GIAF and partners take sustainability to next level

12 July 2023

Green ambassadors, extension of reusable cup scheme, and fully sustainable ‘Heineken Bar’, among new green initiatives.

Galway International Arts Festival (GIAF) and its partners are delighted to announce that they have taken sustainability at the festival to the next level in 2023, with a raft of measures designed to further reduce the festival’s impact on the environment.

As part of GIAF 2023, GIAF will:

  • Introduce ‘Green Ambassadors’;
  • Source energy from more renewable sources to meet its commitment to sourcing 50% of its total energy requirements from renewable resources and reducing current waste production by 55% by 2025;
  • Move completely from diesel to biodiesel powered generators;
  • Further reduce its printing outputs;
  • Increase its strong focus on recycling and reusing materials;
  • Promote behaviours among staff, volunteers, artists and audiences that will help reduce their impact on the environment;
  • Work closely with its supply chains to help deliver more sustainable options.

In 2023, working again with its major funding and sponsorship partners The Arts Council, Fáilte Ireland, Galway City Council, University of Galway and Heineken®, GIAF’s Sustainability Manager, Georgina Edziwa and festival management are again overseeing a number of initiatives at the festival this year that will assist it in transitioning to a more sustainable future.

Having worked very successfully in 2022 with its Education Partner, University of Galway, this year, GIAF and the university are again working together on promoting sustainability endeavours and ensuring any university venues used by the festival are run as sustainably as possible.

19% of GIAF’s festival venues are located on University of Galway’s campus in 2023, with 35,000 to 40,000 people expected on campus this year.

University of Galway is making significant progress on sustainability and is ranked number 1 in Ireland and 34th in the world in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2023, for success in delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Since 2006, University of Galway has reduced energy consumption by 50% and exceeded national targets on energy efficiency. The university has installed more than 500kW of solar PV, including 50kW on the roof of the Bailey Allen Hall, which hosts Bedbound, written by Enda Walsh and starring Colm Meaney and Brenda Meaney.

As part of the college-backed Volunteer Programme, GIAF will this year introduce Green Ambassadors, who will assist, guide and encourage festival attendees to engage in best waste management practises during the festival. GIAF recycled 37% of the festival’s total waste in 2022 and aims to grow this figure in 2023, with the extension of its single-use plastic ban across the festival and greater awareness around its 3-bin and 4-bin systems to increase this figure and prevent waste where possible. The Green Ambassadors will be on hand during the festival to help promote these initiatives.

The partners are also delighted to announce that the university has this year installed a number of refilling water stations at key locations on campus that Galway International Arts Festival and the college will be promoting to artists, staff and attendees as part of GIAF’s 2023 sustainability marketing campaign.

The festival will further communicate and encourage artists, volunteers and festival goers to bring their own reusable water bottles when attending shows at festival events where bottles are allowed.

Last year, Galway International Arts Festival was delighted to join Fáilte Ireland’s Sustainability Taskforce and welcomed the creation of the authority’s ‘Sustainable Festival Guidelines’, which will act as a valuable resource for the festival in its sustainability journey.

Last year, GIAF worked with its Drinks Partner, Heineken® on a reusable cup scheme at the Heineken® Big top that prevented 45,500 plastic cups from being sent to landfill.

GIAF and Heineken® are delighted to announce that they are extending this reusable cup scheme to the Festival Garden in 2023. Patrons will again be advised to reuse their cups by additional messaging and branding on site during the festival.

GIAF and Heineken® are also working together on the installation of ‘The Heineken Bar’, which premiered at Electric Picnic in 2022, in the Festival Garden, which compliments the festival’s work in this area. Since its inception, the Festival Garden has been constructed using the same recycled wooden pallets, with a flower wall to support biodiversity.

Heineken® spokesperson Michelle Rowley said: “Heineken Ireland has continued to showcase its commitment to making events a little more sustainable every day. One initiative we’re excited to partner with GIAF on is by bringing our Heineken Bar to this year’s event. The Heineken Bar is a brand new entertainment experience, focused on reuse-led design values and powered by sustainable production. It is meticulously designed with a container-based approach, returnable cup solution, upcycled and recycled materials and a foliage recycling system. Every element used in The Heineken Bar will subsequently be reused in other marketing initiatives or events, highlighting its sustainable nature. It serves as a living, breathing structure that sets an example on how to reduce overall carbon footprint at festivals and events.”

Hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) powered generators will also be in exclusive use at the Heineken® Big Top within the two-week period this year.

GIAF continuously encourages attendees to use sustainable transport solutions to reduce their emissions. GIAF also recently announced that it has joined forces with Citylink/ on advancing its sustainable transport ambitions.

Nearly 50% of GIAF’s attendees on average are from outside Galway, necessitating travel to Galway for the festival in July.

As GIAF Travel Partner, Citylink/ are working with the festival on promoting its bus services to potential GIAF attendees pre, during and post festival. Citylink and GoBus provide five of its seven routes in and out of Galway, including services to Limerick, Dublin, Cork and rural parts of Galway and Mayo, including Ballina, Loughrea and Clifden. This provides a sustainable, cost-effective way for festival-goers to attend GIAF 2023.

GIAF will also be encouraging car sharing and active travel solutions, again this year.

GIAF’s merchandise has been sourced from entirely sustainable supply chains in 2023.

Margaret Jenkins, Fáilte Ireland: “It is wonderful to see Galway International Arts Festival back in full swing post Covid and continuously improving every aspect of its offering for its visitors. Our research shows that sustainability is becoming increasingly important for visitors, so it is wonderful to see GIAF responding to these needs. Fáilte Ireland provides a range of supports to festivals looking to become more sustainable and we were delighted to work with the Galway International Arts Festival on this.”

Galway International Arts Festival CEO John Crumlish said: “Galway International Arts Festival is committed to reducing its impact on the environment and transitioning to a more sustainable future. We are very much looking forward to the next number of years and the exciting journey we are on to do this. We have a number of challenging goals to reach by 2025 which, with the support of our major funding and sponsorship partners, we are confident we can achieve.”

Galway International Arts Festival would like to acknowledge the support of its principal funding agencies the Arts Council and Fáilte Ireland; its Drinks Partner Heineken®; and Education Partner University of Galway.