« Culture can contribute to socialising the existence and the need for a new way of caring for and living with the environment »

On April 1st, ZEID Fest organised its second edition. This young full-day musical event was once again a success, attracting an audience of all ages from all over the Basque Country to the BEC. Caring for the environment is one of the main values of the organisation. And so it has demonstrated, committing itself to carry out a diagnosis of the environmental footprint of this year, with the collaboration of Naider. To this end, we spoke to its director, Jon Arratibel, about the role of culture in caring for the environment and also about the role that ZEID Fest can play.

What is ZEID Fest and how did it come about?

Zeid Fest is a full-day Basque festival held once a year at the BEC. In it we can find the sum of different artists and disciplines. The idea of doing this festival came up in times of pandemic, with the idea of doing it in Arbizu. But due to the reception of the public we had to look for more space and so it was finally decided to do it at the BEC.

How would you define the festival and what values do you want to address?

Zeid Fest was conceived from the beginning for society in a broad sense: for everyone and by everyone. Regardless of ideology, race, origin, sex… It is a festival based on absolute freedom, respect, rights and celebration, which gives special importance to the Basque language. Because Basque is our language. Likewise, Basque artists have a prominent place in the festival.

In your opinion, what commitments does our society need to make in relation to the ecological and energy transition?

Society has to change its old tendencies in a number of ways and we believe that it is becoming more and more committed in that sense. It is increasingly clear to us that we have to take care of nature, of the earth. That what we do, what we use, has to be cleaner and greener. That we should dispense with the convenience of single-use things, that local producers and products should prevail over affordable prices. We believe that things are trending in the right direction, we all see climate change and we believe that the responsibility of what we need to do to take care of the earth and leave a better place for those who follow us is becoming more and more evident. At least that’s where we are.

Zeid Fest was conceived from the beginning for society in a broad sense: for everyone and by everyone.

And what role does or can culture play in this transition, how should it behave or what contributions can it make?

The power of culture has always been present in the demands of society. It has always had the gift of reinforcing these demands, drinking from them and giving them a voice and multiplying them. In this sense, culture can contribute to the socialisation of the existence and need for a new way of living and caring for the environment. All these new values can and will contribute to strengthening them as a reflection of society.

What do you understand by environmental sustainability and what is your responsibility in this regard?

When organising ZEID Fest we have always talked about the environment, one of the festival’s core themes is sustainability. We believe that festivals that bring so many people together are responsible for the damage and waste they generate. This year has been the second edition and it has become increasingly clear to us that we have to reduce the damage and waste until it practically disappears and try to repair what is harmful to the environment, adopting the means and measures to solve it. ZEID Fest wants to be a sustainable festival by taking all possible measures and if it is not possible to make it totally sustainable, it will have to give back to nature in another way the damage caused.

As we said, we are in the second edition. Little by little we are taking steps. The first step is measuring and knowing the damage we are causing. Once this reading has been completed, we will make new decisions in the next edition.

As Zeid Fest is a festival held in Euskal Herria and if we want and need a sustainable Euskal Herria, Zeid Fest must also be like that and work in that direction. Moving from words to deeds.

The festival, in its line-up, reflects your vocation for diversity and intergenerationality; does that also lead you to want to work on the aspect of environmental sustainability?

Diversity, intergenerationality, freedom… We are mainly talking about RESPECT. We owe respect to the person next to us and, in the same way, respect for the environment goes hand in hand. We cannot understand the above without respecting nature. We want to build a better society and we also respect and love the place where this society is going to live. One cannot be understood without the other.

When and where did this idea of environmental sustainability come from, and have you had any previous experience in organising festivals or other work?

When the festival raises the environmental issue in its values, one might think it looks very cool. When it remains empty words, it is like that. But we have been clear from the beginning that we have to take constant steps on this issue.

We honestly assume that we are going slower than we would like, but we are going, and we will continue to do so. In the first year we did what we could. In the second year we have started to look at what we are doing. To do this, we have proposed collaborating with a group like Naider. Erronka Garbia has also given us information… In the third year we will take other steps.

Does this decision come from the motivation and responsibility you have in your personal life?

The places we come from and our motivation/responsibility have a lot to say in all this, of course. In the end, those of us in the organisation have mainly drawn from the popular movement. We have organised different initiatives throughout our lives and we have also approached this field at different levels.

Is there anything better than the feeling of doing things well? There is no benefit like it.

What kind of things do you already do in this respect, what difficulties do you encounter, and what are the benefits?

We are taking steps forward: reusable cups, paper containers for taking out food, the disappearance of cash receipts, the prevalence of local suppliers…

It often happens that there is so much work to be done, so many things to be done that the question of sustainability is left to the last points. And then we have fewer resources to manage this area well. This is where we need to change the mental framework.

It must also be said that the economy plays a fundamental role in all this and sometimes it is a serious problem. If a product brought from China is half the price, sometimes the budget can limit what we want to do. You have to find the balance, in leaps and bounds, going forward.

Is there anything better than the feeling of doing things well? There is no benefit like it. In addition to this, the festival will benefit when the public knows that we are actively committed to sustainability, what if we manage to make it fully sustainable?

What do you expect from this diagnosis and process, what results do you want to achieve and what ideas do you have for the future?

  • Unlearning some of the ways we have been working up to now.
  • Learning new trends and putting them at the centre.
  • Seeing clearly all the new steps to be taken in the future.
  • To become practically sustainable and to give back to nature the damage caused.

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