Beats the landfill: Staff disassembled seats for recycling

March 9, 2009
One of the biggest tasks in renovating the Tobias Theater was replacing the facility's Nixon-era seats. When the staff discovered that the company charged with stripping them out was planning to dump them in a landfill, the staff opted for a hands-on approach.

"We dismantled them all ourselves," said David Russick, who oversaw the project for the Indianapolis Museum of Art. "We had a bin for foam, a bin for wool, a bin for iron. Everybody just took turns. We started in the balcony and pitched them over the railing and disassembled everything."

During the three-day effort, a good portion of the IMA's staff, including CEO Max Anderson, took turns unscrewing, ripping and sorting. The effort produced 23,642 pounds of recyclable metal, carpet, foam, fabric and plastic, which cleared about $4,000 in cash. The IMA also donated 80 intact seats to the Spotlight Players theater in Beech Grove.

"What was the point of using things like recycled carpet if we were going to put that much material in an Indiana landfill?" Russick said.
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