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Kultuurikompass to Focus on Reducing the Footprint of Global Music Industry as a Key Issue

In difficult times, culture has always been an escape and a promoter of peace and democracy. The role of culture is invaluable during difficult times when we as a society are tackling various issues from safety and security to climate crisis. It may sound naive but I sincerely believe that culture and the arts have the ability to inspire and influence the way people think and act.

Triin Pikk's portrait.
05. May Kaidi-Lisa Kivisalu

Triin Pikk. Photo: Mana Kaasik

The Kultuurikompass forum: ‘How to
Change the World Through Environmentally Friendly Cultural Management?’ taking
place on 28 April in Tartu is dedicated to sustainable cultural management and
includes speakers such as Artur Mendes, Co-Manager of Boom Festival, and Lewis
Jamieson who has collaborated with many famous artists, from Billie Eilish to
Brian Eno and Groove Armada, on awareness campaigns. 

The music industry, like many other
sectors of the entertainment industry, has an enormous global footprint. In the
UK alone, concerts emit into the atmosphere 405,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, while the average touring DJ emits 35 tonnes of carbon dioxide per
year, which is 17 times higher than the personal carbon allowance. 

The problem, however, is much bigger,
as even listening to music at home is not completely innocent: both the
production of vinyls and CDs and media streaming have a significant environmental impact. Streaming is equated one-on-one with a smaller footprint, and as a result,
consumption of recorded music is now breaking all previous records in this
regard. For instance, the 4.6 billion streams of Luis Fonsi’s 2017 hit single
‘Despacito’ have consumed as much electricity as the combined annual electricity consumption of Chad, Guinea-Bissau,
Somalia, Sierra Leone and the Central African Republic. 

Thankfully, not everyone in the
industry is standing idly by and continuing to operate in their current
comfort. In Scotland, for example, a nightclub was opened that uses the body heat of partygoers to generate electricity, cool the
air or heat the building later. More and more festivals are going green and
generating their own electricity from renewable resources on-site and banning
meat products and single-use plastics. Artur Mendes, a manager of a festival of
psychedelic music and culture in Portugal, is coming to the Kultuurikompass
forum in Tartu on 28 April to talk about how their festival has become more and
more sustainable thanks to their strategic planning since the early 2000s. 

It is not only events who are looking
to become more eco-friendly, many artists have also started to critically review
their actions
. Many of them are either cutting
back on touring, swapping flights for trains, or hiring local providers instead
of travelling with a huge crew of technicians. Billie Eilish, for example, has
promised to ban single-use water bottles from her concerts, which is, on
average, expected to eliminate 35,000 single-use water bottles per show. 

Eilish is also one of the 6,300
artists, organisations and music industry professionals who has signed the
Music Declares Emergency pledge to reduce the carbon footprint of the music
industry. Lewis Jamieson, a founding member and Communications Director of
Music Declares Emergency, is coming to Kultuurikompass forum to talk about how
they have gotten a number of internationally recognised musicians to speak out
on their behalf and how they are fighting to amplify the voice of music as a
powerful form of culture to raise awareness about the climate and ecological
emergency. Because there is ‘no music on a dead planet’, as their motto says. 

The global climate crisis affects us
all, both at the individual and professional level, and in all sectors and
areas. I am delighted that so many major players of Europe are coming to
Estonia to discuss and develop solutions for tacking this global challenge. We
have an invaluable opportunity to be a trailblazer in the area of sustainable
cultural management in Estonia and Europe. The first official and joint step
towards this ambition in Europe takes place in Tartu on 28 April.    

Kultuurikompass is a forum developed
by the Tartu 2024 Foundation and Tartu City Government inviting culture
managers, artists and entrepreneurs to learn from each other. Tartu wishes to
continue the Kultuurikompass programme even after the end of the European
Capital of Culture year. Therefore, Tartu will become a leader, promoter and
uniter of key matters in the Estonian cultural sphere.