Values and philosophy of story that is about to turn 25

1991. The meeting of four people gave rise to the collective Rototom. Much water has passed under the bridge since then. Hundreds of concerts and actions in favour of culture, social commitment, peace protests and a challenge made reality: create the biggest reggae festival in the world, the Rototom Sunplash. An event that grows with pride, each year uniting a community that identifies with the music but also with the philosophy and that is about to celebrate its 25th birthday, in 2018. Before that though, this year, 2017, and with eye to Africa, the festival is putting the finishing touches to the 24th edition.

The promotion of peace, equality, human rights and social justice has always been key to our way of understanding, not only the festival, but life itself.

In addition to promoting music in its different forms, throughout our history we have made a special effort to raise awareness about the values that enables a society to advance in the most just and equitable way possible. We do so by building within the small micro cosmos, that the festival venue becomes each year during the Rototom Sunsplash, a different place where Other World really is Possible.


Peace rEVOLution @ Rototom Sunsplash 2015

Over the years we have, to the best of our ability, developed all kinds of actions to demonstrate that where there is will, new efficient lines of communication can be created and the convergence of different cultures and peoples form around the world, beyond race, religion, borders or physical barriers and ideologies can be achieved. In this regard, we have had the honor to be recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as an Exemplary Event for the decade 2001-2010 for our work promoting Culture of Peace and Nonviolence. In doing so, the UNESCO took into consideration our efforts to promote interculturality and dialogue as a fundamental tool in the peaceful resolution of conflicts.

All of this has allowed us the grow exponentially and to become one of the international benchmarks as an alternative festival model, of which we are very proud and, moreover, gives us a tremendous sense of responsibility when it comes to our continued commitment to organizing cultural events, in a sustainable manner, in which people of all ages can have the opportunity to share, grow, learn and discover through the workshops, activities, gastronomy, music and cultural debates.

Recycled water, biodegradable packaging, LED lighting, tree planting…

Each year Rototom Sunsplash gets greener, always caring for the environment.

One clear example of this has been the progressive introduction of LED lighting in spaces such as the Social Forum and the Reggae University, the African Village, Pachamama, MagicoMundo, the backstage, press tent and the Rotobars that has allowed us to reduce the festival’s daily energy consumption by 84% without counting the stages. We have also installed solar panels in the merchandise shops thereby making them energetically self-sufficient.

Backstage also has parasols equipped with solar panels that provide enough energy to charge mobile phones and tablets, in addition to lighting at night.

We are continuously increasing the number of waste disposal containers to allow for the separation of waste and paper in the venue as well as in the restaurants and the campsite. In figures, last year over 300 point for waste separation at origin and all of the restaurants were equipped with special containers for separating waste that allowed for the recovery of 16,200kg of packaging and 7,400kg of paper for recycling later.

In the toilet areas we reuse shower water that is stored after filtering in two deposits to later be used in the cisterns of the toilets.

We have also extended the vegetation coverage in the venue by planting trees in the campsite areas, so as to provide more shade and help reduce CO2 emissions.

We promote the commercialization, purchasing and consumption of local products in all areas and sectors of the festival, everything from food to logistics. For one the campsite area provides guests with a wide range of 0 Kilometer products each year. We also opt for the acquisition of local products in areas such as logistics. When it comes to buying construction materials, lighting, wiring and furniture, among other things, we try to as much as possible to use local suppliers, and thereby reinvest in the local businesses of the Community of Valencia.

Furthermore, in the Rotobars we especially insist on the sale of drinks and food from ethical brands.

Mensaje_MarleyIndeed, the use of disposable plastic glasses has been eliminated completely in all the bars, where they have been substituted by reusable glasses than can be obtained by leaving a deposit. In recent years we have extended the use of bio-compostable plates and cutlery, made out of biodegradable materials such as sugar cane, corn starch or wood, to all of the catering services at the festival. The recycling of the plates and cutlery together with the organic waste allow them to be reused to make compost.

Sustainable mobility is one of our principles. We therefore promote the use of public or collective transport for getting to the festival venue. Apart from establishing a bus route that connects the venue with the beaches of Benicassim each day, we have special airport transfers services set up and we ask our audience to share vehicles to get here. Each year we offer a bicycle rental facility so that you can get around in a comfortable and environmentally friendly manner.

Over the last few years we have gradually reduced the use of paper and other materials in our communications. The edition of publicity material in collaboration with companies that organize concerts and events has meant that we can reduce the number of flyers printed for publicity exponentially. We use recycled paper for both photocopies and printing.

We also promote socially responsible collaborative actions and we destine a part of our profits to social projects and collaborations with NGO in different parts of the world.

Our commitment to the environment, which we reinforce each year, has allowed us to be recognized on several occasions by the Greener Festival Award as one of the European festivals that respects and cares most for the environment.

As we do in each edition, this year we will implement new actions to improve the festival’s environmental sustainability and ensure least the environmental impact possible.

Actions to improve the festival’s environmental sustainability:

Airport transfer

Rototom Sunsplash will run a transfer service during the festival in order to facilitate transport to the festival sight from the airports of Valencia, Barcelona and Reus.

Mediterraneo Holidays

Bike hire

We offer a bicycle rental service, truly one of the best ways to get around the venue and the surrounding area.

Bio Market

An authentic outdoor market, like those that can be found in town squares, in the campsite of Rototom Sunsplash. The producers themselves will be presentat this market, each selling various products to the festival-goers, eliminating middlemen and thereby promoting local trade. In the market you will find all kinds of products: organic food, hygiene products, hardware and camping products… in short, everything you could need to make your stay at the festival the most pleasant and healthy possible.

Biodegradable Plastics

In recent years we have extended the use of bio-compostable plates and cutlery, made out of biodegradable materials such as sugar cane, corn starch or wood, to all of the catering services at the festival. The recycling of the plates and cutlery together with the organic waste allow them to be reused to make compost that can later be used as a fertilizer.

CO2 compensation

In each edition we invest in actions that aim to compensate for CO2 emissions caused by the event. For example, in recent years we have planted more than 200 new trees on the festival area.

Ecological vehicles

Within the festival venue the use of motorized vehicles is not permitted, only bicycles, skateboards and electrical vehicles are allowed. We offer a bicycle rental service.

LED lighting

We have introduced the use of LED technology for the bulbs lighting areas such as the backstage, the press tent, Reggae University, African Village, Living Energy, Magicomundo and the Rotobars. These types of lamps consume approximately 80% less energy than conventional lights while at the same time offering eight times more illumination than the tungsten filament bulbs.

Local products

We support the commercialization, purchase and consumption of local products in all areas and sectors of the festival, everything from food to logistics. For one the campsite area provides guests with a wide range of 0 Kilometer products each year. We also opt for the acquisition of local products in areas such as logistics. When it comes to buying construction materials, lighting, wiring and furniture, among other things, we try to as much as possible to use local suppliers, and thereby reinvest in the local businesses of the Community of Valencia.

Master of energy efficiency from the UJI

Rototom Sunsplash reached an agreement of collaboration with the Master of Energy Efficiency and Environmental Sustainability in Industrial Plants and Edification from the University of Jaume of Castello’. This new bond will help to develop a project competition aimed at the Master students who, putting in practice the wealth of experience learned during their studies, will contribute to improve the environmental sustainability of the installations of the festival itself.

Organic food

The festival area includes many different types of organic, local, ethnic, fair trade food and beverages. There will also be a open-air market with organic products in the campsite.

Photovoltaic panels

The Merchandise stalls at the festival will be powered by solar panels, so that they will generate all the energy consumed without resorting to the mains. These panels will produce 6kWh for the grid, enough to power these stands.

Reduction of consumables

Over the last few years we have gradually reduced the use of paper and other materials in our communications. The edition of publicity material in collaboration with companies that organize concerts and events has meant that we can reduce the number of flyers printed for publicity exponentially. We use recycled paper for both photocopies and printing.

Reusable glasses

The use of disposable plastic glasses has been eliminated completely in all the bars, where they have been replaced by reusable ones than can be obtained by leaving a deposit. And new this year is the solidary side of these glasses, since all the money raised from their sale will go to social projects in Africa. Each glass will have a cost of one euro and will be available in two sizes, 33 and 50 cl.

Separated waste disposal

Year after year we increase the number of containers for the separation of waste and paper in both the venue and the restaurants as well as in the campsite. By separating the waste at its point of origin we facilitate the recovery and subsequent recycling of the waste generated by the festival.

Transport during the festival

There will be a bus service between the festival area, the town, the beach and the Benicàssim train station.
You can get to the venue from the Renfe stations in Benicassim and Castellón, once here there will be several bus routes so that you can get to the beaches to enjoy the activities at Solé Rototom Reggae Beach and the SunBeach or just go for a swim.

Water recycling system

We will launch a new initiative in the camping area to significantly reduce water consumption during the festival: A water recycling system that will allow shower water, which used to go directly to the drains, to be reused to flush the toilets. The shower water will be conducted to a few 2,000 litre capacity tanks, from which it will subsequently be used to flush the toilets via a pumping system.

Workshops for kids

In Magicomundo, the area that is dedicated to kids, we organize environmental workshops each year to raise awareness about the importance of caring for the environment.

Magicomundo

Solidarity is essential

From the very beginning, 25 years ago now, we have been committed to working with certain values and the people who promote or should promote these values, as well as those citizen organizations and groups that work to make them a reality.

More than 50 entities dealing with peace, human and civil rights, fair trade, anti-prohibition, the environment, reggae and Rastafarian culture participate each year in the Rototom Sunsplash. They do so with their stands during the festival, their talks in the Social Forum or the Reggae University and their workshops held in the different cultural areas.

Furthermore we collaborate with these associations by directly supporting some projects. This year we stand, as is only natural, with those who find themselves suffering in terrible situations as is the case of the refugees. We believe that our stance is shared by many.

For this reason we would like to give special support to the organisations Médicos Sin Fronteras, Proactiva Open Arms, Emergency and Pallasos en Rebeldía in the work they are doing, essential to alleviating the terrible plight of the refugees.

In the same vein, we back Smara Benicàssim in their work with the children in the Saharan refugee camps, along with Psicólogos Sin Fronteras and their great work with those people who have been evicted from their homes, and finally collaborate with the community projects of Cultivant Vida, the only NGO that works continuously in the Murithabé region in Gambia.

Without solidarity among people, we cannot make advancements in human rights nor can we advance towards the better world that we all long for. That is why we say solidarity is essential.

Solidarity actions in which we have contributed:

Doctors without Borders

2016 Spain Médicos sin Fronteras

The Rototom Sunsplash supports the rescue and aid work carried out by Doctors without Borders with refugees, especially that done aboard the Dignity I. In 2016 alone they managed to rescue 20,000 people.

Proactiva Open Arms

2016 Greece Proactiva Open Arms

We support the rescue work and vigilance of the NGO in the Central Mediterranean to prevent more deaths and shipwrecks of the refugees who come to Europe fleeing war, persecution or poverty, as well the aid they provide from the Greek coast in Lesbos.

 

Emergency

2016 Italy Emergency

We collaborate in the actions that this NGO has implemented and which always aim to aid the victims of war and violence. We have also supported the migrant rescue mission, which they are carrying out in the Mediterranean Sea, guaranteeing post rescue aid for refugees, with everything from medical aid to intercultural mediation.

Pallasos en Rebeldía

2016 Greece Pallasos en Rebeldía

The Rototom Sunsplash has directly supported the work done by Pallasos en Rebeldía in the refugee camps of Lesbos, in Greece; as well as Calais and Dunkirk, in France, where they also carried out several protest actions against the migration policies of the European Union.

Smara Benicàssim

2016 Spain Smara Benicàssim

We support the work of this local organization to, each summer provide Sahrawi children living in the refugee camps with a Holiday in Peace and medical assistance.

Psicólogos Sin Fronteras

2016 Spain Psicólogos Sin Fronteras

We share their commitment to the development of a different yet possible world, without borders, where there is justice, freedom, equality and solidarity. We therefore support the work they are doing from Castellon to help people who have been evicted from their homes.

Cultivant Vida

2016 Gambia Cultivant Vida

We collaborate in the community projects run by this NGO, which is also the only one that works continuously in the Murithabé area, one of the most impoverished and lacking in medical care in Gambia, in the hope of improving the people’s living standards.

Cultivating Life

2015 Gambia Xavier Galindo

We directly support the project dedicated building wells and creation of vegetable gardens run by Cultivant Vida and Xavier Galindo in Gambia.

International Film Festival Sahara

2015 Algeria FiSahara

We sponsored the presence of Yslem, Son of the Desert, in the XII edition of FISAHARA and collaborated by participating in the festival.

Radio Studio in the Alpha Boys School

2014 Jamaica Rototom & Alpha Boys’ School

We financially support the crowdfunding of Alpha Boys’ School to set up and equip a radio studio in the school.

Rigoberta Menchú Tum Foundation

2013 Guatemala Rigoberta Menchú

We collaborate in maintaining the activity of Rigoberta Menchú as an ambassador of Peace and defender of Human Rights.

Alpha Boys School

2012 Jamaica Rototom & Alpha Boys’ School

We promoted a graphic design exhibition by Michael Thompson in the Rototom Sunsplash, the funds collected were donated to the Alpha Boys school in Jamaica.

Rehearsal studio in L’Aquila

2009 Italy Bunny Wailer & Rototom

We finance, together with Bunny Wailer, the reconstruction of the Dabadud recording studio., destroyed by the earthquake that devastated the Abruzzo area.

Salam Centre for Heart Surgery

2008 Sudan Emergency

We provided funding for the construction of the Salam Centre, hear surgery unit in Khartoum (Sudan) directed by the Italian NGO Emergency.

Family Agricultural School

2007 Brazil Oikos

We collaborate financially the Italian NGO ONLUS to facilitate the economic independence of the Family Agricultural School in Goias (Brazil).

Imp@rando

2007 Mozambique Time for Africa

We help to strengthen human and natural resources in Matutine (Mozambique) by supporting the construction of a professional training centre.

Made in Jail

2006 Italy Coop Sociale Seriarte Ecologica

We support the socio-labor training projects and screen printing programs set up by Made in Jail in different Italian prisons.

Wolisso Project

2006 Ethiopia SISM

We collaborate with the Italian NGO SISM to improve the conditions for mothers and new borns in the obstetric unit of the Hospital Saint Luke (Ethiopia).

Poverty knows no nationality

2005 Kenya Ass. Karibu Afrika

We support the educational and agricultural activities of the project run by the Italian association Karibú Afrika in Mathare (Kenya).

Oasis Centre

2005 Burkina Faso Ass. Oasis Enzo Missoni

We provide funding for the Oasis Centre, run by the Italian Enzo Missoni in Burkina Faso, that treats children, orphans and people in need.

Home for street children

2005 India Ass. Mancikalalu

We have funded the creation of centre for street children in India run by the NGO Italian Mancikalalu.

Canoa Criança Circus School

2004 Brazil Asoc. Cultural Canoa Criança

We participated directly in the creation of the Circus Theatre School in Canoa Quebrada, Ceara, Brazil.

A small group united by deep passions. Much suffering, little money, so much music. The Italian region. A great challenge.

From the beginning they faced many difficulties and had to struggle to keep the project alive. In the end they even had to leave Italy, emigrating to Spain. Today, 20 years on, Rototom explains its birth, the decisions that were made, the paths taken, the difficulties faced and the successes achieved, because the future is yet to be built.

The memories of the organizers, the people who knew the festival in Italy and many artists, are combined with the reflections of some of the biggest organizers of major Italian music events. This all serves to build a story, influenced by individual and collective decisions, predominated by the Italian cultural and political scenes.

The Rototom nightclub was born at the end of 1991 in Gaio di Spilimbergo (Porderone, North East Italy), a hall that would host all the alternative music of the time (from the Ramones to Sick of it all or CSI). Founded by four people, from the beginning it was a project that combined friendship and work.

As Costantino, one of the protagonists, remembers it “the club was downstairs and we slept upstairs”. The club also became a reference point for those who were looking for an alternative life experience in this province in the North East of Italy. It was also in Gaio, that the Rototom Sunsplash reggae festival was born in 1994. The images of today intermingle with those of the past.

Together with the stories of the founders and the people of Spilimbergo we also find personal anecdotes of friends like the musician Michele Poletto, the musician and compositor Teho Teardo, the founder and director of Arezo Wave Festival Mauro Valenti and the musical group BTK.

In 1998 the Rototom experiment has to find a new headquarters because it has become too big. Scores of artists, some of whom were already important figures internationally, such as Bill Evans, Michel Petrucciani, Ozric Tantacles or Massive Attack perform in the Rototom of Zoppola (Pordenone, North East Italy). On the other hand the likes of Elisa, Vinicio Capossela or Irene Grandi, are establishing the bases of their respective careers. Alfredo Follia, who was gay then and is now transsexual, remembers that it was here that initiatives were organized in defense of gays, lesbians and their sympathizers.

Talking about this new stage, in addition to the organizers’ testimonies and archive material, we have Paolo Baldini (musician, bass player of Africa Unite) Teho Teardo, Marco Boccitto (editor in chief Il Manifesto), Michele Poletto, Misty in Roots (British music group) and Pier Tosi (DJ and reggae expert).

In 1998 the Sunsplash festival is based for two editions in the campsite Giralsole, in Latisana (Udine), on the coast of Friuli. There is a great number of people and the festival stops being attractive only to reggae lovers to become on numerous occasions a symbol of music and peaceful coexistence.

It’s the years of war in the Balkans and in 1999 the Rototom association organizes a memorable concert for peace in front of the NATO air force base in Aviano (Italy).

The presence of a reggae festival on such a touristic coast did not go unnoticed and in 1999 the presence and interference of the security forces became unsupportable.

The Rototom association became a landmark in the reality of Friuli (North East Italy) and made a name for itself together with other cultural and musical realities from the area in 2000 during a squat that was as short (three months) as it was vibrant and important in the memories of all of those who participated.

During this period the old Cerit factory was squatted, centralizing the local cultural scene. The event is commented on by Teho Teardo, Piero Colussi (founder of Cinemazero), Flavio Massaruto (jazz music expert).

Thanks to archive images from the Friuli Film Archive, we recovered the history of the Friuli region, the war or the earthquake for example. As Sergio Colussi explains, “we are a region in which the people are used to working hard to achieve their dreams”.

The founders of Rototom landed in the outer boundaries of Italy: Gorizia. It was an important border because it separated the country from the communist bloc. Some of them knew each other from school and others met up at the end of the 80’s in the town’s first music bar, the Baobar, managed by Filippo Giunta, president of Rototom.

They all lived together in a country house, Villa Sparta. It was precisely because of this that they were invited in the form of “Spartans” as special guests on Daria Bignardi’s television programme about alternative families, “Tempi Moderni”. Friendship is the mortar that helps to overcome the difficulties and permits the big jump.

In 2000 the Sunsplash festival is established in the park of Rivellino de Osoppo (Udine), where it will stay for ten years. After overcoming numerous economic difficulties, the association finds the time to organize a music festival for two years in Brazil, in Chanoa, Chamas.

In Osoppo the festival gains importance internationally and manages to bring 150,000 people together to enjoy ten days of music and camping. There is an incredible atmosphere. The space dedicated to debates grows to such an extent that it becomes an essential characteristic of the festival, gathering scores of speakers from different parts of the planet, with crowded daily sessions.

The alternative character of Rototom and above all, the entry into force of the Fini-Giovanardi Law on drugs, was the basis for what became repressive wave against the festival (“in 2009 there was a real war against Sunsplash” affirms the lawyer Mario Cudini) that led the organizers to decide to leave Italy, as Filippo Giunta explained dramatically from the stage during the farewell of the 2009 edition.

The chapter contains testimonies like that of Viviana Londero (ex-lord mayor of Ossopo), members of the Ossopo Civil Defense, Mario Cudini (lawyer), Africa Unite (Italian music group).

The day after the closure of the 2009 edition, Rototom voted unanimously to leave Italy. Spain was the chosen destination. It was then that the expensive and tough (and well documented by the organizers themselves) job of finding a new place (“you feel like you’ve been kicked out of your own home”, Manuela remembers) until making it to Benicassim, Valencia (2010 edition).

The reasons behind Rototom’s move are in part attributable to the Fini-Giovanardi Law but are also the result of a complex situation that reflects the difficulties faced by independent promoters when promoting culture and, organizing festivals and big events in Italy.

The chapter includes the interventions of the jurist Stefano Rodotá and the Italian band Mellow Mood.

The 2013 edition represents the 20th anniversary of the festival, that in Spain grows more than ever, despite the fact that there are still many ideas (“we almost feel more at home in Latin America than in Europe at the moment”, Filippo Giunta affirms). This is when the Reggae Contest Latino is born, covering numerous South American countries (Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia, San Andrés, Venezuela or Chile).

To assess these 20 years of history we have the testimonies of the organizers, together with those of Claudio Trotta (Barley Arts), Sergio Giuliani (music event organizer, Rock en Roma) Mauro Valenti (Arezzo Wave festival), Marco Boccitto, Flavio Massarutto or the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Rigoberta Menchú.