Theaters and the artistic world are turning towards more sustainable practices

From the pilot project of the Teatro Massimo in Cagliari to the association that wants to decarbonise the art world, let's take stock of the situation

sustainable theatre: Teatro Massimo in Cagliari
The hall of the Teatro Massimo in Cagliari, a major cultural hub in the city which, every year, produces hundreds of shows including plays and concerts
(Photo: Sara Deidda/Teatro Massimo)

La sustainability makes his entrance to ,, and not in the form of plots and performances, but from a structural point of view. The art of theater is in fact aenergy-intensive enterprise also because of the rather dated buildings in which it takes place.

La energy transition, therefore, cannot and must not ignore the artistic sector, which today aims to become greener from the point of view of energy consumption and beyond. The key word here is efficiency.

And in Italy there is no shortage of proposals, especially in the light of the interventions envisaged by the PNRR, the Recovery and Resilience Plan which allocates 200 million euros for cinema and theatre. Trailblazer is the Teatro Massimo of Cagliari, now a pilot project for the whole country.

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A photovoltaic system is an electrical system consisting essentially of the assembly of several photovoltaic modules that exploit solar energy to produce electricity through the photovoltaic effect, of the necessary electrical (cables) and electronic (inverter) components and possibly of mechanical systems- automatic solar tracking
A photovoltaic system is an electrical system consisting essentially of the assembly of several photovoltaic modules that exploit solar energy to produce electricity through the photovoltaic effect, of the necessary electrical (cables) and electronic (inverter) components and possibly of mechanical systems- automatic solar tracking

The energy transition passes through cinemas and theatres

When you sit comfortably in the stalls to watch a show, you think little about it. Nevertheless even the theater consumes energy: for lights, for stage mechanisms, for heating and cooling systems.

Lenergy efficiency, in short, it is necessary and Italy does not think twice. The trailblazer is Sardinia where, in Cagliari, work is being organized to make the Teatro Massimo less impactful.

The project plans to reduce at least 40% of the electricity consumption and 50% of the environmental impact of the structure as a whole.

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Teatro Massimo of Cagliari
The staging for a musical show at the Teatro Massimo in Cagliari, the jazz hub in the city and throughout Sardinia (Photo: Sara Deidda/Teatro Massimo)

The punctual comment of the commissioner to the show

The comment of Maria Dolores Picciau, councilor for culture and entertainment of the municipality of Cagliari was not long in coming: "This is a wonderful result for our city, destined to become more and more green over the years, and for the inclusive policy of this administration which, also in this case, has successfully focused on the partnership between the public and private sectors".

And the results were not long in coming, also in relation to the European panorama. Suffice it to say that the Sardinian city placed second for the title of "European Green Capital 2024", the prize that is awarded annually by the European Commission to the city that has worked the most in carrying out environmental protection works, developing an economic model as sustainable as possible.

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Aerial view of Cagliari, seat of the Teatro Massimo
An aerial view of the city of Cagliari which, in the running to become European Green Capital for 2023, finished second, just after Valencia which instead acquired the prestigious title (Photo: SeanPavonePhoto/iStock)

In Sardinia the pilot project dedicated to theatres

Il Teatro Massimo of Cagliari has been the subject of a technical-economic examination to evaluate the feasibility of the renovation project: obtained the permission from the Ministry of Culture, more than 353 thousand euros have been allocated to its efficiency, or 80 percent of the capital necessary to carry out the restructuring.

The remaining 20 percent will instead be paid by the Sardinian municipality. The technical-economic examination, in particular, was carried out through the energy analysis of the building (necessary for any building work aimed at efficiency improvement) and the design of systems which will exploit the renewable energy to cover the needs of the building.

And then green light to a photovoltaic system equipped with a storage system, replacement of heat pumps and a complete overhaul of the lighting system of the theater.

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La Scala Theater in Milan
Sustainability has also passed to the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, where each bulb of the large chandelier in the hall has been replaced with a low-consumption equivalent (Photo: Fabiomichelecapelli/iStock)

The theater knocks, and the art world answers…

But in the artistic sector it is not only the theatrical universe that is moving towards a greener future.

In fact, there are many art practitioners as a whole who joined the Gallery Climate Coalition, an international non-profit network that aims to achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement also in the arts sector.

The purpose of the coalition is to sensitize sector operators to work to reduce polluting and climate-changing emissions by 50 percent by 2030. Anyone who works in this area can become a member of the Gallery Climate Coalition, provided however that they commit to halving their impact on the environment.

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Gallery Climate Coalition
The payoff of Gallery Climate Colaition, committed for several years to lowering the ecological footprint of the art world (Image: GCC)

The whole theatrical world is moving towards sustainability

Il theater in Italy is increasingly attentive to sustainability. And Cagliari is just the clearest example of how quickly things are changing.

In Milan, for example, he was born EcoTheater, the first hall in the Lombard capital to have adopted a management protocol compliant with the green model proposed by the European Community and the 2030 Agenda.

Still in Milan, then, the renowned one also comes forward Arcimboldi Theater, who this year will start the process that will lead him to write his own first sustainability report, a very important document which, in addition to reporting what has been done to date, is very useful for setting both short- and long-term sustainability objectives.

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Graph with carbon dioxide emissions broken down by sector in the European Union
Statista's graph shows the results of the study conducted by the EEA regarding the most polluting sectors in Europe in relation to CO2 emissions

Calculation of polluting emissions from the artistic sector

Ma how much the art sector pollutes? The site of the Gallery Climate Coalition allows you to calculate your impact on the environment, so as to draw up a practical and complete action plan to provide for the reduction of pollutants linked to artistic activities.

The site, in addition to offering this service, also allows you to take a look at the best practices of those who, in the meantime, have already taken steps to reduce their impact on the planet, as well as get information on major issues related to the world of environmental sustainability. In short, the power of the community, in this case, is essential for setting a good example.

Today this non-profit association has over 800 active members from 40 different countries.

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Stabilized land
The flagship of Terra Solida's production, stabilized earth brings technology and innovation to the infrastructure sector to create high-performance and sustainable roads at the same time (Photo: Terra Solida)

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The one just reported is an example of how every human activity has a considerable impact on the environment. From resource consumption to energy demands, from water waste to pollutants deriving from the agri-food world, every sector - including the artistic one - must do its part to ferry the planet towards a greener future.

Even the infrastructure and road system sector must not (and cannot) be left behind. The roads we travel on every day have an impact on the environment, both from the point of view of the materials used and from that of the pollutants released into the ground. However, many companies have decided to invest in the sector to study greener solutions in the road sector.

One of them is Solid Earth, leader in the field of natural and environmentally friendly flooring. The flagship of their research on materials is the Stabilized Earth, perfect for creating high-performance, draining, permeable and resistant road surfaces from the point of view of mechanical stress. This is to say, once again, that no sector should be left behind when it comes to sustainability.

And if theaters and the art world are doing their part, now it's also up to the streets we travel on every day to weigh less on the only planet we have available to live on.

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Sustainable theatre: the staging for a musical show at the Teatro Massimo in Cagliari, the Jazz pole in the city and throughout Sardinia (Photo: Sara Deidda/Teatro Massimo)
The staging for a musical show at the Teatro Massimo in Cagliari, the Jazz hub in the city and throughout Sardinia (Photo: Sara Deidda/Teatro Massimo)