ETC TGB: The Community Can Save You Time and Money

Staatsschauspiel Dresden

The ETC Theatre Green Book (ETC TGB) was not our first step into sustainable working. In Autumn 2019, a ‘Sustainability Working Group’ was set up at our theatre on the initiative of interested employees. At the beginning of 2020, the ‘Sustainability Steering Group’ began its work, comprised of senior management, department heads, and representatives from HR, accounting, legal, and IT.

A sustainability mission statement for the theatre, based on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, was developed in a cooperation project with the Hamburg University of Music and Theatre. To make the topic of sustainability tangible, workshops for employees from all departments were offered workshops over a period of six months from October 2021. Measures were jointly developed and bundled in the form of a sustainability concept.

Finally, the Staatsschauspiel was one of 19 institutions in Germany to take part in the Federal Cultural Foundation’s pilot project ‘Climate Balance Sheets in Cultural Institutions.’ It turns out that a large share of the emissions (around 22%) come from audience travel. Other elements are important too, such as energy use and procurement.

As a result of this, we decided to work with public transport companies in our city, Dresden, and support audiences to travel more sustainably to see us. The following season, the cost of travel on public transport was included
in the ticket prices for our theatre.

This was what the ETC TGB would call an ‘easy win’. It was something we were able to do relatively easily that has a great benefit for audiences, and our public profile as a sustainable theatre. We enjoyed a lot of coverage about the initiative which also energised our staff.

The power of the ETC TGB Focus Group

After these experiences, we started to work with ETC and Renew Culture on the first steps for the ETC Theatre Green Book. Following our work with audience travel, which comes under the bracket of ‘operations’, we joined the ETC TGB Focus Group to see if we could move forward on the two other key strands: Productions and Buildings.

So far we have been able to recognize that we have almost reached ‘Basic’ in the field of sustainable buildings, and we just finished our first sustainable production.

But the most important learning has been that we no longer need to contract companies that cost at least 20.000, or up to 40.000 EUR to accompany our theatre across a whole year and track our sustainable impact. Renew Culture and the ETC TGB make this clear: you can spend lots of money on all sorts of complex calculations, and the result will always be that you need to use less. Any study will tell you that the most effective thing you can do to your building is insulate it properly, with productions you should re-use materials on stage, and you should sort your waste properly, use less paper, and travel sustainably where possible.

The ETC TGB cuts out this middle step. The calculators and survey tools use measurements that are easy for anyone in your organisation to use. All of the tools have been designed in conversation with so many theatres around the world – particularly now in Europe, where we have all been testing this through the ETC TGB Focus Group – that all of the thinking has been done for you and is presented in an easy-to-use way.

A rabbit facing a snake

In Germany, we have a saying that when you are scared and don’t know how to move, you are like a rabbit facing a snake. It’s difficult to know how to start, what the right next step is.

What we forget is that in between that moment and a solution is just starting. For us it’s working very well to use the ETC Theatre Green Book to reach the next step, I think. And it’s very helpful to have colleagues who are moving along with this experience in the same way. With them we can be connected and be in constant dialogue. I think this is helpful and has pushed us to get moving.

By Joachim Klement, Artistic Director at Staatsschauspiel Dresden/Germany

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