How one team changes and saves the future of music festivals

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Music festival season may be officially over, but all of that really means we can start looking forward to next year.

As fans start saving up for tickets and donning their war paint for the nerve-wracking days ahead, organizers are gearing up to make future festivals more sustainable than ever.

This year’s Forwards Festival in Bristol, organized by AEG (the hive mind behind Coachella and All Points East) and Team Love, set the example. Considering 2022 was the first year of operation for the Forwards Festival, their line-up was absolutely nothing to sniff at.

And, when they weren’t booking and hosting artists like Charli XCX, Little Simz, The Chemical Brothers and Self Esteem (to name a few), organizers were working tirelessly on a series of social initiatives to change the future of inner-city music festivals.

For example, between the two main stages at Clifton Downs – where the festival was held in September – was an information stage filled with inspirational experts, artists and activists hosting talks and debates on everything , from current affairs to cultural issues.

During this time, Team Love has implemented a number of accessibility programs to ensure that locals from all walks of life join the conversation and have their voices heard. – between all parties, of course.

On the first day of the festival, one of the chief organizers said, “I can see that our audience today is very diverse. I’m really proud that we’re raising the voice of local campaigns to local people who can then proactively engage with them. »

She was right. You didn’t have to wander around the festival grounds too long to notice how diverse the crowd was – from toddlers cuddled on their parents’ shoulders to older couples sitting on the grass, fanatics from the festival who had traveled far and wide to the locals who just stopped to take a look.

What stood out most, however, was Team Love’s enormous effort to safeguard the future of music festivals by focusing heavily on sustainability, both on-site and behind the scenes.

You can tell almost immediately that when it comes to climate change, this festival means business.

For one thing, there were so many recycling bins on the grounds that no matter how many pints you had, there was very little chance your waste would be left on the floor.

And if for some reason you missed them, it would be impossible to ignore the smell of composting toilets that wafts through the air from time to time.

Perhaps less easy to spot was the team led by sustainability and social cohesion coordinator Pauline Bourdon, which monitored food waste, energy consumption, water use, and more. of the festival so that we can then plan to reduce its impact next year.

Starting as they want to continue, Forwards made the Vision 2025 pledge this year, which means they have pledged to reduce their entire environmental footprint by 50% by 2025, with the goal of being zero. net by 2030.

“It’s a bit more ambitious than current legislation,” says Pauline.

“We thought it was perfect for attackers. The idea is that events start to understand their impact, and then once they have enough data to be able to measure it, they reduce it.

Once Pauline and her team had all their data from the 2-day festival, they would get to work on plans to reduce the impact of next year’s event. Towards the end of a busy festival season – which certainly had its share of bumps in the road – Pauline seemed happy with the way things were going at Forwards when I spoke to her. She attributed it to the excellent communication between organizers and ticket holders.

“It’s a matter of transparency,” she says.

“You can’t ask people to do something or behave in a certain way if you don’t show them you’re doing something.

“We’re not saying, ‘Look how awesome we are’, we’re saying, ‘if you can recycle and do these things, we want you to know that we’re also taking care of things behind the scenes and all of us in this together.’ ”

Today, Vision 2025 has brought together over 40 music festivals across the UK with their commitment to reducing GHG emissions and leaving no trace, so we can keep the party going.

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