Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wrapup from Mo`olelo

The Round 1 A-ha! projects are coming to a close - today, Seema Sueko from Mo`olelo Performing Arts Company reflects on their recently-completed A-ha! project. Read it... then download the green guidelines and score your theatre!

Farewell Think it, Do it
From Seema Sueko, Artistic Director of Mo`olelo Performing Arts Company

The Think it, Do it experience has been an incredible one for Mo`olelo, culminating in December 2009 with the completion of The Green Theater Choices Toolkit. This 24-page reference guide that rates the environmental impact of materials used in theater production can be downloaded from our website here:

After our last Think it, Do it blog post in August 2009, we received some terrific and detailed feedback on the initial design of the Toolkit and decided to replace the + and – ratings with narrative information on the pros and cons of each material. No product is 100% good nor 100% bad (ok some are 100% bad) for the environment, and so we realized that the narrative information could be helpful to designers and producers as they make their design choices.

Our hope is that this Toolkit can be used not only to help theater practitioners select better materials for their work, but also by manufacturers and vendors to see the development opportunity that lies before them for environmentally friendlier products. Ideally, as more theaters demand better products, manufacturers will create them and our demand will drive down the costs.

Mo`olelo rated our own 2009 productions against the Toolkit and learned that we still have tremendous work to do to make our productions more environmentally friendly. We discovered that we had achieved a "4" top rating in areas of Audience Interface (marketing and printed materials), Metals (reused), and Ceramics (reused); a "3" on paints (low VOC); a "2" on woods (MDO); and a "1" on Textile Treatments (rit dye). As we work on our 2010 productions, we will use the scorecard to make stronger production choices.

Mo`olelo's participation in the Think it, Do it program brought with it many unexpected opportunities, including participating in the CUNY panel on Theater and the Environment in April 2009, the LDI Green Day Conference in November 2009, and the TCG Fall Forum "Green Opportunity" Breakout Session in November 2009. At this last Forum, we learned from Charlie Deull, Co-Chair of Broadway Goes Green, that Mo`olelo's greening work which began in 2007 served as a valuable blueprint for BGA as they launched their efforts to green Broadway. In addition, they have posted Mo`olelo's Green Theater Choices Toolkit on their website and have heard from others in the field that they are using it, too.

There were a number of individuals and organizations who contributed their talents to the development of the Toolkit. Brown & Wilmanns Environmental, LLC created the green choices methodology and conducted the in-depth research on the materials. Scenic Designer David F, Weiner, Costume Designer Jeannie Galioto, and Lighting Designer Jason Bieber contributed their knowledge in their respective fields. Bob Usdin of Showman Fabricators provided helpful feedback throughout the process. And most importantly, this project truly would never have been completed without the funding support from MetLife and TCG. Mo`olelo had applied to a couple local funders in San Diego, however they had difficulty supporting a proposal that stood outside of the traditional funding boxes of "arts" or "environment." The A-ha! Program embraced the opportunity.

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