Shona McCullagh’s Soap Box: Is this sustainable?

The NZ Dance Company CEO and artistic director Shona McCullagh
NZ Dance Company - photo by Caroline Bindon
Something’s bothering The NZ Dance Company CEO and artistic director Shona McCullagh.

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The Big Idea today is launching its new series SOAPBOX.  We want to hear the voices that challenge.

This week, something is bothering The NZ Dance Company co-founder and artistic director Shona McCullagh.

I’ve recently returned from Portugal where I attended a plenary run by the theatre makers network IETM, and I’ve been thinking about arts sector thought leadership, provocation, argument and debate.

One session, on greening the arts, stirred something that has been bothering me for a while—the carbon footprint the arts sector makes, and in particular touring companies like ours who have to fly to get to all our international dates.

One session, on greening the arts, stirred something that has been bothering me for a while—the carbon footprint the arts sector makes, and in particular touring companies like ours who have to fly to get to all our international dates.

Whilst at present there is little we can do about our flight travel internationally until electric planes become a commercial reality, I know we can be doing more domestically. The New Zealand Dance Company team gets sick of me bleating on about paper usage but it really is a great way we can all reduce our footprint. What is absolutely essential to print and what would only be handled once and then discarded?

Recycling set materials is another idea that was revitalised for me.  

Five years ago Arts Council England put a measuring system in place that all funded projects and companies have to report on. Genius idea! (apart from the extra workload, but hell, the planet is worth it….)

Genius idea! (apart from the extra workload, but hell, the planet is worth it….)

An organisation called Julie’s Bicycle is a London based charity that supports the creative community to act on climate change and environmental sustainability. They, and now I, believe that the creative community is uniquely placed to transform the conversation around climate change and translate it into action.  Worth a look if you want inspiration to champion the cause.

Julie’s Bicycle “provide the creative community with the skills to act, using their creativity to influence one another, audiences and the wider movement” and supports the Paris Agreement’s goal to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by focusing on energy, the major source of carbon emissions for the cultural sector.

More than 2,000 companies use the raft of resources they provide that enable creative companies to embed environmental sustainability into their operations, creative work and business practice.

Julie’s Bicycle has identified seven creative climate trends – activism, organisational leadership, design and leadership, pathfinding, collaboration, policy changing and or course, art work.

Let’s encourage more action on collective sector action on this vital issue.

If you want to check out the website put together by the organising group for the plenary here is the link.   IETM’s website is a veritable goldmine of fantastic resources and you don't have to be a member to get the gold.  

Shona McCullagh is an outstanding cross-platform artist, an innovative choreographer for dance,theatre and film and also a director, dance filmmaker, teacher and interactive installationartist. She is co-founder and artistic director of The New Zealand Dance Company.

The NZ Dance Company’s acclaimed dance work LUMINA continues its NZ tour:

May 10: Christchurch, Isaac Theatre Royal

May 14: Nelson, Theatre Royal

May 23:  Auckland, Bruce Mason Centre

Book: nzdc.org.nz/lumina201

Written by

Shona McCullagh

9 May 2018

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