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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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Green Guardians: Activation, communication, marketing

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. The first instalment of the Green Guardians Guide looks at activation, communication and marketing.


Activation, communication and marketing

Atmosfair
Atmosfair is a German non-profit organisation that actively contributes to CO2 mitigation by promoting, developing and financing renewable energies in more than 15 countries. It relies exclusively on voluntary climate payments from private individuals and businesses.

Aiming to decarbonise the world economy, Atmosfair’s software tools and consulting services assist businesses in executing their climate policies, with a particular focus on business travel. The company’s philosophy is to only compensate what can’t be avoided or reduced. This approach constitutes the foundation for all the organisation’s partnerships, ensuring not only climate integrity but also cost efficiency.

Atmosfair cooperates with the travel sector worldwide in order to strengthen climate protection. Among its many partners are tour operators, airlines, airports, travel agencies for leisure/business travel, organisations such as the German Travel Association and the German Business Travel Association, as well as travel media such as guidebooks.

One of its main areas of interest lies in preparing comprehensive CO2 analyses for companies with high numbers of business trips and then providing tailored travel management advice. This not only saves CO2 emissions, but also money – and not least improves employee satisfaction.

Music Declares Emergency has continued to build on that initial demonstration of intent from the music industry and artists

Music Declares Emergency
Now two years since its launch, Music Declares Emergency (MDE) has continued to build on that initial demonstration of intent from the music industry and recording artists to ensure that music plays a pivotal role in responding to the climate emergency and encourages everyone to take an interest in how we make the world a better place for all life.

The organisation’s Turn Up The Volume week around Earth Day 2021 saw a series of major announcements on sustainability from businesses, with Beggars Group and Ninja Tune outlining their paths to becoming net-zero businesses, and Earth Percent, a new charity that will work with the industry to fund climate causes, announcing their launch and board members.

Despite the lockdowns, MDE managed to trial its Bandstand event in Weston-Super-Mare in the UK, with the help of local community and arts groups. This saw local talent join forces with businesses and environmental and community groups in the area for a day of free entertainment and talks, covering everything from local transport issues to beach cleaning, wildlife preservation, and plastics reduction. By using music the community organisers brought together a diverse audience to consider how their community could become more sustainable; the logic of MDE in practice.

As we approach COP26, MDE is working on a major national-scale activation – more on that soon – and it continues to help sister groups launch around the world, putting music at the heart of the campaign for a greener, fairer future for all.

#DrasticOnPlastic saw more than 60 AIF member festival websites ‘wrapped in plastic’ for 24 hours to raise awareness

Drastic on Plastic
Launched by the UK’s Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) in association with RAW Foundation to coincide with Earth Day in 2018, #DrasticOnPlastic saw more than 60 AIF member festival websites ‘wrapped in plastic’ for 24 hours to raise awareness of the devastating effects of single-use plastic.

Website visitors were faced with facts about the extent and impact of everyday plastic use, alongside links to RAW Foundation resources. One of the key messages was to promote re-use as opposed to single-use, and to illustrate the footprint of festivals, with 23,500 tons of waste generated and audiences consuming ten million plastic bottles annually. The campaign attracted global media attention across TV, radio and online, generating over 15m impressions on social media.

Crucially, all participating festivals committed to banning plastic straws onsite in 2018, as a minimum first step, and pledged to eliminate all single-use plastic at their events by 2022, in light of the Covid-19 crisis and festival rescheduled.

Enviral believes that storytelling plays a crucial role in communicating our way out of the climate crisis

Enviral
The world is in a super interesting place right now. People everywhere are stopping and thinking about the impact they are having on the planet. Enviral reports a surge in demand for many of its sustainable clients as people see just how much impact is possible if we all work together. The company contends it is lucky to work with some amazing clients who are at the forefront in the fight for our planet and who are calling for its health to be put at the heart of all recovery business decisions.

As an agency, Enviral has come a long way over the last couple of years. Not only is it Pending B Corps, but it has been working on some really high impact campaigns recently, especially in the run-up to COP26, which includes working with many of the company’s environmental and business heroes. Enviral remains fully committed to pushing boundaries in order to be the best that it can be – from calling out greenwash to turning down clients regularly if they are just looking to tick boxes or get a quick purpose feel-good campaign out the door.

The company believes that storytelling plays a crucial role in communicating our way out of the climate crisis, and Enviral is truly dedicated to championing that.

Seacourt developed LightTouch – a printing technology using no water or harmful chemicals and with instant LED drying

Seacourt
Seacourt’s mission is to create a positive impact on the environment, society and economy through print services and printed communication. The company’s aim is to be the market leader in terms of sustainability and quality, and to help its clients, its client’s clients and its supply chain to become more sustainable. The company’s ethos is to lead by example, living the values and leaving a positive legacy for future generations. Seacourt was amongst the first printers to adopt waterless printing, then pushing the boundaries of print. It went on to develop LightTouch – a pioneering printing technology using no water or harmful chemicals and with instant LED drying.
▶ 100% waterless LED drying offset printing
▶ 100% alcohol and chemical free
▶ VOC free inks
▶ 100% renewable energy
▶ Zero waste to landfill
▶ Net positive (beyond carbon neutral including the entire supply chain)
▶ Four Queens Awards for Sustainable Development
▶ Highest scoring B-Corp printing company in the world
▶ B-Corp “Best for the world” for 2021

Seacourt’s commitment has proved there is a better way to approach printing. The company calls it “planet positive printing”: every time its customers produce a piece of print, it will have a positive impact on society and the environment.

 


GEI is holding its inaugural summer edition on 16 September and will be featuring representatives of a number of this year’s shortlisted Green Guardians. Tickets for the event can still be purchased by clicking here.

Music rallies for sustainability on Earth Day

Today (22 April) marks the 51st Earth Day and the culmination of a week of action aimed at raising awareness and securing support for the global movement for environmental protection.

With sustainability and green living higher on the world’s agenda than ever before, and ahead of the pivotal UN Climate Change Conference (Cop26) in November, this year’s Earth Day is considered the most important yet – and campaigners in the music industry are marking the date with a host of new initiatives, including a special summer edition of the Green Events and Innovations Conference and Live Nation’s new Green Nation Touring Program.

For Music Declares Emergency, Earth Day is the high point of a week-long series of actions and activities designed to ‘turn up the volume’ on its calls for both government action on climate change and a sustainable music industry.

Earth Day 2021 activities in support of the campaign, which launched in the UK in 2019 and has since expanded to Germany, Switzerland, France, Chile and Canada, include radio, internet and print interviews with its artist supporters; new designs for the ‘No Music on a Dead Planet’ T-shirt range, including a reworking of Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures by Peter Saville; and the launch of a new Classical Declares group with Julian Lloyd Webber, Rachel Portman, Errollyn Wallen and more.

Music Declares’ supporter (‘declarer’) list now stands at over 5,000 organisations and individuals in the UK alone. For full details of its Earth Day activities, including events planned for this weekend, click here.

Formed in partnership with Music Declares Emergency, GEI organiser A Greener Festival and Julie’s Bicycle, a new initiative led by Brian Eno, EarthPercent, is asking artists, music companies and industry professionals to commit a small percentage of their revenue to organisations working to combat climate change.

“Many within the music industry want to do something to address the climate crisis but simply don’t know how”

Based in the UK and US, EarthPercent is designed to make it easy for the music industry to donate to the best environmental organisations, knowing that the expertise of EarthPercent’s partners will ensure the money reaches only those projects with “demonstrable and meaningful impact”.

Among the industry figures supporting EarthPercent are Mike Smith (Downtown Music Publishing), Jamie Oborne (Dirty Hit), Alison Donald (Kobalt) and Jackie Davidson MBE, while founding donors include Merck Mercuriadis, Fraser T. Smith and Coldplay.

“Our future depends on us having a healthy planet. But right now, our actions are severely damaging the environment,” says Brian Eno. “We need to act now and as quickly as possible to ensure that we keep our communities clean, healthy and thriving for generations to come.

“Many within the music industry want to do something to address the climate crisis but simply don’t know how, which is why EarthPercent is working with scientists and experts to identify and fund the most promising solutions.”

Coldplay and Eno are among the supporters of another new campaign launching today, Playlists for Earth, which calls on musicians and other creatives to use playlists to spark conversations about climate action.

The brainchild of environmental charity ClientEarth, Playlists for Earth uses song titles on playlists to spell out messages challenging listeners to do their part to save the planet, with Anna Calvi, alt-J, Tom Misch, Francisca Valenzuela and more also involved.

“We need to see a massive cultural change and an immediate government response”

“We should be talking about the climate crisis now more than ever, and taking action to protect the planet we love. We need to see a massive cultural change and an immediate government response,” says Calvi. “That’s why I wanted to be a part of Playlists For Earth: to spark conversation and explore what’s happening in the world in a new way in the lead up to the UN climate conference. It’s so important that we use our position in the arts to say something, as art really has the power to turn people’s attention to issues.”

Click here to listen to the playlists from more than 60 artists on Spotify.

Elsewhere, artists including Brothers Osborne, Lucie Silvas, Ricky Kej and Sza will take part in the second Earth Day Live, which is taking place from midday to 6pm EST today on EarthDay.org.

Workshops, panel discussions, and special performances will focus on Earth Day’s 2021 theme, ‘Restore Our Earth’, with topics including include climate and environmental literacy, climate restoration technologies, reforestation efforts, regenerative agriculture, equity and environmental justice, citizen science and clean-ups.

In addition to musicians, the summit will include world climate leaders, grassroots activists, non-profit innovators, thought leaders, industry leaders, influencers and more, say organisers.

Watch Earth Day Live 2021 live on YouTube here.


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Time to regenerate

As Shambala Festival’s 20th anniversary approaches in 2020, I’m reflecting on our journey from humble beginnings with 120 friends in a field to becoming one of Europe’s leading sustainable events. We have been driven by the desire to put on a wildly creative celebration and be at the vanguard of ethics and environmental practice.

We have experimented in every way we can, learning about our impacts with the input of scientific experts, setting ambitious targets, working with all stakeholders and taking risks. We have transitioned from diesel generators to completely renewable energy, eliminated single-use plastics, taken meat and fish off the menu, and in 2018, served only plant-based milks across the festival. We have a myriad of policies in place to reduce travel impacts and tackle the complex issue of waste, from both materials management and audience perspectives, with the support of behaviour-change psychologists. All of this has helped us to reduce the overall environmental footprint of the festival by over 90%, verified by third-party carbon calculator tools and certification.

We also place a huge emphasis on inspiring – and often requiring – everyone we are in contact with to think and act differently: audience, supply chain, local community and authorities, and the wider industry. I see a festival as a petri dish opportunity for experimenting with positive change. We know we can positively affect audience behaviour beyond the festival. When we took meat and fish off the menu, 50% of our audience ‘drastically changed their diets as a result of their experience of the festival’ and 76% of them had sustained that change six months later.

Not everything we’ve done works initially; we try things, learn, collect data like it’s going out of fashion so that we understand the minutiae of Shambala, we review, and then we shape strategy and policy accordingly. But I believe this isn’t enough. The climate crisis is rapidly changing the world, biodiversity is in freefall, soil fertility is seriously at risk and the oceans are saturated with plastics. It’s not climate ‘change.’ It’s an emergency, and one that affects people profoundly disproportionately globally.

We recently looked into our food policies and standards. What crystallised was that ‘sustainability’ as a concept is no longer fully adequate in meeting the challenges we face. It’s not enough to sustain. We need to improve ecological systems as quickly as we can, and a paradigm shift toward ‘regenerative’ thinking, models and practices is required to provide the life-support systems we need for the future.

I see a festival as a petri dish opportunity for experimenting with positive change

My eyes have been opened to how all aspects of our supply chain could become more regenerative. We will now pursue long-term relationships with food producers that are enhancing environmental and social capital, embracing a truly circular approach, whereby materials we use and no longer require have a next-life use pre-identified.

I’m beginning to appreciate how all aspects of our supply chain could become more regenerative, particularly in relation to food. Small-scale agriculture – under 12 acres – is significantly more beneficial for biodiversity, productivity, health, wellbeing and employment. On this basis, we are now developing long-term relationships with small-scale local food growers that are actually enhancing environmental and social capital, rather than simply ‘not damaging it.’

I feel optimistic about the bigger picture, but we face a challenge and need to get on with it quickly. We have the knowledge, technology, skills and resources to do this.

The event and music industries are now showing signs of taking real action. Energy Revolution, a UK charity dedicated to sustainable travel and carbon balancing now has 50 festivals and many suppliers engaged; and has balanced over 10 million miles of travel emissions with investments in renewable energy. Music Declares Emergency has experienced an explosive start, with 2,500 individuals and organisations joining within months of the launch.

The Powerful Thinking group, comprised of all the membership bodies in the events industry, has been working together on environmental practice for ten years. Their Vision:2025 campaign, a framework for halving the event industry’s impacts by 2025, has over 100 festivals in its portfolio.

Given the scale and urgency of the challenge, I am heartened by the cross-industry support to launch an updated Show Must Go On report and Vision:2025 online hub in January 2020. These free-to-access knowledge hubs will give all event professionals the tools to take significant steps toward zero-carbon events, without having to re-invent the wheel.

 


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