Nature Concerthall is an innovative approach for raising public awareness of the importance of nature conservation. It has been tested and practised for over 10 years in more than 17 municipalities in Latvia. The idea stemmed from musicians wanting to break out of the traditional concert venues and scientists seeking ways to bring knowledge on particular species and habitats to the public. It was clear that standard, project-driven and campaign-driven approaches with traditional seminars, info campaigns and brochures were not enough to really change people's behaviour towards their natural environment in the long term. The musicians, scientists and educators who gather for these events felt that mobilising people's empathy for nature would strengthen their capacities to absorb knowledge and motivate them to act.
Each event consists of three components: i) an interactive exhibit combining graphic panels, object displays and hands-on components open to the public to gain knowledge linked to the selected theme; ii) a discussion between a poet and a scientist on stage to capture the main themes; iii) a 1-hour concert with songs and light/video shows.
Each year, a particular species or habitat is selected as the mascot or hero for the event. This choice defines the location selected, so that audiences can gain firsthand experience of the selected topic. The music is also created each year in line with the species’ habitat, behaviour and evolution. The interactive workshops organised by the scientists and researchers are also dedicated to the particular species or habitat.
The events so far have taken place on or near eight different Natura 2000 sites and focused on different protected habitats, for example Lowland hay meadows, Coniferous forests and Reefs, and species such as the fire-bellied toad, Bombina bombina. Around 10 000 people have attended the multidisciplinary events each year and a survey has indicated encouraging results: 80 % of respondents reported that the event had increased their knowledge about nature and 43 % of them indicated that the event had motivated them to take up concrete actions for the environment. Furthermore, 53 % of the respondents pointed out that they would not attend such an event if it was not combined with the music and video show, thus indicating that this combined approach attracts people who would not traditionally attend nature conservation events.
Nature Concerthall is a collaboration between artists and scientists. It shows that it is possible, through a specially targeted, interactive and multi-disciplinary approach, to attract many thousands of people from different backgrounds, improve their knowledge of nature protection and promote pro-environmental behaviour.