ADE Green: Escapism or transformative experiences? How events could trigger market transformation.
Last weekend, Amsterdam Dance Event took over the city of Amsterdam again (October 18 to 22). Not only to let people play and enjoy music, but also to create space for dialogue. During ADE Green for example: thé pioneering conference on sustainability, innovation and social change in the music industry. What can we learn from ADE Green about positively changing our system (and market) and using events for the sake of it?
What is the power of events?
There’s something about events and festivals. They have a certain power: to trigger us, to let us experience and connect in a different way. What events and festivals all share, is the power to create togetherness. They gather people in one place to experience all kinds of things: innovations, community, music, arts, play, different kinds of stories and dialogue. In that way, events and festivals have the power to present alternate realities as shared experience. By immersing people into alternate realities, you can create a sense of awareness, trigger reflection and touch upon people’s mindsets. When people return to their daily lives after the event, they take these experiences and feelings back home, where they continue shaping their (current) realities and visions.
Throughout time, every era has its own reality, its own narrative. That narrative is both defined by (and defines) the political, economic and socio-cultural context. Everything we do somehow gets shaped by that narrative. How we think and live is a product of the narrative we grow up in. Where being critical of a different narrative is easy, it’s quite hard to be critical of our own reality that, like water, surrounds us all day every day. We are so immersed by it, that we don’t see or recognize it anymore. Can creating alternate realities help us wake up, reflect and improve our current reality?
“Our current reality surrounds us like water. We are so immersed by it, that we don’t see or recognize it anymore.”
How can festivals and events contribute to market transformation?
Sometimes, we need a little help stepping out of the reality we live in. Festivals and events are helpful formats that can act as sub-realities, pop-up cities or idealistic playgrounds. Hosting communities, designing new structures and testing innovations. In a pop-up city, filled with a willing group of people (that have the time and space to test new ideas), you can make your own rules. You can design your own energy system, you can design your own social system, or envision how we’re connected to one another.
It is experiencing this alternate reality that enables us to reflect on our current reality, and therefore let us escape from that water that constantly surrounds us. It expands possibilities. It can present a blueprint of a society people want to be part of. It can infuse visitors with ideologies, ideas and innovations. Experiencing different stories might also help us understand what story we want to contribute to, in other words, how we visualize our ideal future.
In short: 3 ways how events facilitate market transformation
The togetherness, ideologies and ideas that we experience at these events, we all bring back home. That’s how transformation is initiated. In short, events:
- Let people experience new things: new values, new ways of thinking and new ways of connecting, by taking us out of our waters. Experiences are important because they enable us to inhabit new stories that let us believe that alternatives are possible. Events can do this by presenting a different but tangible translation of our reality. With, for example, different types of ‘authority’, relationships or exchanges you can provide people with a different lens.
- Are playgrounds to prototype new solutions and build on learnings. When successful, they show us the potential of these solutions. For example: an entire festival “village” that runs on renewables. How we deal with energy today is not ‘normal’; it is merely shaped by the “energy reality” we grew up with. When we can showcase a new model, we make the old model obsolete (albeit step by step).
“Events are the perfect laboratories for testing models. Here, we attempt building the models we want and need.”
3. Facilitate connection and dialogue in a safe setting, showing us what we have in common. This can contribute to the feeling of “togetherness” at festivals, that drives awareness and contributes to the willingness to be open to others. This is of great value, with a wide variety of people visiting, sharing the same ideals. Being open to others shows us how we can work together and create value together. This starts with seeing our commonalities that triggers new conversations. Having these conversations not only creates hope, but can trigger agency and action: what we need to progress.
Concluding: events (can) contain everything that’s needed to build, test and reflect on new models. By means of experience within a small-scale version of society, before deploying these innovations or models on a larger scale. It’s new experiences in which we can (pre) enter other realities: new realities, new narratives. It enables us to reflect on the narrative in which we are so immersed, that it’s sometimes hard to recognize. Reflection enables innovation that drives change. Not incremental change, but a strong pull on the steering wheel that prevents us from bumping into the walls of “business as usual”. That’s how we can and will create system change and market transformation.
How will you use these insights from the events industry to your will? What opportunities for market transformation are there for you? We’d love to think along.