Theatre Business Direction
Julie Peterson, publisher of DramaBiz, reached out to the bright lights of Broadway to learn of the new “Broadway Goes Green” project lead by The Broadway League.
DramaBiz Magazine: Can you tell us how the “Broadway Goes Green” initiative got started? How did it fit with Mayor Bloomberg’s city-wide movement? Charlotte St. Martin: The League was in the process of looking into a green program when the Mayor’s office reached out to us. They were particularly interested in involving theatres and the theatre owners. We merged what was going to be a producer and theatre owner program together with the Mayor’s program. We felt that by working with the City, we could benefit from their efforts—especially the work they had already started with universities. We were probably able to move a little faster on the building part of the program because they had already gone through it and had the resources available that we could use.
DM: What are the goals of the program and how will it help Broadway lessen its impact on the environment? St. Martin: As one of our first goals, we’ve worked with the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) to look at our current practices and to disseminate information regarding greener practices to the Broadway theatre community. We want to focus on Broadway first and have created the following phases; 1) theatre venue operations;
2) the day-to-day running of shows and; 3) the creation of shows from concept to stage.
We’ve also added sub-committees that will look at specific areas like pre-production and touring to build additional targeted programs. We’ve had some real success with the long-running shows in which 89% of the materials used are recycled!
DM: How many theatres are participating? How have they embraced the program? St. Martin: All of the League theatres are participating and doing so much from a grassroots level. People are so passionate about this and their passion helps to bring others along. I think one of the biggest surprises [for people to learn] is the number of our individual theatres that are already doing something to reduce waste and conserve. It’s pretty telling of the commitment when Broadway is much more proactive and doing more than what people are aware of. We just didn’t talk about it and we don’t want to go out and toot our own horn until we can measure it.
DM: How is “Broadway Goes Green” project communicated to the public? How is it included in promotion of shows? St. Martin: Our focus is more on doing the right thing and less on the marketing of doing the right thing. From an audience perspective, we’ve been working with Allen Hershkowitz of the NRDC who donates his time to educate us on how we can influence audiences to be greener. For example, the week we launched “Broadway Goes Green,” we gave out 50,000 “Top Ten Tips of How to Recycle” and NRDC sponsored those. When we have some big things to show we will communicate it. We believe that everyone looks to Broadway and that when Broadway is doing it, they’ll think ‘why can’t we be green.’ I don’t think any of us has looked at this as bringing more people to Broadway just because we’re being green.
DM: What other benefits have the participating theatres realized as a result of being a part of this? St. Martin: I think the collaborative spirit with which we have approached this is just so good for the community. There are no titles. No we-they. No union vs. management. No producer-theatre management. There are no boundaries. We’re all in it to develop a greener earth. I think that is just good for Broadway.
DM: What can this initiative teach other theatres across the country about doing their own “green” program? St. Martin: Well, we made a commitment to the Mayor to focus on New York first. We just formed a touring subcommittee to take what we learn in New York on the road. We are also exploring and developing new greener trends for the road because it is a completely different thing when you are touring a show. That committee has just started, so we will grow as we start moving around.