Where facilities and the environment intersect

Are Toronto’s aging performance venues part of our energy problem or part of the solution?

We’re hoping to use collaboration and creative thinking to become part of the solution. Inspired by London’s Green Theatre Plan and Ben Todd’s work at the Arcola Theatre, Creative Trust has been developing Toronto’s Green Theatres. This new project will make it possible for companies doing renovations to access energy efficiency funding. It will also, we hope, spark a community-wide commitment to reduce the carbon footprints of all of Toronto’s theatres.

Anyone who knows old buildings (and you’re talking to someone whose home was built in 1888, and who spent 6 years running Toronto Dance Theatre’s historic Winchester Street Theatre) is familiar with heat-leaking windows, deteriorating roofs, dusty old furnaces, poor insulation and the many other challenges of maintaining an ageing physical plant while trying to control costs and be green and energy efficient.

Thankfully, others share our concerns and welcome our aspirations.  Toronto’s Energy Efficiency Office and CivicAction’s Greening Greater Toronto are supportive of our plans to work across our sector to reduce theatres’ carbon footprints; the City of Toronto’s Culture Office is assisting us to undertake energy audits of performance venues that are planning renovations; and York University’s Faculty of Fine Arts is pulling together an exceptional conference on Arts, Community, Culture and the Environment. Staging Sustainability, April 20 – 22, 2011 will showcase the best thinking and practice in this area, and is a first step towards making Toronto’s theatres more green and energy efficient.

Creative Trust’s Facilities Initiative began in 2009 to address the need to repair, renovate or expand inadequate, uncomfortable and, in some cases, unsafe performing arts facilities throughout the city. We’ve been communicating the issues to government, funders and the media, and the 18 organizations participating in our Facilities Roundtable have been sharing information, learning about project planning and capital fundraising, and working on energy efficiency and accessibility strategies. For more information check out Toronto’s Green Theatres.

Jini Stolk

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