Green Europe Experience: Rethinking The Way Live Events Are Produced

Pohoda Festival 2019
Ctibor Bachratý
– Pohoda Festival 2019
One of the partner festivals in GEX.

Four festivals and two NGOs, assisted by a grant from the European Commission, have joined forces to make live events more sustainable once they return.
The Green Europe Experience (GEX) is a partnership between A Greener Festival (UK), Boom Festival (PT), Dour Festival (BE), Pohoda Festival (SVK), the Green Operations Group (GO Group) (GER) and We Love Green (FR).
Over the next three-and-a-half years, they will test innovations in the fields of scenography and food based on the 7R model: rethink, reduce, re-use, repair, refurbish, recover, recycle.
Scenography includes all deco, art, installation works, design, signage, in short: the image of a festival, “an optimal area to raise curiosity and awareness around environmental issues among festival goers,” according to the GEX website.
The foodcourt is “the place where the festival goers starts their ecological practices, but it also represents a huge portion of our carbon footprint.” 
The GEX ambition is to produce a more sustainable and affordable food offering with the help of local suppliers and seasonal products.
The innovations will be presented and tested at the partnering festivals.
The goal: to rethink the way live events are produced and designed, to create and develop analysis tools, evaluation grids, and create a charter that can serve as inspiration for other event organizers going forward.
As Holger Jan Schmidt, co-Founder of the GO Group and anchorman of European festival association Yourope, explained, GEX is “a partnership project and co-funded by the European Commission within the Creative Europe program. The grant will cover almost the half of the costs incurring within the thre-and-a-half years span of the project and the maximum funding will be €197,000.”
Scenography and food are the first of many more areas in a festival’s production that could be rethought, according to Schmidt, “whether this is energy consumption, mobility issues, resource management or communication, among others. We have gathered a great group of experts within GEX – we sure can find a way to continue and will discuss at the appropriate time, but now we face three exciting years.”
He’s confident that GEX will make changes visible and tracable within the next three years. “We are more than convinced that we will develop a blueprint not only for fellow festival organizers, but also for the circular approach in other fields of action,” Schmidt told Pollstar.
Michal Sládek of Pohoda Festival commented: “When preparing Pohoda, we try to use the same approach as when you invite someone to your home for a visit. So it feels natural to care not only about our guests, but also about the festival environment.
“That is not just the festival site, but all the physical, social and ecological relations connected to our activities. To take part in a project like GEX will allow us to explore and understand the relations in new fields and learn from the best.”
Dour Festival, one of the GEX partners, was founded in 1989 out of an initiative of a small group of young people, who wanted to preserve the natural environment of Dour, Belgium.
Dour Festival 2015
Dorian Jespers
– Dour Festival 2015
in Belgium.

Bénédicte Billon-Tillie of Dour Festival said, “this ecological awareness is stimulated through local and European projects linked to sustainable development in the events sector. From the very beginning, Dour Festival stands for values such as sharing, tolerance and respect for diversity, which are widely reflected through its musical programme. 

“In this way, 30 years later, and because we are convinced that it is important for everyone to do their part to minimize their ecological footprint, we join our forces and are counting on the GEX Project to help us in the efforts we have been making since 1989.” 
Claire O’Neill, of A Greener Festival in London, said festivals had the power “to reimagine the world that we live in, providing the space for expression of new ideas and alternative ways of being with each other and with our environment. 
“The GEX project brings together some of the most visionary organisations in this space to act as a catalyst to collectively accelerate the positive changes we need to make. We look forward to exploring, learning and sharing ways for creative expression and precious social interaction that puts people and planet at the forefront.”