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In Conversation with Julian Dibley-Hall


"All areas of our society need to be engaging with the climate emergency and that theatre not only has a capacity to tell stories and share ideas that might help us navigate this existential challenge, but has a responsibility to lead by example and engage practically with improving the sustainability of our artform." We chat with Sustainable Theatres Australia's co-founder and committee member Julian Dibley-Hall about the upcoming forum. Q: What prompted the formation of Sustainable Theatres Australia? A: Sustainable Theatres Australia was formed in response to the climate emergency that we are all living in. Clemmie Williams was responsible for bringing us together, a desire that sprang from long-term conversations they’d been having about the resource-heavy nature of theatre-making and what could be done about this. In the early days of the Covid-19 lockdowns, Clemmie reached out to a number of their close colleagues, collaborators and friends in the theatre community and proposed forming a group to generate action and conversation about environmental sustainability in Australian theatres. With theatres shut down across the country, we took the opportunity to pour time and effort into creating the group - setting its goals, ethics, ambitions and ethos. We’re all volunteers, we have varying degrees of knowledge and skills around the climate emergency, but we’re united in our conviction that all areas of our society need to be engaging with the climate emergency and that theatre not only has a capacity to tell stories and share ideas that might help us navigate this existential challenge, but has a responsibility to lead by example and engage practically with improving the sustainability of our artform. Q: What is your role within the collective? A: I’m one of the co-founders, and a current committee member. Q: What are some positive impacts you have seen Sustainable Theatres Australia have on the performing arts industry recently? A: STA’s biggest contribution to date is stimulating conversation and practical consideration amongst theatre artists about how to integrate sustainable practices more deeply into their practice. Our resource kit - Green Guides - distils a huge amount of information and ideas into simple, digestible suggestions, thoughts and practical approaches which can be incorporated into making theatre. Inviting artists to start considering sustainability as a starting point for their practice rather than being not possible financially, an additional logistical difficulty, or something to be retrofitted at the end of a process is a wonderful starting point for sector-wide change. Q: What can arts practitioners and theatre managers expect from the upcoming STA forum? A: The forum is going to be an informal, passionate space for sharing thoughts and ideas. It will be informative, engaging and practical. It is an event designed to get people thinking differently and deeply about sustainability in theatre and also to give people some tools to get them started on their own sustainability journey. Our panel discussion features some of the leading thinkers and artists in sustainable and ecological practice from Melbourne. These remarkable artists consider and engage with sustainability as a core aspect of their practice and the chance to hear them share their thoughts and skills in the same room will be a truly special opportunity. It will be illuminating and inspiring. We will also walk participants through our Green Guides so that everyone can leave with some tools to start applying in their own practice. Finally, for people who choose to stay into the afternoon (this is entirely optional) there will be a practical workshop after lunch where STA committee members will be present to help participants apply Green Guide and sustainability principles to their own projects and ideas. Q: What is the biggest misunderstanding or misconception artists have about environmentally sustainable practices within the theatre industry? A: That improving the sustainability of your practice is hard or expensive. My first, and main, piece of advice to theatre makers is to consider sustainability from the beginning of your project and implement simple systems to help yourself achieve your goals. Planning for sustainability from the beginning of a project can save you money, helps to direct your creative decision-making processes, and helps engage the whole team in considering ways to be more sustainable. And most importantly it feels good for you, your community and the world. Q: What is one thing all theatre practitioners can do to reduce their carbon footprint when creating work? A: Use public transport and encourage their audiences to use public transport. In numerous studies the carbon generated from transport is by far the largest contributor to the overall carbon footprint of any theatre show. Encourage your cast and creatives to use low carbon transport where possible, a great way to do this is to keep a transport log that records how far people have travelled to get to rehearsal or a show and by what method. This information both keeps transport choices at front of mind for your team, and can be used at the end of a project to purchase carbon off-sets. If your venue is open to it, see if they’ll offer discounts or incentives to their audiences to use low carbon transport options. Some venues already offer “green tix” and many others are open to the discussion if you approach it early and respectfully. SUSTAINABLE THEATRES AUSTRALIA FORUM 20 May | Explosives Factory Free Registration BOOK NOW

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