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Broadway Goes Green

January 28th, 2014
Willemijn Verkaik as Elphaba in "Wicked."

Willemijn Verkaik as Elphaba in “Wicked.”

“It’s not that easy being green,” says Kermit the Frog, but that’s not stopping The Broadway Green Alliance (BGA), which celebrates its fifth year and the launch of a new online Theatre Greening Advisor. The BGA is an industry-wide initiative focused on enhancing Broadway’s environmental profile by adopting preferable practices and promoting awareness in the creation and presentation of Broadway shows.

In collaboration with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the BGA’s early goal was to assess theater production and offer insights about environmentally preferable options to the Broadway theater community including producers, theater owners, designers, managers, design shops and others. Collectively, the Broadway community has achieved meaningful accomplishments during the first five years of this long-term initiative, including the shift to energy efficient lighting throughout the Great White Way. As a result of this work, Broadway is now a leader in environmental sustainability in the global theater industry.

broadwaygreen“In the past five years, the Broadway Green Alliance has become a part of nearly all Broadway productions, and now is working with Off-Broadway, regional theaters, colleges, and many other venues and shows in and outside of the United States,” says Charlie Deull, co-chair of the Broadway Green Alliance.  “We are grateful to the NRDC for its work on the NRDC Theatre Greening Advisor, which will be a valuable tool for the many BGA participants and allies working to make theatre, and the planet, greener.”

Taking this good environmental work to the rest of the country, the BGA and NRDC are now launching the NRDC Theatre Greening Advisor—an online guide to help theaters across the country implement environmentally intelligent practices. More than two years of work has gone into the creation of this unique online environmental resource for the theatre community, and it is arguably the most comprehensive theater greening information database in existence. The BGA and NRDC are making the NRDC Theatre Greening Advisor available at no cost to all theatre production worldwide.

The new BGA Greener Lighting Guide, designed to help compare greener stage lighting instruments, will be linked to the NRDC Theatre Greening Advisor and both launch this week.

Broadway Green Alliance Achievements to Date:

Broadway theaters have replaced all their marquee and outside lighting with energy-efficient bulbs (over 10,000 bulbs!), saving approximately 700 tons of carbon emissions per year; switched to more environmentally preferable cleaning products and appliances; and established recycling, water filtration and energy efficiency programs.

Broadway shows now have a BGA liaison, or Green Captain, at nearly all shows, bringing greener practices backstage. Green Captains come from all aspects of productions, and sometimes even the star of the show participates in this important role. Bryan Cranston, Alan Cumming, Hugh Dancy, Montego Glover, Harriet Harris and Carol Kane have all served as BGA Green Captains.

Running shows are saving money through reduced waste.  Many shows now use rechargeable batteries in microphones and flashlights, keeping thousands of toxic disposable batteries from the waste stream every month. Wicked went from using 38 batteries every performance to using only 96 rechargeable batteries in a year! Many shows also print their own cast-change stuffers—on recycled paper—saving reams of paper as well as money.

Events and initiatives held by the BGA are now part of the fabric of Broadway, including semi-annual electronic-waste and textile recycling events in Times Square and a free binder exchange (operated in partnership with Actors’ Equity Association) where anyone can pick-up or drop-off binders for use in readings and rehearsals. This keeps binders out of the waste stream and encourages re-use. Over the last five years, the BGA has collected more than 31,000 pounds of e-waste, and nearly 10,000 pounds of textiles.

Outreach programs have brought the BGA to theaters throughout the United States, at colleges, off-Broadway and regional and touring venues.  Internationally, the BGA is a founding member of the International Green Theatre Alliance. The BGA reaches theater professionals and audiences through its website filled with information and resources, and through social media such as Facebook and Twitter. The BGA also launched the BGA Greener Lighting Guide, in partnership with PLASA.

The NRDC Theatre Greening Advisor is a free online guide to help theaters across the country to implement eco-intelligent practices. The tool provides BGA members with valuable and detailed information on all elements of greener theatres and productions. The NRDC Theatre Greening Advisor supports the work of all six Broadway Green Alliance committees with extensive resources for greener efforts related to Pre/Post Production, Production, Venues, Touring, Education, and Outreach. This guide helps theaters continue to commit to energy efficiency, recycling programs, waste reduction, water conservation, smart paper purchasing and use, and other smart operations. In doing so, theaters and productions across the country are helping to keep our nation’s air and water clean, reduce their contribution to global warming, protect biodiversity, and reduce toxic chemicals use, while seeing cost saving benefits.

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