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Utilise Plus Event Report: Sustainability Tour of the Brighton Dome
The Sustainable Business Partnership CIC welcomed delegates to Brighton on a sunny morning in July for a Sustainability Tour of the Brighton Dome. This event was held as part of the SBP CIC’s ongoing Utilise Plus programme which helps small and medium sized enterprises to reduce their costs and greenhouse gas emissions by saving energy.
The SBP CIC’s Jack Dale introduced the event by giving an overview of the different services provided through Utilise Plus. These include grant funding, energy audits, and a variety of events. With energy audits usually costing hundreds of pounds, Jack encouraged delegates to apply for a Utilise Plus audit which would be free of charge thanks to European funding. Utilise Plus will end in September so there’s no time to waste!
Jack then handed over to Zoe Curtis, Director of Visitor and Venue Services at the Brighton Dome. Zoe explained that a Sustainability Plan is a requirement for Arts Council funding but the Dome go above and beyond to ensure they run their organisation ethically and reduce their costs where possible. The Dome’s achievements are impressive: in the last financial year they reduced their electricity consumption by 2.5% and their gas by 10%, while their water consumption is 23% below the Julie’s Bicycle benchmark for performing arts buildings, and 60% of their waste is sorted and recycled. Zoe explained that they’re always looking for ways to improve, which is why they plan on making their bars free of single-use plastic by 2020, issue paperless tickets for events, and encourage their audience to travel using sustainable transport. Zoe ended her talk with an overview of the Dome’s ongoing redevelopment of their Corn Exchange and Studio Theatres, which will be well-insulated, lit with energy-efficient lighting, and constructed with sustainable materials.
After Zoe’s talk, it was time for the behind-the-scenes tour! Led by Zoe’s colleague, Hannah, we took a look at the Concert Hall. Hannah explained that the Brighton Dome was commissioned by King George IV over 200 years ago, with the Concert Hall used as a stable and the Corn Exchange as a riding house. George’s niece, Queen Victoria, inherited the estate but disliked Brighton so the town purchased the building in 1850 and was used as a cavalry barracks until it reopened as a concert and assembly hall in 1867. Since then, the Concert Hall has seen thousands of iconic acts wow audiences, with ABBA being launched into stardom at Eurovision in 1974 and David Bowie rumoured to have been banned for encouraging the audience to jump on the seats – although Zoe and Hannah doubt they’d have ever followed through with that! Hannah took us down below the Dome where we saw the dressing room that has housed everyone from Snoop Dogg to The Darkness. Last but not least, we took a look at the underground tunnel that links the Dome to the Pavilion. It isn’t clear exactly what the purpose of this tunnel was, with some believing it was for George IV to meet his secret lover and others believing it was because George was overweight, unpopular and wanted to visit his horses in private.
The event came to a close with networking and refreshments. Delegates enjoyed the event, with Emma Wickham of Lighthouse commenting that it’s “good to know there is support and a network thinking about sustainability,” while Lou Rogers of South East Dance enjoyed “meeting other sustainable businesses.” The tour was particularly well-received, with Richard Piggott of The Homity Trust describing it as “interactive and entertaining” and Gareth Giles of Whaleback calling it a “fantastic opportunity to access a famous venue and discuss sustainability.”
This event was fully-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). At the Sustainable Business Partnership CIC, we love hearing about interesting venues, knowledgeable speakers, and enthusiastic event partners. If you’d like to work with us then please get in touch.