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Meet Our New Off- Broadway Committee
By Rebekah Sale
This summer the BGA launched a new off-Broadway committee to inspire, educate and motivate the off-Broadway community to get greener.
The committee includes George Forbes, President of the off-Broadway League; Tony Award-winning set designer Donyale Werle; Frances Black from the Alliance of Resident Theatres/NY; Ariel Dupas from the Pearl Theatre; Darren Bluestone from New World Stages ; James Cleveland and Chasmin Hallyburton of Production Core; Jonathan Zautner from the York Theatre; green lighting expert James Bedell; and Jeffrey Shubart and Nancy Beer from the Lucille Lortel Foundation. And we are happy to welcome Izee Figuroa from the Public Theater to the committee as of this week.
So far the committee has committed to circulating the new off-Broadway Green Captain kit and to identify a few theatre venues and small companies as early adopters to put the kit into practice. The kit is based on our successful Broadway Green Captain kit but with additional resources for smaller theatres and with a dual focus on both venue greening and theatre company greening including green hints for offices.
The committee has also planned an off-Broadway Green Design Round Table for October 29th at ART/NY. The round table will include as panelists set designer Donyale Werle, lighting designer James Bedell, and costume designer Andrea Lauer. Please see the BGA website for more details.
If you or someone you know is interested in joining the BGA off-Broadway Committee please email green@Broadway.org.
The Phantom of the Opera Makes the Battery Switch
By Molly McQuilkin
|The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway
(Photo by Joan Marcus)
About two years ago, The Phantom of the Opera officially switched to using rechargeable batteries, instead of disposable batteries, in their continued effort to make their enduring show green and sustainable. Paul Verity, the head of the sound department at Phantom, says “The biggest issue we had to overcome was space. As in all Broadway theatres, space is always a premium. That was certainly compounded by the fact that Phantom has been running for twenty-five years. Other than space, we just needed to lay out the routine for storage and recharging.” He continues, “It certainly is more effort. With disposable batteries you open a box and toss them in another box after they are used. Dealing with rechargeables is neither time-consuming nor difficult, but it takes more effort.”
To get the rechargeable program up and running, the sound department had to purchase chargers, the rechargeable batteries (about 144), storage cabinets and some more power strips. The total of these purchases was approximately $1,516. Paul says they have had to replace a couple of chargers, but overall, these investments should last about eighteen months until the batteries need to be replaced. Compare this to the $14,775 the show would’ve spent on 39,936 disposable batteries during this same eighteen-month period – a huge savings in cost and a huge reduction of waste!
|Backstage at BILLY ELLIOT on Broadway.|
As of October 2008, the Broadway company of WICKED switched from using regular alkaline batteries to nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) rechargeables in all of their wireless microphones. They alternate between two sets of rechargeables to allow sufficient time for recharging. These two sets of rechargeables generally last for ten months.
There are many ‘green’ benefits from using these batteries. With the old alkaline batteries, they used 38 AA’s per show. This resulted in 15,808 used batteries per year. Now they only need to dispose of 96 NiMH batteries each year. This will reduce, over the next five years, 78,560 batteries from entering the waste stream. That works out to 3,959 lbs of solid waste – just a bit less than two tons!
The new batteries are also mercury-free, cadmium-free and lead-free. They are in compliance with the European Union’s stricter RoHS standard (the Restriction of the use of certain Hazardous Substances in electrical and electronic equipment).
The last green benefit is money. They pay 29¢ for each alkaline AA battery. That works out to $4,742 every year. The NiMH batteries are $2.65 per cell, and require five rechargers for $66.97 each. Rechargeables cost $589.25 the first year and $254.40 each subsequent (each year they need new cells but not new chargers); this will save $22,103.15 over five years.
Julie’s Bicycle reports that rechargeable batteries have 32 times less impact on the environment (global warming, air & water pollution) than disposable batteries throughout their lifecycle, and that one rechargeable can replace 93 disposables. The end result, of course, is that finite natural resources are reused, and the release of harmful chemicals (such as lead, mercury and cadmium) from improper disposal is prevented.
Add up the benefits – reliability, cost savings, greener profiles, and less pollution and waste – and it’s easy to see why better batteries is one of the wisest sustainability choices a production can make – and why theatres from as far away as Australia are reaching out to the BGA for information about how they too can go greener.
by Noah Aberlin
Get ready to add all rigid plastics to your recycling bin-
NYC has expanded the residential recycling stream.
|Mayor Bloomberg at the press launch of Broadway Goes Green.|
On April 24th Mayor Bloomberg announced that NYC will now recycle all rigid plastics. These newly included items go in the same clear bag or blue bin where all glass, metal, aseptic packaging (juice boxes, soy milks), and plastic bottles currently go.
Rigid plastics include yogurt cups, toys, hangers, cookie tray inserts, plastic cups, food containers, and more. Bloomberg said at a press meeting, “Starting today, if it’s a rigid plastic – any rigid plastic – recycle it…This means that 50,000 tons of plastics that we were sending to landfills every year will now be recycled and it will save taxpayers almost $600,000 in export costs each year.”
This announcement coincides with the development of the new recycling plant being built by the Sunset Park waterfront in Brooklyn, which will be the largest household recycling plant in North America. Because it takes 70 percent less energy to make plastic from recycled plastics instead of raw materials, it’s going to help further reduce the city’s carbon footprint. New York City will not only become more sustainable but will also create 100 jobs at the new plant. Plus, it will be powered by one of the largest solar installations in the city.
Keep a lookout for new recycling decals and posters that should be mailed to residences soon and remember it is recommended that New Yorkers should rinse out all containers before sorting them in recycling bins. While these new rules do not effect commercial recycling (i.e.: at the theatres) they do include the new Solar Big Belly public recycling bins that have been sited around town. There are 30 in the Times Square area so please seek them out and use them.
To recycle plastic bags, many supermarkets and drug stores have special collection bins. Film plastic (plastic wrap) does not recycle.
For more information and a detailed list of all recyclable materials visit http://www.nyc.gov/html/
by Jennifer Marik, Wicked Stage Manager
Printing your own stuffers in house as needed, rather than ordering them in bulk in advance, saves a lot of money, is very eco-friendly and is very easy! At Wicked, we have a high-speed copier, an industrial paper cutter and a cabinet full of 100% recycled paper. With just these tools, we are able to generate a stuffer for each performance – including bios and headshots for new performers and all of the necessary cast replacements. If it is just a bio, or two or three replacements, we are able to print eight inserts to a page (which at the Gershwin is 225 copies per show). If we need to include more information, we can generally put it on a four-up (450 copies per show). On very rare occasions, we need to print three stuffers to a page to accommodate multiple bios, headshots and replacements. Depending on the number of copies, we can usually print the stuffers in about ten minutes and cutting the stuffers takes less than five. We have templates set up in the computer (which prints directly to the copier), so we are able to quickly modify the stuffer each evening when we do our paperwork at hour before half hour. Our ushers generally have the inserts in hand 15 minutes after that.
What if the copier goes down at an inopportune moment? Or what if an actor calls out at the last minute? We keep one show of each cast replacement option in our emergency stuffer stash, so we are able to cover these contingencies. And if the copier were to go down on a two-show day, or over the weekend (which has happened almost never), we would use Staples or Kinko’s for subsequent shows.
|WICKED has been a partner of the BGA since its founding.|
In an effort to be even greener, we do not cut the emergency stuffers ahead of time. With the paper cutter, if we need to use them, we can cut them very quickly. If we don’t use them and the actor leaves the company, we end up recycling only a total of 200-500 pieces of paper per actor leaving the company – we can use them for printing in/outs, scrap paper, etc. What used to happen instead was that we’d have to get rid of 7200 small pieces of paper per actor leaving – and more if they covered multiple parts. One bonus of this system is that we no longer need to store hundreds of stacks of stuffers that might never be used.
In addition to being a greener way to do stuffers, and being much easier for the stage managers, printing your own stuffers saves money – a lot of it. Wicked saves about $5000 a month: just by making a one-time purchase of that industrial paper cutter and a monthly rental of the high-speed copier. And an added bonus to having the high speed copier – we can generate scripts and scores on demand in-house as well, which even saves us more money.
We have all been there: you have things that you no longer want or need but know that someone else may be able to use it. It’s not broken, it’s not trash -but where can you take it? This can be anything from a small, personal item to the physical production of a closing show.
Prior to the launch of the new recycling program, Waste Management provided on-site training for VTA staff members. Since the launch of the recycling initiative, VTA has been able to reduce their solid waste volume by nearly two- thirds, saving the organization nearly $5,000 a year in waste carting costs.
Roediger suggests that other presenting venues figure out how much they’re spending on waste and then figure out how much they can save by encouraging reuse and recycling. VTA utilized an intern to interview staffers about what environmental action they were already taking in their respective departments. Once the management team had an idea of what was already underway within their facilities and offices, they were able to make cost-effective investments in various recycling tools and signage. By amortizing recycling cans and signage, VTA ensured that green initiatives would pay for themselves.
In addition to their recycling efforts, VTA uses eco-friendly cleaning products and reusable cotton cloths for cleaning, prints publications on FSC-certified paper, offers filtered water in office and backstage areas to reduce bottled water use, and utilizes rechargeable batteries where appropriate.
VTA made sure to educate patrons and visiting artists about their new green practices – information about the company’s green commitment is included in curtain speeches, e-newsletters, and lobby video screens and signage. Says Roediger, “[Going green] matters to younger audiences. If we don’t do it, they will go elsewhere.”
Roediger noted how incentivizing employees can help drive participation in green initiatives. This summer, VTA will reward staffers who’ve taken green action by providing various gift cards and BGA-branded “We Went Green” reusable bags. Adds Roediger, “I hope the BGA inspires others to adopt green programs – we’ve already received ample community support for our green efforts.”
Written and Edited by Michael Crowley