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Mayor and theatre industry plan to be greener

09 September 2008

The Mayor of London’s ‘Green Theatre: Taking Action on Climate Change’ plan launched this week aims to reduce carbon emissions from theatres by almost 60 per cent from 1990 levels by 2025

‘Green Theatre’, an action plan for the theatre industry, outlines the most practical and effective measures that can be taken to reduce energy use in buildings while also saving money in energy bills. The plan identifies how London's theatre industry creates 50,000 tonnes of carbon emissions per year - the equivalent of emissions from 9,000 homes.

It concludes that if all actions recommended in the plan were taken, the industry could reduce carbon emissions by almost 60 per cent by 2025 - the equivalent of converting over 5,000 London homes to zero-carbon or driving a car 1.5 million times round the M25.

Without action, emissions and fuel bills in theatres are set to grow – in particular as there is a trend in West End productions to use more energy to create ever more visually spectacular shows. The place concentrates on actions to increase the energy efficiency of productions and theatre environments, without sacrificing artistic quality.

Currently Theatre carbon footprints comprise front of house (daytime and evening, incl. auditorium aircon/ cooling) accounts for 35%, rehearsal space (heating/ cooling) 28%, theatre offices and back of house daytime/ evening 9 %, ttage electricals (lighting, sound, automation) 9%, and the rest from pre-production management, production materials (sets, props) and exterior lighting of theatres

Climate change is one of the Mayor’s key priorities and today’s announcement builds on his commitment to reducing London’s carbon emission by 60 per cent by 2025. The Plan, compiled in close collaboration with a range of key stakeholders, offers practical advice to the industry on how emissions can be cut and includes a carbon calculator that can be used to identify areas of production that create the largest amount of emissions. Advice outlined in the plan includes identifying where changes need to be made, designating ‘green’ responsibilities to staff, and writing ‘green’ policies into contracts to ensure that suppliers are also helping to cut emissions.

The Plan also details a number of successful case studies such as a battery recycling scheme launched by the Mayor in partnership with WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme), which helps London's theatres start recycling their waste batteries.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “London's theatres make a vital contribution to the capital's economy and its productions and venues are renowned worldwide. The power of the theatre industry to set an example in the fight against climate change is immense. I have been impressed with the genuine leadership and commitment shown by the industry bodies we have worked with in developing this Plan. I am fully committed to reducing the capital's emissions by 60 per cent by 2025 and forward-thinking contributions such as 'Green Theatre' will inspire many industries to help us meet this target together."

Mhora Samuel, Director, The Theatres Trust said: "I'm delighted to be supporting the launch of the Mayor's Green Theatre Programme. As the national advisory public body for theatres, The Theatres Trust is playing its part by helping to disseminate the report's recommendations and raise awareness of the actions that theatres can take to reduce their carbon footprint. This report represents a major milestone for the theatre sector in London and demonstrates how much is possible through theatres, suppliers and manufacturers all working together to address climate change and reduce energy use.

Moira Sinclair, Executive Director, Arts Council England said: "Arts Council England is delighted to be a partner in the Greening London's Theatres initiative, recognising the importance of this work in helping theatres to increase the efficiency of their business processes thereby reducing the industry's carbon footprint while saving money and continuing to attract artists and audiences. A programme such as this demonstrates that the arts in England can lead internationally in responding to the pressures of climate change, moving beyond a duty of compliance with issues such as energy management, to a role of inspiration and influence much greater than that due to the industry's size alone. That this leadership should emerge from London is of great encouragement to those artists and audiences that are drawn to this world city for its ability to innovate."

Nica Burns, Chief Executive of Nimax Theatres and President of the Society of London Theatre said: "As a high-profile and economically important British industry, London theatre is determined to lead from the front in minimizing our environmental impact. That’s why we support the Green Theatres initiative.”

Organisations involved in the project include Autograph Sound Recording, AEAT, Alistair McGowan, WWF, Ambassador Theatre Group, Association of Lighting Designers, Arcola Theatre, Arts Council, Arup, ATG, BECTU, Carbon Trust, Central School of Speech & Drama, Delfont Macintosh, Dewynters, ETC, Equity, ITC, Live Nation, London Remade, Martin Professional, National Theatre, Orbital Sound, Philips, PixelRange, PLASA, PMA, Really Useful Group, Roundhouse, Royal Court, SOLT, The Theatres Trust, Tipping Point, TMA, Vari-Lite, White Light, WRAP, and Young Vic.

Copies of "Green Theatre: Taking Action on Climate Change" are available from

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