups of people you're dealing with. 10% are those that have the exact same ideals as you. 80% who are 50/50 your ideas. And another 10% who are completely disengaged. You have to focus on those first 10%. Once you reach to them, those 80% will follow. Then will the 10% who don't see the point in your argument will be the 10% left behind. (Harry Giles Festivals Edinburgh Environmental Officer, Open Discussion on Sustainability and the Arts Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2012) We cannot force people care, we can just encourage the ones who have the same beliefs as ourselves to continue to ask questions and work on the accessibility of the topic. Those 80% however are an interesting group to engage. They are neither unaware of the practices nor unknowledgeable; however they may just not see the incentive to applying them to their work. Then there are some that see the only incentive into engaging in sustainable practices are to receive funding. At this point I would like to describe these two groups, and how they will respond to the changes in policy. As Alan Davey said in his Tipping Point speech on the transition to environmental reporting for ACE, the point in collaborating with Julie's Bicycle is to make it easier to be able to engage organisations. At this point, because things like the Industry Green Tools (IG Tools) are still in the first stages of assessment and user-friendliness, at this point in time they are not accessible by all. When the content isnâ€™t as accessible as it will be in the future, at the current time it may be more difficult to engage the 80% to make that transition. How do we make this
something accessible to all areas of engagement while also making it an attractive to those who only see the financial benefits? Accessibility can be described as "the quality of being at hand when needed." Attractiveness can be describes as "the quality of arousing interest." Actually mixing the attractiveness with accessibility is exactly what ACE has done. There are three benefits to mixing these two attributes for successful campaigning in creating a change in the arts, and for the UK to improve on their carbon imprint. They are as follows:
1. Making sustainable reporting accessible with their partnership in delivering materials to collect data 2. incentive of possibly being ahead of other organizations to receive funding because of engagement with environmental policy 3. financial return in energy, water, and materials savings26
However, I argue that those applying an environmental policy for financial reasons are applying their focus towards their artistic integral as an organisation in an unethical manor, therefore negating the second bottom line: people. Cultural Currency In Claire Bishops The Social Turn: Collaboration and its Discontents she talks about â€œcultural policy.â€? It is the policy for socially engaged artists in order to justify public spending on the arts27. Bishops comments that in 1997, the reception of the arts changed from artistic experimentation and performance research and development, to be formed within a political logic in which audience figures and marketing statistics became essential to securing public funding . This was about creating accessibility within the arts, to make the arts responsible for 26
Estimated annual saving of ÂŁ1,200, or 30 per cent of typical lighting use for the National Theatre when participating in the Big Switch-Off, when the lighting department witched off discharge lights between the end of the reset or rig check and 35 minutes before the show starts. (Green Theatre 2008) 27 This definition being the motivation for giving funding for the other sectors of ACE funding such as audience experience and community engagement.
delivering educational and socially aware programming and development for the company, just to secure funding. This was where the second bottom line came into place. I have interpreted this paradigm to be the introduction of what I call ‘cultural currency’ in which sociological enhancement is found through the arts, theatre specifically, and this is funded by the government. Another way to describe this process of companies searching for any type of funding can also be called ‘ethical box ticking.’ This is where those looking for funding deliberately shift their artistic vision to mimic that of the ACE policies or other sociological reformative practice. In the Open Discussion on sustainability in the Arts in Edinburgh in 2012, it was discussed whether or not this ethical box ticking, was ethical. Whether or not it was is not the point, however they shared my argument, that even though these organizations might not have wanted to engage in the initial conception of their artistic aims, the government was not giving them an opportunity to develop work around these certain areas. In parallel, in an article by Jessica Holland of Ideastap titled "Discuss: I am not my brand" 28 she poses the question of whether or not focusing on your brand as a person when a journalist, distract from you taking time into learning your actual craft. Would focusing on making work to please the ACE applicant assessors be distracting from the artistic integral of the organisations original purpose?29 The organisation fanSHEN created a show in the summer of 2012 called GreenandPLeasantLand that explored what would happen if the world ran out of 'stuff'. 'Stuff' stood for natural resources such as natural gas, oil and coal that are currently being used at an alarming rate around the world. Now I want to point out, that there is a difference between a company whose artistic aims are to specifically comment on worldly issues such as sustainability, social injustice, race and religion intolerance, etc., and those who have developed to incorporate these aims into their artistic structure and programming. We have not seen this cynical 28
For the full article please see www.ideastap.com/ideasmag/all-articles/discuss-dont-be-a-brand) The benefits of the arts in society can be seen in quite an extreme case in an article about MIT MBA students engaging in improvisation exercises to learn skills in communication, leadership and creative problem solving. Actor, Director and Leadership coach Daena Giardella explains, “If there has ever been a time when there is a need for great spontaneous communicators who can be in the moment, embrace change, and make things happen, it’s now.” (Giardella 2010) Thinkers in science, economy, and engineering are useless unless they can articulate themselves clearly and be able to adapt to change. Drama in early education also benefits development in maths and writing skills later in life. (Bloomberg Businessweek 2010) 29
side of the government overseeing arts funding, however we are rapidly coming towards running the risk of this phenomenon happening with the increase in ACE funding applicants in the past couple of years. However with government intervention in traditional UK laws such as recent budget cuts to the arts and university fees, the issue of implementation of sustainability from the government is one of the most relatable and somewhat 'forgivable' things to let the government intervene on, considering the benefit of having an earth to live on. The wrong question to ask is “should the government even police this?” they’re already doing, and I argue that this is the best way for sustainability to be enforced. The government isn’t even POLICING this yet; they just want honest feedback to create a sense of scope for the country. Something Tangible: Education In a study on sustainability within the workplace, 37% of Kingston students thought an understanding of sustainability would be very important to a chosen career;
(Sustainability in Practice, 143) Another ‘buzzword’ which is probably the most important phrase to link toward understanding and monitoring sustainable practices in business learning is ‘sustainable literacy’. Sustainable literacy means the understanding of what practices of sustainability are and the behaviours that come along with these practices. What I argue is that if we increase the sustainable literacy in students, we therefore begin to come towards actual change in behaviours, impacting the eco-system. Because of post-industrial revolutionary attitudes, we are not used to using less and worrying about ourselves and our planet, rather than the disembodied phenomenon that is the economy. The only way we’re going to achieve this is by teaching the ‘right’ ways of sustainability. The difference between ‘right’ and ‘good’ in that we are not blinded by corporate ideas of sustainability, but those that make a direct impact on ourselves, our immediate environment, generations to come, and the earth. If sustainability is to become the focal point of education in the theatre industry I foresee the effect to be that of a cycle beginning and ending at education. As we have seen in chapter one and the key events in sustainability in
theatre’s history, sustainability integrated within curriculum has an effect globally, then trickle down for the UK, to London, to the professional theatre industry, and finally to higher education in theatre. Where education is the start of rounding practices for individuals in the theatre industry, understanding that the industry is changing, and will forever change in response to the world we are responsible for is crucial to changing behaviours. When asked at the panel on Environmentalism and Internationalism at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where sustainability is in education, David Greig commented, “well, my son learns about it now, but it didn’t always used to be that way.” In the American education system from 1997-2010, I was never explicitly taught about environmental change, climate change or sustainable practices, however it was integrated into the infrastructure of my learning. Now only being at University have I discovered sustainable practices affecting the way I do work, but what about the year above me or even some of my peers that are not engaged or knowledgeable, not even knowing what questions to start asking? Will a student with more knowledge and practice about the sustainable practices being implemented in the industry be more employable because of it? In the future, there will be an integrated curriculum which, not upfront, but in the heart of the actual learning of the skills will be the sustainable methods, inspiring this new normal. The Talk Feimatta Conteh, Sustainable Projects Manager for Arcola Theatre gives an explanation for the confusion of trying to find the answer for sustainability in a response to what she thinks of the ‘s’ word (sustainability): Everyone gets slightly annoyed cause there's no clarity of communication about it. I think there's sustainability, and that's separate to climate change, but they've been conflated, and not they're starting to separate again, over the last few months. (Feimatta Conteh 2011) The struggle Conteh finds in the communication and clarity given around the context of sustainability is very apparent, even as this essay is being written, as it is still a somewhat muddy concept. Conteh sums up my points about the
behavioural shifts needed to take place for sustainable practices to begin to become the new normal by saying, The 's' word means a lot of different things to me and quite a lot of them make me cross because one element of it means spending more on things you shouldn't need to spend more on. Also because people generally just relate it to environmental things, but sustainability is actually more than just looking after the environment and not using up resources. It's about your social networks and how well formed they are. It's about economics. And until you can consider all three of them together, which is really difficult because it actually asks questions about capitalism, which people aren't quite ready to associate it with, it's kind of like, "well, what are you actually talking about?" (Feimatta Conteh 2011) We cannot be so naïve to separate issues that are inherently connected. As our practices as business change, Conteh suggests that without all things considered, we are dealing with the subjects of climate change and sustainability completely disengaged with each other. When those are brought together, they instigate a need for purpose in the theatre industry and environmentally sustainable practices. There is no answer to the question “how can we make sustainable sexy?” I argue that just proposing the question is enough to get practitioners thinking in a more sustainable mindset. The root of sustainable practices lies in the right questions to ask, and this is the right one. The ‘talk’ is the conversation and communication that begins to emerge out of trying to understand what environmental impact a production creates on the earth. This procreative experience can be harnessed by adopting the practices being trialled by professionals in the industry. The significance of the impact of ACE funding changes on the theatre industry in London is that the exponential growth of engagement with sustainable theatre practices will continue to be ignored and challenged as a 'bother.' However, the magnitude of the relationship between the earth and the arts will become more significant to those 10% left behind in the very near future.
Carry On As a theatre practitioner in the current climate of the theatre industry in London, it was essential that I investigate the blossoming relationship between theatre and the environment, and how this affects myself in the industry. As I ready to launch myself as a current practitioner in the theatre industry, I examined changes in Arts Council policy that would effect my performance and producing practices. We are in the universe that sees ourselves as the only beings that have been able to produce what we’ve done. Entertainment has shown us the implications of our impact on the current climate, i.e. The Day After Tomorrow, Greenland even The Lorax by Dr. Suess. Because of these pieces, it is more acceptable to realise climate change as an apparent issue in the world. Sustainability is already sexy, but the mystery of double glazing and tiny impacts that make such a difference should be brought out into the open. But what about the preservation of the magic of dwindling energy costs and heating bills? To conclude, I urge the reader to continue to ask “What makes sustainability sexy?” to evoke the taboo feeling it brings. As Feimatta Conteh explains, some people aren’t ready to face the other politics that go along with sustainability as a necesity in business in the current economy. The impact this question will have will spark more and more creativity to realise a sustainable industry.
Appendecies 1. Timeline for highlighted events
2. Segment of action plan for Circus Space Environmental Reporting
3. Jeffery Hollender 2013
4. Reference Images for ‘The Living Stage’
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