Episode 16

Kaye Dunnings on Glastonbury, the wild story behind Shangri-La, and the creativity of recycling

Creative Boom Podcast Episode #16 - Kaye Dunnings on Glastonbury, the wild story behind Shangri-La, and the creativity of recycling

If you're a fan of Glastonbury, then you're in for a treat. Kaye Dunnings is the creative director of Shangri-La at the world's best performing arts festival, which was set to celebrate its 50th anniversary this year.

I was there for its 25th anniversary, at the ripe old age of 16. Back in 1995 – the days of Oasis, Pulp, Pop Will Eat Itself and the Prodigy. Yes, I saw Keith explode onto the Other Stage in an inflatable giant see-through ball. It was electric. The dance tent had made its debut that year. A little thing called BBC Radio 1 began to report live from the festival, too. It was a special one.

Back then, people would share tins of lager as they crawled out of their tents each morning, starting the day as they meant to go on. Someone somewhere would shout "Bollocks" for no reason and it would spread. Both men and women didn't really dress up. It was more practical attire. Festivals weren't "trendy". There was an edge. No pretension. My favourite bit was the "naughty corner" of Glastonbury, the Green Fields and later, Lost Vagueness. In those days, you joined the Travellers in the woods to rave all night.

I bumped into Kaye at Design Manchester last year and we instantly hit it off. Like a reminiscing old grump, I talked about how Glastonbury could never be as magical as it was in 1995, and Kaye put me straight. She talked of how much it has changed, yes, but why it's better than ever before. So during a trip to Bristol in early March – before the UK went into lockdown – I popped in to see her and chat about how Glastonbury has evolved, how she came to be Shangri-La's creative director and asked all the burning questions us festival veterans are dying to know the answers to.

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