Through its partnership with the Wolfson Foundation, Theatres Trust is awarding grants totalling c.£124,000 to seven theatres across the UK for vital environmental sustainability projects, as theatres around the country respond to the climate crisis and seek to make sustainable improvements to their buildings.
There was an unprecedented level of demand for the Theatre Improvement Scheme, with Theatres Trust, the national advisory body for theatres, receiving more applications for this round than for any other funding programme it has run.
Among the successful projects is Grade II* listed Leeds Grand Theatre, where calculations have shown that changing the taps, toilet flushes and shower valves will result in significant water savings of up to 50%.
New Diorama Theatre in London will receive funding for a small but significant project that reflects its ethos as a collaborative space supporting artists and companies at the start of their careers. LED stage lighting will offer designers the opportunity to develop their skills with state-of-the-art equipment, while newly created storage and workshop spaces, built with up to 90% re-homed wood and fittings, will enable materials to be shared and re-used more effectively, while introducing best practice of reusing materials to the next theatre-making generation.
Solar panels and energy-efficient lighting continue to be popular projects with theatres recognising the impact these measures have on improving their sustainability. A green audit of the Cast building identified a number of energy-saving projects, including the installation of solar panels and battery storage. This grant will fund the first phase of this project, installing an initial array of solar panels, with the array being expanded and batteries installed in the future as funding allows. This investment will reduce Cast’s energy from the grid by around 6.5% with some selling back of energy created.
The Garage, a performing arts hub for young people in Norwich, is receiving funding towards a project to install solar panels and LEDs, which will reduce the venue’s lighting energy use up to 80% and save money over time. Lighting will also be updated to energy-efficient LEDs at the Old Fire Station in Oxford and at the Tyne Theatre & Opera House in Newcastle upon Tyne, where the improvements are expected to save 41,000 tonnes of carbon a year. An Lanntair in Stornoway is one of the largest arts developments in the Highlands and Islands, and will install a solar PV system and battery on the roof, with the aim of being able to make shows from 100% renewables in the next two to three years. Cast in Doncaster is being funded for the first phase of its solar energy and battery storage project, which will allow the theatre to reduce their grid usage by 6.5%.
Jon Morgan, Director at Theatres Trust says “We are delighted to support seven more theatres in their bids to be more sustainable, with the projects funded demonstrating the range of ways that theatres can make a difference. The fact that we received a record number of applications shows the urgent need for funding for sustainability improvements, and we are grateful to the Wolfson Foundation for its ongoing support.”
Deborah Rees, Director at Cast said:
“Cast is committed to minimising the impact that our activities have on our environment, and this generous grant from the Theatres Trust and Wolfson Foundation will support us in this. Furthermore, the introduction of solar panels to reduce our overall energy costs is a vital lifeline and will support us in our mission to make Cast more sustainable for audiences now and in the future in our landmark 10th anniversary year.”
A spokeperson at the Theatres Trust said:
“There is a real appetite amongst theatres to make environmental improvements to their buildings and Theatres Trust is delighted to be able to support Cast with the first phase of its sustainability project to use renewable power.”
These awards are made in partnership with the Wolfson Foundation, which renewed its funding for the Theatre Improvement Scheme in 2021 for a further three years. The next round of the Theatre Improvement Scheme is now open for applications, with £120,000 to be awarded in grants of up to £20,000 for projects to improve theatres’ sustainability. The deadline for applications is 5 September 2023. Further details on the scheme can be found at: theatrestrust.org.uk/how-we-help/grants-funding/theatre-improvement-scheme
Photography by Ben Harrison