Ice Hot Nordic Dance has set its goal to strengthen the sustainable development of the Nordic dance ecosystem. An ecosystem, in this context, consists of ecological, economic, cultural (including artistic) and social dimensions. In order to strengthen the ecosystem in a sustainable way it is necessary to take a holistic approach and pay attention to all these dimensions.
In 2020–2021 the Ice Hot partners and the Helsinki platform team worked together with sustainability experts and refined the aims of the project. As a result, the ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY OF ICE HOT HELSINKI 2022 (pdf) was introduced in the winter 2021.
The following practical measures were taken in Helsinki:
- A practical guide for environmentally friendly production was created for the production team.
- The sustainability aims were taken into account also in the GUIDING PRINCIPLES FOR THE JURY OF ICE HOT HELSINKI 2022.
- Three articles that discussed making sustainable choices in performing arts and events were published on the website and diffused beyond (see below).
- Raising awareness of things that can be done in the field and bringing sustainability issues to the agenda at various events.
- During the platform, six seminars about sustainability themes were organized. Ecological, social and cultural perspectives were discussed by artists, producers, managers and sustainability experts. Read the report from the seminar How sustainable can international live events be? held at the Ice Hot Platform in Helsinki.
- Seminars and a part of the platform program were live-streamed (link to YouTube) in order to reach a wider audience without them needing to travel to Helsinki.
- Event organizers and cooperating restaurants offered vegetarian food (some exclusively).
- Recycling of waste was organized in the venues.
- Only very few prints and no merchandise were produced as all the content was online.
- Public transport was preferred for transfers. Guests were offered a three-day ticket.
- All possible stage lighting was executed with LED technology.
Dancing in the LED Spotlight
Key markers for sustainable performance spaces.
What kinds of challenges and opportunities are being identified in performance venues? Read the Dance House Helsinki story.
Taking on the world, sustainably
What can we learn from the music sector about sustainable touring in the Nordic region?
Read about Jazz Finland’s sustainable network project.
Taking on the Nordic region, sustainably
What do we talk about when we talk about international traveling today?
Read what Ice Hot partners think about the challenges and solutions.
How we succeeded
The ENVIRONMENTAL EVALUATION OF ICE HOT HELSINKI 2022 (link to pdf) shows that Ice Hot team managed to execute many actions that actually reduce the environmental impact and carbon footprint of arranging the event.
Nevertheless, the total carbon footprint of the platform is more than 1 000 tons of CO2e, of which 97 % is from 460 artists and guests traveling to Helsinki from various locations in Europe and elsewhere.
Most guests and artists traveled to Helsinki by flight even if they were provided with tips for ecological traveling. The artists were even offered per diems also for any additional travel days due to slow travel but few took advantage of it.
As is known, air travel is one of the factors that burden the carbon footprint the most.
It can still be argued that a platform with the possibility to see a great number of performances in a short time in one place reduces the number of travels for presenters and programmers who need to see a lot of performances. As one of the guests put it:
Artists were offered the possibility to stay for the whole event, also economically, in order to maximize their gain from the platform and to minimize the carbon footprint. This was to point out that when traveling, it is recommended to make the most of it, and it was indeed highly appreciated by most artists.
Other positive impacts, which are more easily perceived over a longer period of time, are the results and impact that the participation has had on individual artists and companies, in terms of presenting and working opportunities, but also in terms of stronger connections and networks.
Platforms as an event format can be argued to maximize benefits for both artists and guests. Instead of traveling for one or two shows, programmers spend a few days more in one place, seeing a high number of performances and making new connections and exchanging thoughts with colleagues.
It can be seen that the whole dance sector benefits from gatherings like this, as getting to know each others’ works and interests leads to new collaborations and co-productions that develop the field, thus strengthening the whole ecosystem.
What we learned
Developing the sustainability of the performing arts sector is work to be done in a long run – ”it’s a marathon, not a sprint”. Ice Hot Helsinki sustainability policy was a start that we will continue in the next platforms and also wider. We consider it important to share openly our observations and reflections about what we did and how we succeeded – in this way we invite everyone to take steps towards a more sustainable future in the performing arts community.
The three overall learnings from the Ice Hot Helsinki sustainability work were:
- In calculating the carbon footprint and assessing the impact of actions, focus on what is relevant and within your realm of possibilities. Allocate resources on this.
- In an international dance event, where many different agendas and resources come into play, ecological, economic, social and curatorial aims will conflict. Prioritize your aims.
- Collaborative programming, i.e. finding additional opportunities for platform artists with local partners, should be developed. Start the discussions early enough.