New article collection searches for new avenues towards more ecological performance design

Sustainable Choices – Potentials and Practices in Performance Design presents and discusses more sustainable practices in the field.

What kind of sustainable practices artists have in the field of performance design? What kind of pedagogies and organisational cultures are needed? How can theatre and dance performances be designed and executed in more ecologically sustainable ways? What changes would these new practices bring in? These questions are tackled in a new publication titled Sustainable Choices – Potentials and Practices in Performance Design (2023), published by Uniarts Helsinki’s Theatre Academy.

The aim of the book is to highlight more ecologically sustainable practices and ways of thinking that have emerged in the artistic practice, projects, and pedagogical work of performance design.

The publication is edited by Tomi Humalisto, professor of lightning design, and Raisa Kilpeläinen, lecturer in performance design, both working at the Theatre Academy. Other authors of the publication include lightning designers, sound designers, set designers, costume designers and pedagogues from Finland and abroad.
The perspectives and eco-creative know-how presented in the book can be applied to the performing arts and the arts in general. The theme is very topical in the field of arts.

“The topic is a hot potato. Sustainability thinking is also an everyday occurrence in the performing arts, and especially in the perspective of performance design, aspects of materiality, instrumentality and mediatisation are often emphasised, and they’re always accompanied by issues such as consumption, energy and raw materials. The issues of a more ecological stage also extend to the aesthetics and pedagogy of performance design. The practical examples in the book highlight ideas and thoughts that will hopefully inspire artistic and pedagogical work. Instead of a lack of vision, what is needed are examples and practices that encourage more sustainable action, and hope,” editors Humalisto and Kilpeläinen say.

Sustainable Choices – Potentials and Practices in Performance Design is aimed at artists, researchers, students, educators, and anyone interested in a more ecological stage. The English-language book has already attracted a lot of interest both in Finland and abroad.

“We are living in a climate-changed world in the middle of a multi-crisis, and it is up to every artist and contributor to the field to take environmental concerns into account and create more ecological stages. By sharing information, considering alternatives and making a difference in our own daily lives and work, we can all contribute to sustainability and environmental initiatives,” Humalisto and Kilpeläinen note encouragingly.

At the Theatre Academy, information on more ecological practices from the perspective of performance design can be learned, for example, in the master-level course Ecologically more sustainable stage. In the new curriculum, sustainability is one of the academy’s cross-cutting strategic priorities. The university’s focus on environmental sustainability is also reflected in Uniarts Helsinki’s environmental programme and for example in the diverse knowledge of the topic gained by the staff at the Theatre Academy’s support services for artistic work (TTP).

Humalisto and Kilpeläinen encourage contributors to the arts sector to approach sustainability, ecological thinking, and environmental awareness as an essential circumstance, not as a problem. “We hope that the articles in the book reflect the diverse and creative potential of the arts to contribute to sustainability issues.”

Sustainable Choices – Potentials and Practices in the Performance Design is available online and as a printed book. The online version can be found in Uniarts Helsinki’s publication archive Taju, and the book can be purchased from the Unicontent online bookstore.

The project was partly funded by the Jenny and Antti Wihuri fund.

The book launch event will take place in Auditorium 2 of the Theatre Academy on 1 February 2024 at 5.15. – 7pm. Pre-register for the event here

Furter information:
Tomi Humalisto, professor of lightning design
+358 40 507 4551
Raisa Kilpeläinen, lecturer of performance design
+358 50 300 86 96