Last year, American Theatre told you about one theatre’s creative stab at sustainability in a story that prompted two responses on The Circle (here and here). Well, when it rains, it pours: We’ve just caught wind of another regional company’s efforts to stay green in a unique confluence of art and economics.
Per its mission statement, Atlanta’s 7 Stages Theatre devotes itself to “engaging artists and audiences by focusing on the social, political and spiritual values of contemporary culture.” One such value—environmentalism—has yielded a clever campaign that simultaneously promotes the theatre and sustainability.
It all started last February when the Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta awarded the theatre a $50,000 grant as part of the foundation’s “Grants to Green” initiative. The cash is earmarked for eco-friendly capital improvements to 7 Stages’s building, and the theatre is already making good on the donation, and is in the process of starting renovations on its bathrooms, HVAC system and roof.
As these plans started gaining steam, marketing director Charles Swint says the theatre asked itself, “What are some creative ways we can promote our shows without spending a lot of money?” Piggybacking off the green kick, 7 Stages partnered with the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) in a campaign where, in return for select buses featuring theatre advertising, 7 Stages will encourage its audience to use environmentally-conscious modes of transportation, like MARTA. “Our staff carpools, bikes and takes MARTA to the office and around town,” says Swint. “We want to encourage our patrons to do the same.” The deal is sweetened by a $5 discount offered to MARTA Breeze Card–holders.
7 Stages hopes that this is just the beginning. The theatre has ambitions for moving billboards, and even hopes to hold performances at the MARTA station. The artistic leadership probably has its own titles in mind, but allow me to suggest Bus Stop, Love Rides the Rails or On the Twentieth Century. Better get on that midnight train to Georgia!
Harrison Hill is an editorial intern at American Theatre magazine and writes the blog theater-words.com. He is also an actor, and has performed at Playwrights Horizons, London’s Old Vic Theatre, the Williamstown Theatre Festival and elsewhere. He holds a BFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and is originally from Charlottesville, VA.