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March 2012 marked the second Green celebration period for the OAE. Following the success of Green week in February 2011, this time we expanded to a month. The self-elected office green team decided to focus on 3 strands of activity for the month; firstly we would look at our concert and touring activity in March, secondly we would focus on raising awareness amongst our colleagues, and thirdly all those green ideas we had been wanting to try out but hadn’t gotten round to in our busy schedules, would be prioritised on our to-do lists. Here’s a brief summary of what we got up to in Green Month:
Concert and touring activity
UK tour with Laurence Cummings
Following a couple of concerts in London in early March, our project with Laurence Cummings visited the Wiltshire Music Centre on 9 March and then Birmingham Town Hall on the 10th. In order to reduce our travel carbon footprint, we organised group train travel for the Orchestra. Since Wiltshire-Birmingham is not a journey you can do by train, a minibus was organised for the middle leg. If we hadn’t offered this then our players would have had no other choice than to drive themselves the entire tour. In the past this would have been something we would have just let be, but we are now making sure we look ahead at the schedule and allocate time to coordinate these extra initiatives in our busy admin to-do lists! It is definitely more work to organise green travel. Amazingly on this occasion the finances worked in our favour and were comparable to letting the players make their own arrangements.
Anthem for a Child, UK Schools Concert tour
The entire tour was a model for how sustainable touring schedule within the UK should be planned. The locations of the venues we visited were plotted in a logical order around the country, to ensure the least amount of travelling between venues. All too often our touring schedules are at the mercy of where promoters want us and when – for example we could be one day in Bristol, then Edinburgh, then Plymouth, before hurtling back to London via Paris… On this occasion OAE had the opportunity to work with the venues we visited to plot in a sensible way – travelling SW to N from Plymouth, Totnes, Wiltshire, Southampton, Hastings, London, Bury St Edmunds, Chesterfield and ending in York. It was the most efficient way of plotting nearly 1300 miles of driving. Since each day of the tour started with workshops in up to 5 different locations, organising group transport for the tour wasn’t possible so car-pooling was organised. On a tour with 25 people, a total of 8-10 cars across the tour were used at any one time. That included transporting all luggage, orchestral instruments including 2 harpsichords, all of the music, stands, banners and workshop material. 4 of the players on the tour, undertook an even greener travel option by sharing riding a tandem bike from Plymouth to York! This crazy initiative was part of a wider fundraising initiative ‘Musicians Miles’ as all members of the Orchestra and office have been getting active to raise money for this project. The target – 5000 miles between us. Some staff have been walking & cycling in London instead of using petrol guzzling transport – which all helps!
The office green contract for 2012 was signed off by every staff remember and is now firmly up on the wall! The green team have in addition been policing the office computers, plug sockets and recycling bins – keeping everyone on their toes!
Low Carbon bake sale
In mid-March we held a low-carbon bake sale in the office to coincide with National Climate Week. You can read more about our sale here. We made a total of £50 which we will use to plant a tree to offset our carbon emissions whilst touring this month.
Finally for a bit of fun at the end of the month, the office team had a swap shop event. Any unwanted items from home were brought in and swapped around: books, CDs, make-up, clothes, bags you name it – who needs to go shopping?? All left-over items were taken to a local charity shop.
New Initiatives & ideas
We are very excited to be selling ‘Green OAE’ branded coffee travel mugs, which are available online from our OAE Shop for just £3.50. Alternatively you can ring the office on 020 7239 9370 to place your order!
We will also be selling these to OAE players and staff members- the intention is for players to bring these to rehearsals when we would otherwise need to provide *shudders* polystyrene cups, or for them to use at local retailers instead of cardboard cups. I personally am looking forward to filling mine with tea for my journey to work!
We’ve spent March working on an audience questionnaire which looks into the way our audiences move (and consider moving) to get to our concerts. If you would be able to give 5 minutes of your time to fill in the questionnaire online here before 30 April, we’ll enter you into a prize draw to win tickets to our 30 September Southbank Centre concert.
We’ve also been working on a player’s questionnaire, which looks into how and why players make their decisions about how they plan their daily travel to rehearsals and concerts. Is everyone as green aware as they could be? What next? The green team are firmly on the case, and will be looking at a repeat awareness project for later this or early next year.
Ceri Jones, Projects Director