‘I suspect that the welcoming of constraints is, at bottom, the deepest secret of creativity’. (Douglas R Hofstadter)
Reading these words, quoted by John Simmons in his inspiring book ‘Dark Angels – How writing releases creativity at work’, I was reminded of Ben Todd. Ben is the Executive Director of the Arcola Theatre in London, and he spoke recently at UK Aware in his capacity as one of the London Leaders. He explained how the Arcola Theatre has sustainability as one of the three key strands of its work, along with art and community.
Constraints fuelling creativity
Now, when they are planning a new show, the theatre will ask ‘Could you power your show using this fuel cell?’ And the theatre group will see as this as a new challenge to their creativity – demonstrating the point that what is a seeming constraint can fuel creativity. It is this attitude that business needs to bring to sustainability as well.
The rational and the visionary
Ben also made the interesting point that they need to combine the rational with the visionary in their work to incorporate sustainability into the theatre. Waste and heating fall into the category of the ‘rational’ – areas in which the theatre needs to take action as they have the biggest impact in terms of sustainability. Lighting and set design are in the category of the ‘visionary’. In footprint terms they don’t have so much impact, but because of their high visibility for the audience, making changes here will have the biggest influence in raising awareness amongst the public, demonstrating the Arcola’s ethos and inspiring people to think what they can do. A useful distinction for companies to bear in mind.