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Website helps companies recycle unwanted sets

29 May 2011

With the tag line "giving your unwanted set a new home", has been launched with the aim of encouraging production companies to share unwanted sets, costumes and props with other theatre organisations across the UK for free. Companies including the Royal Court, Glyndebourne and the Lyric Hammersmith have already pledged their support to the website.

Set-exchange was set up by lighting designer and production electrician Peter Harrison. He explained: "The idea came from me working with some of the small companies as well as the big companies and seeing waste in one and scrimping and saving from the other, so it came out of trying to share resources."

Sian Alexander, theatre associate director of green arts organisation Julie's Bicycle, said there was a real "appetite" for this kind of initiative within the sector.

 She added: "It's the sector helping itself to tackle some of the issues. I think somebody being willing to step forward, as Peter has done, and volunteer to co-ordinate that is fantastic. The responsibility now lies with the sector to try it out, to use it and see if we can find a way to make it work for us."

Set-exchange is structured along the same lines as free recycling website Freecycle. It features a message board on which production managers can post information about their available items. Other member companies can then offer to take the items free of charge, although they must arrange for collection and transport from the original venue. Harrison will be moderating the site for any inappropriate adverts.

The website states that users are free to post anything "as long as it is yours to give away, as long as it's legal and as long as it's free". However, it does warn that items designed specifically for the original show – such as a painted front cloth or a special costume – would still be subject to the designer's copyright and may not be appropriate to give away.

There is no cost to use the site and all users could benefit financially – companies offering sets save money on their disposal costs and the receiving company does not have to buy the items anew.

Companies that sign up to the site can opt to receive regular email updates of items posted.

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