Cultural Networks and Sustainability: London Theatre Consortium
Several networks have been piloting collaborative models of addressing environmental sustainability across the country. The London Theatre Consortium Sustainability Group is just one of the examples of how this can effectively reduce carbon emissions and promote environmental sustainability.
This three year sustainability partnership with 12 of London's producing theatres began following a commitment made by senior executives to make a rigorous and creative response to the challenges and opportunities around sustainability. Strong strategic leadership from the top catalysed activity at all staff levels and allowed motivated individuals to feel supported and enabled.
The partnership with Julie's Bicycle has involved supporting staff to gain knowledge, skills and expertise through green champion workshops and knowledge sharing opportunities for staff on everything from behaviour change to envisioning the future of a sustainable theatre sector; annual Industry Green certification; and a cross-consortium energy reduction campaign. They are committed to changing the working cultures of member theatres to embed environmental sustainability as a core priority in all activities and decision-making.
The energy used by non-domestic buildings accounts for approximately 18% of UK carbon emissions, and is typically the largest carbon impact associated with cultural venues. The Mayor of London set a target for London's carbon emissions to be reduced by 60% by 2025, which sat at the heart of the Mayor's Green Theatre Guide. Tackling this challenge head-on, the LTC committed to reduce energy emissions as a priority.
The LTC specifically committed to a 10% annual reduction in relative, or "per seat per performance" carbon emissions from energy use. Since November 2010 they have made a 13% reduction in absolute energy emissions (based on the total energy use of each venue) using less gas per m2 than the Julie's Bicycle 2012 Benchmark for Performing Arts Venues. As well as this they have made financial savings of just under £100,000 from across the group.
This is actual money that has been liberated from the energy companies and represents a significant achievement considering that the twelve LTC venues started out with varying levels of expertise and resource for tackling energy efficiency, and have been operating in an increasingly tough financial climate.
The LTC have established good internal communications across each member Green Teams.
They also focus on external communications, engaging audiences and the general public more with their work in environmental sustainability. They are committed to changing the working cultures of member theatres to embed environmental sustainability as a core priority in all activities and decision-making. Through this commitment, they engage staff by:
- Providing a strong foundation for projects through in depth staff training
- Supporting staff to identify 'The Big Idea'
- Taking creative approaches to designing activity and encouraging ownership
- Establishing and sharing models of best practice
- Building resource banks, case studies and toolkits in specific areas
- Inspiring a spirit of collaboration as well as healthy competition
- Find out more about their team engagement campaigns here
Several theatres have programmed work that addresses issues around sustainability and climate change, notably:
- Young Vic's After Miss Julie, Classics for a New Climate – the first sustainable production pilot quantified with carbon audit
- Royal Court Theatre's 10 Billion, 2071 with Prof Chris Rapley including Day of Action, and others
- Unicorn Theatre's At The End of Everything Else by Mark Arends
The London Theatre Consortium includes:
- Almeida Theatre
- Battersea Arts Centre
- Bush Theatre
- Donmar Warehouse
- Gate Theatre
- Greenwich Theatre London
- Hampstead Theatre
- Lyric Hammersmith
- Royal Court
- Soho Theatre
- Tricycle Theatre
- Stratford East
- Unicorn Theatre
- The Young Vic
To date the LTC has achieved eleven Creative Industry Green Certifications, four of which earned the highest rating of three stars. Each member of the consortium has embedded an environmental policy and action plan and established a working Green Team.