[Go Green] Valley of Arts Festival

25 Oct 2023

Valley of Arts Festival

19 - 28 July 2024
Kapolcs, Vigántpetend, and Taliándörögd, Hungary

Valley of Arts festival is the largest and oldest interdisciplinary arts festival of the Balaton Uplands region.

Valley Arts Festival Green logo

I started with my green thoughts at the Valley of Arts somewhere in 2017, before the festival. When first I appeared at the meeting where we inform our caterer and craftsmen partners about having recyclable cups (recups) (120 partners in total back then) I was nearly killed by their looks and was kind of conquered by their words and contras. I had no proof in hands, just my idealistic view and urge to do something. It was obvious that there would be no change for that year in any case. I started learning and gathering information on sustainability matters, studies and conferences (eg. Eurosonic, Tallinn Music Week) which gave me plenty of proof and introduced me to a completely new world. For the 2018 spring meeting I not only had the data and some proof, and already examples of the recups and biodegradable utensils plates, but to be honest I already knew that if I wanted to convince them, I had to show them that not only we do this "right". We would not be the ones not rewashing the recups and just throwing them away because of a new design (some festivals do) and we would not throw away the biodegradables on garbage dumps, but we would go with composting and the "full cycle".

The problem with composting is that you have to have special arrangements and appliances for that, otherwise biodegradables would only biodegrade in 20 years in a simple landfill and most importantly the regulations would not allow the whole activity yet. Meanwhile as well I had to explore all the accounting mechanisms that would give a safe financial scheme for the recups. It turned out that most of Hungarian events were in a tricky situation and most of them used a separate box for the recups money where they collected the money for the recups and gave it back from there. I wanted to do this "right" and through the vending machine as well with proper invoicing. There are some changes from the authority side that had to be devised as well and from the beginning we had a fully invoiced clear system in place.

Therefore for the 2018 Spring gathering I knew already too much and already all the pros and cons (I could have had a conversation, a debate just within myself). In 2018 I went through the PR communication way first. I started to talk about my daughter to these partners and the world I wish to leave her in when I die. I started to talk about climate change and to educate them (there were 160 of them present in 2018). I sold a "dream" to them and started working on their feelings. In 2018 it was a campaign you were not forced to join, just if you had kids, grandchildren, that you would like to help to have a better world. It rather resembled a TEDx speech more than just an information session. I educated them about the financial matters and that there is a solution on how to play them correctly. And the majority joined. I had the evidence, the numbers on hand and honestly I started to share my doubts about biodegradables as well, and promised that we are going to make the full cycle. For that we started a co-operation with Pannon University as researchers on biodegradable waste, so that the authorities gave us permission for composting (After the 2019 festival for 6 months I was receiving photos on my garbage, which was fun ).

After the soft 2018 year of course I became dictatorial on this matter, as I had already announced in Spring 2018 there was this only rule, but they had more then 1 year to prepare. This 'only green' rule everyone had to comply with. We were even sending out some people to control the craftsmen and caterers. We could go drastic on plastic (even craftsmen had to use paper or biodegradable bags for their goods when sold). Today we have 191 partners and these rules are clear to everyone. Although the number of visitors is rising from year to year, in 2023 totaling 148 000, the tons of waste we dump is decreasing. We collect everything selectively and 20 people in rubber gloves of course then reselect all the waste on the spot. Everything is taken out that can somehow be used in a better way then just dumping it (plastic, glass, etc.).

Meanwhile I started participating in conferences and educating partners about this process and trying to share the knowledge gained. The Hungarian Tourism Foundation (MTPA: www.mtpa.hu) is having conferences and Meetups on this matter, where since 2021 it has not only educated the cultural sector, but the business and sport events organisers and providers as well.

by Natália Oszko-Jakab

More info: Valley of Arts Festival

(General Editor: Simon Mundy)