When I organised my event, Zhivago Theater, we discussed the idea of selling alcohol at the theatre prior to the show. The theatre had a Premises Licence but this did not cover the sale of alcohol. I am a Personal Licence Holder but in order for me to sell alcohol in the theatre I would have had to apply for a TEN. My licensable activity would be ‘selling alcohol’.
Ever wondered why cities want to host events and festivals? You might think that the costs of street closures, police officers on duty, ambulances on standby, and cleaning costs would put councils off. Luckily not...
The economic benefits of events are quite often much greater than the costs. When I worked with San Francisco Pride I conducted an economic impact study on behalf of the city. The numbers were impressive:
- $40 million was spend on retail during Pride week
- $33 million in restaurants
- a total economic impact of almost $360 million
Not bad for a week long event. But that's just one event that takes place in the city by the Bay. Numerous events take place throughout the year and they all contribute to the local economy.
South Tyneside Summer Festival
Obviously there are costs as well. Have you ever heard of South Tyneside? Nope, me neither but in this area the council organises a few free events. They say the Summer Festival brings people to the area, provides jobs and adds £1.7 million to the local economy. But there is no such thing as a free event.
The councils has published their event budget and hence we can see how much it cost to organise Summer Festival 2016. This is how we know that they spent £21,000 on a stage and £3,000 on entertaining guests. The following article is, I think, fantastic as it highlights the costs involved in organising a great festival. Is it too late to nominate South Tyneside council for council of the year?
You can follow me on my Youtube channel: every week an interview with an event expert.
Fuji Rock is often referred to as the Glastonbury of Asia. It’ll be warmer than Glastonbury but apparently I should expect rain. On their website, the festival warns for extreme temperature differences and potential heavy rainfall. The semi-British side of me sighs... “oh dear”. Besides the weather warnings there are warnings to keep away from bees, wasps, mosquitos and ticks.
The last two months have been a whirlwind. I wrote my last blog on June 21st about conducting research at Bonnaroo festival in Tennessee. The day after I wrote it the movers came in to pack everything from my San Francisco apartment, load it on a truck, onto a boat, and 8 weeks later onto a truck again to be brought to my new apartment in good old England.
A few months ago the news came that the Pink Saturday street party in San Francisco was cancelled for this year. Is that bad news you might think? Well that depends. The last couple of years the event attracted a, let’s say, less ’loving’ crowd. In 2010 someone got killed and the last couple of years there was more violence (fights and abuse). Hence the costs went up and hence the organization’s reason to pull the plug from the event.
Last month, at a networking event, I heard that the street party is back on again. Even more surprising, it is financially backed by the City. The San Francisco LGBT Community Center will organize the event but the City will take responsibility. That is pretty amazing. The city of San Francisco will take financial (and legal?) responsibility for an event that was attended by 50,000 people last year. So if something goes wrong the city is the one who’s responsible? That could be interesting…
So why is the city so keen on getting this event up and running? Pink Saturday is organized in the same weekend as SF Pride. SF Pride attracts around 550,000 people to the city that weekend, 80% of which are out of town visitors. Pink Saturday attracts about 50,000 people to the Castro district, the place where the street party is held. You need to give these people something to do on a Saturday evening. There are not enough (gay) bars in the city to accommodate that number so a street party might just as well be the ideal solution. 48% of the people visiting Pink Saturday said they were visiting from out of town.
In 2009 the cost to organize Pink Saturday were estimated to be between $100,000 and $150,000. Seems like a lot of money? Not really considering what the city got back in return. In a research study from 2014 it was said, “total spending generated by attendees of the Pink Saturday is estimated at $6.0 million.” Total visitor impact on the city’s economy from this event alone is estimated to be $2.7 million. $600,000 is being spent in retail stores, $500,000 at restaurants, and $215,000 on hotel rooms. So there you have it: the city’s reason to make Pink Saturday happen. So this year, it’ll be business as usual I suppose.
It just shows you what research can do for an event, an audience, and for the licensor. Last year I conducted an Economic Impact Study at San Francisco Pride, the same as was done at Pink Saturday. The two-day Pride event has an estimated total impact of almost $360 million on the local economy. $40 million extra in retail, $33 million in restaurants… I’m telling you there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow after all.
Besides economic impact studies there are plenty of other studies that can, and should, take place at events. This summer for example, I’m doing research at music festivals regarding sustainability initiatives.
I want to know what attendees think about the environmental impact of live events in America. Why? Well it astonishes me that when you go to a festival that clearly promotes green initiatives that people still leave behind their rubbish. Bottles, paper, plastic, food, tents… You know that stuff. Why do people do that? Why do people think it’s okay to do that? What motivates them to change their behaviour when at a festival site or campsite? I’m curious to find out more.
With that in mind an online survey was created. Together with A Greener Festival I launched an online survey aimed at American festival audiences. The online survey will run until October 1st.
This summer I’m going to two festivals and conduct surveys on site at Bonnaroo Festival in Tennessee and Lightning in a Bottle festival in California. I want to know what we, or rather the festival industry, can do to make it easier for people to ‘go green’ whilst at a festival. I’m looking forward to it because I think the data will be interesting and hopefully will help festival organization to meet the attendee right at that point in the middle where everything is green.
Neil Armstrong once said ‘research is creating new knowledge’. Let’s hope the research conducted at events and festivals this summer gives us new knowledge about event audiences. New insights can improve the festival industry. Who knows we might find a pot of gold or a pot of green gold at the end of the rainbow.
Last Saturday the Dutch community in San Francisco (USA) celebrated their national holiday, Kingsday. The Dutch celebrate the birthday of King Willem Alexander with parties and events. A small family festival was organised in Golden Gate Park. Dutch food, Dutch music, Heineken and a lot of Dutch people...
Green Mary and Sol Solutions were contracted to make the event more sustainable. Orange goes green so to speak. Sol Solutions is the provider of portable solar power generators and at Dutch Kingsday they powered the DJ-stage. I've interviewed Sephyr Peling from Sol Solutions and asked him how it all works.
For more information about sustainable event management or workshops in greening your event visit www.eventtutor.com.
I've just finished a Skype conversation with someone from Sheltercare. Sheltercare is a Belgian company producing sustainable tents for, among others, festival goers. The company is born out of the realisation that so many tents are left behind at festival sites. At European festivals this tent dumping is a real problem.
Pictures of the 2013 edition of Reading Festival in England showing the vast amount of waste left behind at the festival site went viral. Outcry followed but it's pretty much the same at other festivals worldwide. Festival attendees, tired after several days partying, look at their tent and think: it's a cheap tent, I'm tired, and I can't be bothered to break it down and bring it all the way back home. Let's leave it!
The assumption is that the festival will clean it up. After all you paid a lot of money for your ticket so surely they can afford someone to clean it up. You see the same attitude in cinemas. People buy a gallon of coke and a bucket of popcorn. Once the movie has finished people get up and leave the buckets behind making sure Hans & Gretel can use the popcorn on the floor to find their way out of the theatre. After all, you paid for the ticket so someone else can clean your mess.
But if that is the attitude than surely that attitude changes when people visit a festival organised by a non-profit? Not really. Last year I worked at San Francisco Pride. A not-for-profit organisation that is well known here in the Bay Area. Last year the event welcomed almost one million people. That's a lot of people and also a lot of waste. A lot of waste is created by sponsors handing out gadgets wrapped in plastic or cardboard. The audience likes getting stuff for free so they accept the gadgets. Once they had a good look at it, they throw it away. Not in a bin. Bins are overflowing with waste already anyway. So on the floor it is. It makes the festival site look like a mess (let alone a safety issue). Not what the organisation had in mind and surely also not what a festival attendee wants?!
So is it 'green fatigue'? I guess it comes down to the psychology of the attendees. If something is already a mess you don't feel guilty for littering. After all you didn't start it, you just did what all the others are doing. Right... But still someone started it and must have thought that is was okay to do so. So what can we do to change that attitude?
Millennials are not as green minded as they say they are, according to a 2013 research study from DDB Worldwide. They don't recycle as much as baby boomers for example. But interestingly they do feel that an individual can make a difference.
Can festivals promote their cleaning activities to an individual rather than a crowd? I think they can. Make it a personal issue! Perhaps they can promote the benefits of their waste program to their audience. How they deal with waste and why they want to reduce the amount of waste collected needs to be communicated. What is it that a festival wants to achieve with their waste management program? A cleaner site, more pleasant environment for attendees, a safer place, sustainable motives? Whatever the goals are they need to be communicated to the audience in easy to understand messages. And for crying out loud make it easy for your attendees to actually do what you want them to do. Your average Joe doesn't know the difference between biodegradable plates, recyclable plates, and those plasticky looking plates. Is that plastic? Don't give them a reason to get 'green fatigue'.
As far as the audience goes they need to understand that their behaviour has a price tag attached to it. Someone has to pay for cleanup and a festival organisation will recoup the money somewhere; most likely your ticket price. No one likes to sit on a waste dump so try to keep the festival site (relatively) clean. I hope you agree with me so why do you litter when you're at a festival site? Don't tell me you're too wasted (...) to think about it.
So, this summer we'll all pick up the cr*p we've created when at a festival site. We promise to throw everything in the bins provided and we promise to take our tents back home with us so we can reuse them again. And again! Let's start a culture change. Somehow I need to think of the South Koreans who made it to the semi final in the 2002 football World Cup. Huge crowds gathered to watch the game and afterwards they made sure they took all their stuff with them, leaving behind a clean place. So perhaps we need a Korean approach at festivals: a change of culture!
Over the years festivals have launched initiatives such as 'love your tent', 'leave no trace', and 'pack it in, pack it out'. Great initiatives but the real struggle is to convince the audience to participate. Let's hope 2015 will be the year that we start loving our tent and we pack it in and out so that we don't leave a trace. Please!