New York's Great White Way Goes Green

Thursday, Jan 7, 2010  |  Updated 5:18 PM CDT
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New York's Great White Way Goes Green

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NEW YORK, New York, December 1, 2008 (ENS) - The millions of lights on theater marquees and billboard advertisements that illuminate The Great White Way are being replaced by energy-saving bulbs under the new Broadway Goes Green initiative.

With song and dance by green characters now playing in Broadway shows, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and members of the Broadway community last week announced a commitment to create a more environmentally responsible Broadway with a reduced carbon footprint.

"Nearly a quarter of Broadway theaters have already switched the theatres' marquee lights to more energy-efficient bulbs - and the remaining theatres have pledged to do so within the next 12 months," said Mayor Bloomberg at the launch event on the stage of the Eugene O'Neill Theatre.

"By this time next year, the lights on Broadway will burn just as bright, but the energy bills and our city's carbon output will be lower," the mayor said. "This commitment will raise the level of awareness for everyone involved in these shows - including the audiences - and that's going to have an impact that reverberates far beyond the Big Apple."

Ten Broadway theatres have replaced over 10,000 exterior and interior bulbs and an additional 14 conversions are underway. The rest of the theaters have pledged to do the same within the next 12 months. Steps like these will help to reduce the load on the taxed electrical grid in Midtown Manhattan.

"Broadway reaches a huge audience, so in addition to Broadway doing our part to help the Earth, we hope to encourage theatergoers to take personal action to make meaningful changes in their daily lives," said The Broadway League Chair Nina Lannan.

In cooperation with the Mayor's Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability and the Natural Resources Defense Council, producers, theatre owners, actors, organized labor, and companies supporting productions will now consider environmental impacts when putting on Broadway shows.

Production shops are offering environmentally preferable materials and are developing plans to recycle or reuse scenery, costumes are being washed in cold water whenever feasible, and re-chargeable batteries are used in sound equipment whenever possible.

"This initiative and this commitment brings together the entire Broadway community,” said Charlotte St. Martin, executive director of The Broadway League. “We've established three committees and they have begun practice and the adoption of better practices as the first step of an ongoing process in making Broadway greener. More task forces will be developed as more people get involved."

Touring shows are offsetting the carbon emissions from transporting their equipment through investments in new renewable energy projects.

"I'd always believed that the environmental movement didn't require my attention and was being handled by professionals and activists, until I saw 'An Inconvenient Truth,'" said David Stone, producer of the show Wicked.

"I decided that night to challenge all of the companies of Wicked across North America to take a stand to protect our planet. I urge every show, theatre, union and vendor to support Broadway's commitment to this very important plan to reduce individual consumption as well as the industry's collective carbon footprint."

Playbill Magazine is working with NRDC to enhance their environmental practices, which already include the use of water-soluble ink, and will be supporting the initiative by periodically reporting on the Broadway Goes Green efforts and regularly printing theatre related eco-tips in Playbills throughout the year.

"As Broadway shifts its theatre productions toward environmentally preferable operations its influence and leadership will reverberate throughout the entertainment world," said Dr. Allen Hershkowitz, senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

"Broadway's unique global visibility and unparalleled cultural influence offers a rare opportunity to move the marketplace towards environmentally intelligent products and, at the same time, help theaters save money and inspire their patrons. Bravo to Broadway for its leadership on this critical issue."

Broadway shows sold 12.27 million tickets in the 2007-2008 season, grossing $937.5 million. Broadway contributes $5.1 billion to the economy of New York City on top of ticket sales and supports 44,000 local jobs.

Broadway Goes Green is part of a series of challenges the Bloomberg administration has presented to institutions to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and adopt more sustainable practices to help achieve the PlaNYC goal of reducing the city's carbon footprint 30 percent by 2030.

"There's no question that New York owes much of its greatness to Broadway," said the mayor. "These stages fuel dreams … they fuel our city's economy by attracting tourists from far and wide … and they also fuel a spirit of civic pride and social activism that dates all the way back to the early 1900s, when performers put on shows to support the soldiers in World War I. Today, Broadway producers, theater owners, and performers are joining another historic fight: to keep our city and our planet healthy."

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.

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