Having grown from its roots as a series of gigs in the Union Chapel, Islington, the Big Chill Festival is nowadays set in the dramatic setting of Eastnor Castle’s deer park, nestled among the Malvern Hills in Hertforshire, and is a favourite for the 35,000 fans that flock there for the festival’s diverse line-ups each year in August.
Big Chill has become known for its high quality visuals, an excellent range of gourmet food stalls, a musical offer covering everything from mainstream, folk and jazz to African and dub, and a Body & Soul field with healers, masseurs and alternative therapists. It’s cultural programme also bridges contemporary art, films, poetry, circus, cabaret and comedy.
Big Chill submitted data last year to make 2010 a baseline year for future reductions, and has put in place environmental initatives towards achieving these reductions. Accordingly Big Chill Festival has achieved 1 star Industry Green for its initial year of assessment.
Big Chill is produced by Festival Republic, the powerhouse behind a portfolio of some of the UK’s most iconic major festivals and best-loved boutique-festival experiences, from Reading and Leeds to the Electric Picnic in Ireland and Hove in Norway. Festival Republic was an early adopter of sustainability, employing one of the first dedicated sustainability managers - Meegan Jones - who has since published the definitive Guide to Sustainable Event Management drawing on her expertise managing the festivals.
Festival Republic’s Sustainability policy is updated annually and overseen by a Sustainability Coordinator working across the festivals. Staff are provided with targets and strategies both operationally and for communicating to audiences, staff, volunteers and suppliers.
Working with suppliers
Contracts issued to certain suppliers included some regulation on sustainability matters; for examples traders and caterers were only allowed
to use biodegradable cutlery, and bars could only serve drinks in reusable pints. Guidelines and sustainability initiatives were distributed to all
traders, caterers, sponsors and artists via email, info sheets and the Green Republic intranet site. Meetings are also held with suppliers pre- and post-event to discuss progress and future goals. The Sustainability Coordinator is also responsible for overseeing the operations of suppliers during the festival.
Festival Republic has incorporated a reduction strategy for Big Chill 2011 into its event planning, which includes targets for increasing waste vegetable oil biodiesel use, increasing recycling and composting, and reducing the overall impact of audience travel. Key staff will be included in the process of gathering sustainability data from suppliers and contractors for audits, and developing sustainability indicators to meet these targets.
A Green Big Chill section section has been developed on the festival’s website, to communicate the festival’s sustainability commitments and
initiatives to its audience. Information stalls and interactive displays will also be available on the festival site. Artists and performers will also be
briefed on sustainability at events and encouraged to participate in the various education and training campaigns happening on site.