Fran Toms, Head of Culture, Manchester City Council, gave us a timely reminder that sustainability can mean change; cultural buildings can outlive their planned purpose and need new uses. In her city, the Library Theatre (the last local authority run rep in the country) and Cornerhouse are being merged and rehoused while Urbis art centre, though successful, is now to become a football museum.

Some later voices were very distrustful of local government ownership and involvement, but Rosemary Squires, whose Ambassador Theatre Group operates 39 venues throughout the country and sells over 10 million tickets a year, spoke of very successful partnerships with local authorities and in particular of the way in which the building of their theatres in Woking had changed life in the town centre—but though it brought people back into town in the evening, it took many years before the current restaurant life around them had developed. In terms of saving and efficiency, she gave firm evidence of the improvements that could be made in night time energy use. Companies who simply do not have the resources to invest in energy efficient technology can still make considerable savings in both energy use and financially.

This was something others picked up on. Erica Whyman, CEO of Northern Stage spoke of simple things like lift-free days and switching lights off that can have a huge cumulative effect and in their case sparked off a bigger green campaign: people can take pride in not wasting resources. There are also savings to be had in making the best use of your resources—sharing them with other organisations for a start. Northern Stage work closely with Gateshead International Theatre Festival and with a local museum. They have a first class carpenter's shop and not only make scenery but build museum exhibitions while the museum's expertise provides excellent hand props for them.

Another kind of co-operation is producing results in Stratford East itself where the Theatre Royal collaborates with conference host venue Stratford Circus (which, intriguingly, is managed by a Sixth Form College) and together with another 18 organisations have formed Stratford Rising which gives them a more powerful voice in dealings with funding organisations, local council etc as well as leading to cooperation between the partners.

Stratford is part of a borough where there are 160 different languages spoken in its schools, and the Theatre Royal has long been an example of a theatre that reaches out to draw in the widest possible audience. Artistic Director Kerry Michael spoke of their wish to share their ownership of the building with the community and of the ways in which they have sought to give a voice to the audience in deciding what happens in it. They have even introduced a tweeting area in the theatre so that those who want can tell their friends about a show even as they see it.

The Theatre Royal's busy café bar has its own programme of events alongside the theatre which also brings in people who may then see a theatre show. This is something that many speakers mentioned. Andy Eagle from Cardiff's Chapter spoke of the enormous increase in patrons that opening up the social and café space had made for them, putting the theatre on the community map for many who had never been there to see a play and at the same time providing a thriving meeting place for Cardiff's creatives, with free wi-fi being another attraction.

Making a theatre the heart of the community, not just somewhere plays went on in the evening, was a recurrent theme as delegates reported on both struggles and successes. Community worker Tony Wright, having discovered the unused Hulme Hippodrome in Manchester, is co-ordinating efforts to renovate the 110 year old venue and develop it into a space "where the community can have a good time".

Deborah Sawyer, General Manager of the Broadway Barking, originally designed as part of the Town Hall but reopened in 2004 redesigned by Tim Foster architects, again spoke of the need to draw in the community with a youth theatre, exhibition space for artists and hosting community events to make this a cultural flagship in the borough.

The amateur theatre was represented by Elliott McKelvie from Scotland who told of the cooperation between the Greenock Arts Guild (funded in 1946) which is building a new theatre and Beacon Arts Centre with the collaboration of Inverclyde council along with funding also coming from Creative Scotland, Riverside Inverclyde and the Big Lottery Fund. This will have very much a community focus and has successfully attracted big name support with Alex Salmond attending the initiation of construction and the Duke of Wessex as a patron. But it is a story of compromise as well as success. In terms of ecological sustainability plans for rainwater collection and reuse had to be dropped because they cost too much: another case of future savings lost because the initial capital was not available.