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GEI Summer Edition saw industry “come of age”

The 14th edition of the Green Events and Innovations (GEI) conference saw the industry “come of age” on the subject of sustainability, according to the organisers.

Thursday’s (16 September) conference, presented by A Greener Festival (AGF) and the International Live Music Conference (ILMC), was the first-ever Summer Edition of GEI, with the virtual event supported by a raft of sponsors including Ecotricity, Live Nation, Res, Ticketmaster, Solcell and The Virtual Venue.

The event followed a hybrid model, with some speakers coming together at PYTCH’s Virtual Venue in Bristol, powered by 100% renewable energy. Others joined from their homes and were broadcast live to delegates from around the world.

“We had such a great time delivering the first hybrid GEI Summer Edition. Live speakers connected with powerful and inspiring individuals and organisations from all around the world, and a truly international interactive audience,” says AGF co-founder Claire O’Neill.

“Considering the crucial topics that GEI addresses, this global collaboration is heartwarming and hopeful, to say the least. With 14 years of GEI under our belts, it feels like the industry is coming of age on the subject of sustainability and the next step is to use our unparalleled power of communication connect these messages with the masses.”

“The next step is to use our unparalleled power of communication connect these messages with the masses”

The speaker line-up was packed with industry titans including Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme), Dale Vince (Ecotricity/Forest Green Rovers), Dave Ojay (NAAM Festival), Amber Etre (Christie Lites), Fay Milton (Savages/Music Declares Emergency) and Celia Palau Lodge (Cooking Vinyl Records).

Samm Farai Monro (Magamba Network), Meegan Jones (Sustainable Event Alliance/Great Ocean Race), Stuart McPherson (KB Event) and Jamal Chalabi (Backlash Productions) also topped the bill.

Highlights from the Summer Edition included an exclusive first look at LIVE Green’s declaration and voluntary charter and a follow-up discussion between John Langford (Live Green/ AEG Europe), Stuart Galbraith (Kilimanjaro Live), Clementine Bunel (Paradigm), artist Sam Lee and Chiara Badiali (Julie’s Bicycle).

Also featured at the conference was a presentation of a new roadmap for greener events, following the recent publication of research conducted by scientists at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research under commission by Massive Attack.

The wider programme included panels on greener arenas and vendors as well as ‘ask the expert’ sessions, a quick-fire innovation round and deep dives on carbon removals and value chain planning for events.

AGF is now looking towards returning to live events with the next GEI Conference set to take place in March 2022. Find out more about the work of AGF at agreenerfestival.com.


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GEI launches Summer Series of virtual panels

The first live GEI Summer Series session, organised by A Greener Festival and the Green Events & Innovations Conference (GEI), takes place on World Environment Day this Friday (5 June).

Featuring speakers from the environmental and live events sectors, the virtual panel, Preventing Plastic Pollution Post Pandemic, will be broadcast live on Facebook and YouTube at 3pm BST (4pm CET).

With Covid-19 pandemic having turned business as usual upside down, panellists will consider how this ‘new normal’ is affecting the use of plastics.

Are perceptions and protocols for reuse being reframed? How do we manage the mounting requirement for personal protective equipment (PPE), which are often often single-use plastics? What changes, ideas and actions are coming from the event community during this period of reflection and response, and where do we go from here?

A Greener Festival’s Claire O’Neill chairs the session, which also features:

The event will be broadcast live on YouTube and Facebook. Viewers can submit questions for the panellists and comments during the session, which is free to join.

For more information, contact hello@agreenerfestival.com.

 


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GEI announces full agenda for 2020

The twelfth edition of A Greener Festival’s (AGF) Green Events and Innovations Conference (GEI) will look at topics including the sustainability of festivals, eco-friendly touring and social inequalities within the industry.

Representatives from Live Nation, AEG Europe, Extinction Rebellion, Glastonbury Festival and the O2 Arena are speaking at the one-day event, which is taking place alongside the ILMC Production Meeting (IPM) on Tuesday 3 March, the opening day of the International Live Music Conference (ILMC).

Punk legend John Robb of the Membranes is giving the keynote interview with Sebastian Sandys of Extinction Rebellion, before hosting the It’s a Human Story panel to discuss the live industry’s potential for social impact.

The Focus on Festivals panel, presented in collaboration with the International Green Deal, will look at the next steps that festivals need to take to achieve full circularity, with speakers from Lowlands, Cambridge Folk Festival, the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) and Big Green Coach.

A year on from the launch of the Green Artist Rider, IQ Magazine’s Gordon Masson will host A Greener Tour – Round 2, supported by Forum Karlin and Metronome, to explore what is being done to improve the sustainability of touring, with panellists including CAA’s Emma Banks, Live Nation Europe’s head of sustainability Patricia Yagüe and Tanner Watt from Reverb.

“Next [we need] to exchange knowledge and collaborate to allow fundamental changes so the live industry can be a strong positive force”

GEI will share breakout sessions with IPM, looking at the latest development in electricity usage at events, and updates in sustainable trucking in a panel presented by Rick Smith of Rule Out Loud Management and Maarten Arkenbout from the Pieter Smit Group.

The second International AGF Awards will round off the event, celebrating the achievements of the greenest festivals from around the world in a ceremony hosted by AGF co-founders Claire O’Neill and Ben Challis.

“We’re excited for GEI12, because we go way beyond raising awareness to having the full attention of top decision makers, artists, and experts to strategically and systematically reduce the industry’s negative impacts upon the environment,” comments O’Neill.

“Admitting to having a problem is the first step. Next is to exchange knowledge and collaborate to allow fundamental changes so the live industry can be a strong positive force. Due to the steep curve in action this year there has never been so much experience to share and to learn from in the greener event space – so this is going to be a busy and fast-paced agenda, but of course with a lot of fun and inspiration!”

GEI12 is taking place at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington, London, supported by Stack-Cup.

 


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AGF crowns top green events of 2019

International not-for-profit organisation A Greener Festival (AGF) has announced the 37 recipients of the A Greener Festival Award in 2019.

Festivals and events from 15 countries received the award for their commitment to sustainability at an awards ceremony at Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS), the Netherlands, earlier this evening (17 January).

AGF director Claire O’Neill, ILMC MD Greg Parmley and GO Groups Holger Jan Schmidt presented the awards – made entirely of reused materials, including salvaged festival tents – to recipients including Øya Festival, Norway; Sziget Festival, Hungary; Glastonbury Festival, UK; and Slovenia’s Metal Days.

Winners, who underwent assessment, site visit and post-event analysis, were deemed to have demonstrated beneficial sustainability practices across areas including transport, waste, power, water, ecosystems and local area impacts.

“The need for us all to take significant positive action for the good of the environment requires no introduction”

“The need for us all to take significant positive action for the good of the environment requires no introduction,” comments AGF co-founder O’Neill. “Congratulations to our winners who are doing their part, and power to all events and individuals who want to do more. Together we can make things better.”

All winners will be entered as nominees for the International Greener Festival Awards, which will be announced at the annual Green Events & Innovations Conference (GEI), on 3 March in London, alongside the International Live Music Conference (ILMC).

Applications are now open for the Greener Festival Awards 2020. Events should contact hello@agreenerfestival.com to apply.

A full list of winners can be found below:

Oustanding
Cambridge Folk Festival (UK)
DGTL Festival (NL)
Green Gathering (UK)
Øya Festival (NO)
Paradise City (BE)
We Love Green (FR)

Highly commended
Dockyard Festival (NL)
Dubcamp Festival (FR)
Glastonbury Festival (UK)
Greenbelt Festival (UK)
Hadra Trance Festival (FR)
Pete the Monkey (FR)
Primavera Sound (ES)
Rainbow Serpent (AU)
Roskilde Festival (DK)

Commended
Boomtown Fair (UK)
BST Hyde Park (UK)
Das Fest (DE)
Envision Festival (CR)
Hout Festival (NL)
Les 3 Elephants (FR)
Metal Days (SI)
Mystic Garden (NL)
Own Spirit Festival (ES)
Sonidos Liquidos (ES)
SWR3 New Pop Festival (DE)
Sziget Festival (HU)
Walthamstow Garden Party (UK)

Improvers
Buenas Noches Producciones (AR)
Elrow Town Amsterdam (NL)
Lambeth Country Show (UK)
Lost Village Festival (UK)
Manchester Pride Live (UK)
Straf_Werk (NL)
Terraforma Festival (IT)
Utrechtse Introductie Tijd (UIT) (NL)
Wonderfruit Festival (TH)

 


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AGF champions eco-friendly events in South America

Live industry sustainability specialist A Greener Festival (AGF) recently teamed up with members of the Latin America music business to discuss how to reduce waste at live events.

Along with South American electronic music promoter Buenas Noches Producciones (BNP), eco-friendly organisation Bye Bye Plastic, which is run by DJ Blond:ish, and local environmental movement Voluntad Verde, AGF led an open, public discussion on how the electronic music industry can help tackle climate change and reduce waste generation – particularly plastics.

The session, which took place on 21 November in the Argentinian city of Córdoba, opened with a statement from BNP detailing the commitment of the electronic music scene to help fight climate change, via its ‘Dance and Recycle’ and ‘Respect’ campaigns. BNP also underwent a complete AGF-conducted Sustainability Assessment.

The free-to-attend event was directed towards attendees of BNP events, as the promoter looks to increase sustainability in the future.

“We are committed to leading the change in our local scene and strongly believe that consistency and continuity will get us there”

“We have been working hard to bring respect to the core of all elements of our events for years, including respect for our environment, our health, our peers, for everything,” comments Ivan Aballay, CEO and founder of Buenas Noches Producciones.

“We are committed to leading the change in our local scene and strongly believe that consistency and continuity will get us there. This powerful initiative, which brought together artists, staff and the local community, is just beginning. We have a lot more hard work ahead.”

A Greener Festival’s Claire O’Neill adds that: “So often the discussion around sustainability is about limitation and lack. What we love about this inspiring collaboration is that it amplifies and enhances our combined energy to make a positive difference beyond the dancefloor.

“If the whole music industry took actions such as these surrounding gigs, the environmental benefits would be phenomenal.”

AGF is presenting the Green Events and Innovations Conference (GEI) in partnership with the International Live Music Conference (ILMC) on 3 March in London. Tickets for GEI 2020 are available here.

 


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Sustainability in live: a long way to go

Whilst the live music industry undoubtedly has the ability and power to share good practice and ideas across borders, operationally speaking, it has a whole host of negative environmental impacts.

In 2006, I joined an ILMC panel discussing environmental sustainability in the live music industry. Live Nation had just appointed their first sustainability manager, and Download Festival’s bars were already employing a reusable cup deposit system. Thirteen years later, the same conversations continue to take place, but with one big difference: what was previously a topic deemed worthy by only a small section of the live music industry, has now become an unavoidable theme applicable throughout the business.

With the publication of the 12-year warning (now 11) – before irreversible climate change takes place – by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the issue has been pushed higher up on the international agenda. Difficult decisions have to be made with some industries no longer being permitted or able to operate as they did in the past. As an industry, we have three options: (1) wait to be told to change by governments and regulations, (2) stick our heads in the sand (whilst there’s still sand to stick things in) and hope it all goes away, or (3) do something, get creative and evolve.

What was previously a topic deemed worthy by only a small section of the live music industry, has now become an unavoidable theme applicable throughout the business

Event greening and sustainability often put the main focus on the elimination of single-use plastics and plastic pollution. Whilst this is extremely important, it’s actually just one small piece of a much larger puzzle. Reports such as The Show Must Go On published by Powerful Thinking have highlighted that a significant impact of live events on the environment is the burning of fossil fuels used for transportation. And more recently, it has been revealed that the meat and dairy industries are responsible for even greater emissions than transportation and that a huge reduction in their consumption is essential to avoid climate breakdown. In addition, regulations such as the Modern Slavery Act, and campaign groups like Fashion Revolution increasingly expose the supply chains for goods and merchandise.

So what’s the live music industry doing to reverse climate change? The recent Green Events & Innovations Conference (GEI) saw Coda Agency launch their Green Artist Rider alongside A Greener Festival, following growing requests from artists. Venues, including the Royal Albert Hall and the O2, highlighted their efforts to reduce FOH waste and facilitate low carbon travel for productions and audiences. Meanwhile, festival organisers across Europe have been pioneering in the field of sustainability – combating the rampant waste of campers with the formation of the Campsite Chaos working group. All of these actions and issues are helping the industry to focus on the issue and improve event sustainability.

Wasteful consumption of finite resources resulting in pollution is a huge challenge. Many of us are now aware of the circular or closed-loop economy – an area that requires innovation and creativity so that we can retire out-dated linear design systems that rely on cheap materials and disposability, and instead keep resources within the “loop.”

Difficult decisions have to be made with some industries no longer being permitted or able to operate as they did in the past

The circular economy aims to use renewable energy. Improved accuracy of temporary event power requirements results in optimum efficiency, saving both fuel and money. Energy storage systems are becoming more widely available and are particularly beneficial for supplementing limited grid power during peak usage.

There is an increasing demand for biofuels to replace the fossil fuels used for transport and generators. At GEI, Maarten Arkenboot of transport company Pieter Smit spoke of trucking fleets meeting Euro 6 emission standards due to regulations from major cities, and their use of HVO in their engines. HVO distribution and availability, however, is still lacking.

Public awareness of issues such as single-use plastics is growing, but we must be wary of knee-jerk reactions. Whilst new “green” alternatives are obviously attractive, we must give equal attention to the infrastructure for waste management and materials recovery. Sources of uncertified alternative fuel, for instance, can lead to deforestation and other consequences. The full life-cycle of each product must be considered.

Fundamental changes are needed to make a significant difference. Tour design needs to consider routing and the quantity of what is on the road or flown. Improvements can be made to in-house venue production, reducing trucking whilst boosting local creative employment. Low carbon travel for audiences needs to be facilitated.

Ultimately, it is not about saving the planet. It existed before us, and can exist without us in the future. A greener live music industry is concerned with our wellbeing as a species. Equality, diversity, health and wellbeing go hand in hand with effectively tackling ecological challenges.

 


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My breakthrough moment: Industry pros on their career turning points

Hard work, knowing the right people and a slice of good luck can all play a part in getting a proper footing on the career ladder.

In the first of new series of articles, IQ puts four industry figures in the spotlight by asking them to share the stories of their breakthrough moments…

 


Joe Schavion, Live Nation
The turning point for me was getting an email out of the blue from a guy called Nick Dewey who was looking for someone to join his festival booking team. It wasn’t a name I’d heard before, so I called up Laura Taylor of Everybody’s Management asking: “Who is he?” She said: “It’s Emily Eavis’s husband.” It was Nick from the festival I grew up idolising.

I remember the date very clearly, as it was 1 April, so I thought it might be a wind-up, but I went to meet Nick and began helping out on bookings for Glastonbury, which was amazing. That experience led to agents taking me more seriously and national promoters getting in touch, including Sam Bush from Global.

Sam and I instantly hit it off and worked together for a couple of years before both being offered the opportunity to join Live Nation [in 2017]. I now find myself in the room where the biggest tours in the world – Drake, Taylor Swift, Guns N’ Roses – are being discussed and I’m learning so much all the time. The infrastructure is in place around me – now I just need to become the biggest and best promoter I can be.

I remember the date very clearly, as it was 1 April, so I thought it might be a wind-up

Kim Bloem, Mojo Concerts
When I started as a booker of mostly jazz shows in 2001, there was one artist that I could not imagine ever promoting: Prince. Being a huge fan and just starting as a booker, doing so was completely out of my league, and I thought that if I did ever do it, I would then quit my job, as it would have been the highest achievement possible.

Jazz and related music then became more widely supported by the general public through the likes of Norah Jones, Jamie Cullum, Michael Bublé and John Legend. I was lucky to be in the right place at the right moment. I had picked up on these artists and suddenly I was going to promote them for bigger audiences than I was used to, and the idea of being a part of what made an artist’s career fly made me feel like I was really contributing to something; it was the first time I ordered champagne and flowers for the dressing rooms!

In 2004, Norah Jones sold out two Heineken Music Hall (HMH) shows. This was when the bosses at Mojo asked me to become a promoter and book bigger shows, which was a turning point in my career.

A year later, Jamie Cullum became the new, crazy jazz kid in town and was immensely popular, selling three HMHs, while Bublé started selling a lot of tickets and went from theatre-level to the football stadium GelreDome [41,000-cap.]. John Legend sold from HMH level to 18,000 tickets in a field, and Jason Mraz did the same, all beyond expectation. And then, in 2010, I received a call asking me to put on a show with Prince in a stadium, within two weeks – a dream come true!

But, as I had become addicted to this business, I’m still here, and celebrating every show that gets confirmed, big or small.

I was introduced to band members as I was flyering the queue myself. No doubt that made some kind of impression!

Steve Tilley, Kilimanjaro Live
I was new at Kilimanjaro in August 2008, and the enormity of the challenge to build a roster weighed heavily. I felt I had my work cut out to compete on the national level.

I saw Frightened Rabbit go first on at Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen in early October and knew they had a bright future! It was just a hunch but I enthusiastically told their then-agent Jess that a headline Scala [800-cap.] show would be a no-brainer. As a fan, I knew that the Midnight Organ Fight was going to clean up in the end-of-year album polls.

Jess was overjoyed to hear my suggestion, because rival promoters for the artist were not showing the same ambition. By late November, my first-ever Scala show was confirmed for the following April. Frightened Rabbit were already booked to open for Biffy Clyro at their December 2008 Brixton Academy show and I was introduced to band members as I was flyering the queue myself. No doubt that made some kind of impression!

The Scala sold out, and on the night Steve Strange turned up, as he had just taken on the band. He assured me I was still the guy to promote the band in London (and elsewhere) and a little bit more of me started to really believe I could make it as a national promoter.

When Scott Hutchison passed away last year, it was just over nine years since the Scala show. His death happened right on the eve of my huge outdoor gigs with Ed Sheeran, so I had to deal with the tragedy of a lost friend while also trying to celebrate a personal career milestone that in 2008 seemed like a world inhabited by others. Talk about mixed emotions.

2018, therefore, became my tribute to Scott, because the belief he and his band showed in me was something that gave me even more belief in myself. I wish, like many others, that I could bring him back. He was loved by so many. So, thank you, Scott (and Grant, Billy and Andy).

I found myself fresh out of uni sharing the stage with then-MD of Live Nation, Stuart Galbraith

Claire O’Neill, A Greener Festival
After studying music industry management at BCUC (interspersed with psychedelic adventures of cosmic exploration in the woods and across mainland Europe) in 2005, I decided my dissertation title would be Should UK Music Festivals Implement Environmentally Friendly Practices?. The reasoning: there was a staggering disparity between how major festivals were being operated, and what was both possible and necessary for the industry to be greener.

There was no way the ‘big boys’ were going to be swayed to change business as usual by rave-culture, revolution rhetoric alone. I needed a strategy! This strategy was to show that paying audiences wanted greener festivals, and to give clear examples of how this was possible.

Regardless of the content and the intent, dissertations are destined to gather dust in a draw for eternity. Or so I thought. Luckily for me, my intellectual property and contract law lecturer, Ben Challis, kindly read my dissertation, as I sought his sagely critique from his years of work with Glastonbury Festival, Yourope and the live music industry in general. It was thanks to Ben that our dear friend and my classmate, Luke Westbury, turned the findings of the dissertation into a website: Agreenerfestival.com. Festivals started calling.

Ben also suggested to ILMC (I think ILMC 18 or 19) that I should present my research. I found myself fresh out of uni giving my first presentation and panel discussion with a packed room of ILMC delegates, sharing the stage with then-MD of Live Nation, Stuart Galbraith, and someone from the aviation industry who provides private jets for artists, with Festival Republic’s Melvin Benn in the front row. It was a baptism of fire for which I am very grateful.

Twelve or so years later, and A Greener Festival has assessed and certified circa 500 festivals worldwide including heavyweights like Glastonbury and Roskilde Festival, organised the Green Events & Innovations Conference (now in its 11th year) alongside ILMC, and trained over 100 sustainability managers and assessors from 15+ countries.

 


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