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Tips and Tricks from Kultuurikompass: Boom Festival Shows that It Is Possible to Make Environmentally Friendly Choices at Mass Events

Boom festival visited by 40 000 people follows the principles of permaculture.Cultural events must consider the surrounding ecosystem and the communityEuropean Capital of Culture Tartu 2024 shares practical tips for organisers on how to effortlessly move towards sustainable organisation

Esineja seisab laval.
25. Jul Kaidi-Lisa Kivisalu

The cultural sector must contribute to reducing people’s impact of the environment to mitigate climate change. All events organised under the banner of European Capital of Culture Tartu 2024 must adhere to the same environmentally friendly event planning guidelines.

European culture managers, creative people and policymakers gathered in Tartu at the Kultuurikompass forum in April to discuss the future of environmentally friendly cultural management and share experiences with Estonian colleagues.

Artur Mendes, the organiser of the Boom festival, presented at the forum how it is possible to abide by environmentally friendly values ​​when organising major events.

You can be environmentally friendly with 40 000 visitors

Boom festival has been held in Portugal since 1997. The event has grown in size over the years. There is a well-known joke among the organisers that they organise a temporary city with a festival inside. Such a large event also has a wide-ranging economic impact, which amounts to 56 million euros.

“With Boom we are making a festival that will change both people and the community. More than 40,000 people from 175 countries visit us. This raises the question for many: how can something like this be environmentally friendly? We do not only follow the mainstream approach to assessing and mitigating climate impacts, i.e. we do not only look at the CO2 footprint. People’s behavior, water use, the choice of service providers are areas that are also important, but often do not receive enough attention,” said Mendes.

Festivals are microcosms of cities. Today, nearly 55% of the world’s population lives in cities, by 2050 this number is estimated to be 70%. Rethinking the functioning of cities is necessary, here festivals can help dissect and test aspects of urbanism.

“When we changed the location of our festival in 2002, it raised many questions. We went to a place where there was no infrastructure – no water, no sewerage. It was just a beautiful landscape. We had six months to create the necessary infrastructure for 20,000 visitors. We turned our attention to science and technology. We started to use the principles of permaculture, which encourage, for example, the reuse of water to renew the land. We work with the landscape, not against it. For example, in 2006, the Boom festival started to build bioconstructions, i.e. ecological buildings. Shelters built from bamboo are used at the festival to this day,” said Boom festival organiser.

Boom works to ensure that the event does not devastate the surrounding area and does not have a negative impact on the local community.

Simple tips for sustainable choices

Similar to Boom festival, the events of the European Capital of Culture Tartu 2024 are environmentally friendly. This means that the organisers of Tartu and South Estonia also take into account the environment and community. Tartu 2024, in cooperation with the City of Tartu and Acento, created a guide for organising environmentally friendly events, which outlines the minimum requirements and recommendations for cultural organisers.

Namely, the territory of the event must remain in the same good condition after the event as it was before.

  • Think about the most important natural areas or objects that are located in and near the venue that must be protected (water body, old trees, etc.).

The damage to the landscape must be repaired.

  • Create clear and signposted pathways and directions for attendees, speakers and traders to help keep more sensitive areas protected.

In addition, owners of surrounding properties must be notified of the event at least one week in advance.

  • Notify local residents of temporary changes as far in advance as possible. If possible, involve the local community of the venue in the organisation of the event, e.g. as volunteers, offer discounted entry/trading opportunities, etc.
  • When arranging transportation/parking, ensure that it disrupts local life as little as possible. Notify the community of temporary changes as early as possible.
  • Reduce sound and light pollution related to the event, which can disturb people and pets living in the vicinity. Prefer light installations instead of fireworks. Avoid leaving on full lights and playing music in the event venue all night

The Tartu 2024 Guidelines for Organising Environmentally Friendly Events summarises the minimum requirements and recommendations for organising environmentally friendly events. The manual is accompanied by practical recommendations and checklists that help the organiser to navigate the requirements. Change starts with small steps and with you. Check out the guide and feel free to start experimenting. Standing up for change and making it happen is an Art of Survival.

Kultuurikompass is a forum for Tartu and Southern Estonia that invites cultural organisers, creators and entrepreneurs to learn from each other.