Monday, June 24, 2024

ZERO THEATER: AN ADVOCACY TOWARDS GREENER ART PRACTICES

ZERO THEATER: AN ADVOCACY TOWARDS GREENER ART PRACTICES

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Increasing its efforts to advocate the fight against climate change and raise awareness on environmental issues, the Cultural Center of the Philippines makes headway toward becoming a Zero Theater.

In the webinar series “Zero Theater: Climate Change and the Performing Arts,” the Philippine leading arts institution educates the public on climate change and its effects, explores the role of performing artists in climate action, and shares practical tips for sustainable art productions.

“In the past, performing arts venues were heavy users of energy. We must shift the paradigm. We must look at how theaters and performing venues can reduce their carbon footprints,” said CCP Arts Education Department head Eva Mari Salvador.

Comprehending the immense effects of climate change in the Philippines, the CCP has started exerting purposeful efforts to help sustain a greener environment and significantly lower its environmental impact. Its initiatives include the smallest actions, such as recycling papers for scripts and using rechargeable batteries and torches for the Front of the House, to substantial changes such as building sewage treatment facilities for wastewater treatment, using cost-efficient, energy-saving equipment (such as double air inverters and air conditioning units and LED lights), mandating its service providers to use biodegradable packaging, and partnering with organizations that have recycling centers and facilities. 

The idea of Zero Theater came at the right time, with the CCP Main Building undergoing major rehabilitation. While the management will never alter the architectural design of the building, it can introduce green practices and facilities to make it sustainable and environmentally friendly. 

It allows the CCP management to expand the concept of Zero Theater, incorporate greener technologies in its structural design, and introduce greener practices. The CCP aims to achieve zero-waste and lower carbon footprints in every stage of its operation and production.

For instance, the new sewage treatment plant will make sure that the wastewater from the restrooms and offices will not pollute Manila Bay. “The goal is to connect all the CCP buildings to the sewage system. We want to ensure that whatever effluent we release into the bay will be clean water. We can also use the recycled water to hydrate the plants around the complex,” shared CCP Administrative Services Department manager Teresa S. Rances.

On the artistic side, CCP celebrates Earth Day every April with multi-sensory and immersive art installations at the Front Lawn. With its Visual Arts Grants program, the CCP selects a featured artist to produce an Earth Day installation that creates awareness about environmental advocacies, including Climate Change. “In recent years, we have realized it is not just a celebration of Earth Day. It should not just be once a year,” said CCP Production and Exhibition Department manager Ariel S. Yonzon.

While the concept of Zero Theater seems to be a new advocacy, the CCP has already been performing environmentally friendly practices, such as recycling, repurposing, and reusing materials and sets from various productions. 

“Due to the lack of storage space and tight production budget, we are forced to reuse and upcycle whatever materials there are. We are already doing Zero Theater practices by necessity,” said Yonzon. 

While the practices might be because of the financial constraints to put up one event after another, the CCP has vowed to make a conscious effort to do sustainable practices rather than just incidental occurrences. 

“We instructed our FOH staff to research the possibility of having uniforms made of fabric from recycled material. So that’s also a statement to engage our community and our audiences that we are veering towards that practice,” said Yonzon.

Considering its geological location, our country should look into the possibility of using turbines. “Our Center is just beside the bay, and because we are an archipelago, we have a lot of wind from all directions. We are also a tropical country. So, there is both wind and heat energy from the sun. We can harness these energies to lower our electrical consumption and lessen our carbon footprint,” shared Yonzon.

Believing in this environmental mission, the CCP has joined the Broadway Green Alliance (BGA), a global community of industry and environmental professionals who work side-by-side to normalize green practices on Broadway and beyond. 

A non-profit organization based in New York City, the alliance aims to educate, motivate, and inspire the performing arts industry and its audiences to implement environmentally friendly practices. BGA focuses on amplification, empowerment, and engagement with audiences about climate communication. 

BGA has been growing, with member organizations such as The Broadway League, Broadway Cares Equity Fights Aids, NRDC, CSPA, Julie’s Bicycle, Wearable Collections, Electronic Recyclers International, Weeks Lerman, Wear Your Music, EcoPlum®, and other global groups committing to act and contributing to climate change mitigation. 

“We are looking to make our theaters and our art more sustainable. Lower or no carbon emissions, less waste, and more circularity. So, looking at it from the art, the action itself,” said BGA director Molly Braverman, who discussed the role of the performing arts sectors in climate change mitigation and environmental sustainability and shared eco-friendly practices on how an artist can contribute to the green movement during the webinar.

“The idea of being a perfect environmentalist doesn’t exist. We all have a carbon footprint just by existing. That makes it really challenging to implement some of the changes we want. So, instead of striving for perfection, we focus on being greener each day. We are all pulling at the string in our own communities, in our own corners, and together we can unravel this cloth and make big change,” said Braverman.

Based on global research on plastic pollution in the oceans, the Philippines contributes the most, with an average of 3.30 kilos of plastic per person ending up in the ocean annually. 

“Tatlong kilong plastic ‘yung kontribusyon natin sa dagat every year. Tatlong kilo lang ‘yun. Madaling tanggalin. Kaya kung maka-limang kilo ka, you’re already subsidizing someone else’s environmental offense by two kilos,” said Yonzon.

Understanding the role of theater and the arts in educating ordinary people and making complex facts and figures in environmental science more understandable, the CCP will continue to advocate the fight against Climate Change and strive to make changes through its theater production processes, facilities, and programs.