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Music Festivals and Sustainable Event Management

In the modern world of global environmental crisis, it becomes clear that nothing may be done in the same way it was earlier. People, not long time ago focused mainly on the satisfaction of their consumer needs, pleasure and entertainment with disregard of nature, gradually come to an understanding that there is no other way to save the place of living for the future generations except being environmentally responsible. The principles of sustainable development spread far beyond the ecological realm, and every day is applied in a greater amount of spheres of human activity. Event management is not an exception.

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Events become not only the means of providing entertainment, transmitting the information needed to the organizers and the audience but also an effective propagandistic tool of the establishment of the new environmental friendly philosophy in masses. Becoming the basis of an event strategy, the measures of environmental and resource work on the image of the company, provide event support from local administrations and increase event attractiveness for the customers.

The theoretical basis of sustainable event management as of a complex system of measures aimed at the promotion of environmentalism can be found in the concepts of energy efficiency, waste management, water management, green procurement and sustainable development (Smart events handbook 2010). Combined with the general principles of event management, the implementation of those concepts make for the reduction of a harmful impact of human activities and increase social awareness (Dickson & Arcodia 2010). In terms of business administration and management, sustainable events are considered a part of corporate social and environmental responsibility of the company (Nicolaides 2015).

Referring to energy efficiency, one may state that this is itself an extensive concept covering a broad range of issues of rational resource consumption. It implies using less energy to achieve the same level of energy supply of infrastructure elements and manufacturing processes (Smajgl & Larson 2012). According to the philosophy of energy efficiency, people should strive to establish an economically justified use of energy resources through constant technology development at the same time ensuring the compliance with the requirements of environmental protection (Goswami & Kreith 2007). Using less non-renewable energy, we reduce harmful emissions into the atmosphere; saved energy can be used instead of the newly produced, and thereby reduce environmental pollution (Herring & Sorrell 2009).

Energy efficiency and the promotion of renewable energy sources become one of the fundamental aspects of community management; they are implemented in the development strategies of the organizations (Randolph 2004). Speaking about event management, the implementation of energy efficiency approach can be seen in using energy-saving or alternative energy equipment (for instance, solar or biodiesel generators) as well as in the promotion of respective energy-saving behaviour among the staff and participants of the event (for example, by spreading the reminds to switch the equipment off when it is not used) (Holmes et al. 2015).

Waste management is probably one of the most vital parts of sustainable event management, especially if to speak about music festivals. During such events various food, drinks and souvenirs are usually sold, which, apart from bringing extra profits, lead to huge amounts of the waste left on the festival territory, such as cans, bottles, paper, food remains, etc. (Grzinic & Vojnovic 2014). Waste management is generally understood as a set of measures for the collection, transportation, processing, recycling and disposal of waste, and monitoring of these processes. Waste, in this case, is the result of human activity, that leads to environmental pollution, degradation of air, water and soil quality and destruction of natural landscapes (Ak & Braida 2015).

The waste control system is aimed at reducing the harmful effects on the environment and human health. Moreover, waste can also be used to get substantial economic benefits, as it can be recycled (Walters 2014). Waste management at events lies not only in the elimination of consequences but also in preventing the uncontrolled spread of waste by establishing various measure, for example, using compostable cutlery, composting toilets and reuse of the excessive food (Laing & Frost 2010).

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It is a well-known fact that water scarcity nowadays is one of the most urgent environmental problems. Over 1.2 billion people worldwide are deprived of drinking water resources, while around 2 billion people in developing countries lack facilities to get water from existing sources (El-Naggar 2015). It is often said that the future conflicts between the states will emerge because of competition for the remaining water resources. The protection of the existing water supplies from hazardous results of the human activity, development of the water cleaning systems become the highest priority (Nor Lela et al. 2013).

Water management during events includes the issues of serving drinking water as well as ensuring control over sewage water (Gallagher & Pike 2011). The first, if provided on a free basis, should be used reasonably and exclusively for drinking. In the case of the latter, all necessary steps should be done to keep the safety and normal functioning of the sewer system (Van Hulle et al. 2008).

Green procurement suggests that the supply chain management of the organization is based on the premise of environmental friendliness, transparency and community awareness (Walker & Jones 2012). The companies and event organizers accept the responsibility to take care not only of the profits maximization and reduction of operational costs but also to think about the prosperity of the environment and the future generations (Quinn 2006). Green procurement in the music festivals management can be reflected in minimizing waste, reuse of decorations, optimal use of biodegradable materials, elaborate choose of the local food supplier (Holmes et al. 2015).

The concept of sustainable development seems to include all abovementioned elements and to give rise to sustainable event management. Sustainable development, in general, aims to reach a balance between the satisfaction of the modern needs of humanity and the protection of the interests of future generations, including their need for a safe and healthy environment (Mair & Whitford 2013). It is a controlled development based on applying a systematic approach, modern technologies of modelling the possible future results to choose the optimal variant of actions.

Among the key principles of sustainable development are: the strong belief that mankind is able to think in a far-reaching strategic manner seeing no other ways of prosperity except sustainability; the orientation on renewable energy; the needs of the people should be reevaluated taking into account the needs of the planet (Lawton & Weaver 2010). Sustainable event management it the same manner “meets the needs of present tourists and host regions while protecting and enhancing opportunities for the future” (Dickson & Arcodia 2010, p. 237). Its practical implementation in everyday life of the company is provided for in the corporate social responsibility strategies of the companies (Lawton & Weaver 2010).

Considering the environmental problems arising from the music festivals, Yuan notes that they can be divided into three main categories such as resource issues, pollution and waste and behavioural problems (2013). The concerns of the first category are related to the degradation of natural resources, including air, water, land, energy and living species. The extensive use of those resources leads to the destruction of natural habitats (Jasmina & Vojnovic 2014).

Environmental pollution occurs not only on the event itself but also, for example, during the transportation of the guests to the place. Enormous amounts of waste are produced during the festival, especially if the environmental culture of the audience is rather low. If the administration of the festival fails to provide a sufficient amount of waste facilities, the waste will be likely to spread through even bigger territories. As to the third category of problems, it should be noted that it is the hardest one to get rid of due to the human nature of any event. People will, in any case, produce the litter and use some vehicles to get to the place.

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It is only possible to spread environmentally responsible attitudes among the population. Arcodia, Cohen, and Dickson (2012) suggest that there exist both positive and negative environmental impacts of the events. Among the positive ones, the name “improved local infrastructure, construction of new facilities, and urban transformation or renewal” (Arcodia, Cohen, & Dickson 2012, p. 213). The negative impact, not surprisingly, is more dramatic, especially when the event takes place in the natural environment not designed for the events in comparison with the stadiums, for instance. Apart from the abovementioned negative outcomes of the events, the other problems include traffic congestion, noise pollution, overcrowding and sewage problems (Arcodia, Cohen, & Dickson 2012).

The recent trends in the event management show that more and more festivals become environmentally friendly and responsible (Song et al. 2012), which is caused not only by increased awareness but also because environmentalism is becoming more and more economically effective (Getz 2009). Moreover, the audiences of music festivals are now more open and ready to receive knowledge of sustainability (Mair & Laing 2012). One of the examples of a green-aimed music festival is the British Summertime Hyde Park organized by Anschutz Entertainment Group. Every year starting from 2013, it gathers the most outstanding rock and pop music bands and singers in the heart of London (King 2013).

AEG has a clear sustainability policy, which suggests the company’s obligation to comply with all environmental standards and requirements and the need to raise awareness about the environmentally responsible position (Sustainability policy 2013). The company has a resolute attitude towards the protection of Hyde Park nature: “As well as ensuring Hyde Park is accessible to park users, protecting the park’s flora and fauna, grass, land water courses and landscape is also a priority” (Your responsible event, n.d., para. 8). AEG uses sustainable products such as local food and environmentally friendly materials, including recycled containers, wood, and reusable bottles. As to the waste management, the company provides separate containers for different litter types on the festival territory; the official website states that in 2015 AEG reached 37% recycling rate (Your responsible event, n.d.).

AEG’s experience can serve as a successful example of a well-developed corporate social responsibility strategy. Apart from the abovementioned methods, the companies may also use some other practical tools to make their events green. They can, for instance, establish partnerships with renewable power providers, making them sponsors of the events (Laing & Frost 2010). The use of green-energy vehicles to solve the logistical issues during the event is also reasonable, but rather expensive. If the company’s budget does not allow to do that, some operations during the festival can still be done with the help of bicycle (Robbins, Dickinson, & Calver 2007).

While planning a green festival, the company should remember that monitoring of sustainability measures should be conducted at each stage of the event, starting from concept preparation to post event activities (Okech 2011). Adema and Roehl suggest that the preparation stage is the decisive one; to give the event the direction, environmental scanning of the local area should be done (2010). The event itself is the most crucial stage, but without an elaborate sustainability strategy as well as without highlighting the greenness of the event in post-release materials the event will not be successful (Yuan 2013).

Thus, it can be seen that sustainable event management has no limits to perfection. In the present ecological situation, environmental responsibility is not a modern trend but a required condition and a sign of professionalism. For an event manager, it is important to consider all environmental aspects starting from pollution issues and energy saving to the creation of an environmentally friendly and responsible brand. The events can, therefore, be transformed from a solely entertainment sources into a means of the formation of environmentally responsible generation.

Reference List

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