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Students join forces with Download to help music festivals plan for a greener future

Students from the University of Gloucestershire are helping to shape the future of music festivals and boost their green credentials.

A collaboration with Festival Republic – the largest festival company in the UK and part of the Live Nation family – will see Music and Sound students at the University of Gloucestershire work at a series of festivals this summer as part of a research and development project that is enhancing sustainability practices at music festivals.

Recently, they headed to the Download Festival pilot – a 10,000 capacity event aimed at helping live music open back up as part of the second phase of the Government’s Event Research Programme. Everybody on site was required to have a negative lateral flow and PCR test prior to entry, meaning they could enjoy the full Festival atmosphere without a mask or social distancing. The study data, collected by Public Health England, will help to ensure that events later this summer can go ahead safely.

The students worked with Live Nation’s Head Of Sustainability for UK and Ireland, Vikki Chapman, and across all areas of the site with crew, traders and audience to improve environmental awareness. While three students – Kane Peters, Louie Townsend and Fraser Bryan – are in supervisor roles, many more supported the project as volunteers.

The opportunity came about through Senior Lecturer in Music Business at the University of Gloucestershire, Andrew Lansley, who submitted evidence to the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s enquiry into the future of UK Festivals. His report presented a scope, framework and recommendations for the testing of events environments to allow the safe return of managed access events in the UK in 2021. 

As two of the central themes of Andrew’s pilot scheme proposal were sustainability and accessibility, he has developed a project with Festival Republic to investigate and find solutions for sustainability issues, particularly as the events company are committed to the Vision 2025 pledge.

Andrew said: “We’re committed to embedding sustainability into every course at every level at the University of Gloucestershire, so we are thrilled to be working with Festival Republic to develop a foundation for a partnership that provides lived experience to our students in planning and delivering major events in an environmentally friendly way.”

Students volunteered as the Green Team on site at last weekend’s Download Festival pilot, with the supervisor team additionally scoping out traders, food and infrastructure to prepare for a future potential project in measuring (and promoting) the carbon footprint of menu items across Festival Republic’s events portfolio.

Vikki said: “The University of Gloucestershire has great sustainability credentials and the students brought a high level of dedication and energy to the Download Pilot. Following this test event intended to get live music open again, we are looking forward to developing our green initiatives together with the University for our festivals this summer.”

Kane Peters, one of the University of Gloucestershire students who acted as a supervisor at Download, said: “It was amazing to be at the Download Festival pilot, experiencing live music in all its glory and promoting the green initiatives on site.

“We spent lots of time over the weekend investigating the variety of vendors on offer to see how our carbon footprint measurement would enhance customer experience and the vendor footprint. These discussions helped deepen our understanding about how we can work with the vendors to promote more sustainable solutions.

“The work we carried out will help to create a model for carbon footprint measuring that is simple for vendors to use and simple for customers to understand and engage with. I look forward to working closer with Festival Republic in the future to make festivals more sustainable places to be.”

Last weekend, Kane headed to the Timber festival with fellow University of Gloucestershire student, Laura James, where they worked in key sustainability and accessibility roles.