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6 min read

New music prize inspires action for climate and conservation

Profile of ACF
Written by ACFPosted on 7/10/2021

The Environmental Music Prize is an ambitious project incentivising artists to use their voice and platform to advocate for change by creating songs that celebrate nature.

“Music brings us together, creates identity, culture and community,” says Edwina Floch, founder of The Environmental Music Prize.

“We need messages of hope – ones that touch us deeply, capture our imagination and enable us to dream big. By focusing the creative genius of many songwriters, singers, musicians and content creators on environmental issues, and by partnering with aligned organisations and community groups, we hope to propel several climate anthems into the mainstream and empower influential artists to activate their audiences.”

In this Q&A Edwina shares her motivation for establishing the Prize and her thoughts about its potential to catalyse public support for sustainable practices and environmental policy in the lead up to the federal election.

Why did you decide to start The Environmental Music Prize?

I’ve always been interested in innovation and how to create rapid accelerating social change.

About 10 years ago, I heard about the XPRIZE and how they run incentive competitions to encourage teams from all over the globe to come up with bold, scalable solutions to the world’s biggest problems.

Recognising the power of factual storytelling I started supporting Documentary Australia Foundation and then three years ago joined the team as Head of Strategic Relationships. It gave me a great understanding of how clear impact strategies and strong partnerships could effectively lead viewers on a path to action with impressive results.

In parallel, I co-founded a social enterprise called Le Rosé Bleu, which supports the work of Plastic Oceans Foundation, and joined NEXUS, a global community of young philanthropists and changemakers.

While on the committee curating the NEXUS Australia Summit, I had the opportunity to interview Dr Jane Goodall and other environmental leaders. I wanted to use stunning music videos to create an immersive event experience that instantly connected participants to the issue, but was surprised to discover that there were relatively few contemporary songs about the environment.

Our research revealed that over the last four years of Triple J’s Hottest 100, only 3 songs referenced environmental issues – that’s 0.75 per cent.

Sensing the massive potential and the pressing urgency, in May I decided to give it everything – I resigned from a job that I loved, opened a Named Fund at ACF, and used $20,000 of personal savings to kickstart the project and prove the model.

Since then I’ve been working pro bono and leveraging my strong network to form strategic partnerships and get things moving quickly to launch in time for the UN Climate Summit (COP26) in November.

How will The Environmental Music Prize work?

We’ll award at least $20,000 in prize money and in-kind support to powerful music videos that connect us to nature and inspire us to protect it.

Our objectives are to:
– encourage more talented artists to write beautiful songs that inspire action for climate and conservation, and highlight those that already exist.
– build a movement of artists who are committed to strategically using their voice, platform and cultural influence. We’ll invite them to sign Green Music’s Climate Declaration, connect them with environmental partners and support them with information, resources and media training.
– support environmental organisations by connecting them to artists who draw attention to their campaigns and accelerating environmental action.
– ​​support artists with new opportunities to have their work acknowledged and rewarded.

Why is The Environmental Music Prize so important?

An alarming IPCC report has just come out, but unfortunately large parts of the population are either unaware, or disengaged.

While science is vitally important, the facts are not necessarily leading people to action.

Our shortlisted songs and outreach campaign will:
– touch people deeply
– provide them with information in a way that is personal and relevant to them
– make it easy for them to take a positive step in the right direction. That could be listening to an interview with a scientist (we hope to create content like this), supporting a campaign or reminding politicians that environmental issues matter.

This should accelerate the cultural shift towards sustainability and make it cool to care.

How did the artist Montaigne become involved with The Environmental Music Prize? Are you hoping to have more music ambassadors join the movement?

It’s amazing to work with Montaigne. She represented Australia in Eurovision this year, has been deeply engaged in the climate movement and has served on the board of Green Music Australia. She has used her fame for impact and even went to the ARIAs with ‘Stop Adani’ written on her face to get media coverage for the issue. This article in Green + Simple explores her activism, what drives her engagement and her collaboration with the Prize.

Anna Lunoe, an international DJ and Apple Music radio host, is our second Ambassador. She’ll be using her huge global platform to encourage better practices in the dance music scene.

We’d love to have more Music Ambassadors, but this will be budget dependent. Artists have lost nearly all concert and touring revenue, so we’re committed to paying them to acknowledge the massive contribution their voice, brand and reach makes.

5 ways you can support The Environmental Music Prize:

  1. Get Inspired
    Find some great international examples of environmental music on the Environmental Music Prize website (and sign up for the newsletter).
  2. Donate
    The Environmental Music Prize urgently needs funds to scale fast, seize opportunity and deliver on the vision. Make a tax-deductible donation into the Prize Fund at Australian Communities Foundation to support set up costs, increasing the prize pool and building strategic partnerships.
    Private and public auxiliary funds can donate to partner organisation Green Music Australia but should contact Edwina first.
  3. Sponsor
    Increasing the prize value will help attract more artists and mainstream media attention.
  4.  Partner
    Organisations can share the playlist and environmental stories with their networks and potentially connect with music and artists aligned to their sustainability goals or campaigns.
  5. Join in
    If you can contribute high level skills or connections, please contact – hello@environmentalmusicprize.com – or connect on LinkedIn.