Delivering Sustainable Theatres

/ Nicola Walls / Arts & Culture

The Arts and Culture Cog focused on two issues; the new Corporate Plan for Creative Scoltand and the recent Theatres Trust conference on Delivering Sustainable Theatres.

Key actions from the Creative Scotland Corporate Plan outlined were the key new audiences for the arts being under fives, the elderly and new immigrants, the budget increase and how it will be spent, internationalism - increasingly relevant in terms of the debate regarding Scottish independence and the emphasis of Creative Scotland's role as a communications agency as well as funding provider.

It was noted that as yet unpublished Cultural Economic Impact Study shows the various contributions of the arts and creative industries to the economy and as a major employer; 7.6% architecture and 2.8% performing arts.

The Sustainable Theatre Trusts conference focused on the 3 key areas related to sustainability - environmental, social and economic. This included discussion on reducing energy costs, maintaining the relevancy of productions to ensure an audience and creating new economic model

ENERGY

A number of reports have been published on how to reduce energy use. Memorable initiatives were; changing attitudes ie 'lift - free' Mondays; documenting existing energy uses clearly and scheduling programmes to tie in with environmental conditions

There also has to be a balance between the legacy of historic buildings and their energy performance and the active use of buildings. The ambition to use buildings more intensively should not be compromised by energy performance.

But we need to remember that the Theatre has to be relevant and not lose that...bit more here about developing new target audiences?

ECONOMIC

Theatres have to be economic and there may be new models for funding. The new Arts Guild Theatre in Greenock is working with the NHS to serve the needs of local populations and finding new funding models

(A youth theatre model in Manchester) A formal partnership of cultural venues in Newcastle and Gateshead (NGCV) are working collaboratively with the local Museums partnership to share technical resources.

Discussion afterwards revolved around how our projects could contribute to these two agendas.

- Scottish Opera's outward reach programmes widening the constituency of support

- Assessing the potential of neighbours using the facilities

- Considering the private, public, privileged relationships in the accessibility of a builidng.

- Education is a key entry point

Conclusion was whether there might be a measure of effectiveness of the use of a building ie. in terms of numbers of users and secondly whether there might be an energy performance measure related to the people/m2 and not simply area.

The discussion ended with the note that theatre equals engagement and participation - Use it or lose it.