Norwich Theatre Royal’s efforts to cut its carbon footprint and work hard to help the environment is highlighted in a national report released on January 14, which celebrates the success of cultural organisations in acting on national and international climate targets.
The study by Arts Council England and environmental arts body Julie’s Bicycle reveals the carbon footprint of arts organisations is at least 114,547 tonnes of CO2e which would take around 115,000 trees 100 years to absorb.
But it also says the cultural industry is making inroads to tackle it with 54 per cent they surveyed installing energy efficient lighting and controls, and half have developed new creative or artistic opportunities as a result of environmental initiatives.
One of the schemes helping shape future policy and being highlighted as a great example of cutting emissions is a partnership between Norwich Theatre Royal, Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures, Sadler’s Wells and the study’s co-authors Julie’s Bicycle (see some of the team working on it above)
It saw a number of initiatives including the measuring of energy readings to work towards further reductions, working with dancers and crew to ensure environmentally-friendly disposal of waste, the availability of reusable hot and cold gel packs to help treat any injuries, and an audience travel survey was conducted to look at how they use transport to get to a show.
The recognition comes after the theatre won an Improvement Award in the 2019 Creative Green Awards recognising the work it has done to cut its environmental impact.
This included a reduction in energy use by 76 per cent since it started recording it in 2008-9, the amount of waste going to landfill dropping, gas and electricity use reducing by 50 per cent over the last two years, and water usage declining three per cent despite increasing audiences and a rise in the number of touring company members.
Stephen Crocker, Norwich Theatre Royal chief executive, said: “Climate change demands collective action from everyone and we are passionate about leading the way both in our sector and in our region. We work hard to encourage our creative peers and those within the industry who are touring and coming to our venues to think about the environment and become more sustainable.
“We also want to continue working on this with our audiences and suppliers too, and are committed to going even further in reducing our environmental impact, raising awareness and increasing our knowledge. This work is already happening within the Theatre Royal and Stage Two, and I have pledged to implement the same reductions and commitment at the Playhouse over the coming years.”
Today’s green cultural report features a number of arts organisations nationally including the Royal Shakespeare Company, Glyndebourne, The Royal Opera House and the Liverpool Philharmonic.
It aims to show the work that is being done and comes ahead of a major conference in London next month organised by Arts Council England and Julie’s Bicycle which looks at initiatives over the next decade to deal with climate issues.
Arts Council England chair Nicholas Serota said this work goes beyond data collection and carbon reduction. He said: “Cultural organisations are embedding climate action into the core of their operations by developing creative solutions, forging new partnerships and sparking valuable conversations on sustainability with their audiences. The actions taken to address climate change over the next decade will be crucial and, as society faces up to this challenge, the imagination, ambition and commitment demonstrated in this new report point the way forward.”
Alison Tickell, CEO of Julie’s Bicycle, added: “Culture has a carbon footprint and data matters. This report shows why. It also highlights, through a range of responses, that there should be no opposition between what art is and what art does. Reducing emissions prompts creativity and activism, and vice versa. Sustainable practice is reframing cultural leadership, offering regenerative solutions and giving back more than we take.”
Other environmental initiatives undertaken by Norwich Theatre Royal include:
- Recycling bins across Norwich Theatre Royal, Norwich Playhouse and Stage Two
- Push-button taps and dual-flush toilets to reduce water use
- Rechargeable batteries used in all on-stage microphones
- Introduction of LED lighting
- Working with staff to reduce car use when travelling to and from work cutting it by around 10 per cent
- Use of reusable cups and cutlery in restaurants and bars
You can download the Arts Council’s report here.
Find out more about Norwich Theatre Royal and Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures green partnership here.