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Wheeler Opera House Looks To Model Sustainability For Entertainment Industry

Wheeler Opera House

Earlier this week, Aspen City Council approved a request from the Wheeler Opera House to formalize the venue’s focus on the environment.

The venue has already eliminated disposable straws and single-use plastics for both audiences and visiting artists, and has a robust composting and recycling program.  


Monday, council granted the Wheeler’s request to add explicit language around environmental responsibility to the venue’s list of goals. 

Executive and artistic director Gena Buhler says that many small performing centers across the country are behind the curve when it comes to environmental action. 

"That’s why we’ve been really trying to say, hey, look, we only have 500 seats, we have a small staff, we don’t have a lot of space to do this, but if we can do it, you can do it," she said.

She acknowledges that the Wheeler is up against challenges, like the carbon footprint of traveling artists. 

"People are flying in on private jets to come perform on the Wheeler stage," she said. "They have tour buses and trucks that travel across the country."

She says the venue’s staff is committed to offsetting some of those environmental costs, and to educating performers that come through about sustainability. 

"We see so many people through the Wheeler," she said. "It’s a great platform to say, this is important to Aspen, this is important to us and it should be important to you."




Contributor Christin Kay is passionate about the rich variety of arts, cultural experiences and stories in the Roaring Fork Valley. She has been a devotee of public radio her whole life. Christin is a veteran of Aspen Public Radio, serving as producer, reporter and interim news director.