London Theatre Consortium

Five short stories showcasing the great work members of the consortium have been doing in engaging their teams in 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.

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

This collaboration is already producing some exciting results:

In 2013 they exceeded their 10% reduction target for relative energy emissions between 2011/12 and 2012/13, achieving a 12% reduction in relative energy emissions when comparing 2011/12 with 2012/13.

Here are five short stories of what great work members of the consortium have been doing in engaging their teams in environmental sustainability.

Young Vic: Sustainable September

As part of their environmental campaign the Young Vic launched a month long initiative called 'Sustainable September'. This initiative was not only to engage their staff and audiences with sustainable actions, but also to highlight the effective work they had already been doing. At weekly all-team meetings, they included their carbon-use data and their gas, electricity and water consumption emissions compared to the previous weeks number to keep everyone kept in the loop of the campaign.

This was also an opportunity for staff to come up suggestions for improvements and ideas on how to get there. Within this month, they launched their Gardening Club to initiate the transformation of their unused roof garden into a herb and food garden. This project not only engages their staff with sustainability but also creates another space for them to use and enjoy.

Other measures in 'Sustainable September' include: Front of House recycling non-food rubbish, switch off campaign, paperless meetings, sharing shelf in the green room to reduce food waste, using old posters as gift wrap, a tea towel instead of paper towels, using wooden blocks instead of tickets and re-using elements of set for future productions.

Battersea Arts Centre: Climate Week Challenge and Creating a Buzz

In 2014 Battersea Arts Centre took part in the 'Climate Week Challenge'. The challenge they were given read 'Get us out of hot water: come up with an idea to help people use less energy heating buildings and water" which is quite a difficult challenge for a 19th century building. BAC hosted a brain-storming meeting to get all staff involved. This was held in their Waiting Room at lunchtime (one of the most available times for all staff) where they had cake. There was representation from our Producing, Community, Capital, Development/Fundraising, Welcome/Front of House and Box Office teams, showing a wide range of engagement with the environmental sustainability from across the organisation.

They were given coloured markers and reams of papers to jot down any wild ideas they had to tackle the challenge. Ideas included:

  • People power machines
  • Pre-show warmups for the audience, as well as the performers
  • Have more promenade shows to keep the audience active and moving
  • Dress appropriately for the temperature and encourage audiences to do the same
  • Re-use waste water from sinks to flush toilets
  • Trap the kinetic energy from footfall
  • Every midday, all staff dance off!

Read more of their ideas and how they are working to put them into place:

Royal Court Theatre: Green Steering Committee and Senior Level Support

In 2012-13, the Royal Court achieved a three star overall rating. In achieving this, they have shown a decrease in energy emissions per performance of 3% since the previous year, and emissions from energy are 31.4% lower than the baseline year. Part of this is due to their overall team engagement with environmental sustainability.

This starts from the beginning, where job descriptions include a statement about their commitment to the environment, and new employees are encouraged to join to their Green Steering Committee. This Green Steering Committee meets twice a year, and is an opportunity to review and discuss their environmental action plan and monitor the progress of their objectives over the last six months. Any team member can participate in the committee.

The theatre has four people responsible for environmental sustainability at a senior level, and they are empowered and supported in this by the Chair of the Board. The senior management team meets on a fortnight basis to consider strategic and operational issues affecting the organisation, which includes environmental impacts and progress of environmental initiatives.

Lyric Hammersmith: Water Bottles for Everyone!

The Lyric Hammersmith is the first cultural venue to achieve the three star Creative Industry Green. Sustainability is written into everything the Lyric does, across all departments and at every level. They are a wonderful example of the benefits to people and planet that can be enjoyed when sustainability is treated as a strategic priority.

Over the past few years Lyric identified that water bottles were one of their biggest contributors to waste, cluttering rehearsal rooms and offices. Approximately, one reusable bottle saves seven litres of water. In their commitment to save waste and water, they came up with the Lyric Water Bottles. They bulk bought boxes of reusable coloured plastic water bottles and attached the Lyric Hammersmith logo onto each one and placed an overall ban on disposable plastic bottles within the theatre.

Then they placed an overall ban on disposable plastic bottles within the theatre. Every team member, freelancer or artist that comes into the building is given a bespoke water bottle and the ban on plastic bottles clause is written into his or her contracts. A great way of reducing waste and spreading the identity of the theatre!

Almeida Theatre: Worms at the Bottom of the Garden...

Ever wanted hassle free pets and wondered what to do with all that food waste at the same time?

The Almeida have taken this one step further and built a wormery at the end of their garden. The wormery is full of hundreds of worms and unknown specimens living amongst the soil. All of the Almeida's staff and visitors food waste is collected in a separate bin and emptied daily into the wormery.

This is communicated to everyone. The compost is used to feed their garden and has led them to making plans to extend their green space.

Sustaining Creativity