Method Events co-founder James Dutton discusses Tramlines Festival’s (cap. 50,000) increased focus on using local suppliers, learnings from it being part of the Government’s Event Research Programme (ERP) last year, and its new partnership with UN Women UK.
Sheffield’s largest festival and independent production company Method Events’ flagship event, this year’s Tramlines was built on some of the hottest days on record. The sold-out, Superstruct Entertainment-owned festival will take place this weekend, 22-24 July, at Hillsborough Park with a lineup including Sam Fender, Kasabian, Madness and The Vaccines.
Dutton says there has been a real focus on using as many local suppliers, staff and traders as possible, with the aim of making sure Tramlines benefits the Sheffield community: “It’s a hyperlocal festival in terms of where we sell our tickets, and a lot of the Method team are from Sheffield. We like maintaining the local soul of the festival.”
Using data garnered as a result of the festival being an ERP pilot last year, Dutton says several aspects of the festival have been changed this year with the aim of improving the customer experience. Measures include additional security deployments, increased water availability and the avoidance of pinch points across the site.
Says Dutton, “A lot of the interesting data that we’ve used this year was around the arrival patterns of the audience. We do a lot of live analysis of the ticket scan data that we get from our two main gates at Tramlines.
“We’ve got great data on which artists are going to be popular and some of them are on early. This year we’ve bought in the full deployment of security and the full deployment of gate staff every day, whereas last year there was a bit of a split shift where half were starting at doors and half started a few hours later.”
Alongside using as many local suppliers as possible, Method has made use of existing facilities local to the park, reducing the amount of temporary event infrastructure required. Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough Stadium (39,372) is being used for artist dressing rooms and event control, while crew catering is hosted by Hillsborough Arena – a sports pavilion adjacent to the park.
Dutton says sustainability has been another strong focus and initiatives will benefit the local community. One of Tramline’s local suppliers DJB Recycling will be ensuring that zero waste from the festival goes to landfill. Anything that is not recovered will go to a “waste-to-energy” facility that generates energy specifically for Yorkshire.
Tramlines is partnering with UN Women UK and its #SafeSpacesNow campaign, aiming to combat harassment at festivals. There will be “guardian angels” on site and safe spaces set up offering advice and support.
Says Dutton. “It’s an education piece. It’s about speaking to the ticket holders in a way that they can relate to and that they take seriously.
“A lot of the Government created publicity around these kinds of topics doesn’t often hit the mark, and certainly not for a festival crowd. Striking a balance of engaging with your young audience about these serious topics with significant risks in a meaningful way that will resonate with them is very difficult, but UN Women have a really good understanding of how to achieve that.”