Nfld. & Labrador

Climate change on the stage: N.L. theatre companies working to address carbon footprint

They are far from the biggest polluters, but theatre companies in Newfoundland and Labrador are thinking about their carbon footprints.

'It's a new lens we're applying to our work,' says Patrick Foran

Members of Members of the Association of Professional Theatre of NL discuss ways to tackle climate change and their global footprint as part of an initiative led by the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. (Submitted by Patrick Foran)

They are far from the biggest polluters, but theatre companies in Newfoundland and Labrador are thinking about their carbon footprint.

"It's a new lens we're applying to our work," Patrick Foran, chair of the Association of Professional Theatres of Newfoundland and Labrador, told The St. John's Morning Show. 

Carbon footprints and climate change were the subjects of a workshop hosted by the Association of Professional Theatres. The discussion was led by Sarah Garton Stanley, one of the co-curators of a climate change project from the National Arts Centre in Ottawa.

"I think in Canada, institutions are just at the beginning of determining what policies they can bring forward for sustainable creativity and practise within major buildings, from heating, to plastics use, to materials used for set building," said Stanley.

She said one of the biggest carbon emitters in the theatre world is travel.

Performing on an island like Newfoundland, Foran said, can make managing carbon emissions tough, but work can be done to reduce the carbon footprint.

"There's a couple things we can do so we can minimize that travel as much as possible," Foran said. 

"Try and make it continuous so there's not a lot of to-ing and fro-ing … hopping from one city to the next, to the next."

Foran has also looked into carbon offsets, paying an extra fee when travelling to offset the cost of emissions released while travelling on an airplane.

Sarah Garton Stanley, co-curator of a climate change project led by the National Art Centre in Ottawa, met with members of Artistic Fraud digitally rather than in person. (Submitted by Patrick Foran)

Stanley said discussions like the one in St. John's are happening across Canada with the hope of finding different ways to tackle climate change. One example is trying to do more things digitally in an effort to reduce emissions during a commute.

"There's so many new ways to think about how to do things," Stanley said.

"We're sort of looking at the different ways of thinking about how we make the work, rather than just getting on planes [and] trains."

Stanley said solutions will come with teamwork and collaboration. She points to the work done by Newfoundlanders during the recent blizzard as an example of community and interdependence.

"For me, it opens up an idea about commons and how we can help one another in different ways, as we're looking at climate change," Stanley said.

"Sometimes we think about climate change, and it's a bit overwhelming," Foran adds.

"It's wrapped up in terms like 'crisis' and 'disaster.' We see major weather systems, but at the same time, there are little stories of hope that come from adaptation and this sort of community resiliency."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from The St. John's Morning Show

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