Dancing with the Diaspora

Rocking the Daisies pictures above supplied by festival office, pictures beneath of In the City Emmernetia Dam by the author.







Interview George Avakian: Steyn Entertainment

How has the festival become part of the tourism industry?

Rocking the Daisies welcomes 15 - 20% of its audience from all over the globe, and Cape Town being Africa's token tourist destination makes it a match made in heaven. What people pay to attend a festival abroad will get you a week holiday in Cape Town as well as a full Rockling the Daisies package.

How did the first festivals begin and how have their numbers grown?

The festival was founded by Brian Little and Craig Bright 11 years ago, which only had 1500 people, in 2016 we welcomed a record breaking 24000 pax.

How did the festival originate/ how was it inspired and how did it become a business?

The festivals name was inspired by the Namaqualand Daisies, which you can see Driving to Darling, the town that hosts Rocking the Daisies.

What role does the private and public sector play in growing the creative economy?

They play a huge role, the creative economy really needs their support, the creative industry isn't a high profit industry, although it plays a very important role, creative industries really connect people together, they express social and economical issues that words purely cannot explain. Especially in the music festival space, where people come together from all walks of life and you get to connect with people purely based on creative interests, this creates a level of consciousness of like minded young people who aspire to do incredible things. In saying that i really think the public sector could do so much more, creative industries are always seen as the last consideration when it comes to budget allocations. We as Steyn Entertainment plan on making Rocking the Daisies the biggest music festival in the world, i am sure when we show the people what we have planned for Rocking the Daisies 2017, i am confident that i am going to get a call from the president himself, trying to look at a collaboration into inviting the world to our beautiful country for a music and lifestyle festival like no other.

Statistically, how much is the festival contributing to the economy and to tourism?

We are currently busy with our detailed economic assessment, we employ well over 3500 people around the festival every single year, we estimate a R 35 000 000 injection into the economy from Rocking the Daisies alone.

How do we ensure that people attending and the construction, infrastructure are not hurting the environment and adding undue additional costs?

As Rocking the Daisies has grown over the past 11 years, we have worked hard to maintain the initial environmental-awareness ethos along with the growth of the festival. Every year we strive to improve our eco-impact and to ensure that everyone involved in the ‘production' of the festival shares the same sentiment and assists us to achieve our green goals. We have implemented policies and service level agreements to further our commitment towards our 10 Green Goals, which all traders, contractors, artists, and sponsors must sign off on and adhere to, including an Eco-Procurement Policy, Waste Management Policy, Transportation Policy and a Green Strategy. These drive initiatives to minimize waste, conserve water, and procure environmentally friendly products as often and where possible our aim is to minimize the festival's residual impact on the farm and the earth in general. We continuously assess our progress, processes and initiatives through an annual, independent environmental audit to see how effective we're being. We continue to monitor industry standards, and eco-alternatives, adapting our guidelines and policies and adapting creative solutions to decrease our environmental impact.

This year we have really looked at how we can cohesively bring the myriad and detailed list of growing greening elements, initiatives and partners together to form one comprehensive environmental strategy. This has required a relook at the personnel that work within this ‘department' of the festival and how they work together in order to achieve this. It really is such a key aspect to what this festival is, so it is important that we are able to communicate our successes as well as our failures and shortcomings and improve each year. It is also why the independent environmental audits each year are so important as we get to measure these and put plans in place for the following year based on facts, data and feedback. A big part of that is getting the festival-goer involved as that is where a real difference can be made. That of course involves walking the talk and being able to communicate this in an engaging way.

This year we have increased our focus on engagement of the festival attendees, so that they also continue to leave less, or no trace as they leave the campsite, leaving us less to have to clean up behind the scenes, and minimizing their impact on the earth through the festival. That's why we are increasing our communication campaigns and signage on site this year around our green initiatives and reminding punters how simple it is to reduce their impact by bringing less, using waste recycling bins properly to dispose of their waste, and leaving no trace behind in the campsite and festival grounds. The Green Parade, Trashback, the Green Village, and Trash Police are just some of fun activations that embody our ‘Play Hard, Tread Lightly' motto.

Behind the scenes, we also continue to work closely with all of our contractors on understanding and adhering to our 10 Green Goals and associated policies. A snapshot of some of those goals and initiatives includes:

Sustainable waste management: The generation of waste should actively be reduced during the planning and implementation of the Festival. Provide waste separation at the source to encourage recycling, raise awareness and reduce waste to landfill. We have an increased emphasis on organic waste collection which will be composted on site at the farm for use on the farm and in community garden projects; increased communications around proper separation of waste and ecobricks.

Eco-procurement: Procurement of goods and services should be done in a sustainable manner, including the use of local products that have a minimal negative effect on the environment. Specific focus areas include venue, merchandise, electronic communication, print media, bio-ware, detergents, ablutions, energy, water and the selection of traders and vendors.

Energy Efficiency: Energy efficiency must be implemented through energy saving technologies, management systems and responsible behaviour. The use of renewable energy, such as wind or solar power, should be used where possible, and biodiesel is to be used in generators. Energy consumption should be measured and energy efficient lights to be used wherever possible. Approximately half of the generators operating onsite run on biodiesel, energy-efficient lighting is mandatory and monitored by the RTD team, the Green Village & Hemp Stage runs almost entirely on solar power, and the Rocking the Daisies offsets carbon emissions through Renewable Energy Credits produced by the Darling Wind Farm.

Transport: Air pollution should be reduced through encouraging non-motorised transport, efficient management of vehicles and the avoidance of non-essential flights. Specific attention must be given to promoting shared transport, as well as Walking and Cycling the Daisies. Rocking the Daisies monitors and records all contractor transport, uses electric golf carts as production vehicles onsite, allows no other vehicles onsite during active fest hours, encourages festival attendee carpooling through incentives and promotion, as well as Bussing the Daisies, Walking the Daisies and Cycling the Daisies programs.

Environment: The natural environment should be protected to reduce any negative impact on the biodiversity. Rocking the Daisies requires contractors to work with hazardous substances over impermeable surfaces to reduce soil pollution so any of their behind-the-counter spills don't soak into the soil and cause unnecessary pollution, we practice responsible disposal and recycling of gray water, and protect and preserve biodiversity areas of Cloof Estate undisturbed by the festival production and attendees.

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