This November (2012) marks the fourth anniversary of the launch of the Broadway Green Alliance (BGA). During this time, Broadway has embraced the BGA mission of educating, motivating and inspiring the entire theatre community and its patrons to adopt environmentally friendlier practices. All Broadway theatres are participating actively, we have BGA-liaison Green Captains at nearly every show, and our quarterly e-waste and textile drives in Times Square draw contributions from dozens of shows and theatre companies. The BGA today operates as a fiscal program of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids and as an ad hoc committee of The Broadway League. This report will briefly discuss some of the accomplishments of the BGA and our goals as we move forward.
Thanks to our close partnership with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the BGA has become a resource for information about the specifics of greening in the theatre world and ideas for better practices in each area of theatre production. Last year, with the UK-based Julie’s Bicycle, the BGA co-founded the International Green Theatre Alliance (IGTA). This year we are working with the NRDC to launch a Broadway Greening Advisor, modeled on their Greening Advisor for Professional Sports Teams. The BGA has also worked since the beginning with the Mayor’s Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability, and has begun collaborating with the EPA, Region 2.
The Broadway Green Alliance operates with one full-time staff member, two part-time interns, two active Co-Chairs, and through our six committees that encompass all areas of theatre: Venues, Pre/Post Production, Production, Education, Outreach, and Touring. The success of the BGA has been built on the enthusiasm and dedication of its members, led by the volunteer members of its committees. Please see our website for the lists of “Better Practices” that each committee maintains and updates.
Many of the committees’ initiatives have become popular and long-running projects like the Binder Exchange and the Green Captain program. The Production and Pre/Post-Production committees add new initiatives and workshops each year, the Venues Committee boasts representatives from every Broadway venue, and the new Education Committee is drawing members from educational institutions across the country. The Touring and Outreach Committees help the BGA to reach theatres outside of Broadway. In 2013, we plan to expand our reach in the off-Broadway community and extend our Green Captain program to regional and touring theatres as well as to colleges and universities.
The Venues Committee of the BGA deals with all aspects of running a greener theatre, and works to identify and disseminate better practices and to reduce the carbon footprint of all member venues. Helmed by Dana Amendola of Disney Theatricals and Jennifer Hershey of Jujamcyn Theaters, this committee boasts representatives of every major Broadway venue as well as a few other large venues.
Major accomplishments of this committee include the conversion of all Broadway marquee and roof signs to LEDs or CFLs. We calculate that this one change saves over 700 tons of carbon every year. Many venues also now use water filtration systems and reusable bottles backstage, keeping tens of thousands of plastic water bottles out of the waste stream. The committee encourages all member venues to install dilution centers with environmentally friendly cleaning products, to use coreless toilet paper made partially of post-consumer paper, and to use more efficient paper towel dispensers. We also continue to encourage all venues to change the lighting in as many ancillary areas as feasible to energy-efficient LEDs, cathodes, or CFLs. All member venues have recycling programs both backstage and front-of-house, and collect and responsibly recycle batteries and light bulbs.
This year, with the support of the NRDC, this committee has begun an ambitious energy measurement project. All members of the committee have begun to submit quarterly energy usage figures for each theatre per month from 2008 to the present. We are hopeful that this will lead to the BGA getting an accurate carbon footprint for Broadway. The Venues Committee has also launched the ServCo purchasing program and offered all BGA member venues the opportunity to join in this money-saving program, which allows venues access to low prices through aggregate buying of greener goods –including paper products and cleaning and office supplies –from Staples.
In the next year this committee is working to launch a subcommittee made up of off-Broadway venues to bring their resources and expertise to the off-Broadway community. Another major goal is to work with light bulb manufacturers to develop warm, smoothly dimming decorative lamps for the theatre’s chandeliers and candelabras and to explore the use of waterless urinals (currently in use in two Broadway houses). Other goals include getting all venues to: install bike racks, use non-toxic “ice salt” or de-icer, use carpet tiles backstage so only small sections need ever be replaced, and coat roofs with reflective paint to reduce heat absorption. Venues are also urged to aggressively insulate all heating pipes for heat retention and energy conservation, install energy-efficient washer dryers in the wardrobe departments, and install motion sensors for lights in ancillary areas.
This committee is headed by set designer Donyale Werle and Bob Usdin (LEED-accredited) of Showman Fabricators. This committee promotes sustainable design choices and building practices from inception through strike. Since 2009, this committee has supported the recycling of as much as 88% of materials used sets on Broadway, has led workshops on sustainable design choices, and established a pilot program for recycling gels from Broadway shows to regional and off-Broadway theatres.
The committee addresses the concerns of set, lighting, costume, projection and sound designers, as well as technical directors, artisans, technicians, and shop managers. Both Bob Usdin and Donyale Werle speak publicly and teach classes on sustainable design choices/practices in theatre. We are very proud to note that Donyale received a 2012 Tony Award for Outstanding Set Design for her wonderful recycled and up-cycled set for PETER AND THE STARCATCHER.
In the last year, the committee has organized workshops for scenic and lighting designers, as well as one forum for directors and choreographers. One goal is to establish a self-monitoring rating system for greener lighting equipment and perishables.
The Production Committee is primarily made up of members currently working front or backstage on running shows. This committee’s active members meet monthly to oversee several of our most popular initiatives: the Binder Exchange, the Green Captain program, backstage surveys, collection drives, and the quarterly e-newsletter, the Green Sheet.
Our Binder Project, run in conjunction with Actors’ Equity, is a free exchange program of used binders open to all theatre professionals. Several large shelves of binders in different sizes are maintained in the BGA office and a cabinet of binders is also available at Actors’ Equity. Any number of binders can be borrowed for any length of time and we strongly encourage all borrowers to return the binders when they are done. Each binder has a BGA sticker to ensure they return to the right place as well as a spot to fill-in where each binder has been so that we eventually will get a record of where each binder has been used.
Our popular Green Captain program seeks to find a BGA liaison at each and every Broadway show. While we often have 75-85% of the shows participating in this program, we reached 100% participation for the first time in the 2011/12 season. Many Green Captains are chosen by their peers at the first rehearsal or soon afterwards. These liaisons –it can be a star of the show or a dresser or crewmember — are then sent a welcome kit with information on how to help their production get greener. The kit lists ways to help green the production backstage, lists items the BGA collects (from corks to textiles to printer cartridges), allows Green Captains to find out details about the recycling programs at their theatre, and helps them swap ideas and get helpful hints from those serving on other productions. Some Green Captains have been our liaisons on more than one show and several have served as Green Captains for years. We hold quarterly meetings, often with guest speakers, to bring all of our Green Captains together to share ideas and concerns and to learn how to be effective environmental advocates.
This fall the committee began circulating an in-depth backstage survey with every Broadway show–with individual sections for cast and crew, company and stage managers, and producers and general managers. We will report on what areas are getting greener and what areas still need work backstage on Broadway.
The BGA’s most visible events are our four collection drives each year. Many in the community visit our booth in the middle of Times Square twice a year to bring textiles (recycled by Wearable Collections) and twice a year to bring electronic waste (recycled by We Recycle!). Each drive collects hundreds of pounds of material — from the Broadway community, the larger theatre community, and the general public — which is all recycled free of charge. In 2013, we plan to add re-use days before each drive so that items that are still in working order can be reused by others to get one more life before they are then recycled.
Nearly one thousand people are signed up to receive our e-newsletter, The Green Sheet, each quarter. Our newsletter keeps our members and other interested parties up-to-date on our initiatives, resources, and events. Featured in our next Green Sheet is an article talking about our Guitar String Bracelet project. This project collects used guitar strings from various Broadway shows and sends them off to the non-profit Wear Your Music which makes them into beautiful, silver-clasped bracelets. We had to triple our initial order for the folks at ONCE who could not keep these bracelets in stock — at $100 each — during their Broadway Cares collection period.
Originally, our Education and Outreach Committee emphasized educating industry members and fans about how to go green. However, we found that many people involved in theatre at the college level were interested in getting involved with our work, so an Education Committee split from Outreach.
Today, this committee focuses on greening of educational theatre at the Primary/High School and College/University level. Paul Brunner of Indiana University, Michael Mehler of Allegheny College, and Lisa Mitchell of Disney Theatrical are the Co-Chairs. Lisa’s primary focus is on developing educational greening initiatives focused on primary and secondary institutions, Michael focuses on the membership and communications aspects of this committee, while Paul leads the College and University initiatives. Some of the committee’s active projects are: curricular development for inclusion of sustainability practices in university theatre arts programming, the development of a college Green Captain program, and expansion of the committee to more universities.
Based on the BGA’s successful Green Captain program, the committee is rolling out a pilot program at the institutions of committee representatives. Committee member James McKernan of York University has circulated his institution’s Sustainability Coordinator documents and committee member Chris Jaehnig of New York University has written a first draft of an outline for a higher education Green Captain program there.
The Education Committee recently completed a collaboration with the Rainforest Alliance on their “So Practical, It’s Radical” college video contest. We circulated information about this contest and encouraged students in theatre departments to apply with a video of what they have done to green their departments. The BGA supported the Rainforest Alliance college outreach initiative with a prize of WICKED tickets with a backstage tour.
The Education committee is also looking to partner with schools to develop more sustainable theatre practices through adaptations of some of the flagship BGA initiatives. We eventually hope to be piloting an elementary school sustainability project. Our goal is to get young designers to think sustainably about set and costume design.
The Touring Committee identifies and disseminates environmentally-conscious practices that primarily apply to touring and regional productions, the venues in which they appear, and their presenting organizations. It also seeks to share better practices employed on Broadway with theatres around the country, and vice versa.
This fall, we began distribution of a survey of touring venues to identify greening actions at venues across the country. Completed surveys have begun to be returned (primarily from the WICKED tour) and the data entered into a survey-tracking document and analyzed. A presentation was made to the Broadway League’s Road Committee, who agreed to endorse and distribute our survey to their members to help us assess how efforts are doing around the country.
This committee’s focus at the moment is on reaching out to the off-Broadway community to encourage them to join our green theater movement. We are beginning to add 0ff-Broadway Green Captains and will be making a presentation to the off-Broadway League of Theaters in the Spring of 2013.
This committee focuses on getting the word out about the BGA to others. One of its goals is to manage BGA representation at special industry events like the Tony Awards and Kids Night on Broadway and other Broadway League events.
An exciting development is the soon-to-launch (March 2013), completely reworked and redesigned BGA website, once again generously donated by Situation Interactive. The new site, built using the easy-to-manipulate WordPress program, promises to be user-friendly and easy to navigate. It will offer ways to get involved (by volunteering, donating or buying tickets to shows) and tabs that will take users to lists of better practices, as well as provide an easy sign-up for the newsletter and BGA membership. The site will also allow the quarterly Green Sheet newsletters to be searchable by keyword so that it can act as a better resource. The new site will include photos, videos and resource links, and be organized by clear tabs at the top of the pages. We hope to launch the new website at the start of 2013.
One area on which we will continue to focus is the use of social media. While we have Twitter and Facebook accounts which are handily updated by our Communications Intern, we would love these tools to allow us to bring in more active members. We have just launched quarterly Green Intermission Pictures on Twitter (Green #SIP and @broadwaygreen) with the help of our Green Captains. BGA members post pictures of the things they are doing backstage to get greener as they have lighthearted fun during Saturday intermission. Our new website will link to these sites which we hope will improve our numbers and help us create a list of active volunteers with whom we can be in touch on a regular basis.
INTERNATIONAL GREEN THEATRE ALLIANCE
Last year, in partnership with the UK’s Julie’s Bicycle, the BGA launched a new international consortium, the International Green Theatre Alliance (IGTA), dedicated to improving environmental sustainability across the theatrical sector around the world. The mission of the IGTA is to inspire direct industry-wide action for positive environmental change. The focus of the IGTA is threefold: to collect and publicize the efforts of environmentally like-minded theatre organizations worldwide; to disseminate the most current, reliable, and relevant information about best practices at the individual and institutional levels; and to generate a network of global support for greening efforts throughout the theatre industry. We look forward to welcoming as members other national or international groups focusing on sustainable theatre in other countries or regions. Canada and Australia look poised to join which will put the IGTA at the forefront of greening in the English-speaking theatre world.