Environmental Stewardship in Theatre and Performance Education Working Group

The primary goal of CATR’s Environmental Stewardship in Theatre and Performance Education Working Group is to discuss how we teach, document and prepare students for sustainable practices in theatre and performance. The urgency of the climate crisis requires theatre and performance practitioners, researchers and educators to develop and refine practices of environmental stewardship in all aspects of their work. The theatre industry is increasingly using metrics of sustainability to measure the potential social value of an event against its environmental impact. Students need to be prepared to enter a field that is shifting to a model of environmental stewardship and that responds to the unfolding climate crisis. This shift is linked inextricably to a movement towards decolonial approaches to theatre and performance-making. Developing good and sustainable relationships to land is vital work for artists and cultural producers, as we move to a holistic view of the role of the arts in community. Our first year focused on gathering information, resources, and research to answer the question – How are sustainable practices being implemented and how do we need to adjust curriculum to match? In year two, we will map a way forward. By the final year our goal is to create and disseminate an action plan.

Co-Leaders: Hope McIntyre (U Winnipeg), Kimberly Richards (UBC)

Participants: Kelly Richmond, Selena Couture, Taylor Marie Graham, Stefano Muneroni, Katrina Dunn, Zhuohao Li, and Dennis Gupta


In our first year the Environmental Stewardship working group met virtually and in person, to gather resources that aimed to imagine what enacting environmental stewardship might look like in academic theatre departments across the country, and to re-imagine how the working group format might create opportunities for artistic activism.


In our second year, we hosted Re-Imagining the Future: A Teach-In on Fostering Environmental Stewardship in Theatre and Performance Education was an afternoon of collective resource sharing and strategic planning towards increased eco-conscious theatre pedagogy in higher education, hosted by the Canadian Association for Theatre Research’s Environmental Stewardship Working Group. We also will be co-hosting a plenary session at CATR 2023 Performing Shores/Shores of Performance at Dalhousie University, with the Course Correction Working Group. More to come!

Reimagining the Future: A Digital Archive

Below, you will find a digital archive of the event, including video footage of invited speakers from SCALE, CSPA, and CGA and documentation of our “ecologize your syllabi” workshops.


Part 1: An Already Flourishing Environment

About SCALE (Sectoral Climate Arts Leadership for the Emergency): SCALE is a “network of networks” of artists and organizations working at the intersection of culture and climate in Canada. Formed in 2021, its mandate is to foster a coordinated, artful and impactful response to the climate emergency from Canada’s arts and culture sector. SCALE serves as a national hub to develop strategy, align activities, and build the leadership capacity of Canada’s arts and culture sector in the climate emergency. SCALE is driven by the conviction that inclusive, comprehensive, and far-reaching collaboration, both within and beyond our sector, will propel our creative work towards the decisive tipping points of cultural transformation.

Speaker Bio — Tanya Kalmanovitch: Tanya is a Canadian violist, ethnomusicologist, and author known for her breadth of inquiry and restless sense of adventure. Her uncommonly diverse interests converge in the fields of improvisation, social entrepreneurship, and social action with projects that explore the provocative cultural geography of locations around the world. Based in Brooklyn, Tanya’s layered artistic research practice has rewarded her with extended residencies in India, Ireland, Afghanistan, Turkey, and Siberia. Tanya has shown her commitment to education through her dedicated teaching practice for over a decade. She has given master classes at Woodstock’s Creative Music Studios, the Banff Centre for the Arts, London’s Guildhall School of Music & Drama, the Estonian Academy of Music, the Royal Conservatory of The Hague, the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin, and the Helsinki Pop & Jazz Conservatory. As a faculty member at the New England Conservatory since 2006, she played a leading role in new initiatives in the school’s departments of Contemporary Improvisation and Entrepreneurial Musicianship. In 2013, she joined the faculty at Mannes School of Music at The New School New York City, where she is an Associate Professor, Affiliated Faculty with the Tishman Environment and Design Centre, and a fellow of the Graduate Institute of Design, Ethnography and Social Thought. Tanya is currently performing in duo settings with pianist Marilyn Crispell as well as in a collaborative trio with pianist Anthony Coleman and accordionist Ted Reichman. She is developing the Tar Sands Songbook, a documentary theater play that tells the stories of people whose lives been shaped by living in close proximity to oil development and its effects. http://www.tanyakalmanovitch.com/

About CSPA (the Centre for the Sustainable Practices in the Arts): The Centre for the Sustainable Practice in the Arts (CSPA) provides research, training, and consultancy services related to sustainable development, in particular ecological responsibility, in the arts and culture sector. This includes environmental foot printing and support for theatres, museums, galleries, and other cultural organizations and arts presenters/producers. We publish, electronically and in print, associated research in this field and organize conferences and convening on this topic for the purpose of professional and research networking, education, and professional development. The CSPA views sustainability as the intersection of environmental balance, social equity, economic stability and a strengthened cultural infrastructure. Seeing itself as evolved out of the principles of the 1987 Brundtland Report and 1992 Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit, the CSPA aligns itself with the policies of Agenda 21 for Culture as a resource to artists and art organizations.The CSPA’s activities include research and initiatives positioning arts and culture as a driver of a sustainable society. https://www.sustainablepractice.org/

Speaker Bio — Ian Garrett: Ian is a designer, producer, educator, and researcher in the field of sustainability in arts and culture.  He is the director of the Centre for Sustainable Practice in the Arts and Associate Professor of Ecological Design for Performance at York University, where he is Graduate Program Director for Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies. He is producer for Toasterlab, a mixed reality performance collective and maintains a design practice focused on ecology, accessible technologies, and scenography. Notable projects related to EcoScenography include the set and energy systems for Zata Omm’s Vox:Lumen at the Harbourfront Centre and Crimson Collective’s Ascension, a solar 150’ wide crane at Coachella. With Chantal Bilodeau, he co-directs the Climate Change Theatre Action. His writing includes Arts, the Environment, and Sustainability for Americans for the Arts; The Carbon Footprint of Theatrical Production in Readings in Performance and Ecology, and Theatre is No Place for a Plant in Landing Stages from the Ashden Directory. Other recent work includes I am a Child of… with Keaja d’Dance at the Harbourfront Centre, the exhibition design for World Stage Design 2022 in collaboration with Patrick Rizzotti, and the most recent versions of the locative immersive media projects Parkway Forest Time Machine and STEPS’ From Weeds We Grow both in Toronto Parks. His documentary Groundworks was broadcasted nationally on PBS in the US through October and November 2022, look at four of the contributing artists to the locative and site-specific performance of the same name presented on Alcatraz on San Francisco’s first Indigenous People’s Day. He serves on the Board of Directors for Associated Designers of Canada and The Only Animal, was the Curator for the US for the 2019 Prague Quadrennial and co-chair for World Stage Design 2022 in Calgary, and is co-Principal Investigator on the SSHRC funded Sustainability and the Arts (SATA) Project No Culture, No Future with Dr. Tarah Wright and the Canada Council for the Arts funded project The Department of Utopian Arts and Letters with Dr. Kimberly Skye Richards. https://www.ianpgarrett.com/

About CGA (the Canadian Green Alliance): The Canadian Green Alliance creates resources to aid arts organizations and individuals in the design, construction, and production of ecologically responsible theatre. Through the development of a comprehensive guidebook, and the use of Alliance green ambassadors within each theatre, the CGA guides arts organizations towards sustainable choices from their front of house to their backstage.  As the Canadian arts community has specialists in many areas of the greenification of theatre, the CGA is the meeting place for conversation, dissemination of ideas, and formation of key partnerships.

Speaker Bio — Julia McLellan: Julia is a Canadian theatre performer and environmental advocate. Julia has performed on stages across North America, including three companies of the Tony award winning hit Kinky Boots, including on Broadway. She has had the immense fortune of performing on some of Canada’s biggest stages, starring in the Stratford Festival’s A Chorus Line, the North American premiere of Mythic, and the North American Premier of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Wizard of Oz. Her stage career intertwines with her climate activism, as she is the co-founder and Executive Director of the Canadian Green Alliance, the national not-for-profit dedicated to bridging the gap between theatre and sustainability, and the founder of Zero Waste Warbler, an online resource for pursuing a low-waste lifestyle in the performing arts. Julia will talk about CGA’s The Sustainable Theatre Guidebook. The STG is a tangible, accessible and hands-on approach to tackling organizational footprints in the theatre making process. It is co-written by experts all across the country, and compiled by the Canadian Green Alliance. https://www.juliamclellan.com/


Part 2: Ecologize Your Syllabi

Facilitators: Hope McIntyre and Zhuohao Li


Facilitators: Kelly Richmond & Dennis Gupta


Facilitators: Selena Couture & Stefano Muneroni


Facilitator: Taylor Marie Graham


More to come! The Environmental Stewardship Working Group is open to new membership and collaboration. If you are interested in becoming involved please email Hope McIntyre (h.mcintyre@uwinnipeg.ca) and Kimberly Richards (kimberly.richards@ubc.ca).