Jump to

DT:TV Case Studies

Performing Arts organisations go green

Dr. Ben Todd spoke at Shift Happens at the beginning of this month, reporting that North London’s Arcola Theatre has become the first venue to install an environmentally friendly hydrogen fuel cell to power the site.

The 5kw fuel source, which operates almost silently and produces nothing but electricity and clean water, will run the theatre’s eco/fair trade cafe-bar and selected main house productions (LED lighting for the production will consume 60% less energy than traditional lighting installations). It has been installed in the foyer of the theatre, accompanied by displays describing the benefits and challenges of the new technology.

Through Arcola Energy, Todd aims to make Arcola the world’s first carbon neutral theatre. They will be installing biomass heating, solar panels, fuel cells and state of the art energy saving technologies throughout the building.

Arcola will also create the first centre for new energy technology in the arts. It will be a knowledge incubator with dedicated work space where engineers can develop initiatives to tackle climate change. Arcola Energy will be a hub for new thinking and cross-fertilisation between art and science, bringing together artistic, entrepreneurial and technological creativity. The plans for this part of the building look amazing, and as Todd says, it’ll be hard to keep the actors from rehearsing in these interesting spaces!

Todd commented: “The arts have a crucial role to play in elucidating and motivating the changes in lifestyle necessary to deliver an equitable future for all humankind. Through Arcola Energy, Arcola Theatre is demonstrating that bold changes can be made and that making them offers exciting opportunities for new creative partnerships.” Timely, given that theatres in London have been given the remit to be green by 2025.

Glyndebourne have heard today that their wind turbine has finally been given the go-ahead. Hazel Blears had to intervene in the last stages of the planning permission process, which was opposed by locals afraid that the turbine would blight the look of the surrounding countryside. David Pickard, General Manager of Glyndebourne Productions Ltd., says “The turbine will supply the opera house with clean, renewable energy and will reduce its carbon emissions by 70%. The project has been spearheaded by Gus Christie [executive chairman], but it is an imperative for Glyndebourne as an environmentally responsible organisation.”

Reducing energy costs has become a bottom-line driver for many arts organisations: Dave Moutrey of Cornerhouse reported a £25k rise in the Manchester Arts Centre’s electricity bill this year – he awaits the gas bill with baited breath. As the credit crunch squeezes leisure spend, Cornerhouse, like many other venue-based arts organisations, will be battling rising energy costs and steadying box office and cafe revenues.