Anna has worked in the music industry for over a decade including festivals Shambala, Love Saves the Day, Glastonbury, and Boomtown Fair. She is Sustainability and Environment Officer for Involved Group, a multi-faceted music business founded by one of the world’s leading electronic music acts, Above & Beyond. Involved Group encompasses three distinct record labels (Anjunabeats, Anjunadeep, and Reflections), a robust touring business, dedicated weekly radio shows, an artist management group, and a publishing business. With a worldwide fanbase, Above & Beyond, along with their label artists, frequently tour with a broad range of club shows, festival appearances, and landmark events such as Above & Beyond Group Therapy and Anjunadeep Explorations. Anna also coordinates Involved Group’s partnership with MIT’s Environmental Solutions Initiative (ESI), facilitating messaging and educational opportunities and offering opportunities for people to engage in climate action.
1. What is the proudest sustainability achievement or moment of your career?
During Group Therapy Weekender USA, our partner MIT’s ESI piloted a fan engagement programme comprising an augmented reality experience and Q&A. As an advocate for the climate action potential of music audiences, to see a venue filled with people choosing to engage with climate science was a game-changer.
2. What was your worst ever sustainability-related decision, project or initiative and why?
In a bid to raise awareness around food waste, I invited a relevant project to do a festival activation. Misjudged coordination on my part meant the activation did not receive as much audience attention as we’d hoped (although the team collected plenty of salvageable food!)
3. What are you excited about implementing this year?
I’m encouraged to see a 20% increased uptake of fans compensating for their travel emissions to our destination festival, Anjunadeep presents: Explorations, and look forward to continuing to refine the approach across key projects. This will coincide with a focus on enabling more fans to choose lower carbon or fossil-free travel, which means exciting partnership conversations!
4. Which environmental issue do you most care about?
Reimagining our relationship with nature.
5. What sustainable change have you made in your personal life that you are most proud of?
Learning to cycle in London. I thought I was too scared to try!
6. What do you read to stay in touch with green issues?
I tend to follow and/or connect with people on Linkedin who share new insights or teach me something new. Livvy Drake is a prime example. Positive News also provides a healthy newsfeed balance alongside more traditional environmental reporting.
7. What is the most memorable live performance in your life?
Too many to choose from but most recently I watched Anjunabeats artist Nourey aka Norhan Bayomi PhD, the driving force behind our MIT ESI partnership, play her first ever live show at the Gorge.
8. Was there a moment you committed to taking action on climate change?
After hearing George Marshall describe our relationship with climate change as ‘unheimliche’, a German word describing something uncanny or unfamiliar, I thought: what could be the impact if we reframe how we relate to this challenge?
9. What are the most important issues to tackle at your event?
Empowering all event stakeholders to recognise they can contribute positively towards solutions.
10. What do you think is the most significant challenge for the events industry becoming more sustainable?
Scaling sustainable event solutions, and lowering the point of access.
11. Can you share something sustainable from another artist or event or company that inspired you to make a change?
During my time with the Shambala team, I was inspired to think about the role festivals can play in cultivating sustainable behaviours.
12. What is the secret to your sustainable success?
Building connections. When I see something good I find the person/people responsible, and give them recognition.
13. Tell us something you feel positive about right now that relates to the environment?
Love the French for banning domestic flights and hope others will follow.
14. Tell us a book, film or recent article about positive change you feel others should watch or read and why?
15. Can you give people new to sustainability in events a top tip?
Get clear on the change or impact you wish to create. Go for it and ask for help along the way.
16. What is the favourite festival moment of your career?
Massive Attack at The Downs in 2016 included on point backdrop messaging: “We Are All In This Together”.
17. What habit or practice has helped you most in your personal journey in life?
Remembering the difference between empathy and compassion.
18. Is there anything new or exciting you are planning or changing for the future that you can tell us about? Even a hint!
Exploring how we can expand our climate action engagement project with MIT’s ESI!
19. Will we save the world?
Would any of us be doing what we do if we didn’t believe it was possible?
20. What would your sustainable superpower be?
Converting climate apathists into climate ambassadors in a blink of an eye.
Follow Anna Johnson on Linkedin
Follow Anjuna Deep on social media: @aboveandbeyond @Anjunabeats @Anjunadeep
This Q&A originally appeared in our December 2022 Vision: 2025 newsletter. Sign up to receive monthly event sustainability news, case studies and guest blogs direct to your inbox.