DOWNTOWN — For theaters, galleries, dance studios and the like, the phrase that it’s not easy being green should no longer apply.
That’s the anticipated outcome of a new nonprofit that marries the arts and sustainability, offering simpler and clearer means of incorporating environmentally-friendly elements into cultural venues.
Co-founded by the Santa Monica Cultural Affairs Division, Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, LA Stage Alliance and Sustainable Works, the Arts: Earth Partnership (AEP) aims to help various arts organizations to go green by recommending ways to sustainably change their facilities and practices, whether its retrofitting light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs or instituting a stricter recycling program. The organization will also audit and certify qualified facilities.
“It’s something that people are really interested in doing but don’t know how to get started,” said Jessica Cusick, the cultural affairs manager for City Hall. “We all want to do more for the environment so making it easier to happen is something we’re committed to doing.”
The idea was born out of the Electric Lodge in Venice where its founder, Joel Shapiro, and president, Justin Yoffe, sought to make the venue more sustainable, initially finding the information available to be intimidating.
“We know the cultural sector, we know the unique pressures they face,” Yoffe, who is also the director of the Miles Memorial Playhouse at Reed Park, said. “We thought, why don’t we create a green certification program for the cultural sector keeping in mind the unique stresses?”
The Electric Lodge eventually became one of the first solar-powered theaters in the country. Other changes that the pair have instituted at the theater include the use of CFL bulbs and a new waste management program.
Some nonprofits like the 18th Street Arts Center, which houses artists in residence and other organizations, have already incorporated green measures for years, including buying recycled toilet paper, installing motion detector lights and low-flush toilets in all units.
Sustainable Works has also ran several training sessions on going green for several resident organizations, said Jan Williamson, who is the executive director of the 18th Street Arts Center and member of the advisory board for the Arts: Earth Partnership.
The organization, which has a staff of about 10 auditors, have certified two venues — Electric Lodge and Miles Memorial Playhouse. Another 30 are on the waiting list to be audited, including the Ruskin Group Theater Co. and Santa Monica Museum of Art, where a launch party is planned for the Arts: Earth Partnership next Friday night.
A membership fee is required for the organization, costing anywhere from $50 for an individual artist to several hundred dollars for a larger nonprofit.
It comes with an official green certification that can be used for marketing purposes, exclusive access to resources and a materials exchange through which members can trade furniture and other items without adding to the landfill.
“We understand the pressures facing arts organizations, especially in this economy,” Yoffe said. “We want to make it easier for them.”