A Sustainable Future for Sarcus: gigsta reflects on Environmental Consciousness
This month marks the return of the groundbreaking French arts and electronic music festival Sarcus. gigsta talks about why more festivals should take a lesson from their book…
gigsta is an artist with a unique, sensible vision for the future. Far too often we tend to dance around difficult conversations and avoid the harsh realities of an industry, which at times can be unforgiving not only towards the self but towards our planet too. This summer has been the hottest recorded in Europe, with unusual weather patterns and stifling conditions which have lead to dire consequences for both people and place.
That is why it is important that we begin to assess and remodel our own relationship with our environment – this means embracing difficult conversations around climate change, re-evaluating our own behaviour and contribution the problem and strategising towards a better and more sustainable future.
Sarcus is a multi disciplinary festival based in France – it is powering forwards into a future of which they believe is rooted in self sustainability, social and environmental awareness.
They are launching a number of initiatives this summer, ensuring that the festival does its bit to combat climate change. Some of the measures they will focus on include a ‘no flight policy’ meaning that artists must travel via ground transport in order to reduce carbon emissions. The festival has introduced an eco responsibility charter for all patrons attending the event with the goal being that the festival is 100% waste free by 2024.
As a touring artist, gigsta see’s great value in these contributions and reflects on her own perspective of how we might be better placed to embrace such initiatives as an industry.
Why do you feel it is important that festivals adopt a progressive approach to sustainability?
Given the urgency of the situation, it is important for any organisation and community to take a progressive approach to sustainability, especially in the Global North. Most festivals as we know them today are being organised by and for audiences that share the biggest responsibility for the climate crisis. Moreover, the structure of festivals and their ephemerality, lends itself particularly well to experiments. Social justice movements and progressive systemic shifts have often been rooted in community organisation.
How do you feel when you observe festivals and events providers being inconsiderate of such opportunities to increase sustainability?
I am as skeptical of music organisations who ignore the climate crisis and its social ramifications, as I am of greenwashing initiatives. I understand that sustainability is a complex topic. But « increasing » the use of certain keywords or technological fixes doesn’t assure that one has actually reduced emissions or radically re-thought the model of their organisation. And the extra -activist logic that runs through some fringes of our music scene goes well beyond event organising. Music should be enjoyed and shared, not capitalised upon.
Where do you feel the electronic and dance music community lets itself down in this respect?
There are many areas in which the electronic and dance music community could be doing much better. My work has tended to focus on the politics of transport. Only 1% of the world’s population causes 50% of commercial aviation emissions while more than 80% have never set a foot on an aeroplane. Flying is pretty much the most climate damaging thing you can legally do. If every person in the world were to fly from London to New York and back once a year, the CO2 budget for staying below 1.5 degrees of global heating would be exhausted in 34 years just from flying!! Meanwhile, our scene continues to promote and normalise hypermobility.
Sarcus is a festival with a no phones policy, why do you feel this to be important?
The challenges that come with the climate crisis require a lot of emotional resources and imagination, that are best cultivated when we’re making space from being constantly stimulated. Aside from the effect of screens on our cognitive abilities and mental healths, Sarcus’ invitation to step back from phones can also be a good opportunity to reflect on the huge carbon footprint of digital technologies.
Do you worry about the loss of connection with the outside world and what would you say to those who perhaps might?
As I reply to these questions, I’ve been accidentally living without a phone for six weeks. Whilst it hasn’t come without challenges, I feel more connected than ever to others, to myself and especially to music. The no phones policy at Sarcus is interesting because it is designed in a safe and enjoyable way: you can let your contacts know you won’t be reachable and you’ll be surrounded by a probably very friendly crowd who will experience the same thing. And in the rare case of you really having a meltdown, just come and hang out with me.
“We need to interrogate the underlying values and narratives of our scene that create inequalities.”
What changes do you feel responsible to make as an individual?
As a white able-bodied person who grew up in Europe and is currently based in Berlin, a well-connected city, I have committed to a flight-free lifestyle. I regularly host radio shows and write thoughts on climate justice. Finally, I am currently working alongside action-oriented organisations, including Stay Grounded which campaigns for a reduction as well as a fair and just transition of the aviation industry.
What changes do you believe others should be making within our community?
We urgently need to show more solidarity with the most affected peoples and areas. We need more information and transparency on the impacts of music activities as they are currently happening. We need to interrogate the underlying values and narratives of our scene that create inequalities. We need more discussion and democratic debates around climate and social issues, as well as more kindness to work towards transformative justice. We need more coordination between the most powerful parts involved – not only promoters but also booking agencies, media outlets, musicians, etc. The required changes are huge and can not be tackled by isolated individuals but as collectives and together, we can make these shifts pleasurable!
Is it important to book local artists and use local resources to enhance this?
Yes, although any curation should obviously be mindful of diversity and inclusion.
Find out more about Sarcus Festival HERE.
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