As an opera company with a global outlook, we believe it is our responsibility to put environmental thinking and action at the heart of what we do.

Tackling the climate emergency is a joint effort. By engaging employees, musicians, audiences, communities, and supporters in the environmental process, we can help to reduce our environmental impact and carbon footprint, and inspire wider change towards a more sustainable future.

Our environmental aims

Operations – Reduce the environmental impact of our operations and buildings by continually monitoring our performance, reducing utility usage wherever possible and sustainably procuring goods and services

Productions – Establish a more sustainable production and touring model, and explore options to address environmental themes in our productions

Travel – Support and promote more sustainable travel options to our staff and audiences

Community – Embed environmental themes and engagement into our education and community programmes

Partnerships – Develop environmental collaboration with our partners and with individual supporters

Backstage at Leeds Grand Theatre during rehearsals for Pagliacci © Tom Arber

Opera North wins Creative Green Award

We’re proud to have won ‘Best Newcomer’ at Julie’s Bicycle Creative Green Awards 2019.

Nominated in our category alongside many other fantastic arts organisations, we were very excited to build on our Creative Green certification and have our environmental efforts recognised.

The Creative Green programme offers a broad range of services that help organisations scope, understand, prioritise and advocate environmentally sustainable practices, with the awards offering a moment for the sector to showcase their leadership in climate action.

Jamie Saye accepting 'Best Newcomer' on behalf of Opera North at Julie's Bicycle Creative Green Awards 2019

Towards a sustainable production model

One of our key objectives is proactively establishing an environmentally sustainable production and touring model. Following the trial of a fully recycled set for the 2018 production, Not Such Quiet Girls, performed in the Howard Assembly Room, we have identified the new production of Handel’s Alcina as the next milestone – one of three Opera North mainstage productions to be performed in February and March 2021 in Leeds and taken on tour to Newcastle, Nottingham and Salford Quays.

Our aim is to build on this in the following year with a full season of three sustainable productions.

Alcina’s set will be fully recycled and nothing that appears on stage (set, props, costumes) will be newly purchased. The majority of the set will be sourced from existing productions currently stored at Opera North’s scenic warehouse in Kirkstall, and all other items will be bought from second-hand sources from within the Yorkshire and Humber region. The process of making the set, props and costume will also be considered. ​This is not just to include the direct environmental impact of the production itself, but the wider associated impact of Opera North and its supply chain.

Our actions so far

  • Joined the Music Declares Emergency group, declaring a climate and ecological emergency and calling for an immediate governmental response
  • Moved onto a 100% renewable energy tariff where possible with Good Energy
  • Awarded a 3 star “Creative Green” certification by Julie’s Bicycle
  • Installed water saving devices throughout our buildings
  • Offered discounted public transport for staff
  • Event transport is handled by StageFreight, winners of 2019 award for Eco-friendly road fleet of the Year
  • Established an Opera North ‘Green Team’ to advocate internally for our environmental aims
  • Cut electricity usage through behaviour change campaigns
  • Replaced lighting with LED across the estate where possible
  • Swapped disposable items for more environmentally friendly alternatives
  • Successfully trialled a fully recycled set for a recent production in the Howard Assembly Room, Not Such Quiet Girls
  • Now send all main stage sets to be recycled at the end of their life by a specialist contractor, Stockyard North
  • Saved paper at Howard Assembly Room song recital performances by installing surtitles screens rather than giving out sheets with song translations
  • Came third in category for Love to Ride’s #CycleSeptember 2019
  • Now print all main stage brochures on fully recyclable and carbon balanced paper, where the residual carbon impacts of a product or service have been estimated and are offset through the protection and restoration of carbon-rich wildlife habitats. Certified by the World Land Trust
  • Waste management now handled by local company, Forge Recycling where waste is either recycled or incinerated, and does not go to landfill. Using lower emission producing trucks, all waste generated is measured, fed back and used by The Green Team to develop further waste saving measures
  • Introduced Carbon Literacy training across the organisation, and hosted a Carbon Literacy event with Leeds Climate Commission
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