Kevin Mackay joined DF Concerts this year as sustainability coordinator. He reflects on his career path and provides his perspective on the key environmental challenges and what’s being done on the ground to tackle them.

What was the first live show you attended, and did it make much of an impression on you?

My uncle took me to the Tramway Theatre in Glasgow to see an underground cabaret band called The Tiger Lillies perform a ‘junk opera’ titled Shockheaded Peter. Yes, it was as strange as it sounds; it delighted, terrified and amazed 10-year old me in equal measure.

When did you first realise you wanted a career in the live events industry?

I’ve been involved in events in some capacity – first as a musician then in many other roles – ever since I was a teenager. There are few better feelings than witnessing the reciprocal energy created by great bands or artists and their adoring crowd; I’ve always wanted to be a part of that.

In your early days as an events professional what concerned you most about the industry’s environmental impact?

What worried me most in the early days was always the amount of single-use, throwaway, cups and other items potentially going to landfill. Fortunately, things are improving in this area but cups still remain a hot topic in the world of event sustainability.

In what areas do you feel the most progress had been made since?

Progress remains incremental. However, we’re seeing more venues bringing in re-usable cup schemes, an increased awareness and focus from huge tours such as Billie Eilish and Coldplay on sustainable initiatives like plant-based catering and battery power/renewable energy production, and more investment throughout the industry in recognising the need to make sustainability part of our culture.

What has been the highlight of your sustainability work at DF Concerts this year?

We’ve seen big increases in our adoption of HVO (a low-emission alternative to diesel) and recycling/composting rates across our festival operations this year. Having joined the company in April, I’ve found it highly motivating working with teams throughout the company who make such a big effort to recognise the importance of sustainability.

Who has influenced you most during your career?

This is going to sound cheesy, but it’s probably my dad. He’s worked at a high level in business and entrepreneurship for a long time, and is never short of wise insight and impartial advice when I need it most.

If you could change just one thing about the events industry what would it be?

We need to maintain an increased focus on bringing more gender, ethnic and disability diversity into the industry, particularly in production and senior management positions. This isn’t just a moral argument; dynamic and forward-thinking perspectives arise when people with a variety of life experiences come together to work on a problem, which in turn leads to better outcomes for us all.

What is your ideal way to relax when not working?

What do you mean ‘not working’? It’s August! Joking aside, at this time of year, anything that takes me out of the city and up a hill, into a loch, to the beach, to the sea – you get the idea.