Indoor splendor? Our changing climate may cause music festivals to look different

The UK’s signature music festival, Glastonbury, is famous for its filth. And players mostly seem to enjoy how wild the festival ground gets most of the time.
But “Squalor in the Mud,” “Splendor in the Trenches,” or “Climate Apocalypse Festival”—as some called the Splendor in the Grass music festival weekend—is not.

This year’s annual festival has been overshadowed by law, swampy terrain, flooded campsites and traffic delays affecting an estimated 50,000 attendees.

Splendor in the Grass 2022 - Byron Bay

General view during Splendor in the Grass 2022 in North Byron Parklands. The festival organizers canceled the first day of performances due to heavy rain at the festival site. Credits: Matt Jelonek/Getty Images

The mud was still wet before questions were raised about the future of the event and others in light of the changing climate.

So, can Magnificence in the Dirt become Magnificent Indoors?

Climate change ‘definitely a living consideration’ for organizers

The CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology State of the Climate Report 2020 states that extreme climate events in Australia such as heat extremes, heavy rains, coastal flooding, fires and drought are becoming more common and are projected to remain so. way as the climate warms.
Julia Robinson, managing director of the Australian Festivals Association (AFA) said. Ribbon this is a risk factor that puts a lot of pressure on the minds of the organizers.
At the end of each year, the AFA conducts a risk assessment, looking at issues affecting festivals at home and abroad.

“Climate has certainly been one of the biggest risks for the industry,” Ms Robinson said, reflecting on last year’s review.

People carry luggage through the mud.

People drag their hiking kit through the mud as a car pushes a tractor at the 2016 Glastonbury Festival, where walking through thick mud is part of the experience. Credits: Matt Cardy / Matt Cardy

Ms Robinson, who works with Secret Sounds (which hosts Splendor in the Grass) and festivals including Listen Out, Field Day, Groovin the Moo, said the effects of climate change have never been more pronounced than in the past five years. .

Attendees at the 2019 Victoria’s Falls Festival were ordered to go home the day after the four-day event due to extreme fire risk. Organizers of the long-running New Year’s Eve festival in Lorne, a two-hour drive from Melbourne, said conditions were too dangerous in a statement.
When the announcement was made, about 9,000 people were already camping on the site. But with temperatures in the 40s and the festival surrounded by bushes, it was impossible to risk normal festival workload in an emergency.

“Given the heat and wildfires in the summer, you think the middle of winter is the way to go, but then you see problems with rain,” Ms Robsinson said.

“It’s very important to be flexible when scheduling dates and locations.”
She said that even before the pandemic hit and cancellations became commonplace, organizers were facing rising insurance premiums and policies for events at certain locations.
“In some cases (organizers) either could not get insurance or it was completely unavailable,” she said. “It’s definitely a live consideration.”

Now that the pandemic has stepped in, insurance costs have risen by at least 30 to 40 percent compared to a few years ago, she said.

One step away from nature?

According to Ms. Robinson, increased exposure to the elements is a risk you take by holding major music festivals in the natural beauty of regional areas.
But moving to areas with fewer “sewer problems, better wildfire escape routes, or even just access to tertiary hospitals” is no easy task, and she expects infrastructure talks to resume with state governments in the next few years.
“It will take us all to work together to ensure open lines of communication between government departments, organizers and communities.”

Evelyn Richardson is the Executive Director of Live Performance Australia, which represents the Australian live performance industry. She said Ribbon it is likely that some festival locations will be crossed off the list forever.

people sit in front of the stage in the field.

USA East Washington, Gorge Amphitheater at Endfest Music Festival. Source: LightRocket / Wolfgang Köhler/LightRocket

“In some places where events may have taken place in the past, they will not be held in the future because they will be considered more risky than they were 10 years ago,” she said.

Emergency Management Minister Murray Watt on Monday called the events a reminder of Australia’s changing landscape.
“I don’t think we want to get to the point in this country where we can’t have fun and festivals, and some regions can’t have events,” he said on ABC radio.
“I’ve probably been to Splendor in the Grass at least 10 times and never had a problem with it before.

“But I think it reminds us that we live in a changing climate. That is why we must take action to combat climate change and reduce emissions, as we are going to.”

Health implications are also a concern

The AFA was originally created in response to safety issues related to drug use at festivals before it expanded to become an industry advocate for communication between stakeholders.
But those initial considerations about drug use at music festivals are still linked to growing climate considerations.
Ms Robinson said a 2019 coronal inquiry into the deaths of six drug-addicted music festival attendees found that hot weather and even extreme heat were a common theme in the findings.

“The safety issues associated with drug use seem quite distant from environmental issues, but the coronal inquest into the death found that the death was related to extremely hot days,” she said.

“Splendor was a warning”

Sue Higginson, a former public interest lawyer and now a Greens MP for New South Wales, said: Ribbon Byron North Park, where Splendor in the Grass took place, was already known as a restricted area, meaning that there are restrictions on the use of the area.

Ms Higginson, who lives in the North Rivers region, which was under water just a few months ago, said the area is known to be prone to flooding. According to her, she acted as an advocate for conservationists who tried to reject an application to list Splendor in the Grass on this site and won in the Land and Environmental Court before it was later approved by the New South Wales government.
“In a way, I think the events of the weekend and Splendor in the Grass were a warning.”
She hopes that future planning will be more thoughtful.
“The organizers have to be very serious and admit that they knew the country was limited in the beginning… We were all very lucky that things didn’t get worse.”

The tape has reached out to Splendor in the Grass for comment.