48 London Theaters Get Fiscal Help to Go Green as U.S. Theaters Languish?

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TheTheatresTrustFrom the shocking, horrid world of the United Kingdom, where the radical conservatives of the U.S. Republican Party would beg you to believe that health care is a grim, death-inducing disaster, comes word that ¬£450,000 — that’s roughly equal to more than $740,000 — will be spent to provide specialist theater environmental advice and similar services for some 48 small-scale performance venues in London.

This initiative is being directed under the auspices of The Theatres Trust. Would that theaters in New York or anywhere, really, in the U.S., had such a foresighted organization. True, there are more and more examples of green thinking: Shakespeare & Company recently announced an environmentally conscious initiative, for instance.

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But in the U.S., how many theaters are green or looking at ways to go green? How many comprehensive surveys have there been? How much, on a national scale, would need to be spent on assessments and infrastructure and planning to determine how to make our spaces carbon-neutral?

There was, of course, a major seminar this past April 23 called Towards a Sustainable Green Theatre in NY, featuring a number of fascinating guests, including Gideon Banner of The Green Theater Initiative, arguably the finest source for information on this topic. The question is whether one event alone is really enough. Should green theater be a priority for the industry? Who would be the natural leader of such a movement?

Here, courtesy of Suzanne McDougall of The Theatres Trust, is the press release on what’s going on in London:

Theatres Trust Announces ECOVENUE Green Theatre Project for London
On 14 September 2009 at Plasa 09 The Theatres Trust will announce a new three year programme to provide specialist theatre environmental advice and undertake free DEC assessments with 48 small scale theatres in London.

One year on from the launch of the Mayor of London’s “Green Theatre: Taking Action on Climate Change” initiative at Plasa 08, The Theatres Trust will announce it is to receive GBP450,000 over the next three years from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) in London to deliver the Ecovenue advisory programme.

Mhora Samuel, director of The Theatres Trust, said, “When the Mayor of London’s Green Theatre Plan was launched last year to help theatres in London achieve reductions in carbon emissions by 60% by 2025, commercial and subsidised theatres in London were quick to sign up. We recognised that smaller theatres with less resources would find it harder to participate, and so made an application for funding to the LDA at the beginning of 2009 to help address the gap. I’m delighted that we can announce the ERDF award at Plasa 09 and help more London theatres to address environmental issues associated with climate change and reduce their energy use.”

The Ecovenue project provides each participating theatre with a free theatre-specific environmental audit, and free display energy certificates in 2010 and 2011. A DEC is a publicly displayed certificate that informs the public about the energy use of a building. This free environmental improvement advice will be delivered by a new theatre building services adviser to be employed by the Trust.

The Trust will be inviting 48 theatres to apply to participate in the project, which will run until spring 2012. Application details will be advertised over the following months.