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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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Massive Attack announce latest eco initiative

Bristol band Massive Attack have announced they will travel by train when touring Europe in future, in the group’s latest attempt to tackle the live industry’s carbon footprint.

The announcement follows the band’s commissioning of the University of Manchester’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research to look into ways in which the live music industry can reduce its carbon footprint. Band travel is one of the three key areas the research will focus on, along with audience transport and venues.

Massive Attack were also among acts to perform at the Extinction Rebellion climate protests in London in October 2019.

Currently on tour in North America, Massive Attack will return to Europe in summer 2020, making appearances at the Netherlands’ Best Kept Secret Festival and Les Eurockéennes in France, among others.

“The challenge now is to not only make personal sacrifices, but to insist on the systemic change that’s needed”

Lead singer Robert Del Naja, also known as 3D, told the BBC: “[As musicians] we have enjoyed a high-carbon lifestyle. But as a society we’ve all existed in a fossil-fuel economy for a long time and had very little choice in that.

“The challenge now is to not only make personal sacrifices, but to insist on the systemic change that’s needed. Business as usual is over.”

Coda Agency and A Greener Festival (AGF) launched the Green Artist Rider at the Green Events and Innovations Conference (GEI) in March last year, in a bid to reduce the environmental impact of touring. Tickets for GEI 2020 are available here.

 


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Turning sustainability into saleability

The issue of sustainability and the future of our planet has gripped the globe. Greta Thunberg has been arguably the world’s most foremost speaker in 2019, with every week something related to the topic dominating newsfeeds, be it freak weather, Amazonian fires or growing plastic reserves in our oceans.

It’s becoming omnipresent in the festivals and events space as well, with this year’s season being dominated by it. David Attenborough spoke at Glastonbury to congratulate their attendees for not using plastic, the festival also celebrating 99.3% of people taking their tents home and seeing over 2,000 people join climate change campaign group Extinction Rebellion. The Reading and Leeds Festivals also saw an upturn in sustainable behaviour, with 60% fewer tents left behind as a consequence of their own partnership with Extinction Rebellion.

Musicians also continue to take a stand, the most recent involving the 1975 pledging to plant a tree for every ticket on their tour sold.

The carbon footprint of festivals is one reason for the matter becoming so prominent, but we’re seeing it develop into a much bigger issue for the people that fund the events: the millions of festival ticket buyers. As a new generation of event attendees emerges, a younger demographic even more worried about the plight of the planet has thrust it beyond a side issue to an essential component of any festival or event’s identity.

According to a recent YouGov report, “a quarter (27%) of Britons now cite the environment in their top three issues facing the country, putting it behind only Brexit (67%) and health (32%). Among young Britons concern is higher still, with fully 45% of 18–24-year-olds saying environmental issues are one of the nation’s most pressing concerns, elevating it above health as their second biggest concern behind Brexit (57%).”

Could festivals and events harness consumer’s passions for sustainability issues to their advantage when marketing their shows?

YouGov’s research shows that Extinction Rebellion’s protests across the country have been the catalyst for this, and despite former PM Theresa May committing to net zero UK carbon emissions by 2050, the objections continue. We’re continuing to see this trend show up within festivals. Ticketmaster’s recent survey of 4,000 festival punters (the State of Play UK festivals report), found that a festival being eco-friendly was very important for 57% of attendees, and that waste reduction is very important for 62%.

It’s clear that environmental issues are incredibly important for festivalgoers, and luckily we are also seeing that the festival industry is responding. As well as Glastonbury banning single-use plastics this year, the Live Nation Green Charter across 20 festivals made a number of pledges around reducing the impact each event had. And smaller independent festivals have been leading the way for years, with Shambala, Green Man and many more all making sustainability a central tenet of how their events are delivered.

It’s heartening to see the industry make these steps, particularly as the damage to the environment they can cause needs reversing. But many of these initiatives are time-consuming and can also be daunting for newer events with smaller budgets.

I work with a multitude of events and festivals through my role as a director at Mustard Media, a festivals and events accelerator, and sustainability is a common topic of conversation among all our employees and with our discussions with clients. We looked inwards and asked ourselves if there was a way to deliver an impact with a quicker turnaround.

Could festivals and events harness consumer’s passions for sustainability issues to their advantage when marketing their shows, helping save the environment as part of their main marketing message?

It’s clear that environmental issues are incredibly important for festivalgoers, and the festival industry is responding

Corporate responsibility is an integral part of branding across all sectors, and we’re firm believers that if you can instil positive change when promoting your event, then you should take the opportunity to do so. We were curious to see if it was possible to utilise the power of marketing to make festivals more sustainable – and, in turn, sell more tickets whilst helping events reduce their carbon footprint via some simple promotional steps. We looked into our Mustard Media toolbox and decided running a mini version of our Event Growth Hack workshop could help us come up with a range of solutions for festivals to address this issue.

The Event Growth Hack is a simple process for rapidly solving marketing challenges. After initial research and evaluation, a collaborative workshop session is held which pools the creativity of all parties. A cluster of ideas are generated before a streamlined democratic decision-making process whittles down the most effective marketing solutions for events and festivals. We traditionally use it to help energise festivals mid-campaign or provide a quick burst of creativity when there are time constraints. We figured we could utilise the process to generate some positive ideas for festivals helping the environment alongside promoting their event.

We booked a day out with a crack team to see what ideas we could come up with, identifying five quick hacks and five bigger projects any event or festival could deploy. Among our discoveries were being able to utilise social media engagement to plant trees; reward green behaviour of attendees both before and after the event; and even use the power of comedy to raise awareness. Each initiative could directly benefit the environment and keep sustainability as an issue at the forefront of the marketing message. And as with all experiments in creativity, they can be the catalyst for further ideas to do the same.

We already plan to use these initiatives with both our clients and the festivals we work with as partners in 2020 – a new year and new decade where we envisage sustainability will be an even more dominant issue within the industry.

Visit our website and read our article to learn more about the initiatives and how you could implement these in your own marketing plans.

 


Rob Masterson is managing director of Mustard Media.

Live music amplifies XR’s International Rebellion

Artists and DJs including Massive Attack, Declan McKenna, Orbital and Rob da Bank are bringing the noise this month’s climate protests, where a team of music programmers are risking arrest to provide a musical accompaniment to the demonstrations.

The two-week ‘International Rebellion’, organised by pressure group Extinction Rebellion (XR), began on Monday, and sees activists call on governments around the world take urgent action to tackle global warming.

In London – home to one of the largest of the protests, which are also taking place in 59 other cities worldwide – demonstrators have at various times shut down down Whitehall, the Mall, Westminster Bridge, Downing Street, London City Airport and, most recently, the BBC’s New Broadcasting House headquarters.

The London ‘rebellion’ is “decentralised” and divided into 12 zones, an XR spokesperson tells IQ, with entertainment duties on each site overseen by one or more programmer.

“We’ve had a hell of a lot of people that want to perform at all the sites,” says Sam Weatherald, music programmer at Global Justice Rebellion, which is looking for a new home after being evicted from St James’s Park yesterday. “There’s a big [XR] database for everyone who’s interested, because we’ve had so many people saying they want to play.”

” Music is really great to get the message across”

Acts booked by Weatherald, also co-founder of Antenna Collective, for St James’s Park include rapper Dizraeli, reggae band the Majestic and sitarist-cellist Pete Yelding.

Anthony McGinley, aka DJ Absolute, is based in Trafalgar Square, where XR activists secretly set up a large stage for speeches and live performance. Artists who have played or will play in the square include Disclosure, Orbital, Johnny Flynn and Rob da Bank, DJ and founder of Bestival, as well as members of Pumarosa and Mystery Jets.

“Everyone I’ve asked to play has said ‘yes’,” comments McGinley. “It’s a cause I think a lot of musicians are passionate about. And it feels really good for me, personally, to be able to use my skillset and passions to do something to highlight [XR’s activism].”

Elsewhere, Massive Attack played all 12 sites earlier this week, according to the XR spokesperson, by moving around with a sound system in a backpack, while Declan McKenna played a free show on the Mall – the singer-songwriter’s first in a year.

Weatherald says it’s important to make use of music and arts to address social issues, noting that his and other International Rebellion sites are “chocka with heavy political and social issues, talks and workshops, so it’s really important to have the music there. Music is really great to get the message across.”

“It’s beautiful to see everyone coming together”

But it’s not without its challenges, adds McGinley. “The goalposts have obviously been moving a lot with this – there are all these external forces impacting on what we’re trying to do, so there’s been a lot of solving problems that have come up on the night,” he says.

“Seeing all the raids happening is a bit scary, and it can be disheartening when you’ve planned something only to see it get shut down. [At press time, in excess of 1,000 protesters had been arrested.] So there are a lot of mixed emotions, But also some really amazing highlights – it’s beautiful to see everyone coming together.”

The International Rebellion protests follow a busy summer of festival appearances for Extinction Rebellion activists. Melvin Benn, managing director of Festival Republic, told IQ last month there were 60% fewer tents left behind at its events this summer as a result of XR’s involvement. “I’ve been asking people for ten years not to leave their tents,” he said. “But the first year I get Extinction Rebellion involved, everyone takes them home!”

Other International Rebellion events are taking place in cities including Paris, Madrid, New York, Hong Kong, Toronto, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City and Melbourne.

 


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The 1975 to plant a tree for every ticket sold

The 1975 have pledged to plant a tree for every ticket sold ahead of their upcoming UK and Ireland arena tour, as the band continue their eco-friendly drive.

Manager Jamie Oborne announced the news on Twitter: “Really pleased to say we will be planting a tree for every ticket sold!”

The pledge elicited a positive reaction from fans, with some users calling the 1975 “the best band in the world”.

The band, who this year headlined festivals including Reading and Leeds and Sziget, are embarking on a twelve-date tour in February and March 2020, playing arenas including London’s the O2 (20,000-cap.), Manchester Arena (21,000-cap.) and the SSE Hydro in Glasgow (13,000-cap.).

“Really pleased to say we will be planting a tree for every ticket sold!”

The tree-planting initiative follows the launch of the 1975’s sustainable merchandise range. “We are not making new shirts for now. Unsustainable,” the band’s frontman Matt Healy announced on Instagram. “This run is all old shirts that we had kept and reprinted.”

Fans were encouraged to bring old the 1975 shirts or those of any other bands to Reading and Leeds festivals to be reprinted with the new design.

The band also recorded a song with teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg for their most recent album Notes on a Conditional Form, with all profits going to civil disobedience movement Extinction Rebellion.

Tickets for the 1975’s arena tour go on sale on Friday 20 September at 9 a.m. (BST), with presale tickets available from Wednesday 18 September. A full list of tour dates and information on how to buy tickets can be found here.

 


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Extinction Rebellion joins forces with Kendal Calling

Independent UK festival Kendal Calling has announced a unique collaboration with anti-climate change, civil disobedience campaign group Extinction Rebellion (XR).

The socio-political group has been staging protests in London since 15 April and met with British environment secretary Michael Gove yesterday (30 April).

The group will commandeer an area at the festival to raise awareness around climate change and species extinction, hosting in-depth talks, workshops, film screenings and yoga sessions.

Founded in 2006, this year’s Kendal Calling (25,000-capacity) will take place from 25 to 28 July in Lowther Deer park in the Lake District, a Unesco world heritage site. The theme for this year’s festival, Kendal Calling Goes Jurassic, ties into XR’s anti-extinction protest.

“We’re very happy that we had such a good turn out from our supporters in London and beyond, and connected with new rebels who created a wonderful friendly atmosphere,” says XR spokesperson Oli Nichols.

“To take our global message to a festival like Kendal Calling is a further extension of how we like to conduct ourselves, with good spirit, determination, and good intentions”

“To take our global message to a festival like Kendal Calling is a further extension of how we like to conduct ourselves, with good spirit, determination, and good intentions.

“Although we created disruption, the XR actions sparked imagination and further action around the climate emergency and all done with festival vibes, focused around positivity and hope, on all sites,” says Nichols.

The group hopes to make “deep and long-lasting connections” at the festival

In addition to the XR area, Kendal Calling’s programming includes art installations, comedy, cabaret, cinema and children’s activities.

The festival sees headline performances from disco group Nile Rodgers and Chic, as well as Manchester-based indie groups Doves and Courteeners. Miles Kane, the Pigeon Detectives, Idles and Manic Street Preachers are also among those on the bill.

Kendal Calling won the marketing campaign of the year award at the 2018 UK Festival Awards, following its 2016 best medium festival win.

Tickets for Kendal Calling can be found here.

 


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