Why did you decide to create EA Sustain?

I founded an ideas and performing arts festival called EA Festival in 2021. There are many subjects related to the environment that I sought to include inside that event but I ran out of room and it dawned on me that The Environment deserved its own festival.

However, with my background in art, culture and marketing, I wanted to present the subject in a different way, not from the usual perspective of ESG or wildlife conservation but in a manner that engages the ordinary citizen or consumer. The truth is, the vast majority of the ordinary public doesn’t know much about these subjects, let alone how they are affected by them every day. Thus, for each discussion, the moderator will assume that audience members know practically nothing about the subject and follow a line of questioning that reveals the fundamental issues surrounding the subject. I hope this approach sparks a newfound interest or engagement in the listener.

Why did you partner with Firstsite?

I’m a huge fan of Firstsite director Sally Shaw and, specifically, her philosophy of integrating the residents of Colchester into the programming and daily activities of the museum.

It’s very easy for an art institution housed in a starchitect building to be perceived as an elitist institution but Sally has taken great pains to counteract such a perception and, instead, made Firstsite a buzzing hub of community activity and discovery.

The strapline of EA Sustain is, “Flourishing localism is key to decarbonisation.” Firstsite is an object lesson in how to build a world-class institution which succeeds precisely because it anticipates the needs and desires of the local community when building out its programme and calendar.

What are the EA Sustain sessions you’re looking forward to the most?

I’m looking forward to the discussions about Food & Farming the most – Sustainable Food, Groundswell – a Movement, Farming in East Anglia and Sea Change – because they have the potential to really change minds and lives.

For many people, it will be the first time they hear about farming from farmers. Most of us never give any thought to farming. Indeed, I’d say that most of us think, what has farming got to do with me?

Well, the truth is, farming has EVERYTHING to do with all of us – because food is our main connection to the environment. Indeed, food can be the fulcrum of environmental consciousness.

I’m also looking forward to our Art x Environment events featuring top creative leaders who have chosen to focus their oeuvre on environmental issues. By showcasing artists who are pioneers in environmental art, music and literature, I hope to inspire more artists to follow their lead. I also believe that the elliptical approach of art is frequently much more effective than shouty activism.

What’s next for EA Sustain and EA Festival?

EA Festival launched an event series in Autumn 2022 and we intend to continue touring East Anglia all year, doing individual stand-alone events with top-notch speakers and authors, so that residents all over the region can get a taste of the main festival which takes place in the summer.

This year, EA Festival will take place at Hedingham Castle on 10th and 11th June. We will announce the line-up and tickets will go on sale at www.eafestival.com in February 2023.

EA Sustain – Day 1