First-ever Sustainable Fringe Awards winners announced!

5th August 2019

Creative Carbon Scotland, and sustainable theatre network, Staging Change, have announced the winners of the inaugural Sustainable Fringe Awards at a reception during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Pigfoot Theatre and Pianodrome were crowned as the winning company and winning venue, based on their ideas to increase the sustainability of their work. Ideas submitted to the awards, which seeks to recognise those with the will and the creativity to tackle climate change at the world’s largest arts festival, ranged from creating positive environmental impacts within organisations (e.g. minimising carbon emissions and the resources used to create productions) to changing our wider society’s perspective of the climate crisis. 

This is the first year of the Sustainable Fringe Awards, which invited applications for innovative sustainability ideas from every participating venue or company at the 2019 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The winners demonstrated informed and unique ambition towards tackling climate change: 

  • Pigfoot Theatre’s carbon-neutral show How To Save a Rock encourages audience members to participate in collective action against climate change. Powering their lighting by bike and solar power, and using recycled and recyclable materials, their sustainable ethos extends to their show marketing strategywith digital and carbon-offset flyers and posters.  
  • Pianodrome (at Pitt Street, EH6 4DE) is a 100-seater amphitheatre made entirely from upcycled pianos. Aiming to demonstrate the artistic potential of a sustainable approach, the venue creates a ‘DIY-space’ which is open to community groups and free events to connect through music. Pianodrome aims to show how small-scale community building is essential in presenting alternatives to a capitalism which drives climate change.  

Two additional productions were particularly commended for their sustainability ideas and actions:  

  • The Theatre Centre, presenting Alanna Mitchell’s Sea Sick as part of CanadaHub, is offsetting emissions from artist travel by working with The Ocean Foundation to plant carbon-consuming sea grass, which also creates habitat for sea creatures. The production examines and explains the impact of climate change upon our ocean environment, and the team seeks to create a more sustainable touring and performance practice in a way which engages with the content of the show. 
  • Rose Eye Productions have decided to scrap printing flyers in an effort to reduce paper waste when promoting their show, HatchInstead, they are using non-toxic stamps on scrap paper or people’s arms and legs to convey their show times, dates and locations to explore and demonstrate a new way of promoting a Fringe show (#ScrapNStamp). 

Director of Creative Carbon Scotland, Ben Twist said: “The Sustainable Fringe Awards celebrate the creative optimism and innovation we need to tackle climate change through our culture. We’re pleased to be working with local, national and international companies and venues to celebrate and reward sustainability in the arts and hope to see these awards grow next year and beyond. Wthoroughly congratulate these two inspiring winners.” 

Founder and Co-Director of Staging Change, Alice Boyd said: “The winners of the Sustainable Fringe Award have demonstrated the key role of the arts in communicating the importance of environmental action. The projects are outstanding examples of how innovative and positive responses to the climate crisis, both through content or practice, can inspire change. As the largest gathering of performers in the world, the Fringe is the perfect place to start these conversations.” 

The winners were announced as part of the Sustainability at the Fringe reception, which was the closing event of the first-ever Start Your Sustainable Fringe Day, co-hosted by the University of Edinburgh’s Social Responsibility and Sustainability Department, sustainable theatre network Staging Change, and arts and sustainability charity, Creative Carbon Scotland. Taking place at Fringe Central (the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society’s centre for participants) the day included workshops on sustainable production design, discussions on creating a green movement within culture, and concluded with the celebratory evening reception.  

The winning organisations were each awarded £100 towards their sustainable work, and support from Creative Carbon Scotland in finding the expertise and partnerships to further their ambitions. Entrants to the Sustainable Fringe Awards are also eligible for the Staging Change Award, which seeks to reward those shows that engage with sustainability in their content.

Find out more about the work of Staging Change.

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We believe cultural and creative organisations have a significant influencing power to help shape a sustainable Scotland for the 21st century.

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