- Posted on December 1st, 2022
Behind the scenes and onstage: sustainable practices with Boundless Theatre
In 2021/2022, Boundless Theatre made a commitment to implement a series of changes at governance, staffing and artistic programming levels to ensure that environmental responsibility is embedded within our future thinking and business planning.
Who is Boundless?
Boundless Theatre is a charity, which has been producing work on stage since 2001. It strives to push the boundaries of work for young people. In prioritising work for future audiences we have always considered environmental sustainability of the upmost importance in our working practices.
The company is a small employer, with an average of 6 core staff members. It runs a London-based office with a mixture of hybrid and in-person working and delivers projects in the local area, and across the UK and Europe. It aims to produce 1-2 productions per year and reaches approx. 2500 audiences annually.
Boundless have implemented environmental sustainability policies for several years with a focus on our office consumption, travel and goods and services procurement.
Artistic Programming – How To Save The Planet When You’re A Young Carer
Written by award-winning Nessah Muthy and directed by Stef O’Driscoll How To Save The Planet When You’re A Young Carer and Broke peeks into the life of a young working-class carer having to make decisions between life-saving responsibilities at home and being dedicated to save the planet in times of climate emergency.
HTSTP responded directly to conversations and provocations from Boundless’ Advisory Group and community of 15–25-year-olds who were demanding urgent responses to the climate emergency. Not only was the work directly about this, but Boundless wanted to create a mobile, adaptable, and sustainably made production that could be toured into the heart of communities across London, in partnership with schools, young carers groups, climate activists and community groups. We also hosted a series of talks for local community groups to hear from campaigners to educate and advocate.
Some responses to the piece were:
- ABSORBING & HELD MY ATTENTION – 86%
- WELL THOUGHT THROUGH – 88%
- IT WAS DIFFERENT – 86%
- IT WAS RELEVANT – 76%
- IT WAS ENJOYABLE – 87%
“It really opened my mindset to some of the little things I can do to make the world a better place and it made me aware also of how people are sometimes really struggling and you should never judge a book by its cover. Overall it was eye opening and I’m so glad it saw it! Thank you”
“Loved how immersive it was and especially loved the music. Brilliant lyrics – unexpected, funny, moving and thought-provoking in equal measure. Would love an album of the songs!”
“I loved it and thought it was one of the best theatrical performances I have ever seen.”
The main learning that we will take forward from this project is the benefit of bespoke sustainability planning within our artistic programme. The production had its own sustainability policy, building upon Boundless’ own policy but tailored to ensure maximum reduction of impact for a touring piece of theatre. We are unlikely to create another piece that focuses so directly on climate action, but the policies and procedures implemented have had an effect across the organisation, extending to workforce and governance.
Workforce and Governance
Boundless committed to ensuring expanding our expertise at Board Level and in 2021/2022 we appointed Climate Activist Daze Aghaji to the Board of Trustees. This brought invaluable insight and expertise at governance level.
It became clear that to effectively deliver on our commitments that the entire Boundless team needed to be upskilled and responsible for environmental responsibility within the organisation. We implemented an ‘Sustainability Representative’ within each project. This person was a Boundless team member, not leading on this project, whose responsibility is to ensure that the project or production is adhering to our environmental policy. We begin each project by creating a bespoke sustainability plan that is agreed to by the wider team, referred to throughout the project and evaluated at the end. This has proved successful across larger projects, and we will continue this working practice.
We have also implemented a ‘Climate Levy’ of 2% to all production budgets, a figure which we reserve to donate towards a charity with a climate focus or to utilise to ensure further sustainability on the production.
To conclude, the delivery of HTSAP reinforced the importance of bespoke sustainability planning for projects and the need to ensure that knowledge and responsibility is embedded across the workforce. We have developed the above into a robust, ever-growing environmental responsibility policy for 22/23 and beyond.