When it comes to planning, and properly executing a music festival – the resources needed are incredibly expansive.The amount of time, energy, money and technical planning it takes to find venues, book musicians, manage marketing and PR, figure out catering, organise safety and security measures, stages and sound engineering – in short, it’s an extremely difficult process that many people take for granted.
On top of that, perhaps one of the most important factors festivals need to tackle are those of social responsibility – aside from working exceptionally hard in order to put the festival together, it’s essential to take into account how exactly this festival is affecting the surrounding environment, and for us to be aware of the ideologies that underlie the marketing, and experience. Whether it’s an examination of the festival’s effect on the environment, or inclusivity and safety for those who may face risk of violence or discrimination in a festival space; organisers are faced with important decisions that could make or break a festivals image.
An issue that often surrounds festivals is that of environmental pollution – specifically, noise pollution and litter. Recently, Miami’s Ultra Music Festival was required to find a new venue: marine biologists studying a specific species of Toadfish in the area, noted a significant rise in stress when exposed to the high levels of noise produced by the festival. This risk of noise pollution and its effect on marine life may be obvious, yet it is only now that the festival is requiring a venue change. Evidently, the thought of how the festival – music, traffic, human pollution and so on – would affect the environment was an afterthought.
As more people are becoming aware and vocal about the impact of the climate emergency, the extinction of species and horrific levels of pollution we are directly responsible for – festival organisers are faced with pressure to make sure their events are environmentally responsible. Festivals such as South Africa’s Endless Daze Festival, which is held at an ocean resort, the stage right by the sea – organisers have stepped up in a bid to limit pollution, holding beach cleanups as a part of the experience and offering environmentally friendly alternatives to products such as single use plastics.
Glastonbury Festival has taken their stance toward fighting environmental destruction a step further. In a bid to raise further awareness, a march organised by environmental activist group Extinction Rebellion has been confirmed to occur during the festival, next week Thursday on the 27th of June. The activist organisation, responsible for non-violent protests across the world, in order to make light of the extreme urgency of our climate disaster, will be staging the march beginning at The Park Stage, where a series of speakers are scheduled – as mentioned, the urgency of this issue really needs to be highlighted, and this is just the first step.
From there, an attempt to create a ‘sculpture’ is scheduled: attendees, moving forward to Stone Circle, will work together to create the largest ever human sculpture of an hourglass, the official logo of Extinction rebellion and a further call to action as time runs out.
Currently, the UK has become an unstoppable force when it comes to environmental activism as well as animal rights activism. The country even stopped burning coal for a full two weeks, which has been noted as the first time ever since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. This is clearly reflected in Glastonbury Festival’s work with Extinction Rebellion, and shows the perfect example of not only true responsibility for the festival’s imprint on the environment, but an incredible platform to further immediate action in response to the climate emergency – we can only hope that other festivals follow in their footsteps as we tackle the biggest threat to the planet in every single possible way we can.
Written by Jenna Dreisenstock