Early Warning Signs

Arcola Theatre

Arcola Theatre

24 Ashwin Street
E8 3DL

The green on black sign was adopted by Feimatta Conteh, Sustainability Manager at Arcola Theatre to be displayed outside their building in East London for the whole of 2016. The theatre has a world-renowned sustainability programme since setting an ambition to become the world’s first carbon neutral theatre in 2007. At the end of the year, the green on black sign continued south to ONCA in Brighton.

End of Year Report

By Feimatta Conteh, Sustainability Manager, Arcola Theatre


Arcola’s hosting of the artwork was communicated through the e-newsletter, which goes to over 20,000 people.

The artwork was present outside Arcola on Ashwin Street throughout 2016, with bar staff taking responsibility for placing it outside and bringing it in each day.

Shortly after applying to host the sign in 2016, Feimatta reduced her hours at work - being present in London for 3 days every fortnight. She moved on from Arcola in late 2016 which resulted in the restructuring of the sustainability role at Arcola. Whilst daily management of the sign was carried out by front of house and bar staff, overall responsibility belonged to the Sustainability Manager.

End of Year Survey

A novel approach was developed to create an end of year report - a simple online survey of front of house and bar staff to gather their responses to the artwork.

The survey was carried out remotely, with a link forwarded by Arcola’s Bar Manager and Front of House Manager, thus there was no monitoring the number of people who received the survey. The survey was sent out on 12 December 2016, and by 20 December 11 responses were received.

Responses to the survey showed that the majority of visitors to Arcola did not ask specifically about the artwork - only 3 of 11 respondents reported being asked about the artwork. However, those staff who reported being asked by visitors about the artwork felt able to give information about it; (an information sheet had been shared with all staff and was pasted in the bar).

When visitors received information about the artwork, staff reported that some visitors did not realise the piece was an artwork, some visitors knew that Arcola had a strong engagement with sustainability and some were interested in the topic of climate change. No respondents reported that visitors had come to Arcola specifically to see Early Warning Signs.

It felt important to gauge how staff felt about hosting the artwork - both in terms of the impact and their personal reaction, see results presented in two graphs below:

End of Year Survey Results

End of Year Survey Results


• Nice idea, but the actual piece itself wasn't so striking. Was a touch confusing for passers-by

• I thought it was very clever and it made me think about climate change

• We wish the sign well on its journey to ONCA in Brighton and its life-long journey!