Rock On! : Bringing strategic sustainable development to music festivals
Abstract: Recreational events gather large numbers of people in concentrated areas for brief periods of time. Effects of these events extend far beyond their spatial and temporal boundaries; a music festival is one such event. This paper asks, “What are some measures that can move music festivals strategically toward sustainability?” A framework for strategic sustainable development based on backcasting from sustainability principles is applied. Research draws on pertinent literature, interviews with festival organizers and an in-depth case study with International Music Concepts. Results indicate that critical flows and management routines upon which music festivals depend contribute to systematic undermining of social and ecological systems. Festival organizers sit at the centre of these flows, and are crucial to changing them. Education to inspire behavioural change of festival organizers and other stakeholders, notably suppliers, audience and artists, appears critical to shifting music festivals toward sustainability. This can be underpinned by building in-house ‘sustainability capacity’ of festival organisations; creating strategic alliances between festival organizers; and scaling up organisational efforts to include lobbying governments for financial and other support to authenticate a high-level commitment to true sustainable development. Music festivals may then leverage their role in society to move society itself toward sustainability. A template and guidebook are presented to facilitate this shift.
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