Toronto’s Green Theatres is pulling together a growing number of performing artists and companies interested in practicing their environmental values at work.
Green Theatres began as a conversation about reducing energy consumption and costs, and Creative Trust’s Energy Audits provided a basis for companies doing major renovations to access energy-saving funding at the City’s Better Buildings Partnership. Toronto’s Environment Office remains an enthusiastic partner, providing assistance to companies applying for financial incentives to offset the costs of making their building more energy efficient ; and letting us know about new programs like the Eco-Roof Incentive Program ; the extension of the Province’s saveONenergy incentives to the end of 2015; and Direct Energy’s awards for energy efficient nonprofits. Any company doing upgrades or renovations should be all over these programs.
And some definitely are. Just in the past few weeks, I’ve learned about Harbourfront’s extensive greening strategy (resulting in really impressive cost savings), Young People’s Theatre’s new LED lighting, and Arraymusic’s plans to build out their new offices, rehearsal and performance space in the most energy efficient way possible. Not to mention the inspiring green roof we had the privilege of touring at CCDT’s studios on Parliament (and the new one being planned for the Theatre Centre.)
While we were initially looking at Green Theatres in the context of upgrading or renewing facilities there is lots of potential to take a collaborative look at greening back stage and office, front of house and concession, and artistic practice. One of the more intriguing ideas is a new energy-purchase club formed among UK arts venues; bulk purchases of energy efficient lights, building components, and supplies are all possible here too.
With York University leading the way in exploring green options in theatre and art production, and with the founder of the U.S.-based Centre for Sustainable Access in the Arts, Ian Garrett, now teaching at York, there are an amazing number of enthusiastic partners with knowledge to share – including TD Financial, which has been supportive of us getting together as a sector.
There is really no reason why Toronto shouldn’t become a leader in green arts – saving energy, saving costs, and attracting new donors and community support.