CELEBRATING EARTH DAY

Today is Earth Day! We wanted to mark this day by sharing our sustainability mission and goals.  

Earth Day is an annual event which marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970, to demonstrate support for environmental protection.  

Sadler’s Wells takes part in Earth Day and Earth Hour yearly and is as an important part of our commitment to work towards a greener future.  

Earth Hour is a symbolic lights out event organised by WWF, uniting individuals, schools, businesses, landmarks and public building across the globe, to focus attention on protecting the planet. 

Each year, we switch off all external lights, including architectural lighting of the building and signage, between 8:30 pm and 9:30 pm. Joining Earth Hour is one of many initiatives undertaken by Sadler’s Wells in a drive to increase the sustainability of the building and its operations. We are committed to reducing our energy demand, CO2 emissions and waste consumption across all departments.  

This is How You Will Disappear by Gisele Vienne stage set; putting nature centre stage. © Lucy Colomb.

Sustainability at Sadler’s Wells 

Sadler’s Wells stages dance productions in the UK and around the world, and we acknowledge our responsibility as a cultural leader in the arts. We proactively address the challenges set by our activities and have a targeted action plan that frames all aspects of our work. 

Our sustainability policy aims are to continue to improve current environmental performance by reducing the impact of our activities on the environment, as well as educating and increasing environmental awareness amongst colleagues and audiences to promote sustainability. 

Q&A with Sadler’s Wells Director of Visitor Experience & leader of the Green Team

We spoke to Howard Clark; Director of Visitor Experience & leader of the Green Team on all the ways in which Sadler’s Wells is acting sustainably and why it’s so important:  

Why is sustainability important to Sadler’s Wells? 

Howard: As a cultural leader in the arts, we have a responsibility to be as sustainable as possible and to support the awareness of climate change in the sector. We have an environmental policy which is supported by an action plan and set against KPIs, and we review this annually. We are constantly making improvements across the organisation.  

Why does Sadler’s Wells celebrate Earth Day? 

Howard: We play a major part within an international community and recognise the need for global change. There has a been a great shift in the last few years on more awareness of climate change and we need to demonstrate how we are making improvements, especially as we have a new venue opening in 2023. There will be more impact on our environmental footprint, so we realise we need to strive to keep this footprint as low as possible. Earth Day is a moment for us to demonstrate our commitments and to raise awareness on a wider scale.  

What are some of the ways Sadler’s Wells is being sustainable?  

Howard: We commit to environmental practice every day. We have made changes to certain sustainability elements of the organisation, for example, reducing the use of single use plastics and we use recyclable materials in print programmes. Also, when you come to Sadler’s Wells, if you use our toilets, then we use the borehole underneath Sadler’s Wells to supply our water to these and support our temperature control. We have a procurement policy which supports our purchasing processes and sourcing strategies, and we aim to work with companies and organisations that follow good environmental practices.  

What is Sadler’s Wells’ long-term sustainability goal?  

Howard: Ultimately, we would like to be a net zero organisation, but we recognise this is a journey. It all comes down to the improvements we make for the long-term. By educating colleagues, visitors and artists, we allow this journey to be bigger than just the organisation and we truly believe this is the way we can reach our long-term goals. We have made great sustainable changes already, but we need to keep moving forward and thinking about the next steps.  

What are you most proud of in this journey? 

Howard: The strides we’ve made, especially since the pandemic. We have been forward thinking about the organisation, as well as the community and this is something to be proud of. We have been awarded for our work, for example, our five-star Creative Green rating for environmental best practice and we have made long-term connections in the industry, with organisations who are on the same journey. Together we can all make a change.  

Ways We Are Acting Sustainably 

We’re working towards net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and have a commitment in place to keep us focused. Our dedicated Green Team make sure we keep improving and they are always looking for more ways we can reduce our impact on the environment. 

Our theatres 

  • We use plastic reusable cups in our bars instead of single-use plastic and encourage performers to use water fountains backstage rather than providing bottled water 
  • All our packaging is biodegradable, and plant based 
  • We use the borehole underneath Sadler’s Wells to supply our sinks, toilets, and temperature control 
  • We use LED lights throughout our foyer spaces, the theatre auditorium, and backstage areas 
  • We use renewable sources to generate 100% of our electricity 
  • Our solar panels produce an average of around 17,000 kilowatt hours per year – enough to power two family homes for a year 

Our activities 

  • We take part in the Earth Hour campaign every year, by switching off our external lights  
  • We’ve developed Green Riders for visiting companies and our touring productions 
  • We’re part of the Spotlight Programme – 29 cultural institutions working across England to drive down the environmental impacts of our activities 
  • We reduce the amount of paper we use with a paperless invoicing system 

A few things we’re proud of 

  • Being part of the UK’s commitment to the Paris Agreement 
  • Our five-star Creative Green rating for environmental best practice 
  • Being a member of the Islington Sustainable Energy Partnership 
  • Our 5/5 rating in the Creative Green certification by Julie’s Bicycle 
Sadler’s Wells Reusable Cup.

Colleague Sunflower Campaign

Our Green Team invited colleagues to take part in the Sadler’s Wells Sunflower Challenge throughout April and grow a sunflower to mark Earth Day. We wanted to raise more awareness on environmental matters among colleagues and chose a sunflower growing competition, that is fun and sets some challenges amongst our teams. The centre of a sunflower is made of lots of little flowers and the seeds can be harvested and eaten after the sunflower has grown. The sunflower is also the national flower of Ukraine, where we share our support. The competition winner for the tallest sunflower wins gardening vouchers! 

The campaign has been a great initiative and colleagues have been able to get involved in Earth Day by planting their own sunflowers. Some colleagues have enjoyed getting their children involved in watering and looking after the flower too, so it has allowed the awareness to go beyond just colleagues and Sadler’s Wells Theatre’s, but into their homes too! 

Shama Rowland’s Sunflower. 

Arts Council England Report 

Arts Council England remains committed to delivering on Environmental Responsibility, as set out in its 10-year strategy, Let’s Create. Sadler’s Wells is proud to be a contributor to this year’s Arts Council England Environmental Responsibility annual report, in partnership with Julie’s Bicycle. This report marks 10 years of collaboration between Arts Council England and Julie’s Bicycles, within the arts & culture sector.  

The latest annual report shows how arts & culture organisations continued to innovate, to reduce environmental impact, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.   

Arts Council England continues to support organisations whilst navigating out of the pandemic, towards a ‘green’ recovery and to ensure a sustainable future for the creative sector. 

Arts Council England and Julie’s Bicycle: What can culture do to meet the climate challenge?

As a cultural organisation, we embrace the role we play in the conversation around climate change and are fully aligned with the UK’s commitment to the Paris Agreement. We will continue to work on our sustainability mission and be an advocate for sustainable creative organisations.