As countries look towards economic innovation to reduce their dependence on extractive industries, entertainment based industries like culture and the arts can play a role in these efforts.
When assessing the pathway of creative industries to sustainability, it’s important to consider that the orange economy can help break into new markets and get buy-in from large scale entertainment figures and businesses.
Tobago’s thriving culture, which includes vibrant farming activities and food festivals, is one example of the intersection of creative industries and concepts of sustainability like eating local and growing one’s own food.
An example of this intersection are the popular “harvest festivals” which are being scaled up to include more culinary offerings and marketed as a tourism product inclusive of entertainment.
Buy-in from the entertainment industry, and environmental sector, to add new elements to these festivals – while maintaining tradition – can open these festivals to new eco-minded audiences and raise awareness for environmental causes.
Additionally, if the demand for local foods at these festivals continues to increase, it also creates opportunities for local farms to boost their production.
In this model, entertainers and entertainment companies can now consider investing in sustainable activities – such as farming and regenerative agriculture – with a view of reaching new audiences in creative ways.
Over the past several years, Tobago has demonstrated that there is a market and consumer base for these events locally but all that is required is further investment.
Looking around the world, there are already such initiatives underway that attract thousands – if not hundreds of thousands – of people.
These festivals also continue to be an example of how these events can be made more circular if there are efforts to reduce the waste that may be generated from them.
The need to reduce our carbon footprint, and cut back on energy usage, has crept into conversations between a wide cross section of individuals from creatives to party promoters.
The idea of cutting costs for economic purposes can also be attributed to being a reason as to why the entertainment industry is now looking at greening efforts.
The Dutch DGTL Festival for electronic music has the goal of becoming the first circular economy festival in the world.
The power they use for roughly 60,000 festival goers comes from wind and solar energy.
Meat has been replaced by plant-based alternatives and the water being used in the toilets and showers gets processed so it can be reused.
The trash is separated strictly and a deposit system for beer cups or other beverages avoids unnecessary further waste.
DGTL is a global festival that has stations in Chile, India and Brazil.
Near Milan, Italy, the Terraform Festival attracts more than 5,000 visitors a year.
In the past, the organisers of this festival have built their stages from wood of trees that have been destroyed during a storm in the region, which has a knock on effect of supporting local communities in due course of such productions.
Locally, many festivals are organised by the private sector.
As for Tobago, there are even state run and promoted events, therefore much depends on the organisers’ motivation on how environmentally friendly the party will be.
This would require politicians to set clear rules and regulations, and policy makers to come up with innovative ideas to incentivise such ideas.
With Tobago being a small island developing state, and consisting of many rural communities with environmentally sensitive areas, this presents an opportunity to lead the way as it relates to sustainability.
Given the Caribbean is a very culturally expressive region, it presents the opportunity to lead the way in greening festivals and events.
If every island can promote, assist, and provide assistance for promoters wishing to ‘go green,’ the region can become an authority on how the orange economy plays a significant role in sustainability.
Sean McCoon, Environment Tobago