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Nottingham Playhouse moves forward with £1m boost to sustainability aspirations

Nottingham Playhouse has received the beginnings of an amazing 50th birthday present in the form of £996,000 of funding from Arts Council England’s Capital Investment Programme. The funding will be used specifically to improve the efficiency and sustainability of the Grade II* listed building, which, although an architectural classic, is not presently as efficient as it could be.

The funding will help replace original light fittings with more efficient alternatives, saving a massive 35 kW of power – a great place for any large building to start. This will happen in tandem with replacing the Playhouse’s 50 year-old stage lighting equipment, the savings from which will be enough to fund the Youth Theatre for two years.

Heat loss is a big issue in the public entrances to large buildings, so draught lobbies will be created to reduce the amount of warmth lost to the outside, as well as making the interior environment easier to control, and more comfortable for patrons.

Solar photovoltaic panels are to be installed on the roof, which is particularly suitable for the technology. It is estimated that £4,500 worth of electricity can be generated every year, which will make a significant dent in the running costs of the building, as well as its carbon footprint.

The investment by Arts Council England (ACE) reflects its current desire to shore up some of England's arts infrastructure by improving its resource efficiency. Peter Knott, Area Director for ACE, said, “We are working hard with organisations in the cultural sector to increase their sustainability both financially and ecologically. This award does both and will enable Nottingham Playhouse to ensure that their building is energy efficient and making the best use of space available. This project demonstrates the theatre’s commitment to finding more environmentally efficient ways of doing business, whilst creating the best value-for-money possible.”

Nottingham Playhouse, under the guidance of Chief Executive Stephanie Sirr, has been building up to this improvement for some time, with environmental responsibility high on the agenda. In 2010, the Playhouse was already celebrating its first year with a PowerPerfector – a power optimisation system that cut electricity bills by 13%.

Stephanie says, “The ethos of Nottingham Playhouse is that we are a theatre for everyone. Our local community is at the heart of everything we do. We need to create a legacy for our future generations of Playhouse visitors. And with a theatre that is fit for purpose, we can concentrate our efforts, energy and resources on providing quality performances for them.”

The theatre still needs a further £75,000 to meet the total project funding, which has been broken down in the Playhouse’s usual jaunty style on their website (see screen grab, right). A gala pantomime performance in December will contribute a large amount to the coffers, but public donations are still sought. At £100 a square metre for secondary glazing, you only have to look at the picture above to see that for the Playhouse, every penny counts.

The grant is a testament to the work that Nottingham Playhouse’s team have put in over the years, and the forethought that goes into a building plan like this. Such planning is absolutely essential, and is the logical progression for a premises that has already implemented all the ‘easy win’ options.

Nottingham Playhouse has been measuring its environmental performance for years now, allowing them to pick up on the specific things that will bring the greatest rewards, and effectively measure the performance of the undoubtedly exciting building to come.

We’ll try to stay in touch with Nottingham Playhouse to follow their work as the building upgrade happens, and will watch with interest to see how the ‘new’ building performs! In the meantime, though, if you need ideas for your building's upgrade, have a look at 'Energising-Culture-report.pdf' - a guide from Julie's Bicycle and the Theatres Trust to help you find them.

|     www.nottinghamplayhouse.co.uk

|     @skymirror

Photo credits: top - Nottingham Playhouse, middle - flickr user uonottingham, screengrab - www.nottinghamplayhouse.co.uk

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Tags: ace, arts, council, glazing, nottingham, playhouse, powerperfector, pv, secondary, solar, More…theatre, upgrade

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