Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Arts meet Sustainability

Contributed by By FABnyc

FABnyc (Fourth Arts Block) is the nonprofit leadership organization for the Lower East Side, headquartered in the East 4th Street Cultural District—a historic and vibrant arts cluster in Manhattan between Second Avenue and Bowery. As part of this leadership role, FABnyc is heading up an interconnected effort to match existing energy, waste and water reduction programs to arts groups, residents, and small businesses in the Cultural District. As an arts organization, we are trying to bring more creativity to connect our community to sustainable practices.

For example… In 2010, FABnyc noticed that local theaters were “loading out” sets and materials directly into dumpsters after productions ended their runs. Not only were the materials being disposed of inefficiently and unsustainably, but this “junk” was often of great value to other artists in need of materials. As a creative response, FABnyc initiated “Load OUT!,” a biannual event in which local arts and cultural groups, non-profits, and community members donate sets, costumes, props and office equipment they no longer need to a collection site. On the day of “Load OUT!” local artists and the general public are invited to take away any materials they find at the site for creative use in new projects! Hundreds of artists and residents have benefited, either through collecting the lightly used materials, or by donating items they no longer need or want. The program continues to grow, now including textile and e-waste collection for the entire community.

At the most recent Load OUT! event in March 2012, local arts groups such as La MaMa E.T.C., New York Theater Workshop, and Millennium Film Workshop donated incredible materials to the “Load OUT!” site. With the help of our sustainability partners, FABnyc was able to divert over 6 tons from the waste stream, including more than 1 ton of e-waste and almost 1 ton of textiles. This is the largest single diversion we have accomplished to date.

We have completed energy and lighting assessments for many of the theaters on our block, and we plan on developing a program to better inform local theaters about the benefits of efficient waste disposal and energy use practices. We have also worked with White Roof Project to cover 30,000 square feet of roof with white reflective coating to reduce the heat island effect; in June, La MaMa’s Ellen Stewart Theater building will be coated as well. Through these efforts, we are creating a tighter-knit community that is able to collaborate and collectively solve our environmental problems. For now, you can get involved now by saving all your “junk” for the next Load OUT! event, and be sure to stay tuned for more tips and tools from us that will help make our city more sustainable!

Click here to learn more about our Sustainability Program.

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