Agenda item

Evaluation of Reading Festival 2021

A presentation by Festival Republic.


Further to Minute 21 of the meeting held on 11 March 2020, James Crosbie, Assistant Director of Planning, Transport and Regulatory Services, introduced Noel Painting and Victoria Chapman of Festival Republic who gave a presentation on the 2021 Reading Festival.  The presentation particularly focused on the issues of safeguarding, welfare and sustainability:

·      Festival Republic had concentrated on providing a safe and secure festival and had introduced robust Covid-19 policies;

  • Pre-event communications had included low carbon travel, a tent-buying guide and other sustainability measures that could be taken by festival-goers, all of which had been underpinned by the Take It Home message;
  • Carbon emissions had levelled over recent festivals, although in part this could be attributed to the significant increase in capacity;
  • The communications had made it clear that only tents which had been packed away and handed in could be re-used by charities;
  • Food and beverage vendors had used only recyclable items included food packaging and cutlery.  There had been a deposit on drinks cups, which led to six tonnes of cups being collected for reuse or recycling;
  • Artists had supported and promoted sustainability during their sets;
  • Peer to peer engagement had worked well to normalise sustainability among festival-goers;
  • Safeguarding partner agencies had worked well together to provide a safe environment for festival-goers.  There had been plenty of signage to the right areas and agencies to help attendees find the support they needed easily and quickly;
  • The relatively short lead-in time before the festival had led to some issues with lack of appropriately trained staff;
  • The intention was to build on the successes of the 2019 and 2021 festivals to deliver further sustainability measures and ensure the safety and well-being of all attendees.

The Committee discussed the presentation and took the opportunity to ask further questions of Festival Republic which covered the following areas:

·      Front of House drug-testing could be introduced.  There was a risk that it could lead individuals to have a false sense of security especially as most recent drug-related deaths at various festivals had been due to mixing drugs or mixing drugs and alcohol, although this could be covered by providing clear information and advice at the testing point;

  • Festival Republic had set up a working group with the appropriate partner agencies to deal with the unlicensed and unregulated water taxis operating during the Festival, to further protect attendees as they travelled between sites;
  • Festival Republic were continuing to investigate measures to encourage people not to abandon tents and other camping equipment when they left the site.  As well as the Take Your Tent Home message they had been considering having initiatives such as people on the camp-sites helping to take tents down, competitions to pack away pop up tents in the fastest time and increased tent rental offers;
  • Further measures aimed at reducing carbon emissions included a move to use more power from the grid to reduce reliance on generators, continuing to promote green travel as Reading had such good transport links, reducing the carbon footprint of the food served by vendors, use of accredited suppliers and targeted communications to festival-goers.

Resolved -

That Noel Painting and Victoria Chapman be thanked for an interesting and informative presentation.