Paint the Town Green: The Broadway Green Alliance
Idina Menzel as Elphaba in “Wicked”

Since 2008, the Broadway Green Alliance has been working diligently to move members of the theater community toward a more environmental-friendly production style. The BGA has partnered with the Natural Resources Defense Council, as well as other organizations, to bring awareness regarding the impact these stunning productions have on our environment today. It stands to reason that this can prove to be a difficult task, but the BGA is certainly realistic about its efforts:

At the BGA, we recognize that it is impossible to be 100% “green” while continuing activity and – as there is no litmus test for green activity – we ask instead that our members commit to being greener and doing better each day. As climate change does not result from one large negative action, but rather from the cumulative effect of billions of small actions, progress comes from millions of us doing a bit better each day.

Broadway Green Alliance Committees

With many departments present and even more moving pieces within, it appears that the BGA has adequately prepared to cover as many places possible with their six committees responsible for executing the plan.

Venues Committee: responsible for “running greener theatres” by using energy-efficient bulbs, eco-friendly cleaning supplies, and recycling programs.

Pre- & Post-Production Committee: oversees the building and disposal processes – 88% of scenery from shows closing in January 2009 was recycled or reused

Production Committee: promotes a green environment from rehearsal through closing including the use of rechargeable batteries and reusable water bottles. The team is also responsible for textile drives that collect materials used throughout the production process so it may be recycled and/or reused.

Outreach Committee: handles communication and outreach – helped the Tony Awards® become greener by using a recycled carpet and hybrid limousines for guests

Touring Committee: assists with touring productions and other national theaters. Touring shows that are involved with the Clark Transfer’s Touring Green program “have offset over 10,000 tons of carbon emissions from moving their equipment by investing in wind power and methane digesters through Native Energy”

Education Committee: this newly formed committee passes along this new green initiative to educational institutions

And the trash?

Another question to ask is what happens to the pieces that end up in the trash? Trash haulers make the sorting process easy for the Broadway theatres, assuring that each piece ends up in its appropriate location. Materials that can be recycled are done so accordingly, but there are many actions that can be taken prior to these items reaching the trash. The BGA encourages shows to save costumes for their bi-annual textile drives, participate in the Binder Exchange Program, and utilize their show’s Green Captain to arrange moving of sets and props.

Where does that leave us?

For us here in Pittsburgh, New York City can sometimes seem another world away, but efforts can be made here just the same. Out in Latrobe, Mitchell Magiera (Box Office Manager), who has been with the Saint Vincent Summer Theatre since 2013, discussed which initiatives he sees present in daily operations, as well as the struggles of putting new plans into action when running a small theatre:

“As of late, the Summer Theatre has been collecting patrons’ email addresses so that we can start sending out electronic copies of our brochures to prevent printing countless copies that often are just thrown out. We reuse building materials as best as we can and only replace and purchase more when we absolutely need to. This helps cut down our lumber consumption as it can easily be reused. We also have replaced our house lighting with energy efficient LED [bulbs]. We have looked into replacing our stage lighting with LED’s, but this is still just an idea as financing this sort of project will take some time. SVST is small compared to most other theaters and thus implementation of new ideas tends to err on the slow side. One of the most needed improvements is switching to a complete box office software system. This would not only improve our efficiency and effectiveness, but it would also massively cut our paper consumption.”

Want to “Green-ify” your theater?    

Interested in becoming involved with the Broadway Green Alliance? The organization can be contacted via their website and college students are encouraged to utilize the Better Practices Guide and Resources to start making their theaters just a bit greener. No action is too small and it is certainly never too late to start thinking about how you can make a difference.

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