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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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Green Guardians: Artists and activists

The Green Guardians Guide, spearheaded by the Green Events and Innovations Conference (GEI) and IQ Magazine, is a new yearly initiative boosting the profiles of those working at the forefront of sustainability, in the hope that it might also inspire others.

The 2021 list, which originally ran in IQ 103, includes 40 entries across eight categories, highlighting some of the organisations and individuals who are working so tirelessly to reduce the carbon footprint of the live entertainment business.

This year’s winners have been chosen by a judging panel that includes experts from A Greener Festival, Greener Events, Julie’s Bicycle, the Sustainability in Production Alliance, the Sustainable Event Council and the Tour Production Group.

IQ will publish entries across all categories over the coming weeks. Catch up on the previous instalment of the Green Guardians Guide which looks at activation, communication and marketing.

 


Paula Birtwistle
During the pandemic, Paula Birtwistle’s work life switched from travelling across the country to large gigs, to creating hyper-local experiences in her hometown. Working with local partners Culture Weston, Loves music venue, and Music Declares Emergency, she has been able to produce a series of live gigs with low environmental impact but huge social impact.

Birtwistle attended online training with Walk The Plank/Green Production Lab, a course designed to empower production managers to make better environmental choices in their work. “It’s interesting how people accept my advice on health and safety matters, but my advice on environmental impact should be taken just as seriously – and I am starting to see this happen,” she reports.

“For my latest series of gigs, I used a solar system to power them, backed up with investment in some very efficient lighting and sound kit. Even with Kosheen rocking the tent of 120 people we only pulled about 1,100W, or less than half [the amount of power required to boil] a domestic kettle!”

In addition to thinking about power, Birtwistle made sure everything was sourced locally, even down to beer brewed in the town and locally made vegan food. “I’ve also been thinking more about how to start important conversations,” she adds. “For example, I worked with Music Declares Emergency on a really cool inclusive gig that used the pull of free, quality live music to talk about local climate issues and small changes people could make. We hope to take this bandstand model around the country.”

“The UK live events industry is made up of people with exactly the skills needed to find new sustainable solutions”

Greenbelt Festival
Code Red for Humanity – that was the stark warning on 9 August from UN secretary general António Guterres. A brutal but realistic assessment highlighting just how important it is that we all join forces to avert a rapidly approaching climate catastrophe.

Organisers at Greenbelt have always advocated that there is strength in unity, in working together and learning from others, and that has been no different during the pandemic. Throughout this tricky time of cancelled festivals and plans A, B, C and D for any interim events, Greenbelt’s Green Guardians have persisted with their desire to find new and sustainable ways of doing things.
The organisation has talked regularly with the A Greener Festival community, shared knowledge with others in training sessions, and envisioned how the festival might be improved in 2022.

They’ve continued to support Vision:2025 and helped to set up a sustainability steering group for the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF).

“One thing we know for certain is that, battered and bruised as it is, the UK live events industry is made up of incredibly talented, problem-solving individuals – people with exactly the skills needed to find new sustainable solutions, new ways of powering things, of avoiding waste and inspiring audiences to make changes,” says Greenbelt’s Mary Corfield. “We can do this, if we all work together – we look forward to working alongside you.”

Openstage is seeking to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50,000 tons of CO2e per annum from the UK music market

Alison Hussey
After 32 years of being the first global concierge service to actively offer green and ethical options and support to rock stars and events, and with a history of working with global superstar vegans and activists, lockdown changed everything for Alison Hussey – as it did for so many.

Finding a silver lining in the situation allowed her to work towards the Vision:2025 aim of building the industry back greener (#BuildBackGreener) and to continue concentrating on promoting green lifestyles, holistic living and sustainability behind the scenes via social media, with her own company VIPZeronauts. She was also able to devote more time to her advisory roles with Openstage and NOQ, helping to empower companies that are making a difference in sustainability.

Openstage – with its capacity to use fan data to quantify and reduce emissions associated with live events, analysing location clusters of ticket purchasers and offering lower-emission travel alternatives to attendees – is seeking to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50,000 tons of CO2e per annum from the UK music market, and by 10% in any other country they operate meaningfully within.

NOQ, meanwhile, is revolutionising food and drink ordering at events and venues, solving problems around queue management whilst enhancing customer experience and providing a covid-safe solution. The NOQ app is an all-round more sustainable solution for events and venues, increasing sales whilst reducing food wastage, manpower and cash transactions through pre-ordering, and working with NCASS, AIF and NOEA.

“Shambala is becoming a disposables-free event, embracing new energy technologies, and working on a radical new food strategy”

Chris Johnson
In 2019, Chris Johnson spent around six months on furlough – his first break from festival organising in 20 years. As well as giving him the time and space to learn how to relax, it also provided him with the opportunity to get involved with various sustainability projects.

Johnson recently joined the Climate Live Advisory Board and is proud to have played a small role in getting singer-songwriter and political activist Declan McKenna onto a boat outside the UK Houses of Parliament with the message “Can you hear us yet?”

Meanwhile, at Vision:2025, which Johnson chairs, efforts were refocussed on communication and resources to support climate action. A monthly industry newsletter was launched, and a new ‘knowledge hub’ website constructed. The organisation also gained EU funding to develop a European knowledge hub and e-learning course for event professionals, which is under development.

In his role as CEO of UK music industry sustainable travel charity ecolibrium, Johnson was able to support a rebrand and strategic review, giving the organisation stronger foundations.

Last year, he also launched Chris Johnson Consulting, which has been working with marketing agencies, events companies and industry bodies on sustainability strategy.

And if all that wasn’t enough, his festival, Shambala, has also been busy on the sustainability front, including becoming a disposables-free event, embracing new energy technologies, and working on diversity and a radical new food strategy. “I can’t wait to get my teeth back into this in 2022,” says Johnson.

“Amplify gives 25 musicians a three-day immersion into nature connection and environmental awareness training”

Sam Lee
In addition to being a working artist, Sam Lee keeps himself busy through multiple projects. He is a co-founder of Music Declares Emergency, hosting their monthly radio show, supporting their No Music on a Dead Planet campaign, and sits on the Live Green working group focusing on creating a greener Live Music Charter.

Informing IQ how he has spent the pandemic, Lee says, “I released my first book, The Nightingale, a biography of this red-list endangered bird and its cultural importance. “Through my arts and environment organisation, The Nest Collective, I have been running many ecological awareness projects including my six-week concert series, Singing with Nightingales, both in-person and hosting the online broadcast series for Earth Day and International Dawn Chorus Day.”

Lee is also leading a series of the ecologically unique chalk stream awareness nature walks for audiences around the southeast of the UK. He continues, “I produced and led an artists’ development programme called Amplify, giving 25 musicians a three-day immersion into nature connection and environmental awareness training. I’ve also been holding numerous lectures and panels at conferences and events online on the importance of arts and creativity in the campaign for climate justice and sustainability.”

 


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GEI enlists industry titans for summer edition

With less than four weeks to go, the Green Events and Innovations Conference (GEI) has announced a new raft of panels and speakers for its Summer Edition.

The conference will be streamed online on 16 September via Hopin, with speakers joining both live and virtually from the Virtual Venue, powered by 100% renewable energy.

Newly announced speakers include Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme), Dave Ojay (NAAM Festival), Amber Etre (Christie Lites), Fay Milton (Savages) and Celia Palau Lodge (Cooking Vinyl Records).

Samm Farai Munro (Magamba Network), Meegan Jones (Sea, Great Ocean Race), Stuart McPherson (KB Event) and Jamal Chalabi (Backlash Productions) are also new to the billing.

Elsewhere on the agenda, the umbrella group representing the UK live industry, LIVE, will be giving delegates an exclusive first look at its ‘Live Green Declaration‘.

LIVE will be giving delegates an exclusive first look at its ‘Live Green Declaration’

John Langford (AEG Europe), Stuart Galbraith (Kilimanjaro Live) and Clementine Bunel (Paradigm) are among the speakers who will be discussing the declaration, which sets out a vision for sustainability in the live industry.

The newly formed Tour Production Group (TPG) will also be delivering a key session at this year’s summer edition, ‘A Greener Tour – V for Vendor‘.

Moderated by TPG founder Wob Roberts, the session will delve into the opportunities, obstacles and actions for the greener tours of the near future, with a special focus on vendors.

The session will include Amber Etra (Christie Lights), Robert Trebus (d&b audiotechnik), Stuart McPherson (KB Event Ltd), Jamal Chalabi (Backlash Productions) and David NG Lawrence (DNG Production).

Organisers expect 200+ delegates to attend the first GEI Summer Edition, tickets for which are on sale now. The schedule can be viewed here.

GEI is A Greener Festival’s annual flagship event, delivered in partnership with the International Live Music Conference (ILMC) in London. It has been running for over 13 years and welcomes delegates and speakers who are leaders in the event sector, sustainability and regenerative economies.

 


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DGTL sets a new precedent for sustainability

Dutch brand DGTL has announced the final piece in its ‘overall sustainability puzzle’ after partnering with SkyNRG, a pioneer in sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

The new partnership will ensure that all artists flying to and from DGTL’s eight international editions reduce their CO2 emissions by replacing fossil fuel with SAF, using the ‘book and claim’ model.

The festival says it now has a ‘firm handle’ on every aspect of its sustainability cycle, having solved sustainability issues around energy, water and sanitation, food and commodities at their events.

Last year, DGTL’s flagship event in Amsterdam was the first electronic music festival to become fully sustainable, setting a precedent in the international live music industry.

The brand also has editions in Barcelona, Madrid, Santiago, São Paulo, Tel Aviv and Bangalore.

“DGTL’s festivals have a huge reach, which is why it is important we lead by example and plant the seed for change”

“We feel a responsibility to continuously improve and maintain our social and environmental impact on the globe and we are committed to leave the world a bit better than we found it,” says DGTL’s sustainability coordinator Mitchell van Dooijeweerd.

“That’s why we are always researching and implementing innovative measures to progressively reduce emissions. But we’re looking beyond our own emissions too. Through this partnership with SkyNRG, we reduce CO2 emissions together with our artists and ensure that what we do inspires our surroundings.

“Replacing fossil kerosine with SAF is a huge step forward for unavoidable flights. Furthermore, it is a scalable solution that can reduce air travel emissions for other events too where air travel may be unavoidable. DGTL’s festivals have a huge reach, which is why it is important we lead by example and plant the seed for change.”

Under the new partnership, DGTL and SkyNRG – alongside climate tech builder Chooose – will also launch a carbon emissions calculator that both the industry and general public can use to evaluate and reduce their CO2 footprint.

Climate healing and carbon removals will be a key topic at the summer edition of the Green Events and Innovations Conference, taking place online on 16 September 2021. Tickets are available here.


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Building Back Greener: Next steps for the live industry

One of few feel-good stories that has emerged from the more than year-long shutdown of nearly all normal life is the perception that the natural world is getting a long-overdue ‘break’ from humanity.

Emissions are down across the board, with 2.3 billion tons less carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere in 2020 alone, and the quality of rivers and other large bodies of water has improved: parts of India’s Ganges and Yamuna rivers, for example, have become fit for drinking for the first time in decades.

Against the backdrop of such positive developments, as well as a heightened public awareness of the worsening climate crisis, the imminent return of concert touring – with its trucks and planes, its waste and its thirst for energy – could be a turning point for live music’s relationship with the natural environment.

This sense that the end of the pandemic is a fork in the road for the industry is heightened by the upcoming 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, which will be the most important global sustainability event since the landmark Paris Agreement was signed at COP21 in 2015.

With Earth Day just passed, and COP26 coming into view, will the business decide to draw a line under the bad old days and commit to building a sustainable future, or will the rush to get back to business-as-usual leave environmental concerns in the dust?

“With the way the news is, and what we’re seeing globally, people are finally realising that [climate change] is an emergency”

For tour manager Jamal Chalabi (Bring Me the Horizon), who serves as sustainability facilitator for the UK’s Tour Production Group (TPG), the sacrifices of the past year will have been for nothing if the industry doesn’t use the pause in touring to bring forward positive change on sustainability.

Established in summer 2020 by around 60 tour and production managers, the formation of the TPG was driven by a feeling that “it was a really important time for us to come together to press reset,” explains Chalabi.

“We looked at all the things that we’d seen that we wanted to discuss and change – that was things like mental health and welfare, diversity and inclusion, and, of course, sustainability.”

From the TPG’s conversations with promoters, agents, venues, and vendors, Chalabi says he hopes there is a broad industry consensus emerging about the need to make touring sustainable. “I think people are finally ready for this change,” he continues.

“With the way the news is, and what we’re seeing globally, people are finally realising that this is an emergency.”

“If we can look at sustainability from a holistic point of view, it will make the live music sector more resilient [to future crises]”

The events of 2020, he adds, have demonstrated that the live industry isn’t divorced from climate change, many of the causes of which – including deforestation and habitat loss – are believed by scientists to contribute to the emergence and spread of epidemic diseases.

“The pandemic has shown that our industry isn’t as resilient as many people thought,” says Chalabi. “We were first to stop working and we’ll be the last back. If we can look at sustainability from a holistic point of view – intelligent spending, wasting less, streamlining our processes and adopting better practices – it will make the live music sector more resilient [to future crises].”

Several high-profile artists, notably Ellie Goulding, Massive Attack and Radiohead, have publicly criticised the environmental impact of concert touring – and Coldplay have gone so far as to say they will not tour until it’s possible to do so in a net-positive way – but for many, it’s obvious that real change will need a joined-up, pan-industry approach to the issue. As Massive Attack’s Robert Del Naja said earlier this year, “One band not touring doesn’t change a thing.”

Same old story?
The importance of the TPG’s crusade is illustrated by research that shows the idea of nature being given a chance to recover by Covid-19 ignores the reality in much of the world. According to Conservation International, “there is a misperception that nature is ‘getting a break’ from humans during the Covid-19 pandemic. Instead, many rural areas in the tropics are facing increased pressure from land grabbing, deforestation, illegal mining and wildlife poaching. People who have lost their employment in cities are returning to their rural homes, further increasing the pressure on natural resources while also increasing the risk of Covid-19 transmission to rural areas.

“There have been less emissions because aviation has almost stopped, but global emissions still hit a record high this year”

“Meanwhile, there are reports of increased deforestation in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Illegal miners and loggers are encroaching on indigenous territories, which could expose remote indigenous communities to the virus. Areas that are economically dependent on tourism face reduced resources as tourism has come to a halt, resulting in a rise in the consumption of bushmeat (from wild animals) in Africa. Meanwhile, illegal mining for gold and precious stones in Latin America and Africa is on the rise, as prices spike and protected areas are left unguarded.”

Hadi Ahmadzadeh, founder of sustainable nightlife consultancy Ecodisco, says that while a good narrative – nature ‘recovering’ from human impact – is often useful to get people on board with a movement, it can “sometimes hinder you in the long-term.”

He continues, “With Covid, yes, there have been less emissions because aviation has almost stopped, but global emissions still hit a record high this year. Also the use of single-use plastics has rocketed, with single-use bans being delayed and the widespread need for PPE [personal protective equipment]. So there hasn’t been a magic wand. It’s not a template for how we move forward.”

According to Moo, the British design and printing business best known for its create-your-own business cards, the mass production of single-use PPE during the pandemic is overwhelming recycling systems, leading to a large proportion of the 129 billion face masks used globally every month ending up in the sea.

The company recently partnered with the Ocean Agency, the non-profit creative agency behind projects such as Netflix’s Chasing Coral, to raise awareness of how PPE-derived plastics are exacerbating ocean pollution.

[Ecodisco] has plans in the works to bring recyclable, reusable cups targeted at venues to market in the months ahead

“Both reusable and single-use face masks break down into plastic microfibres, which are easily consumed by marine life and enter the food chain,” explains Richard Vevers, founder of The Ocean Agency. “The pandemic’s impact on plastic pollution is a major human health concern and is now under investigation by scientists.”

Nor is it sustainable to simply stop doing the things that make us happy, continues Ahmadzadeh: “If you look at the sustainable development goals from the UN, it doesn’t just cover plastic cups and carbon emissions – you’ve got cultural sustainability, social sustainability, people looking after each other, the harmony between races and sexes… everything.”

While plastic cups, then, aren’t the be-all and end-all of sustainability, it’s on cups that Ecodisco (which spun out of an earlier eco-friendly party promotion business established by Ahmadzadeh) is currently focusing much of its attention, with plans in the works to bring recyclable, reusable cups targeted at venues to market in the months ahead.

“The whole idea of our system,” explains Ahmadzadeh, “is a reusable cup rental service. So, if you’re a venue, we would deliver reusable cups on Friday morning, for example, and you’d use them Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday day, if you’ve got an event.

Then on Monday we’d collect them, take them away to get washed and simultaneously drop off more clean ones for the week ahead. Every week we’d have two or maybe three collections and deliveries, depending on how many cups the venue can store. The goal is to use each cup around 500 times before recycling them.”

“Don’t just cover up what you’re doing, don’t just offset; reduce the impact as much as possible and then be regenerative”

The Ecodisco system would be funded by a £1 (€1.15) ‘green fee’ for each attendee, with the choice left up to venues as to whether to absorb the cost into the ticket price or levy it on top.

“Whether you integrate it into your ticket price or you make a thing out of it to get people on board with the system – which is what we’d recommend – is ultimately irrelevant,” he adds. “The whole point is, it’s funded by event attendees. We want to remove the cost to the venue.”

“Sustainability just isn’t enough anymore – we actually need to be regenerative,” says Philippa Attwood, who leads corporate partnerships for Barcelona-based Tree-Nation, which helps corporate clients offset their carbon dioxide emissions by planting trees.

“If we just sustain ourselves the way that we are now, that’s actually not good enough. That’s why, in our conversations with clients, we say, don’t just cover up what you’re doing, don’t just offset; reduce the impact as much as possible and then look at how you can be regenerative [ie have a positive effect on the environment].”

So far over 85% of people have said they would be happy to pay the £1 green fee for the [Ecodisco] cup

Like most businesses, Tree-Nation’s plans for 2020 were derailed by the pandemic – it had partnerships with around ten new festivals and live events lined up for the summer and was in conversations with some of the biggest names in live music about offsetting their emissions – though it continues to work successfully with several events, as well as a large pool of e-commerce partners, and its API is integrated with Eventbrite.

Attwood explains: “It could be that you design the event to trigger a tree to be planted every time a ticket is purchased, for example.”

Like Ecodisco’s cups, the decision on whether to include the cost of planting a tree – typically between one and two euros – in the ticket price or make it a separate charge, is left up to event organisers and ticketing platforms.

In the green
Whatever the mechanism that promoters and venues use to fund new green policies, research increasingly shows that fans are willing to pay a little extra if they know they are attending a sustainable/regenerative show.

“You do get some people who turn around and say, ‘I don’t want to put the extra cost onto my customers,’” explains Ahmadzadeh. “In those cases we turn around and say, ‘Okay, cool, let’s ask your customers!’ Working with industry bodies like Music Venue Trust we have started to send out newsletters with survey links, and so far over 85% of people have said they would be happy to pay the £1 green fee for the cup. So, we can show that to someone who says this isn’t what people want, because we’ve got people saying they’re fine with it!”

“Looking into the future, it will probably be more damaging for you if you’re not involved in something like [Tree-Nation]”

It’s a similar story in the festival world. According to Ticketmaster’s State of Play 2019 report, which surveyed 4,000 UK festivalgoers following the most recent summer festival season, a growing number of attendees take sustainability into account when buying festival tickets, with almost two-thirds saying the reduction of waste is a priority.

“Looking into the future, it will probably be more damaging for you if you’re not involved in something like [Tree-Nation],” adds Attwood. “If you’re still using throwaway plastics, diesel generators, etc, and all of that is visible, it’s going to make your event less appealing than a rival event that has reusable everything, deals with trash in the right way and has good environmental policies.

“So, what I would say to people is to think about the long-term, think about who your target market is and decide whether you want to be part of that positive change.”

The economic argument will be key to bringing everyone, particularly those for whom the environment hasn’t been a priority to date, on board with this green new world, suggests Chalabi. “Some people say things like, ‘Sustainability is all well and good, but who’s going to pay for it?’” he explains, “when in actual fact, if we run it right, it will probably cost us less than it did before.”

Chalabi cites the example of a recent conversation with a lighting designer, who told him it’s “difficult to spec certain [eco-friendly] lights, because a festival only has so much money in the budget and the lighting company can only afford to rent these fixtures.

“All these little things will become like second nature. And that’s what we’re trying to educate people about”

We turned it around and concluded, ‘If you’re using fixtures that cost more money but are using less power, then you’re saving money on the power bill.’ It’s really about stepping back and seeing the bigger picture. Yes, it’s going to cost you a little bit more on the lights, but you’re going to save 95% on your bill.”

As time goes on, he continues, “all these little things will become like second nature. And that’s what we’re trying to educate people about. It’s amazing, for instance, how many vendors we’ve gone to asking if there’s a sustainable option on a certain product, and there is – but nobody’s ever asked for it. A lot of production managers have been doing the same thing for years and years, so they’re going to keep on doing it the same way unless they know there are other choices.”

On the artist side, meanwhile, the world’s biggest tour promoter, Live Nation, is seeking to educate its clients about the options available with its new Green Nation Touring Program [sic], which it hopes will help musicians and their teams develop sustainable tours after live music returns.

The Program [sic], part of the Green Nation initiative launched in 2019, will advise Live Nation-promoted artists on how to adopt eco-friendly touring practices that “prioritise people and planet,” according to the company – including in tour planning, production and sourcing.

“Live Nation has the opportunity and the responsibility to provide artists and fans with live music experiences that protect our planet,” said Michael Rapino, LN’s president and CEO, on Earth Day. “We’re inspired by artists who are continually pushing for greener options, and as we develop those best practices the Green Nation Touring Program will help make them standards in the industry, so collectively we can all make the biggest impact possible.”

“Climate change won’t recognise borders – we’re all in this together”

Positive association
Regardless of the efforts of individual companies, trade associations such as A Greener Festival and the TPG will be crucial to securing any pan-industry consensus on environmental standards, and Chalabi says it’s been “a joy bringing people together” on the TPG’s bi-weekly calls.

“We have the heads of sustainability for AEG and Live Nation on a call, and it’s so refreshing because it’s a recognition that climate change won’t recognise borders – we’re all in this together.”

The spirit of collaboration is behind AGF’s decision to run a second edition of its Green Events and Innovations Conference (GEI) in 2021, following the most recent event ahead of ILMC on 2 March. This one-off, late-summer GEI will build on the momentum of March’s GEI 13 “towards not just rebuilding but becoming a regenerative force for our sector and all of the people it reaches,” explains AGF co-founder Claire O’Neill.

“We intend to set an example that we, the creative and can- do organisations and individuals, are leading the way, and the future that we want to co-create is fully within our grasp,” says O’Neill. “There’s no time to waste, and so we’re keeping our foot firmly on the (zero-emissions) pedal to make sure our industry steps up to be a positive force to create a future we can all be proud of.”

In the US, the Touring Professionals Alliance is “on the same page” as the TPG, according to Chalabi, while in Scandinavia, the Norwegian Live Music Association recently teamed up with other industry bodies to launch Norway’s first ‘green roadmap’ (grønt veikart) as a resource for live entertainment professionals who wish to reduce the environmental impact of their work.

“Sustainable tours needn’t mean smaller tours, just cleverer ones”

Speaking at the launch of the veikart, the association’s general manager, Tone Østerdal, explained: “Most people do not associate the cultural sector with climate and sustainability, but we have a great responsibility. The purpose of preparing this green roadmap is both to become better yourself, and to inspire others to contribute to solving the climate challenge.”

According to Attwood, it’s a misconception that concert touring will need to be scaled back to minimise its environmental impact – sustainable tours needn’t mean smaller tours, just cleverer ones, she says. “A lot of industries are looking at their supply chain and asking how they can do things better, whether it’s using electric cars instead of those that run on gasoline or sourcing products locally instead of shipping something in from China,” explains Attwood, suggesting a similar model can easily be applied to live entertainment.

For those aspects whose impact can’t be reduced further, that’s where offsetting comes in, she continues: “For example, you have 100 tonnes of CO2 you can’t get rid of, but you can plant 1,000 trees, and you can make a commitment to cleaning up the ocean, so indirectly you are compensating for what you’re doing. And it’s possible to give back more than you’re actually taking, so you’re being regenerative: You could generate two tonnes of trash at your festival but fully recycle it, then pick two tonnes of trash out of the ocean, and you’re doing more.”

While under no illusions about its urgency, noting that “we have ten years to get this right,” Chalabi is upbeat about the live business’s ability to meet the climate challenge that lies ahead.

“I think compared to all the industries out there, we touch on so many different economies – whether it’s from the travel sector to the freight sector, to power to audio to lights, you name it – we touch absolutely everything. And the fact that we also reach out to so many people because of the medium that we’re involved in, our artists and the people that we produce, we have a huge voice.

“That voice can change the way the globe feels, and I think we underestimate that power. Which is why we need to make sure our backstage is clean.”

 


Read this feature in its original format in the digital edition of IQ 99:

 

GEI announces special summer 2021 conference

The Green Events and Innovations Conference (GEI) has announced the launch of a special GEI Summer Edition taking place on 16 September 2021.

The launch, which coincides with Earth Day today (22 April), follows this year’s 13th edition of the Green Events & Innovations Conference (GEI), the leading conference for sustainability in the international events sector, in March. The decision to host a second edition in 2021 reflects the doubling of efforts to create a greener events industry post-Covid-19, according to organisers.

“We intend to set an example that we, the creative and can-do organisations and individuals are leading the way, and the future that we want to co-create is fully in our grasp,” says Claire O’Neill, co-founder of conference organiser A Greener Festival (AGF).

“There’s no time to waste, and so we’re keeping our foot firmly on the (zero-emissions) pedal to make sure our industry steps up to be a positive force to create a future we can all be proud of.”

“The future that we want to co-create is fully in our grasp”

Previous editions of GEI have welcomed speakers including Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme), Dale Vince (Ecotricity/Forest Green Rovers), Emma Banks (CAA), Tom Schroeder (Paradigm), Fay Milton (Music Declares Emergency), Alex Hardee (Paradigm), Patricia Yague (Live Nation), Adam Pearson (O2 Arena/AEG), Mark Stevenson (ClientEarth/MoD), Bob Wilson (Greenpeace), Niclas Svenningson (UNFCCC) and Virginijus Sinkevicius (European commissioner for environment, oceans and fisheries).

GEI Summer Edition takes place just two months prior to COP26 (the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference). Conference topics are expected to include social justice, biodiversity, clean air, clean water and healthy soils, wellbeing and mental health, as well as exploring how events and tours can make positive impacts through their design, energy, purchases, water, sanitation, materials, food and drinks.

Organisers expect 200+ delegates to attend the first GEI Summer Edition, limited launch price tickets for which are on sale now.

GEI is AGF’s annual flagship event, delivered in partnership with the International Live Music Conference in London. It has been running for over 13 years and welcomes delegates and speakers who are leaders in the event sector, sustainability and regenerative economies.

 


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