Crossroads Conversation: Broadway Green Alliance

For May’s Crossroads Conversation, the Alliance sat down with Coordinator Rebekah Sale of the Broadway Green Alliance on the heels of their textile drive that took place in the middle of Times Square. In this interview, we talk about their mission and the strides that have been made towards making Broadway a greener and more efficient industry. 
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Alliance: What is the purpose and goal of the Broadway Green Alliance?

RS: The goal of the Broadway Green Alliance is to educate, motivate and inspire the entire theater community and its patrons to adopt more environmentally friendly practices. 

Alliance: Why did you choose Broadway as the focus of your efforts?

RS: I’ve worked in environmental organizing in a lot of different communities, with college students, community groups, and public events. I’m also a big Broadway fan and a third-generation native New Yorker. I grew up going to the theater and have always gone to the theater. I also worked for Jujamcyn Theaters in the 1990s. So when the industry was looking for someone who was both ‘green’ and ‘Broadway’, I was a natural fit since I had worked on both of those fronts. They wanted someone who understood the theater community and what it meant to do theater making, and also understood green issues and how and why it is good to go green. 

Alliance: What specific ways do you help Broadway go green?

RS: Our overall philosophy is that it is impossible to be 100 percent green, and we recognize that going green is a journey, so we just ask people to try and find one little thing they can do to go greener every day. We are not about nagging or criticizing, but about inspiring people to make little changes that are easy for them to make. A lot of the changes that we advocate for actually save time and money as well, they are just more efficient, so it’s a win-win-win for everyone. 

We have a lot of ways that we ask the shows to go green. One is changing to rechargeable batteries. For years, many said that couldn't be done, that batteries were mission critical. WICKED went from using 15,000 batteries a year to 96 rechargeable batteries. That not only saved a lot of landfill space, but also a lot of money. Another thing we've asked some shows to do is to print their own cast change stuffer slips – some shows are saving thousands of dollars a month by printing on demand when they need them instead of pre-printing.

Alliance: What is your working relationship with other Broadway groups and organizations?

RS: One of the ways that we reach out to the productions is to ask for a go-to person that we call a ‘green captain’. Actor’s Equity asks ‘who wants to be the green captain’ at the first rehearsal of every show. We’ve had celebrities like Alan Cumming, Audra McDonald, Brian Cranston as green captains, but it could be anybody. We’ve also had dressers and assistant props people. The green captain is our liaison to the show. We send them a kit with a check-list of best practices that is developed through feedback and what has been done at other shows. We’ve also asked for green captains at the theatrical unions and at other offices so we really can get everybody involved. We also run a binder exchange with Actor’s Equity, where we allow people to borrow binders for stage readings and rehearsals for free. Finally, we have textile recycling bins in the Equity office and run four drives a year – two textile drives and two electronics drives – that are open to the public at large.

Alliance: How does one become a member of the Broadway Green Alliance?

RS: Really anyone can be a member – we have Broadway professionals, theater student and theater fans, anyone who commits to being a little bit greener every day. One thing we ask our theatrical members to do is to be in touch, let us know what they are doing and ask questions. We have a website, BroadwayGreen.com, with a lot of resources that we want to be available to everyone. We have also worked with the Natural Resources Defense Council and have created the Broadway Greening Advisor, a kind of soup-to-nuts list of links and resources and ideas for greening audience engagement, venue operations, and building sets. We hope to have everyone along on our journey.

Alliance: Are there any shows that you’ve done special partnerships with?

RS: We have a guitar string bracelet program where some shows will collect used guitar strings from pit musicians. There is a non-profit called ‘Wear Your Music’ that will turn them into bracelets. ‘The Cinderella Project’ was a project that helped send used and donated formal wear to a group upstate that assisted  students who couldn’t afford to buy prom dresses. The dresses were special and included tags that said things like ‘I wore this dress to the Tony Awards.” 

Alliance: Are there any accomplishments or milestones you are particularly proud of?

I’m always happy when we have a green captain at every show. That’s a little hard right now, as there have been many shows opening these last few weeks. For me personally, I realized that the first time I worked on a green event was Earth Day 1990, so I've now been working in environmental organizing for 25 years on and off. 
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To volunteer or to learn about the Broadway Green Alliance, please visit them at BroadwayGreen.com. Connect with them on twitter by following @BroadwayGreen.

Also visit http://broadwaygreeningadvisor.org/ to learn more about the NRDC Theatre Greening Advisor, which is a guide to help theatres across the country implement eco-intelligent practices.

#Broadway   #TimesSquare   #newyork   #environmental   #green  
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