Telling stories with imagination.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Metta likes...the world

Yup, the whole world. In fact we love it. And we want to look after it - in fact we want theatre in general to help look after it. We have an ethical policy at Metta that means we have to look out for both the natural and the human world around us - we need to minimise our environmental and social impact. There's a little bit more detail on our website, here.

We all know that theatre can change the world politically - for example, just look at the Belorussian regime's fear of the Belarus Free Theatre for proof of that, but what can it do to save the planet?

Well, in 2008 the Greening Theatre initiative was launched - which is now being facilitated by Julie's Bicycle, along with similar initiatives across other arts/entertainment industries like concert touring and festivals - to investigate what theatre could do, to promote environmental concern in the industry and to help companies and venues to reduce their carbon footprint by 60% by 2025.

There are positive signs - London's Arcola Theatre is aiming to be the world's first carbon-neutral theatre, and is doing well with ideas from re-usable tickets right up to sponsorship from LED suppliers and a hydrogen fuel-cell, and there's been a US-based blog about how to green-up our theatres since 2007 (ecoTheatre).

But has much actually been done? Behind the scenes, it would seem so - there are all kinds of initiatives and working-groups being set up - but it's quite hard to tell what the results are, and it doesn't seem to be something that many people know about. And it's certainly not something that many small companies and theatres seem to be thinking about - these companies are the young ones, the future of our theatre, they're the ones who need to be pushing this stuff. Or is it just that it's not newsworthy enough and so we generally don't hear what people are doing?

One suggestion on the ashDenizen blog was a seasonal approach to programming - basically moving outdoors in the summer, and so making big carbon savings by not using all the grand equipment we use indoors. We've not quite gone outdoors (though don't worry - there are plenty of secret Metta plans for elaborate outdoor productions), but we're definitely heading out of the theatre, and stepping away from all that power-guzzling equipment, with our site-specific tour of cafes with the decidedly low-tech The Man with the Flower in his Mouth (and we'll all be car-sharing together in the wonderful Metta-mobile!)

If you work in the theatre then why not let us all know what you/your company do to look out for the environment. Or if you visit the theatre then tell us whether you care about the environmental impact of the company and your night out? What more would you like to see being done?

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