Can you combine hedonism with purpose? Well the way the world seems to be heading at the moment, event organisers in my mind, have a civic duty to do so! Festivals are the perfect microcosm to experiment with ideas that encourage better social and environmental interactions; people are more receptive to new ideas, experiences and are in essence totally immersed without the distractions of their everyday lives.
Event organisers are in essence the kings and queens of their newly created world. The decisions these “benevolent dictators” make can have great impact, not only at their event but also in terms of behaviour change of their attendees. The results and outcomes can be pretty startling! There were some really daring initiatives launched at festivals this summer. From on-site drug testing that prevented serious harm and increased drug awareness, to a festival that banned the sale of meat and fish to highlight the environmental impact of the meat industry on the planet. Other festivals challenged the imbalance of female to male acts on line-ups, by actively booking more female talent.
We should also understand that ethics are also a very high priority when it comes to decision-making choices of “millennials”. This is marketing speak for the generation born after 1980 and before the 21st century. Numerous studies have shown that this age group, dismissed by the mainstream media as lazy, narcissistic and entitled selfie-lovers are actually highly civic-minded. There are many traits and characteristics that unite this significant demographic of our population. They care about the planet; they are more liberal, open-minded and tolerant in attitude to minority groups of all persuasions.
So I would argue, when such a significant number of festival and event audiences see themselves as global citizens, who are outraged by social injustice, and are willing to act to make the world a more equitable and sustainable place, events that don’t lead by a strong sense of ethics may soon become irrelevant to the generation that is just about to inherit the earth.